MLB Fantasy Second Half Predictions

The midsummer classic has come and gone. Fantasy teams have taken their general shape and owners are looking for those last two or three (15 or 16) roster moves for the final standings ascension or to solidify their place among the top echelon of their league. With that, Ben Rolfe, Kyle Robert and I make some second half predictions for the back half of the fantasy year.

We’ve made our pre-season predictions and followed it up with our quarter pole ‘progress report’. Now, we are essentially wiping the slate clean to predict the rest of the season results.

MVP: Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks (unanimous)

Ben: I really wanted to pick Bryce Harper because he has been so much fun to watch but Goldschmidt is nearly 25% better according to the player rater. That is partly because he is on pace to be a 40 homer, 30 steal player whilst also hitting well over .300. Harper has the edge on power and average is a wash but Goldy has stolen four times as many bases as Harper (16 to Harper’s 4) and to me that is a massive difference when you are looking at the value of a player. Goldschmidt is a five category contributor and he is above average in most of those whilst Harper is only a four category guy. For these reasons I am keeping with my preseason guy.

Kyle: Paul Goldschmidt has been nothing short of extraordinary this season. He has been raking, hitting an impressive .340 with 21 home runs and 70 RBI. His ability to steal a base only adds to his value. He has 16 this season already. Come season’s end, Goldschmidt should still be hitting in the .330’s or higher with 40 plus home runs, 120 RBI, and 30 plus steals. He should be in the lineup basically everyday surrounded by impressive hitters like A.J. Pollock, Yasmany Tomas, and David Peralta.

Jay: Everything Kyle & Ben said (I really did have a great write-up, but you don’t need everything a third time).

Cy Young

Kyle: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Clayton Kershaw is still the best pitcher in the MLB. He is poised to have a phenomenal second half. He currently sits outside the top 10 on ESPN’s player rater. His ERA is 2.85 but he has a FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) of 2.42. This means that he has the ability to lower his ERA. Kershaw has been a strikeout machine, especially as of late averaging 9.67 strikeouts over his last 9 outings. I expect his win total to go up as well. He is currently 6-6, which feels a bit unlucky for the way he has been pitching.

Jay: Zach Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers
Sigh…I have dropped my staunch campaign for Sonny Gray support. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Sonny like Cher…never mind. Greinke has been lights out and as soon as the Dodgers offense supports him (and Kershaw); they are going to be the team nobody wants to face this post season. His ERA is currently 1.30(!) and his 6.0 WAR is almost a full point higher than the second place guy. You might have heard he’s also chasing Orel Hershiser’s consecutive scoreless inning streak. If Greinke reaches, or beats the record of 59, it will be one of the most amazing baseball streaks I’ve witnessed. I advise we all sit back and enjoy the ride.

Ben: Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
Even after a dreadful outing against the Reds, Scherzer still sits atop the pitching ranks over on the player rater demonstrating how dominant he has been this year. His ERA is currently the 4th best in the NL, his WHIP leads the league and he is second in strikeouts. The fact he has only won nine games and has lost seven is stunning given his ERA and WHIP but they are partly out of his control so it’s tough to downgrade him too much there. I can see Scherzer being taken above Kershaw next year in drafts and therefore once again I am staying with my preseason prediction.

Sell: Charlie Blackmon, OF, Colorado Rockies (Kyle & Jay)

blackmon

Jay: I’m a complete homer for the Rockies and I can’t believe I’ve made this selection and continue to type about it. If you look at 2014 though, it’s hard to pick a better candidate. Pre/Post All-Star break last year were baaaad. Pre All-Star Game slash line: .305/.349/.828/14/52/18 and Post All-Star: .264/.314/.698/5/20/10. That is some serious power outage. He might hold his average a bit better this year, and should continue swiping bases, but I’d rather try and sell him as a top 10 ESPN Player Rater player than get off the ride after the descent.

Kyle: Charlie Blackmon has been what many of us thought Corey Dickerson was going to be this season. Blackmon didn’t start the season off strong, hitting .220 in the month of May. However, as of late he has turned it on. Over the last 30 days he has hit .360 with 3 home runs, 19 RBI and 9 stolen bases. As impressive as that has been, sustaining that for the rest of the season is not likely. Over his career, Blackmon has seen his average hover around .300, which is where he currently sits for the season even with his hot bat of late. While I don’t expect him to completely fall apart, I expect .280-.300 to be the norm. A lower batting average means less of the counting stats that make Blackmon so valuable in fantasy baseball. He is already close to his career high in steals of 28. The rest of the way I’d expect .290 with 8 home runs and 28 RBI and 12-15 steals. A fine player that will help you, but if you can sell him for more make sure you do so.

Ben: Todd Frazier, 1B/3B, Cincinnati Reds
This is asking for trouble because I own Frazier in my most important and treasured league and the last person I picked here fell apart quicker than rice paper in water. However, Frazier is a prime regression candidate as he is currently on pace for 50 homers and close to 20 steals whilst batting in the .280 region. His current stats also suggest over 100 runs and RBI are on the cards playing for a terrible Cincinnati team. Last season he struggled after the All Star break and whilst I really hope he doesn’t, it wouldn’t surprise me if he does once again this season. Honestly though anything less than the extrapolated stats I have suggested above would be a disappointment given his impressive first half because they are all world numbers at any position in baseball. If Frazier gets 40 homers and 15 steals with 90 runs and RBI you will still be happy but it is worth testing the waters to see what people are willing to offer (Miggy perhaps?).

Buy

Kyle: Hunter Pence, OF, San Francisco Giants
Hunter Pence appears to be finally healthy after spending much of the first half on the disabled list. He clearly tried to come back to quickly the first time. This is golden opportunity to buy low on a player with tremendous potential. The Pence owner in your league is likely frustrated with the amount of games he has missed and after the first set back could fear another is looming. When making the deal, play into that. Let the other owner think you are willing to take a gamble but worry it won’t pan out. You can get a guy who will hit close to .300 with double digit home runs, drive in the neighborhood of 50 RBI and score 50 runs. This Giants offense is getting pieces back, including Pence and could add more as the deadline approaches. They were crushing until injuries ravaged their lineup. Pence is the ideal buy low candidate.

Ben: Jonathan Lucroy, C, Milwaukee Brewers
Lucroy is currently in the middle of the worst year of his career and is on pace to hit the lowest homers since his rookie season. Lucroy’s career average is in the .280 range but two of the last three years he has found himself batting above .300. His current batting average is a pathetic .246 but his BABIP is also at a career low as well so I would expect to see that average come up. His ISO is also its lowest in his career bar his rookie season so natural regression points to a good second half coming for Lucroy. He is one of the best catchers for fantasy when he is on and right now you can get him at a cut price which is an absolute bargain.

Jay: Garrett Richards, SP, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
For leagues that don’t pay attention to Quality Starts, there is usually too much emphasis on Wins and Losses and that drives me crazy. As of this writing Richards last start was less than desirable and ballooned his ERA to 3.53. I don’t think Richards ever stands out as ‘ace’ material, but he’s had 11 QS out 16 Games Started. You can do a lot worse than 68% QS% and probably won’t have to pay elite price to obtain him. (Edited Note: On 7/18 Richards pitched a complete game shutout of the Boston Red Sox and either slammed this window shut, or substantially raised the needed price to purchase)

Prospect Call-Up Watch

seager

Ben: Cory Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
Even though the Dodgers seem adamant they are sticking with the ageing Rollins for the time being we must be close to Seager time. In 250+ plate appearances at AAA Seager is hitting close to 280 with eight home runs, 17 doubles, 30 RBI and two steals. While those stats don’t slap you in the face like Kris Bryant’s a year ago Seager offers good defense at shortstop and must be first in line when Rollins hits injury issues in the second half.

Jay: Joey Gallo, 3B/OF, Texas Rangers
I’m cheating a little here because Gallo was called up and played in 25 games for the Rangers before the break. However, he’s a monster (6’4” 230lbs.) that absolutely mashes (pun intended). Yes, he strikes out A LOT. He also homers a lot and will swipe a bad or two as added bonus. In 25 games pre-break, Gallo hit .218/.306/.754/5/13/2. Rumors are swirling everywhere in Dallas-Ft. Worth the Rangers are shopping Leonys Martin and Shin Soo-Choo for pitching help as well as watching the clock until Josh Hamilton’s next DL stint. Plus, there are now rumors Adrian Beltre’s wrist isn’t right. I predict Gallo will resurface sooner than later and flirt with 25/50/10 before the season’s end.

Kyle: Kyle Schwarber, C, Chicago Cubs
Kyle Schwarber has been raking in the minors this season and flourished when he got his shot in AL parks. He hit .364 with a home run and 6 RBI in just 22 at bats. He will be up for at least 6 weeks with Miguel Montero injured and probably longer as I don’t expect him to lose the job any time soon.

Kyle’s Bonus Prospect Watch:
While many are eagerly anticipating the arrival of Corey Seager, he feels a year away for me. Jimmy Rollins has been fine at shortstop and Don Mattingly loves to play his veterans, just ask Alex Guerrero. There are however a couple of names who either got the call already or should be very soon.

Joey Gallo is another player who saw major league action already but was sent back down to AAA with the return of Adrian Beltre and Josh Hamilton. Gallo will need to cut down on the strikeouts, but I expect to see him back with the big club at some point soon.

Aaron Judge is a question mark but worth keeping an eye on. He is a monster at 6’7” and 275. His home run power is unquestioned and has enough plate discipline to be productive. He is probably more of a 2016 option, he could see time in right if Beltran is hurt or needs to DH more often.

One Comment

  1. Aaron

    July 21, 2015 at 11:45 am

    What is Blackmon worth in the trade market

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