You're ready to start digging into the second half, aren't you? Mike Trout is a god, Derek Jeter has passed the torch, and now it's time to get back to winning a fantasy baseball championship in 2014. To help you do just that Ray Flowers will take a look at every position on the diamond and list a series of players that you might want to target to add on the cheap to help you attain your goal.
NOTE: To see who Ray suggests you sell high on, click on the previous link.
Joe Mauer, Twins
He's never been cheaper to add – ever. Mauer's currently working his way back from a side issue. He's batting .271. He has two homers. Can he have lost it overnight? Is that possible? I prefer to focus on the fact that he's a career .320 hitter who has never finished under .287 in a season. He's also had but one season in the last six years in which his OBP wasn't .400, so I'm pretty hard pressed to also think his current .342 mark is going to continue along. I'm concerned with his increase strikeout rate the past two years, but I believe his history mitigates against that as a significant concern, especially given that his current line drive rate of 27.9 percent would be a career best, and that's saying something. Could easily hit .300 the ROTW and he'll be dirt cheap to add.
Others to buy: Travis d'Arnaud, Welington Castillo
Jason Kipnis, Indians
His career BB/K is 0.54. It's 0.56 this year. His career GB/FB is 1.46. This year it's 1.57. His career BABIP is .314. This year it's .306. Lot of similarity there. Like Mauer, you have to figure his current owner is beyond frustrated with a guy who was likely taken in the second or third round. Kipnis figures to show more power in the second half – his 4.6 HR/F ratio is less than half his career 10.8 mark and his .095 Isolated Power is well off his .144 career mark – and if that happens he'll be plenty worthwhile. Despite his struggles this season don't forget that he's already stolen 13 bases in just 68 games.
Others to buy: Omar Infante, Martin Prado
Evan Longoria, Rays
He'll likely make many all-star teams, and potentially the HOF, that but doesn't make him a fantasy all-star. Unlikely many other big-ticket items at least Longo has stayed healthy and productive. Still, 11 homers, 44 RBIs an a .257 batting average in 97 games is not what anyone was expecting when they took him in the first couple of rounds of their draft this season. If you can find the right owner perhaps you can convince him that the 18-75 pace he's on is who he is knowing full well that he could do much better than that pace the ROTW.
Others to buy: Chase Headley, Pedro Alvarez
Brad Miller, Mariners
Ray's blown a gasket. It's all over. After all these years of expert analysis he's finally cracked, or perhaps he's just thinking about his trip to Hawaii next week (I'll be out of the office July 21-28). Why on Earth would he recommend a guy batting .204 with a .602 OPS? First off, chances are pretty good that unless you're in an AL-only league that Miller is on waivers, so those cost is nothing more than dumping the last flunky on your bench. Further, since June 1st he's actually resembled a big league hitter. In those 131 plate appearances he's hit .263 with a .756 OPS, five homers, 13 RBIs and 17 runs scored. Pulling back, over a 157 game big league career he's hit a mere .236, but 16 homers, 60 RBIs, 73 runs scored and eight steals... that's not awful, right?
Others to buy: Asdrubal Cabrera, Jordy Mercer
B.J. Upton, Braves
OK you gave me a pass on Miller, but now it's official. Call the truck to take me to the place with the padded walls. Hear me out before you attempt to commit me to the infirmary. Upton's actually hitting. Seriously, he is. In July (11 games) he's batting .277 with eight runs scored. Going back to June 24th he's had a hit in 16 of 18 games. Seriously. In those 18 games he's also scored 13 runs and stolen four bases. Hell, he's even hit .260 – admittedly a terrible total for a guy with hits in 16 of 18 games. Like Miller, unless you're in a league specific setup or a 15 team mixed league, B.J. very well could be on waivers. With seven homers and 15 steals he's got an outside shot at a 15/25 season.
Others to buy: Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, Desmond Jennings
Wade Miley, Diamondbacks
He's only 5-6 with a 4.18 ERA, but check out the following. (1) His K/9 rate is way up at 8.36 per nine and over his last 58.1 innings he has 66 punchouts. (2) Miley has a 1.24 WHIP. That mark is better than Madison Bumgarner (1.25). (3) Miley is walking 2.69 batters per nine innings leading to a solid 3.11 K/BB ratio. That's better than a guy like Garrett Richards (2.95). (4) Miley has a 1.64 GB/FB ratio, just a tad above his 1.58 career mark. (5) His HR/F ratio is elevated at 15.7 percent (career 11.2) which suggest some slight regression might be coming. (6) His SIERA (3.45) and xFIP (3.31) suggest he's pitched much better than the 4.18 ERA he is saddled with.
Others to buy: Homer Bailey, Matt Cain, Matt Garza, Tim Lincecum, James Shields
These three arms are noted because of their skill and because all of them are operating behind a closer who could be traded (Giles, Ottavino), or one that isn't pitching exceedingly well (Familia). Admittedly this is just a guess as to who would take over if the Phillies, Rockies or Mets made a move.
Giles only has 13 games of bit league experience but he's dominated with an 11.57 K/9 mark and 6.00 K/BB ratio in his 14 innings. He's also allowed only one big fly with a passable 1.09 GB/FB ratio. Given that he also had 12 saves in 24 appearances in the minors this season with 38 KS in 28.2 innings, well, let's just say he's not lacking a big arm. The Phillies seem nearly certain to trade Jonathan Papelbon and Giles might take over.
The Rockies may or may not deal LaTroy Hawkins, but one would think they are certainly listening when the phone rings. Many thought Rex Brothers would take over in the 9th if a switch was made, but Brothers is left-handed, and truth be told, he's stunk to this point with a 4.38 ERA, 1.56 WHIP and terrible 5.77 BB/9 mark. That has opened the door for Ottavino who has pitched much better this season with a 9.55 K/9 mark, 2.08 BB/9 rate an a 47 percent ground ball rate. Toss in a 3.95 ERA and 1.25 WHIP and he's clearly pitched better than Brothers. He's also right-handed.
Jenrry Mejia has struck out more than a batter per inning an is a sold 10-for-12 on save chances, but he's also hit a few speed bumps with his health and his 3.92 ERA, 1.48 WHIP and 4.34 BB/9 rates don't inspire too much confidence. Neither does the 1.53 GB/FB ratio he currently has. That's a solid number but it's well below his 2.11 career rate. Familia has a big arm – his average heater this season is 96 mph – and he's done a passable job with the walks at 3.56 per nine. Toss in a 2.14 GB/FB ratio thanks to a 56.2 percent ground ball rate and there's a lot to like. He's not going to take over unless Mejia is hurt or his struggles continue, but the skills are solid.
LISTEN TO A BRIEF AUDIO CLIP OF KYLE AND I TALKING ABOUT GUYS WHO COULD IMPROVE IN THE 2ND HALF.
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The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Thurs 7 PM, Fri. 9 PM EDT), Ray also hosts a show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.
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- Kawhi Leonard is cleared to play Friday
- Kevin Martin (ankle) will play on Thursday
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- Nationals decline options on LaRoche & Soriano