We’re halfway there ladies and gentlemen. Whether you’re livin’ on a prayer in your fantasy leagues or sitting atop the heap at the midway point, there is still a lot of baseball to be played. While some of the players you may hold on your fantasy squad are off to a tremendous first half, can they keep it going down the stretch?
While some might basking in the glory of having Josh Hamilton (TEX-OF) or pitching sensation Ubaldo Jimenez (COL-SP) carry the load for the 1st half of the season, seasoned fantasy veterans are never short-sighted. Looking ahead for talent to anchor the 2nd half push is an invaluable part of a winning fantasy baseball owner.
Here’s a list of notorious 2nd half players that have had success during the dog days of summer along with a few players making late season arrivals to provide a splash for your fantasy team.
Percentage of players available taken from Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball leagues
Adam LaRoche is a premium example of what a 2nd half player is which could explain why he always seems to swirl up rumors every July 31st for MLB’s trading deadline. LaRoche’s time in Arizona may be expiring as he is a free agent after this season and contenders looking for a bat to bolster their lineups will be looking to add the veteran lefty first baseman. If an MLB club could use LaRoche’s 2nd half production, so can you for your fantasy club.
While LaRoche isn’t a universally owned candidate, acquiring his services through trading could provide huge returns. Take a look at LaRoche’s career numbers before and after the all-star break:
Pre-All Star: 1883 AB, .252 AVG, 475 H, 76 HR, 297 RBI
Post-All Star: 1290 AB, .300 AVG, 387 H, 73 HR, 227 RBI
LaRoche nearly matches his pre-All Star totals in homers with 593 less AB’s and sustains a batting average 50 points higher in the 2nd half of the season. In only 57 games in Atlanta after the break, LaRoche tallied 40 RBI while smashing 12 homers and batting an astounding .325 during the stretch. Such strong evidence can lead me to believe that another .300, 15 HR, 40-50 RBI 2nd half campaign is certainly attainable for the slugging lefty which could be useful for owners looking to add some beef to the lineup.
Owners lacking at 1st or a corner infield slot should inquire about acquiring LaRoche’s services just as many contending ball clubs around the big leagues will be doing the same.
Nyger Morgan (WAS-OF): 35% owned
Morgan’s prime fantasy value lies in his ability to steal bases and score runs as a top of the lineup threat. Despite a first half that saw the Nationals centerfielder hit .252, Morgan still managed to score 40 runs and swipe 20 bags along the way. Morgan is another notorious 2nd half hitter, posting a .340 career average after the all star break against his .259 average before the break. The speedy outfielder has hit safely in 7 of his first 9 games in July, an early indication that his 2nd half production could be on it’s way.
Owners looking to add to their runs and stolen bases could use Morgan’s 2nd half and at his reduced price, he could just be sitting in your local waiver wire. If Morgan isn’t on the wire, he’s still valuable enough in the 2nd half to acquire him via trade.
Yunel Escobar (TOR-SS): 45% owned
The returns on the Cuban export this season have disappointed Atlanta management and the fantasy community alike, both parting ways with the beleaguered shortstop. After the Braves expected Escobar to follow up on his 2009 campaign (.299 AVG, 14 HR, 76 RBI), Escobar followed it up with a .238 AVG with no home runs and 19 RBIs, good enough to get him shipped north of the border to Toronto for Alex Gonzalez and prospects this week. Escobar was reportedly lacking hustle in the last series before the break which led to his walking papers in Atlanta.
While everyone has seemingly given up on the 27-year-old shortstop, a change of scenery and particularly strong 2nd half stats support an argument that Escobar is in for a big 2nd half with his new ball club.
Last season, Escobar bested his first half numbers in batting average (.297 pre-all star vs. .306 post-all star), and matched his totals in homers (7) while playing in 5 less games. His career .312 average after the break makes Yunel a quiet storm waiting to erupt in a Jays lineup which leads the leagues in home runs.
At 45 percent owned, Escobar owners may have grown tired, just as the Braves had, but sometimes a fresh start is all a talented player needs to get going again. The risk here is very low and his value is as low as it’s going to be if he heats up in Toronto. Again, Escobar is another player that is not universally owned in leagues but you’re probably not going to pay top dollar for a SS that could explode in the 2nd half if you have to trade for him.
Madison Bumgarner (SF-SP): 26% owned
The 10th overall pick of the 2007 draft by the Giants joins a staff in need of a 5th starter following Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito and Jonathan Sanchez. Bumgarner has tossed 28 innings while allowing only 8 runs and only 1 run in his last 14 innings of work with an impressive 21K:5BB ratio thus far. His stuff is electric and his ownership is rising with each impressive showcase of his electric stuff. With fill in 5th start Todd Wellemeyer out with a strained right quad, the 20-year-old Bumgarner will continue to have opportunities to solidify the 5th spot in the loaded San Fran rotation. Take a flier on Bumgarner as he will rack up the K’s for you with his first go around in the big leagues.