- Cody Ross (OF), Florida Marlins
Cody Ross has quietly put up great numbers in the last two months. Since May 1st he has hit .302 with 11 homers and 34 RBI. The power numbers are legit, Ross hit 22 homers in 145 games last year. However, the .300 batting average is a mirage because in his first full season last year, Ross failed to show any consistency and posted a .260 batting average.
My Take: The streakiness is why he will never hit .300 in a full season, but you can look for a .260-.270 batting average with 8-10 homers and 30-35 RBI in the second half as Ross’s ceiling.
- Jason Bay (OF) Red Sox
Jason Bay has really cooled off since his torrid April start. In June, he hit a very pedestrian .230 with four homers and 20 RBI. His season numbers now stand at .260 with 19 homers and 70 RBI. The power numbers are nice, but owners expect a better batting average from Bay. It is a good sign that Bay has still been getting RBI’s even though his batting average has taken a turn for the worse, so things can only get better from here.
My Take: If last week (2-15, zero homers, zero RBI) was any indication on the direction Bay is headed, owners should be worried, but I think he will turn things around in his contract year and raise his batting average to a more respectable .280-.290 range. This might be a good time to buy low.
- Adrian Gonzalez (1B) Padres
On April 30th, Adrian Gonzalez was sitting on a .333 batting average with nine homers and 20 RBI in 22 games. Since then, Gonzalez has hit .235 with 15 homers and 31 RBI in 59 games. He has also walked 50 times in his last 59 games, which indicates that pitchers are clearly pitching around him thanks to the lack of support in the Padres lineup.
My Take: May and June are notoriously Gonzalez’s worst months of the year, so look for him to get better as the season goes on. He is only 27-years old and just entering his prime so this could be the year he finally surpasses the 40-homer mark.
- Jacoby Ellsbury (OF) Red Sox
Last week, Jacoby Ellsbury hit .375 with six runs, two homers, and four steals. His season numbers now stand at a .303 batting average with 41 runs, five homers and 35 steals. Ellsbury is not known for his power, so the small surge is a nice bonus and has come as a surprise. However, he has maintained a .300 batting average for three months now and it might be time to buy into the fact that Ellsbury can hit for a .300 average. I’ll admit I was a doubter, but he has not shown any signs of slowing down.
My Take: If Ellsbury continues to get on base consistently he can be a great contributor in runs, hits and steals.
- Derrek Lee (1B) Cubs
In his first 19 games, Derek Lee was hitting .189 with one homer and 10 RBI. Since then (49 games), he has hit .323 with 14 homers and 42 RBI. Lee is now on pace to finish the season with more than 30 homers, which no one expected at the beginning of the year. He seems to have gotten his bulging disk woes under control, which is good news to owners who held onto him in the beginning of the season.
My Take: Lee’s spike in production should not be taken lightly, as he has been a perennial 25+ homer threat who can hit for a good average in a good offense. There is a lot to like about him going into the second half of the season and as long as he can stay healthy I expect him to hit 25-30 homers and approach a .290 batting average with 85 RBI.
- Pablo Sandoval (1B/3B) Giants
A sleeper on many people’s preseason lists, Pablo Sandoval is finally starting to live up to the hype. Only Ichiro (.417 batting average) was able to beat Sandoval’s .394-spot in the month of June. Last year in 41 games, Sandoval hit .345 so we know the average is for real, but this year he has found his power with 12 homers and 44 RBI in 75 games.
My Take: Sandoval’s Fielder-esque size (5’11, 246) suggests that the power is not a fluke. However, barring any injury to Bengie Molina, it is highly unlikely that Sandoval will see any more time at catcher this season. So if you are waiting to plug him into the catcher position you may need to look elsewhere to fill you needs. If your league already has him as a catcher then he immediately jumps to top-five status.
- Juan Rivera (OF) Angels
During 124 games in the 2006 season, Juan Rivera hit .310 with 23 HR and 85 RBI. In 2009 he is hitting .309 with 14 HR and 47 RBI. Rivera is posting very similar numbers to his 2006 season where he was a very serviceable third outfielder on many fantasy teams. He is capable of putting together a strong second half if he can stay on the field, which has proven difficult for him as he only compiled 299 at-bats in 2007-2008.
My Take: Rivera cannot be relied on to stay healthy for a whole season, but he should be owned in almost all leagues because he is very solid when healthy and could be a great replacement for those teams that are dealing with injuries to their outfield.
- Evan Longoria (3B) Rays
This season, Evan Longoria‘s average per month during April and May were 65 hits, 6.5 homers and 22.5 RBI. In June, Longoria recorded just 17 hits, three homers, and just eight RBI. He was bothered by a hamstring injury that almost landed him on the 15-day DL, so that can be pointed to some of the woes, but another factor could be that the Rays did not face the Red Sox in the month of June. This year in 10 games, Longoria is batting .375 with five homers and 21 RBI against Boston.
My Take: Longoria went through dry spells last year, so this comes as no surprise. His .233 batting average in June helped bring his season average to .290, which is more of what people expected from the young all-star. Look for him to bounce back and end the year near .300 with 35 homers and 110 RBI.
- Scott Rolen (3B) Blue Jays
Has anyone noticed that Scott Rolen is back? Rolen went 1-for-5 on Sunday to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 22 games. During the streak, Rolen is batting .395 (36 for 91) and has raised his season batting average to .328. He also has 44 runs and six homers to go along with the batting average.
My Take: The 22-game hit streak is worth noting because it is a great accomplishment, but I do not think Rolen has any great value here. If you need a short term replacement, Rolen is a great fit, but he has not put together a full season since 2006 and has not hit over .300 since 2004. It is hard for me to buy into this sudden resurgence and do not expect him to keep this up.
- Tim Wakefield (SP) Red Sox
It’s never too late for firsts and Tim Wakefield accomplished another at the age of 42 by making the AL All-Star team. With 10 wins on the season, Wakefield has been his solid self, keeping the Red Sox in games and eating up innings to save the bullpen. However, Wakefield’s numbers do not merit an all-star selection. In 102 2/3 innings, he has a 4.30 ERA with a 1.34 WHIP and a 53 to 36 K/BB ratio.
My Take: Wakefield was chosen over the likes of Jon Lester and A.J. Burnett, both of whom have better numbers than the veteran, but manager Joe Maddon felt like Wakefield deserved the spot as a “lifetime achievement award.” Wakefield is too streaky to own in shallow fantasy leagues and if you can sell him high with the praise he is receiving I would jump on the opportunity.
- Rick Porcello (SP) Tigers
Rookie pitcher Rick Porcello followed up a brilliant May (1.50 ERA on 22 hits, 10 walks with 20 K’s in 30 innings) with a much worse June where he posted a 4.60 ERA on 43 hits, 13 walks with 12 strikeouts in 31 1.3 innings. His BAA also rose from .208 in May to .338 in June.
My Take: Do I think he is totally done? No. However, some things do worry me and a 12 to 13 K/BB ratio is not a good sign. Rookie pitchers tend to hit a wall and struggle in the second half so I would not expect a lot from Porcello. At only 20-years old, Porcello has shown he will be a fantasy contributor down the road, but owners should be cautious when dealing with him as a rookie. Which brings me to…
- Ricky Romero (SP) Blue Jays
Ricky Romero has been brilliant in his last four starts with a 3-0 record and a 1.55 ERA on 20 hits and 10 walks with 29 strikeouts in 29 innings. On the season he has pitched 72 2/3 innings and posted a 2.85 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, which are great numbers for the 25-year old.
My Take: Romero missed a month due to a right oblique muscle strain has only pitched 72 2/3 innings so far. As all rookie pitcher do, Romero will hit a wall in the second half because they just do not have the stamina to produce at a high level for an entire major league season. You could probably find an owner who believes in the numbers so sell high.
- Joel Pineiro (SP) Cardinals
In 16 starts, Joel Pineiro has posted a 3.39 ERA on 113 hits and 12 walks with 43 strikeouts in 106 1/3 innings. He has been getting better as the season goes along as shown by his 2.65 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in June.
My Take: I am actually a believer in Pineiro to have a Lohse-esque season from 2008. Pitching coach Dave Duncan has had a lot of success getting veteran pitchers to show more control and it seems to have worked on Pineiro.
- Chris Davis (1B/3B) Rangers
Chris Davis was sent down to the minors to make room for OF Josh Hamilton who was activated from the 15-day DL. Davis had been flirting with the Mendoza line all season while maintaining a record-breaking strikeout rate with 113 strikeouts in 254 at-bats. He showed the power potential with 15 homers this season, but a .202 batting average was not going to cut it for the Rangers, who find themselves in a playoff race.
My Take: With prospect Justin Smoak (read below) waiting in the minors, Davis could be in danger of losing his job in the second half. Somewhere Mark Reynolds (204 K’s in 2008) weeps.
On the Mend
- Kevin Slowey (SP) Twins (15-day DL with strained right wrist)
Pete touched on Kevin Slowey in his TGIF column last Friday. Read it here. Slowey has been a disappointment this year minus the 10 wins and the Twins placed him on the 15-day DL on Saturday. This season he has posted a 4.86 ERA with an uncharacteristic 1.47 WHIP and .309 BAA.
My Take: Known for his great control, Slowey has kept the walks down (15 BB in 90 2/3 IP) but the hits have killed him and are the reason his WHIP is so high. He has been rather unlucky so hopefully the rest will do him some good and his .348 BABIP will come back down to earth. I expect a good second half out of Slowey so buy low.
- Aramis Ramirez (3B) Cubs (Out since May 9 with dislocated left shoulder)
Aramis Ramirez’s rehab assignment went well over the weekend and he is scheduled to join the team this week. In his three games at Single-A Ramirez hit .500 (3 for 6) with three walks and a double.
My Take: When healthy, Ramirez is a top-five third baseman, but the shoulder injury will probably affect his power swing in the first couple weeks. Keep a close watch on him as he joins the Cubs this week to gauge how he responds to the treatment. He says he feels fine and I would expect him to hit no less than 12 homers in the second half of the season.
Down on the Farm
- Justin Smoak (1B) Rangers
With news that Chris Davis (above) was sent down to Triple-A on Sunday night, the biggest celebration probably came from the home of Justin Smoak. He had a .930 on-base plus slugging percentage and more walks (39) than strikeouts (35) in Double-A before getting the call-up to Triple-AAA this weekend.
My Take: Smoak could get the call up to the majors in the second half, similar to what Chris Davis did in 2008 and I would expect him to put up good numbers in that ballpark and lineup. He has not shown the power Davis showed in the minors, but Smoak is a much more patient hitter and can use that to his advantage.
Tags: Adrian Gonzalez, Aramis Ramirez, Chris Davis, Cody Ross, Derrek Lee, Evan Longoria, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jason Bay, Joel Pineiro, Juan Rivera, Justin Smoak, Kevin Slowey, Pablo Sandoval, Red Sox, Rick Porcello, Ricky Romero, Tim Wakefield