By Matt Cott of RotoAnalysis.com
The hardest thing to do as a fantasy owner at the halfway point of season is to remember one thing: all that matters is how your players perform from July to September, and what they’ve done before that is irrelevant. It’s easy to look at a players first half and dismiss their ability, but here are 10 guys to pick up who I think could make a huge difference to your team in the second half of the year and deliver star-level stats.
All ownership percentages are in CBSSports.com leagues.
- Salvador Perez (60%)
A knee injury that delayed the start of Perez’s by over 3 months made many fantasy owners forget about just how high his ceiling as a player is. Perez still has under 200 at-bats at the MLB level, but as a prospect he was lauded for his advanced approach at the plate; that hitting could lead to a .300 average for the rest of the season. Combining that with a little bit of power should make him a player to watch at a thin catcher position as he continues to develop.
- Ike Davis (68%)
But he’s batting .200! Yes, Davis has begun the season in a horrible way. On the flip side, however, that is the only reason a player as talented as Davis is available in your league in the first place. While his strikeout rate has increased, the main source of his struggles has been a BABIP that dropped from .344 in 2011 to .233 so far in 2012. As that evens out in the second half, Davis’s average will rebound to add to his power numbers and make him a very start-able guy in your 1B or CI slot.
- Jemile Weeks (54%)
The second half of 2012 should go down as the point at which Jemile became the better Weeks for fantasy baseball owners. Jemile has shown promise in his second year in the majors by walking nearly three times as much as he did as a rookie. Once again, BABIP variance seems to be the largest catalyst of his disappointing batting average. His BABIP has dropped from .350 in 2011 to .254 this year. Like Ike Davis, I see Jemile getting a little more luck behind him in the second half. His speed and average should play in nearly any lineup.
- Will Middlebrooks (84%)
Quite simply, Middlebrooks was the reason Kevin Youkilis became expendable in Boston. He started off the season by hitting 9 homers in just 93 at-bats in AAA to earn the call up to the ‘Sox, and hit too well for them to continue to bench him. There are more than a few holes in his swing, but his ability to produce runs in a premier offensive lineup can’t be overlooked. He should settle in with a .270-.280 type average while continuing his barrage of homers in Fenway.
- Brett Gardner (59%)
Gardner is a much more dynamic fantasy player than the average fan may realize. He has combined for 96 steals over the past two seasons, and is also able to score with the league leaders in runs by hitting in maybe the best lineup in the league. He should be back in that lineup in two weeks or less, so grab Gardner while he’s still available.
- Wil Myers (35%)
After struggling in 2011, Myers eclipsed his total of 8 homers for the year fairly quickly in 2012. His numbers so far this year between AA and AAA are stud-worthy: 27 homers and a .330 average to boot. Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are setting the bar high for rookies this year, and while there is a lot of risk involved, Myers has the potential to have a similar impact and be the talk of every fantasy league when he gets called up. This is another great chance to be ahead of the curve.
- Michael Fiers (63%)
At the end of each season, there is a guy you see in the league leaderboards and think, “Who the hell is that?” Fiers barely has the pedigree to start a MLB game, but has exploded with incredible rates in the first half of 2011 and could be “that guy” in 2012. He has had just 7 starts since earning his job in the Brewers’ rotation. To put his 9.64 K/9 in perspective, that would be 6th in the majors and ahead of superstars like Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, the great R.A. Dickey, and many, many more. His walk rate is currently lower than Cliff Lee’s. I’m not saying he’s a superstar, but he will continue to surprise a lot of people, and his name is the only thing holding him back from being 100% owned. Buy into the numbers.
- Derek Holland (82%)
Holland is the perfect high-risk, high-reward type for a team that may be in the bottom half of the standings. Throughout his career, Holland has struggled to live up to his potential and consistently produce at the major league level. He has looked sharp since bouncing back from his shoulder injury, and is well worth a shot at age 25 to grow into a top-tier starting pitcher. He is on one of the best teams in baseball and at worst should be able to get your club some wins.
- Chad Billingsley (81%)
A safer option could be Chad “Buzzsaw” Billingsley. He has quietly had a rebound season so far by posting the best strikeout rate since his career year in 2008 and even more importantly, walking the least guys he ever has by a significant margin. These good signs point to his 4-9 record in the first half flipping and resembling the Dodgers’ first place effort.
- Addison Reed (67%)
Closers have different values in many different types of leagues, but a guy who I find consistently undervalued is the White Sox’ young stud, Addison Reed. He has pinpoint control to go with an electric fastball to strikeout hitters, and has a relatively firm hold on his job. That is all you really need from your relief pitcher, and I’d love to be in the third of the leagues on CBS that he’s not owned in.
Agree? Disagree? Questions? Tweet @RotoAnalysis and be sure to follow Moe @MoeProblems and Matt @KidCotti21. Check out their work on RotoAnalysis.com, as well as The RotoAnalysis Fantasy Sports Podcast.