The second half is upon us in the world of major league baseball. Technically we're well past the start of the second half, but the All-Star game is always viewed as the midpoint of the season so that will suffice for the sake of this article. In the present piece I will present a handful of players that you might look to add to your fantasy baseball squad for the second half of the season. Some might be had for cheap on the trade market an a couple might even be on the waiver-wire in your league. Regardless, I think all of the players values have dropped to the point that they make excellent targets for addition to a squad given that they all seem capable of having a strong push to the finish line.
Matt Cain might be hurt and he's allowed 11 runs over his last two starts spanning a mere three innings. The Giants say he is healthy though, so let's give him the benefit of the doubt. He's 5-6, has a 5.06 ERA and has been bombed of late, so that means now is the time to pounce with a low-ball trade offer. After all he has a 1.18 WHIP, is striking out 8.28 batters per nine (career 7.54) and has a 2.78 K/BB ratio (career 2.46). He's also sporting a .257 BABIP mark, seven points below normal, and his .226 BAA is one point below his career rate. So why the huge ERA? Blame some bad luck and a 1.29 HR/9 mark which is a couple of levels above his career 0.79 mark.
Edwin Jackson has an impressive right arm, and he always eats up innings. Problem is that his performance can vacillate from mixed league worthy to waiver-wire fodder type of efforts. Overall he's 6-10 with a 5.11 ERA and 1.44 WHIP. That's waiver-wire stuff. However, he's allowed a total of one run over his last two outings, and over his last three trips to the bump he's 3-0 while allowing four runs, a mere three walks and 14 Ks in 17.2 innings. You would have to be in a pretty shallow league not to have a use for that. Moreover, his 7.80 K/9 mark would be the second best mark of his career, while his 1.92 GB/FB ratio would be miles better than his career average (1.25). Strikeouts and grounders usually equal success.
Brett Lawrie has been a disappointment since last season as a third baseman. He's getting a chance right now to reinvent himself as a second baseman. That added positional flexibility would be fantastic, and his bat figures to play every well at that middle infield position. There are questions about him being too intense to last a full season, and his performance in 39 games this season has been awful (.204-5-14-11-2), but there is big-time talent here. Think about Domonic Brown, a former elite level prospect who took a few years to figure it out. The same thing could happen with Lawrie. Pro-rate Lawrie's career effort to 500 at-bats for a season and we're talking about a .264 hitter with 16 homers, 55 RBIs, 70 runs scored and 14 steals. If he could perform at those levels the ROTW...
Miguel Montero hit .282 with 18 homers, 86 RBIs and 65 runs scored in 2011. Last season he hit .286 with 15 homers, 88 RBIs and 65 runs scored. I'm telling you, it's impossible to have back-to-back seasons that are that identical (he appeared in only 85 games in 2010 but in 2009 he hit .294 with 16 homers, 59 RBIs and 61 runs scored). The guy can hit, even though a look at his current effort would lead you to question that (.224-8-33-32). His line drive rate is a career best, but he's also hitting too few balls into the air (his 31 percent fly ball rate is way below the 36 percent mark he posted the last two seasons). He'll have to rectify his swing path, but if he does he could have a solid second half. After all his 0.50 BB/K rate is one hundredth off his career mark, his 11.3 HR/F ratio is an exact match for his career mark, and he's posted a BABIP of at least .317 the past five years so many his current .268 mark will go up. A prime second catching option in mixed leagues that might be had for cheap.
Ivan Nova generates grounders (49.5 percent of batted balls). I love that. His first two seasons he struck out less than 5.50 batters per nine innings. I hate that. However, after upping that K/9 mark to 8.08 last season he's taken his performance to a whole other level this season with more than a punchout per inning (54 in 52 innings). Not sure if he can keep that up, not even close to being sure, but a K per inning combined with a 2.09 GB/FB ratio has me extremely excited. A risk cause of his track record and the small sample size, but he's trending in the right direction without a doubt.
Martin Prado has hit .294 the past two weeks. Hey, it's a start. The career .290 hitter is batting .253 in his first season in the desert, a simply terrible mark. However, I'm putting a smile on here as I believe Prado's a great buy low option. Prado has a 0.72 BB/K mark, better than his career 0.65 mark. Prado has a 91.3 percent contact rate, better than his 90.2 career mark. Prado has a 21.7 percent line drive rate, better than the 20.1 percent mark he has for his career. So how can you explain his BABIP going from .310 for his career to .260 this season? Answers is – you really can't. His BABIP has been .320+ in five of the previous six seasons, and given his overall work this season having the expectation that it will climb the rest of the way is extremely reasonable. By the way, with eight homers he's got a chance to match or surpass his career best mark of 15, though I'm sure no one has noticed.
Dan Uggla leads NL second basemen in homers with 18. Dan Uggla has 42 RBIs, two more than Howie Kendrick. Dan Uggla has scored 46 runs, the same mark as Brandon Phillips. I know he's hitting .200, that he hit .220 last season and .233 the year before that, so yes, it's fair to say he is a batting average destroyer. At the same time, he's a strong contributor in the counting categories who has slowly starting to hit the ball a bit better. Not only does he have four homers and nine RBIs in his last 10 games, but he's also hitting .222 over the last 39 games. Hey, it's a start. He's likely to come at a discount on the trade market, just make sure you can handle the average.
B.J. Upton... just kidding. Actually I'm not. A year removed from being on the cusp of a 30/30 effort, he's currently on the DL and likely to even be on waivers in some leagues. Why not add him to fill your last roster spot?
Matt Wieters is the catching version of Dan Uggla, a batting average drain (.232) who is a strong counting category performer. Wieters has 12 homers, one more than Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana. Matt Wieters has 44 RBIs, one more than Carlos Santana and just two fewer than Wilin Rosario. Matt Wieters has scored 34 runs, four less than Buster Posey and seven more than Jonathan Lucroy. Despite all that everyone seems extremely down on Wieters. Overall has he been disappointing? Sure, I can agree with that. Still, catchers that go deep 20 times with 70 RBIs aren't easy to find. If his current owner is disappointed try to pry away the Orioles' backstop.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Friday. For more of Ray's analysis you can check out BaseballGuys.com or the BaseballGuys' Twitter account where he tirelessly answer everyone's questions.
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