Even though the season has reached its halfway point, there is still plenty of baseball left, and the entire fantasy community is curious about what else could be in store. Who was expecting Josh Bell to have already clubbed 26 home runs after hitting just 12 in almost 600 plate appearances in 2018? Charlie Morton’s production last year was even better than that from his breakout season in 2017, but did anyone really see the 35-year-old outdoing himself yet again to this degree in 2019? Let’s also not forget that early-round selections Jose Ramirez and Noah Syndergaard have had unfathomably miserable starts to the season.
This game we play is very unpredictable, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to figure out. Our most accurate fantasy experts have been the industry’s best at prognosticating the fantasy portion of America’s national pastime. As such, it’s only right that we reached out to them to grab insight on what might happen during the second half of the season. Here are their bold predictions.
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Q1. What is your bold prediction for the second half of the season?
“Matt Olson leads the American League in home runs after the All-Star break. Olson will have to overcome the likes of Joey Gallo, Aaron Judge, Mike Trout, Gary Sanchez, and a host of other great sluggers to accomplish this feat, but I think he’s up for the challenge. If you remember back in 2017, Olson mashed 24 homers in just 59 second-half games! He missed some time this year due to a hand injury, but already has 17 home runs in just 53 games. The ball is flying out at a record pace and Olson has underperformed his expected slugging percentage to date (.562 SLG compared to .601 xSLG, which is good for 12th best in baseball). THE BAT projects Olson for just 16 home runs from this point forward, which is 10 fewer than Joey Gallo. That’s what makes this bold. However, if Olson can maintain his home run pace from 2017 after the break this year, he could end up with 28 home runs and lead the AL in home runs in the second half.”
– Max Freeze (Freeze Stats)
“There have been eight seasons of 60 or more homers divvied up among five players with Mark McGwire doing so twice and Sammy Sosa doing so three times. Sosa’s 18 stolen bases during his 66-HR campaign in 1998 is the highest stolen base total for a player with 60 or more taters. You probably see where I’m going with this, right? My bold prediction is that Christian Yelich not only hits at least 60 homers this year, but he more than doubles Sosa’s 18 stolen bases from the 1998 season. For the sake of round numbers, we’ll say Yelich provides baseball fans the first 60/40 season in MLB history.”
– Josh Shepardson (FantasyPros)
“Justin Smoak, who is 39% owned, will hit 20 homers while batting over .300. You surely remember 2017 when Smoak took over the baseball world. Well, his underlying metrics are actually better this year with his average exit velo going up, his launch angle up, his walk rate soaring north, his K-rate lower and his xwOBA sitting at .400. To put that into perspective, only Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, J.D. Martinez, and Christian Yelich had an xwOBA north of .400 last season. To put it plainly, Smoak is already mashing baseballs, but the on-paper numbers haven’t caught up yet.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)
“Pete Alonso will continue his sensational 2019 campaign and break the rookie HR record set by Aaron Judge in 2017. As of today, the Metropolitan’s All-Star first baseman has 28 HRs, and does not appear to be slowing down. He is currently among the league leaders in a number of power metrics including: xSLG, xwOBA, barrels, hard hit%, and exit velocity. While there are aspects of his game that can be improved, the slugger has been very consistent this season, posting no less than nine HRs in each of the last three months. It’s certainly no easy feat to maintain his current pace, however, if he is able to, it will be an exciting race to monitor as the season concludes.”
– Jason Johnson (Understanding Fantasy Baseball)
“Kenta Maeda is a more valuable second-half pitcher than Clayton Kershaw. I almost had Maeda besting early standout Hyun-Jin Ryu, but that would have also boiled down to who stays healthy and in a crowded Dodgers rotation. Cover up the ERAs for Kershaw (3.23) and Maeda (3.78), and this isn’t particularly crazy. Maeda has generated more strikeouts (88) and swinging strikes (14.0%) with a lower xwOBA (.276) than his superstar teammate, whose velocity decline has led to his lowest strikeout rate (21.4%) since 2008.”
– Andrew Gould (FantasyPros)
“J.D. Martinez wins the second-half Triple Crown (leads MLB in AVG, HRs, and RBIs after the All-Star break). With a .297 average and 18 home runs, Martinez has hardly been bad, but he is currently outside the top-40 hitters in standard 5×5 leagues. That should change in a big way in the second half. Martinez is hitting the ball with as much authority as ever, while trimming his strikeout rate to a career-best 18.8 percent. He's fully capable of hitting .330 with 25 HRs and 70 RBIs from this point forward.”
– Andrew Seifter (FantasyPros)
“Brandon Woodruff will be a top-15 pitcher in the second half. He hasn’t got a lot of recognition because his ERA has been over four for a good part of the season. He is 10-2 with a 3.79 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 29.1 percent strikeout rate, and 6.1 percent walk rate. Woodruff doesn’t allow a lot of hard contact and prevents home runs. All the tools are there for a huge second half.”
– Adam Ronis (FullTime Fantasy)
“Jackie Bradley Jr. is a top-10 outfielder after the All-Star break. Bradley underwent a fairly publicized swing change in the offseason, and things started off dreadfully, as he slashed a comically low .144/.245/.176 through May 19. But Bradley has been a dynamic offensive player since May 20, slashing .328/.423/.634. With enough speed to matter and with the swing change finally in full effect, Bradley has the chance to be an elite — yes, elite — offensive player the rest of the way.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)
“Mookie Betts scores 150 runs by the end of the season. It’s not that crazy; he’s the MLB leader right now and he really hasn’t gotten going. Imagine what a warmed-up Betts could do in the summer months, especially if some of the other veterans pick up things. Shake together with the Devers breakout year, mix well. Betts isn’t a player you can ever get at a significant discount, but perhaps his disappointing slash line makes him a good target for a trade, nonetheless. This is his absolute floor.”
– Scott Pianowski (Yahoo! Sports)
“Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Eloy Jimenez will combine for a total of at least 45 home runs and 90 RBIs with a .300 average in the second half. After somewhat disappointing first halves, these two young phenoms are now primed for monster breakouts in the warm summer months. Don’t write these kids off too soon, top-20 fantasy value is well within their reach in the second half.”
– Donkey Teeth (Razzball)
Thank you to the experts for making their bold predictions. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter if you're not already doing so and check out our latest podcast below for more great advice.
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