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MLB Barometer: Bourn Identity Crisis

Vlad Sedler

Vlad Sedler covers baseball and football for RotoWire. He is a veteran NFBC player and CDM Hall of Famer, winning the Football Super Challenge in 2013. A native Angeleno, Vlad loves the Dodgers and Kings and is quite possibly the world's only Packers/Raiders fan. You can follow him @RotoGut.

MLB Barometer - Bourn Identity Crisis

One of the very best parts of fantasy baseball is that pat on the back we give ourselves when players we've targeted and drafted succeed. Heading into the second half of the season, we have a good idea of which direction our season is headed come October. Our fantasy league leaders most likely have a mix of players like Jose Abreu, Nelson Cruz, Masahiro Tanaka and Brian Dozier - some of MLB's most productive first half players - who we either vigorously targeted, or drafted on the wings of good fortune because we needed to fill a position and this player was the next guy on the list.

Reviewing the top performers of the first half got me thinking what the first two rounds of a midseason fantasy draft would look like. Let's say we got to start fresh beginning Monday of week 14 and had the opportunity to redraft. In putting an ADP together, surely first half performances are important, but sometimes an MLB season can literally be the tale of two halves - other times it's a continuation of what has been. Either way, we've got to weigh what we think will happen in the second half more strongly. This is what my personal midseason ADP would look like:

Player/Team March ADP Player/Team March ADP
1 Mike Trout, LAA 1 16 Victor Martinez, DET 169
2 Miguel Cabrera, DET 2 17 Adrian Beltre, TEX 18
3 Paul Goldschmidt, ARI 3 18 Jose Bautista, TOR 35
4 Clayton Kershaw, LAD 7 19 Felix Hernandez, SEA 43
5 Jose Abreu, CHW 83 20 Yu Darvish, TEX 21
6 Troy Tulowitzki, COL 16 21 Adam Wainwright, STL 32
7 Masahiro Tanaka, NYY 101 22 Jose Altuve, HOU 92
8 Giancarlo Stanton, MIA 27 23 Ian Kinsler, DET 66
9 Edwin Encarnacion, TOR 17.2 24 Brian Dozier, MIN 201
10 Andrew McCutchen, PIT 4 25 Robinson Cano, SEA 10
11 Yasiel Puig, LAD 26 26 Freddie Freeman, ATL 23
12 Adam Jones, BAL 10.2 27 Billy Hamilton, CIN 61
13 Ryan Braun, MLW 8.3 28 Bryce Harper, WAS 10.9
14 Carlos Gomez, MLW 22 29 Dee Gordon, LAD 298
15 Nelson Cruz, BAL 152 30 Anthony Rizzo, CHC 100

First interesting take is that I would draft Trout, Cabrera and Goldschmidt in the same order they were drafted in March. All three are on pace with consensus expectations and in fact, you might even say Cabrera is underperforming with his .315 BA and should improve in the second half.

Clayton Kershaw would easily be the first pitcher taken, close to where he was drafted in March. How many pitchers do you feel completely comfortable throwing in Coors Field? Only one, I suppose.

Jose Abreu and Masahiro Tanaka's first half dominance in their first taste of the majors would easily land them in the first round of almost anyone's draft - both now and quite possibly in 2015. Maybe you saw it coming, but I certainly didn't.

Andrew McCutchen and Robinson Cano fall a little for me only because I think sluggers like Giancarlo Stanton and Edwin Encarnacion will continue to mash and produce at a slightly higher pace.

Ryan Braun and Bryce Harper were drafted among the first 20 picks for a reason, and the second half will be their chance to prove it. Yasiel Puig has had minor slumps, but posted fantastic first half numbers overall, contributing to all five standard categories and appears to be maturing quicker than many of us expected.

Victor Martinez may not hit close to 20 more homers in the second half, but he's in a prime lineup spot behind Miguel Cabrera and is a certified .300 hitter. What a feeling to get a top performer so late in drafts. Same with Brian Dozier, who may not have the track record of VMart, but could certainly double his 15 HR / 15 SB despite a subpar batting average.

How about 40 SB through 13 weeks for Dee Gordon, leading off for a monstrous Dodgers lineup? Wasn't he supposed to lose his job by now?

Pitchers on the bubble of my top 30 that might fall into yours - David Price, Max Scherzer, Madison Bumgarner, Chris Sale and Zack Greinke. Some may have Johnny Cueto or Corey Kluber among their top 10 SPs for the second half, but I don't.

There are no catchers in my top 30, but first half underperformer Buster Posey would probably make my top 60, along with Salvador Perez and first half studs Jonathan Lucroy and Devin Mesoraco. Though I don't believe Mesoraco will be as good as his first half, he's the real deal and a top catcher from here on out - a sentiment I don't share for Evan Gattis (that .290 is going to start dropping).

I could go on and on. This was a fun exercise for me - an exercise that helps sharpen my player analysis skills and stat range projection accuracy. Hard work, astute decision making and grinding on FAAB are all essential elements of a league winner, but far too often, those late-ADP gems we draft are the ones that have already set our teams on a winning course that league mates can't catch up with. It's never too early to start gathering our thoughts and putting together our own ADP lists for next season before the real ADP lists begin to cloud our judgment.


Jose Altuve, 2B HOU - Altuve has been rising for the last few months, but deserves attention and commendation for leading the majors in hits at the midpoint of the MLB season. On Sunday, Altuve surpassed last season's career high in stolen bases (35) in almost half the plate appearances. Altuve has stolen two bases in four consecutive games and has at least one steal in six straight. The diminutive (5'5'') leadoff guy is hitting .414 in June, steadily getting better each month (.276 in April, .357 in May). His run total (40) is far from impressive, but with George Springer batting second and maturing before our eyes, Altuve should have many more opportunities to score runs in the second half. He's fifth in the AL with a .385 OBP and has cut his strikeout rate in half (13% in 2013, 6.5% this year). Most impressively, Altuve is gaining on Dee Gordon and will try to run neck and neck with him and Billy Hamilton for the major league lead in stolen bases - 60 SB is not out of the question. For an unsexy draft pick with an NFBC ADP of 92, Altuve is helping to carry fantasy teams who did not see this category dominance coming. The .340+ BA will tough to keep up there, but look for Altuve to possibly lead the AL in hits, BA and SB this year.

Kyle Seager, 3B SEA - Another unsexy and overlooked hitter in March drafts, Seager has been one of baseball's most reliable in the month of June, hitting .314 with 22 RBI. Last week, he went 14-22 (.636) with 5 R, 8 RBI, 2 HR and managed at least one hit in every game. Seager was always known for mediocre consistency, hitting between .258 and .260 over his first three major league seasons. He's at .274 now, but batting average will likely never be one of his statistical contributing assets - home runs, on the other hand. Seager has 12 in 78 games and is on pace to best his career high 22 HR mark set last season. Seager is 26 years old and is entering his prime power years so it would not be shocking to see him reach the 30 home run mark soon. Perhaps Seager will command a little more respect at drafts next year, especially for fantasy players who prefer to know what range of stats they're getting.

Ben Revere, OF PHI - For those of us keeping an eye on the Phillies, it's no secret that manager Ryne Sandberg is not the biggest Revere fan. It's been frustrating for Revere owners to look at lineups only to see an inferior Tony Gwynn Jr. playing center field instead of him. But there's only one thing Revere owners can do - stay patient. Despite the obvious lack of power, all Revere has ever done is hit (career .284 BA), score runs and steal bases - hey, that's three of the five standard roto categories! As expected, Revere has found himself back in Sandberg's good graces and should prove reliable to his fantasy owners from this point on. In week 13, Revere hit .382 with four runs and three stolen bases. He now has 23 SB and can very well improve on his career high of 40 with the Twins in 2012. Keep in mind, Revere played in only 124 games that year and can easily pick up the pace from here on out to join Jose Altuve, Billy Hamilton and Dee Gordon in the 50 stolen base club this year, barring injury of course. If he's available in your league and you need steals - don't wait - go ahead and grab him.

Marcus Stroman, SP TOR - The Blue Jays top pitching prospect and 2012 first round pick may very well already be the team's most consistent starter. Stroman has only allowed more than two ER in one of his six big league starts. He's pitched admirably in tough matchups, throwing a 3-hit, 8 IP gem with 7 K against the Yankees, and allowing only two earned runs and no homers against the Jose Abreu-powered White Sox. Stroman also threw a gem against the Cardinals earlier in the month (6 IP, W, 1 ER, 7 K). Stroman relies on a mean fastball that hits 94 mph regularly and carries himself on the mound like a guy that's been in the league for a few years. Stroman maintained a double-digit K/9 in the minors (11.4 in Triple-A, 10.4 in Double-A) so look for his 7.6 K/9 to slowly creep towards a strikeout per inning as we head into the second half. Stroman will benefit from run support from one of baseball's most powerful lineup and begins his career in what appears to be a down year in the usually powerful AL East.

Alex Wood, SP ATL - Welcome back to the rotation, Alex. It was only a matter of time. Wood started the season on fire (35 K, 7 BB, 6 ER in 35 IP) before getting knocked around for seven earned runs against the Marlins on April 29, eventually being pushed into middle relief, followed by an honorable demotion. Wood was stretched out in Triple-A and eventually re-cemented his spot in the Braves rotation when Gavin Floyd hit the DL. A small percentage of savvy fantasy owners were able to snag Wood off waivers knowing the inherent value of starting pitchers who call Turner Field their home. With the Braves wisely babying his innings, Wood has a good shot at staying in the rotation for the remainder of the regular season. Wood has struck out 67 in 67.1 innings this year and struck out 77 in 77.2 last year. Wood's BB/9 is 2.14 this year, down a full walk from 3.13 last year. He looked great in his return to the rotation - seven scoreless innings against the Astros in Minute Maid Park and he is on target for two home starts in week 14 (against the Mets and Diamondbacks). Wood should be a solid value for the rest of the year given his relatively low price in drafts this year (231 ADP). Wood will have rough starts from time to time, but should continue to be fantastic at home (2.25 ERA) and hold a K/9 around the strikeout per inning range.


Hitters: Scooter Gennett, 2B MLW, Jose Reyes, SS TOR, C.J. Cron, DH LAA, Starlin Castro, SS CHC
Pitchers: Gio Gonzalez, SP WAS, Chris Tillman, SP BAL, Vance Worley, SP PIT, Rafael Soriano, RP WAS
Not Falling For It: Endy Chavez, OF SEA, Edinson Volquez, SP PIT


Jean Segura, SS MLW - Preseason industry buzz about Segura's impending struggles in his second year seems to have come to fruition. After an incredible rookie season (.294, 74 R, 12 HR, 49 RBI, 44 SB), there was much discussion about an imminent regression in batting average and that Segura would not repeat double-digit homers. That didn't keep Segura from getting taken 36th overall in NFBC drafts as the fourth SS behind only Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez and Ian Desmond. Indeed, Segura's sophomore year has been a struggle - he's hitting .244 with a paltry .277 OBP that forced him out of the leadoff spot. Segura has four homers, but two of them were hit in the same game in the hitters-haven known as Coors Field. A big part of the on-base problem stems from a lack of walks (3.4% BB%, 4.0% last year). Segura is still very young (24 years old) and has many facets of his game that could use improvement, including knowing when to run (8 CS in 22 attempts) and hitting lefties (.152 BA). He won't reach his ADP value this year, but may fall far enough in draft leagues next year to prove worthy of his adjusted draft day price.

Allen Craig, OF STL - The career .296 hitter entered 2014 with high expectations and hopes of a third consecutive .300+ BA season. Craig was selected 55th overall on average in the NFBC and always seems to come with the caveat, if he can stay healthy. The other concern heading into 2014 was the drop in power from 2012 to 2013 (2012: 514 PA, 22 HR, .215 ISO; 2013: 563 PA, 13 HR, .142 ISO). With most of Craig's value coming from BA and RBI, 2014 has left owners disappointed thus far - only six home runs, an even worse ISO (.114) and his staple BA sitting at a lackluster .254 through half a season (80 games). It may very well be a down season for Craig, but he's not the only Cardinal struggling at the plate - Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina are uncharacteristically hitting under .280. On the bright side, Craig leads the team with 40 RBI and should continue to hit in the middle of the lineup. As the Cardinals inevitably heat up and try to close the divisional gap on the Brewers, Craig's batting average will slowly start to move towards his career average. Expect a better second half.

Junior Lake, OF CHC - Lake has disappointed me and I debated whether to keep him on my 12-team NFBC OC roster in need of steals with guys like Jarrod Dyson available on waivers (update: I dropped Lake for Dyson Sunday night). The five-tool outfielder showed promise in his 64 game audition last season and moved up draft lists after an impressive three homer performance in a Spring Training game. Lake has significantly better numbers in the four traditional counting roto categories this year in 10 less plate appearances, but strikes out WAY too often (33% strikeout rate) and stinks against right-handed pitchers (.225). The worst part is Cubs' management's usage of Lake - he sits often for inferior talents like Ryan Sweeney and perennial minor leaguer Chris Coghlan. Lake is extremely talented, needs the playing time and there's no excuse for a power deficient club like the Cubs to bench him so often. Lake should be freed to play daily - if he does, he'll be a 20/20 guy as soon as this season. For now, he's hard to be patient with given his impatience at the plate and frequent lineup omissions.

Michael Bourn, OF CLE - Oh, how the speedy have fallen. What good is Bourn on our fantasy team if he isn't running? Bourn had two seasons of 61 SB, but has only managed six through 290 plate appearances this year. He's been caught stealing three times as well. His .277 BA is not bad but the .316 OBP is, and only 35 runs scored can be mostly attributed to inconsistency from the middle of the lineup to drive in runs. Bourn is available in one of my leagues where I could really use SBs, but I'm not convinced that the 31-year-old will start running anytime soon. His stolen base attempts are trending downward, and quickly - from 75 attempts in 2011, 55 in 2012 to 35 in 2013, his first season in Cleveland. Bourn just appears to be slower and his career on the downswing. It may appear that your league mates are dropping him prematurely, but their decisions seem justified thus far and they may ultimately have made the correct one.

Matt Cain, SP SF - Cain was a model of consistency, posting three sub-3.00 ERA seasons over a four year stretch from 2009 to 2012. Despite a rough 2013 where he finished the year with a much-deserved 4.00 ERA (3.88 xFIP), Cain was still drafted among the first 20 SPs / first 100 picks in 2014 drafts. Cain has had a handful of solid outings, including his last start against the Reds at home (seven scoreless innings), but has struggled in most of them - he's allowed 7 ER twice and 4 ER or more in four other starts including a 6-spot against the Padres! Essentially, he's been decimated in six of his 13 starts and has a 1-6 record to show for it. Cain might pitch well against the Padres in PETCO this week, but he is in obvious decline. Unfortunately, with guys like Cain, Tim Lincecum and Justin Verlander, you just have to weather the storm and live with your draft day decision because they carry very little trade value. Two years ago, I had to separate the aura of Lincecum's ace status from his horrendous starts. I dropped him mid-season, and ended up not regretting it. Of course you can choose to bench Cain for any given start if you don't trust him, but if you don't trust throwing him in PETCO, why own him?


Hitters: A.J. Pierzynski, C BOS, Matt Dominguez, 3B HOU, Carlos Quentin, OF SD, David Murphy, OF CLE
Pitchers: Hisashi Iwakuma, SP SEA, R.A. Dickey, SP TOR, Jacob deGrom, SP NYM, Nathan Eovaldi, SP MIA
Not Falling For It: Brian McCann, C NYY, Sonny Gray, SP OAK