Second Half Targets
You want to know which players you should be adding for your second half push in fantasy baseball, don't you? I know you do. Here's a list of a fella at each position, and three starting pitchers, that would make solid buy low options who could boost your clubs chances of doing a victory lap at seasons end.
CATCHER: Chris Iannetta This is for those of you in two catcher leagues who are dealing with the sting of losing a Jesus Montero early on or Yasmani Grandal of late. Iannetta is hitting .211 with six homers so you're probably thinking I've lost it. I don't think I have. In 70 games Chris has walked 63 times. Wow is right. Among backstops with at least 195 at-bats his .356 OBP is fifth nest. He is striking out more than ever before, and does own a mere .233 career batting average, but it's certainly possible his average will climb to his career level in the second half give his plate control (that means his second half average would be right about league average). Look for his power to climb a bit too as his 10.5 HR/F ratio would be a six year low (career 13.4 percent).
FIRST BASE: Billy Butler Some seem to be really disappointed in Butler. My question is, why? OK the 30 runs scored is terrible, but folks the guy has never scored 80 times in a season. The 49 RBIs are disappointing to you? That's seven more than Joey Votto and puts him on pace for about 83. His average the past four years? Ninety-three. 'But Ray, his average is way down.' My response is – there are still 60+ games left folks. He's got the best walk rate of his career (13.3 percent), and his BB/K is the second best mark of his career (0.82). His BABIP would be a five year low, though it's still solid at .311. His 20.2 percent line drive rate is better than his career average (19.4 percent). His average is coming up. Finally, I told you all offseason he wasn't a 30 homer bat. Yes he hit 29 homers last year, but the three previous years he averaged 18 homers a season. He has eight right now and could certainly get to 15 big flies.
SECOND BASE: Brian Dozier Not only does he qualify at second but he's also shortstop eligible after suiting up 83 times at that spot last year. He's got holes in his game, just look at that .310 OBP and .386 SLG, but he can be a fantasy asset. He's gone deep eight times and stolen eight bases (he's been caught an ugly six times). How many second baseman have gone 8/8 to this point of the season? The answer is two – Dozier and Jason Kipnis.
SHORTSTOP: Elvis Andrus When you hit .242 and don't have a homer people righty get ticked off. Has Andrus lived up to expectations this season? Not even close. To reiterate – not even close. I've heard some are dropping him to the waiver-wire. Not I. Andrus has a nice total of 19 thefts, only three shortstops have more (Everth Cabrera, Jean Segura and Alexei Ramirez). He's a nice category booster there. Second, he's scored a ton of runs despite a terrible .300 OBP. Andrus has crossed home plate 50 times. Do you know how many shortstops have done that more often? The answer is one – Jean Segura.
OUTFIELD: Drew Stubbs Talk about waiver-wire material. Stubbs is hitting just .244, and that's pretty normal for a guy who has a .241 career mark. However, the guy's hit a bit better of late at .256 the past 37 games which is something. He's also got seven bombs and 10 steals (he's yet to be caught). He's still got a shot at 15 homers and I wouldn't be shocked to see him swipe 15 bags the rest of the way. Plus, as I noted, he's on waivers in a tone of leagues so it won't cost you anything to add him.
Wily Peralta is a big young kid who throws hard. For most of the year the results haven't been there (7-9, 4.61 ERA, 1.49 WHIP), but things have turned of late. Over his last five starts he's allowed a total of four earned runs. Four. As a result his ERA has dropped from 6.08 to 4.61. That's a trend you cannot ignore. A 5.56 K/9 mark and 3.57 BB/9 mark are not something anyone wants to see, but of late he's locked in, and that 2.06 GB/FB ratio is a number I like to see.
Roberto Hernandez is 5-10 with a 4.90 ERA. So why not automatically move on? A ground ball arm, his career mark is 58 percent, that ground ball rate of his is a career worst this season at 50.3 percent. Still it's a very impressive number. He's given up a few grounders but he's getting whiffs. After six years never reaching 5.75 K's per nine, Roberto has bumped his 2013 mark to 6.98. It's not great a great number, but the Ks and grounders are a solid combination.
Ian Kennedy is 3-6 with a 5.42 ERA. He's floating on waivers all over the place. He's still got a solid 7.58 K/9 mark, though a key for him will be bringing down a walk rate that is a full batter higher this season – 3.33 – that it was the past two years. Would also be nice if his HR/F ratio would recede from a career worst 12.6 percent down to his career average (10.7). It would also be good if there was a return to the 21 percent line drive rate he has the past two years versus his absurdly high current mark of 24.3 percent. He's not going to be an ace, but serviceable he very well could be.
Click here for my second half rankings of over 500 players.
By Ray Flowers
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The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Fri 7-10 PM EDT), Ray also hosts his own 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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