5 Burning Questions for the Second Half
We’re moving into the second half and the questions keep burning. What have fantasy owners been thinking about this past week?
Which hitters could see a second-half surge in ownership?
Delino DeShields Jr. – 2B, Texas Rangers (ESPN: 26.4%)
DeShields saw his ownership percentage dip after a trip to the disabled list in June for a hamstring injury. Since his return, he’s found himself right back at the top of the lineup. In those six games he’s gone 5-for-20 which isn’t spectacular, but he has scored three runs and stole a base. The Rangers will let him run, and there’s a chance he could add 16 steals in the second half, bringing him to 30 on the season. He’ll have more value as a regular lead-off hitter, and it looks like Texas has moved away from letting Leonys Martin in that spot which bodes well for DeShields and his .360 on-base percentage. There isn’t any power, so his value will rely on stolen bases and runs. He may be a nice addition for owners who just lost Dee Gordon to the disabled list.
John Jaso – C, Tampa Bay Rays (ESPN: 14.8%)
Like DeShields, Jaso is another player returning from the disabled list. His catcher eligibility is what drives his value, as he won’t hit for that much power, but he can provide a nice batting average with a few runs scored and batted in along the way. Since his return, he’s gone 9-for-22 (.409) with four runs scored, one home run and three runs driven in. He isn’t catching for the Rays, and will be a DH when he’s in the lineup. I can see the Rays hiding him from lefties, so he’s a better play in leagues with daily moves.
What pitchers could see regression in the second half?
Dallas Keuchel – Houston Astros
I’m a big fan of Keuchel, and I’m rooting for him to continue with his current success and hopefully win the AL Cy Young award, but if I had to pick one fantasy “ace” to see some regression in the second half, it would be Keuchel. Keep in mind, I expect him to do well enough to remain on your roster for the rest of the season.
Keuchel’s ERA is SLIGHTLY outperforming his FIP, 2.23 to 2.82 respectively, so that isn’t the best indicator that he’ll regress. Even if he does get closer to that FIP, it’s still elite production. His BABIP allowed of .255 is a career low, so there’s a chance that number could creep towards the league average, although that shouldn’t cause you to panic and drop him.
First-half/second-half splits for Keuchel seem to bring the biggest case for second-half regression. Here are a few splits for Keuchel over his career:
- First Half: ERA: 3.13, WHIP: 1.20, AVG/OBP/SLG: (.247/.300/.361)
- Second Half: ERA: 4.71, WHIP: 1.42, AVG/OBP/SLG: (.282/.343/.424)
I must reiterate, Keuchel is one of my favorite pitchers (as a lefty I like all of them), and I don’t think this should make you panic, but it’s worth remembering. If you need to improve your team with some hitting, Keuchel and another piece could earn you a nice hitter in return.
Who hits the most home runs in the second half?
J.D. Martinez – Detroit Tigers
Martinez is currently tied for fifth in all of baseball with 25 home runs, only two behind league-leader Giancarlo Stanton. Last year, Nelson Cruz was the only player to reach 40 home runs, which led the majors. In 2014, Martinez hit 23 home runs, this year he’s already passed that number with two and a half months to go. Over the past calendar year, Martinez is fifth with 37 home runs behind only Todd Frazier, Bryce Harper, Mike Trout and Stanton; all of whom are either tied with or slightly ahead of Martinez in the home run race this season. He’s a bit of a dark horse in this group, and he could be an intriguing trade target if his owner thinks he’s streaky.
I think more than one player will be able to eclipse 40 home runs this year, and I think Martinez will be the one that leads the pack with 44 home runs when it’s all said and done.
Who will be sneaky DFS plays in the second half?
Miguel Sano – 3B Minnesota Twins
Sano has been fantastic since his promotion to the big league club, and yet his price in DFS still hasn’t risen to an above-average level. In his last 10 games, he’s gone 13-for-33 with four multi-hit performances, two home runs, four runs scored and eight driven in. I think Sano’s price will steadily climb over the second half, so use him now while he’s still a value!
Rougned Odor – 2B Texas Rangers
Odor has been great since his return to the Rangers, yet he’s still priced in a middle tier of second basemen. He’ll often bat lower, or not at all against tough lefties, which may keep him from being an elite option on a daily basis, but he’s worth a look against right-handed pitching. In his last 10 games, he’s gone 11-for-38 hitting safely in eight of them with three multi-hit performances.
Kyle Seager – 3B Seattle Mariners
Seager makes this list because he’s a left-handed hitter who has sneaky good numbers against left-handed pitching. Many DFS players (including myself) will often balk at starting left-handed hitters against southpaws, so Seager could be used by a smaller percentage of players on days when the Mariners face a lefty. This season, Seager has an .878 OPS against lefties, and a .726 OPS against righties. Seager was hot heading into the All-Star break, hitting safely in eight of his last 10 games with four multi-hit performances.
Who are trade targets as the deadline approaches?
This is a good reminder to check when your fantasy league’s trade deadline has been set. Some leagues have theirs around the same time as the actual MLB deadline, but there are cases where it may extend into August. I’ve always found that the sooner you get a trade done to help your team, the better. It’s never fun to scramble a few days before the deadline trying to make moves to catch up with the teams in front of you, and you have to settle for an offer you don’t like just to stay in the race. My advice is to get going now, and here are some players to target:
- Lucas Duda – 1B New York Mets
- Devon Travis – 2B Toronto Blue Jays
- Neil Walker – 2B Pittsburgh Pirates
- Michael Brantley – OF Cleveland Indians
- Gregory Polanco – OF Pittsburgh Pirates
- Carlos Carrasco – SP Cleveland Indians
- Jordan Zimmermann – SP Washington Nationals