With the second half of the season underway, fantasy owners are looking for ways to give their team a much-needed boost.
Sometimes looking on the waiver wires and keeping your fingers crossed is the way to go, but sometimes it’s the disappointments you drafted or picked up early then held onto who wind up being your saviors over the final months.
Maikel Franco was expected to take a huge step this season. Unfortunately, he ended the first half with the seventh-lowest on-base percentage (.274) and batting average (.217), and the 22nd-worst slugging percentage (.384). Though those numbers are ugly, other numbers suggest he is primed for a second half more in line with preseason expectations.
Franco has displayed solid power (13 homers) and the ability to drive in runs (45 RBIs) for a team ranked second-to-last in runs scored and 27th in home runs. Even more good news: There is one qualified player with a lower BABIP (.215) than Franco — the Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber.
That indicates the eyesore he calls a batting average should rise. The fact he has the 25th-lowest strikeout rate in the majors (13.5 percent) shows strikeouts are not killing his average — bad luck, a high groundball rate (49.6 percent) and being awful when falling behind in the count (he is hitting .206 when the count is 0-1, .200 when the count is 0-2 and .135 when the count is at 1-2) are the true culprits.
Playing on the worst team in the majors probably isn’t the greatest atmosphere, but this is a 22-year-old player with a ton of potential — and who has been on display the past two seasons. This is not a player who should be available in 55 percent of Yahoo leagues and almost 70 percent of ESPN leagues. If he is available in your league, take advantage of the owners who abandoned ship and reap the benefits when he takes off.
Here is a look at other players prepped for a second-half surge:
- Jeff Samardzija may be 4-10 with a 4.58 ERA, but there are positives. He is striking out a career-high 9.7 per nine innings, walking a career low 1.07 per nine and has a 3.44 FIP and 3.09 xFIP, indicating he has run into some bad luck. The righty has allowed three runs or fewer in nine of his past 11 starts and has an 18:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio over those 11 starts.
- Moving from Oakland to Milwaukee already has begun to work wonders for Stephen Vogt — he is hitting .273 with four homers (the same total he hit in 54 games with the A’s this season) and eight RBIs. He is batting .364 with three homers and six RBIs in four games at hitter-friendly Miller Park after hitting .191 with just one homer in 26 games at hitter-hell Oakland Alameda Coliseum. With the Brewers in contention for the NL Central, he should continue to be a fantasy asset.
- This has not been your typical Manny Machado season, but there still is time for it to turn around. Before the break, he raised his average from .217 to .230 after hitting .333 with three homers and nine RBIs over his first nine games this month. His .239 BABIP supports a second-half rebound, too.
- Patrick Corbin is just 2-3 over his past six starts, but he hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of those starts en route to a 3.34 ERA. He also has a 41:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in that span. He is on a team in contention, has a career-high 8.4 strikeouts per nine and his 4.24 FIP and 3.86 xFIP indicate he has been unlucky.
- Though health is always a concern for Yoenis Cespedes (he’s a Met), he could be in line to see a bump homers in the second half. He has a career-high 41.6 hard-hit rate, a high flyball percentage (56 percent) and a career-low HR/FB rate (12.9 percent), which should lead to an influx of dingers.
- Don’t let Mike Napoli’s .194 average scare you, as his power still is there (18 homers), and his BABIP (.215) indicates the average will improve. Oh, historically he also is a better hitter in the second half (.240 in the first half versus .262 after the break).
Paul DeJong 2B/SS/3B, Cardinals
Since being recalled on June 15, he has gone 30-for-87 (.345) with eight homers, 16 RBIs and a 1.071 OPS. He entered the break with a six-game hitting streak and was the most added player in ESPN leagues this week.
Mike Clevinger SP, Indians
Has not lost since June 6, going 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA, 28 strikeouts and a .165 opponent average over his five starts since.
Domingo Santana OF, Brewers
Raised his average from .268 to .291 in his past 18 games by going 24-for-61 (.393) with four homers, 15 RBIs, three stolen bases and a 1.136 OPS.
Rich Hill SP, Dodgers
After allowing seven runs on June 15, he allowed just five earned runs over his past four starts while going 2-1 with a 1.73 ERA and .154 opponent average.
Kyle Seager 3B, Mariners
In his first eight games this month, the 29-year-old is just 2-for-25 (.080) with no homers, two RBIs, a .167 on-base percentage and .247 OPS.
Dylan Bundy SP, Orioles
Has lost five of his past seven starts, going 2-5 with a 7.18 ERA, 35:15 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a .270 opponent average. He has allowed 29 earned runs, 10 home runs and hit three batters over that span, too.
Buster Posey C/1B, Giants
The 30-year-old All-Star had just four hits in his first 31 plate appearances this month, hitting .154 with no homers, no RBIs, two runs and a .290 OBP.
Brandon Phillips 2B, Braves
After hitting a homer in three straight games from June 22-24, the veteran is 7-for-49 (.143) with two RBIs, three runs and a .350 OPS in 13 games since.
- While Michael Pineda has been in a tailspin lately, news of a partially torn UCL and the possibility of Tommy John surgery destroy his long-term outlook. It’s time to look for replacements. Cleveland’s Mike Clevinger, Houston’s Charlie Morton or Cincinnati’s Luis Castillo are widely available options to consider.
- Food for thought: Byron Buxton is hitting just .216 for the season, but the 23-year-old hit .379 with a homer, two RBIs and three stolen bases in his past nine games. He also scored at least one run in six of his past seven games. He could be a cheap steal for the second half.
- With David Robertson likely to be dealt from the White Sox, consider stashing Tommy Kahnle. He may have four blown saves, but his 15.1 strikeouts per nine and .210 opponent average is pretty enticing.
- Roto Rage’s two biggest sell-high pitchers remain first-half All-Stars, Ervin Santana and Jason Vargas. It is hard to see them continuing at this pace, just like it is impossible seeing Tim Tebow continue looking like a somewhat competent baseball player in St. Lucie, despite his lengthy hitting streak and .327 average. The guy is getting enough exercise just pushing his luck.
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