Working The Wire: Looking At 2nd Half Standouts

by Will Overton

The all-star game is right around the corner and that only means one thing, we’re halfway through the baseball season already. For fantasy baseball owners that means it’s make or break time. No more sitting back and waiting on the guys you drafted to come through. Now is the time when you have to make the right moves and put yourself in a position to be a contender, or at the least to try and ruin someone else’s season if yours is already is lost.

One of the ways to get a leg up for the second half is to know which guys you should expect to see heat up as the season wears on. Anyone can grab a guy who’s getting hot, but it’s a lot harder to get ahead of the game and predict when a guy is going to get hot.

I have four hitters here who have been known to have big second halfs and could be available in your league. Some of them are guys you might want to stash now, while some of them you may want to wait to see signs of life, I’ll give you my opinion on how to handle each of these guys.

Derek Lee: It’s been a rough first half so far for Derek Lee who has struggled with both injuries and inconsistency. Lee is 35 years old and in his 14th season as a major leaguer, so one has to wonder just how much of his first half has to do with age catching up with him, but there is hope for a second half resurgence. Lee is hitting .242 with 6 HR’s right now and last year he went into the break with a .233 average and 10 HR’s in considerably more AB’s. In the second half Lee hit 9 more HR’s, drove in an impressive 44 runs and hit .298. Go back another year and Lee was hitting .336 with 18 HR’s and 54 RBI in the second half. The rest of the Orioles lineup seems to be heating up right now, so if Derek Lee can flip the switch the way he has the last two seasons than he could be a contributor to your fantasy team in the second half. If you have a need at first base I would recommend taking a shot on Lee and seeing just what he has left in him.

Rajaj Davis: It’s hard to complain about the stolen bases you have gotten from Rajaj so far when he has been healthy this season. However the .228 average and mere 27 runs scored is not what you expected from Davis and many owners have shown their displeasure by dropping him right onto the waiver wire. Currently he is out there in nearly half of leagues. I realize Davis has been bad, but he’s not going to stay this bad and he has elite level stolen base stats. Last year Davis hit .301 after the all-star break with 23 steals, impressive but it pales in comparison to his 2009 second half. In 09 Davis hit .325, stole 30 bases, knocked in 42 runs and scored 46 more. I fully believe that Rajaj will get things back on track in sooner rather than later and when he does he will take back over the leadoff position for the Jays and score plenty of runs. I wouldn’t recommend plugging him into your lineup right now, but I would suggest grabbing him to stash on your bench and wait for him to heat up.

Hideki Matsui: Matsui has to go into the same category as Derek Lee, horrible first half and a lot of questions as to why. Matsui has been a strong second half player in the past, but he has also never been this bad in the first half before. Like Lee you have to question whether or not it is age that has done Matsui in at the age of 37, but the second half numbers are hard to ignore. Matsui has hit double-digit HR’s each of the last two seasons and last season he hit .309 in the second half. This is probably not a move to make in standard leagues, but in deeper leagues Matsui is someone to keep an eye on.

Ryan Raburn: Speaking of deep league only guys, Ryan Raburn fits that bill. With a .207 batting average there is not much appealing about Raburn right now other than the fact that he can play 2B. The Tigers do seem committed to playing Raburn on an everyday basis and if history repeats itself that could be a very good thing for your team in the second half. Last year at this time Raburn had a .208 average and just 2 HR’s, in the second half he had a .315 average, 13 HR’s and 46 RBI. Go back to 2009 and Raburn had a .310 average and 10 HR’s in only 142 AB’s. I can’t explain why it is that Raburn has been playing so awful and why he gets so much better in the second half, but history speaks for itself. Right now he is a guy to stash in deep leagues, but if he gets on a roll he could have use in all leagues as a 2B. Don’t ignore him based on these numbers, the past tells a different story.

How much stock do you put into guys who are strong second half performers? What are your thoughts on these four guys specifically? Leave your thoughts and any questions you might have. Make sure to check back next Thursday for 2nd half pitchers.

4 comments

  1. Chief Aloique says:

    I had Derek Lee in the second half last year, thinking the same thing. True, he filled out the stat line a time or two (I particularly remember a Sunday just before he was traded when he salvaged my week with a couple of homers at Wrigley), but with the disc problems in his back increasing his bench time the deeper into the season, you never knew if he was going to play day-to-day, forget locking him in for the week,

    I expect much the same thing this year. Once Baltimore is realistically out of it, Lee is a prime candidate for losing lots of playing time to minor league call-ups. It’s just not worth it.

    Regarding Rajai, he seems to be getting ever more lost in the shuffle as Toronto is getting locked into one of those outfield-by-committees, a la Colorado and the Cubs. You can’t even predict his games started by the opposing lefty/righty pitcher anymore. And Toronto also seems to be noticeably cutting back on their early-season philosophy of all-out attack via stolen bases, much of it having to do with first base being open when Bautista comes up, inviting the intentional walk.

    I had high hopes for Rajai in the spring (leadoff man for Toronto?? WOW!!) but if he’s going to be a significant contributor in the second half, Toronto is sure sending out all of the wrong signals right now that they’re setting the table for him. Again, it may happen but I just don’t have nearly as much confidence (like none) as you do in a second-half turn-around this year. I’m at the point in the season where even just stashing him is killing me.

    • Will Overton says:

      In standard leagues I can see dropping him, but I do believe in a turn around. The Jays have extra OF’s, but Davis is the best of them talent wise and when/if he starts showing it they’ll play him every day.

      He doesn’t belong in anyone’s lineup right now, but I think we’ll be saying something different by years end.

      • Chief Aloique says:

        Well, I think I will drop him for some pitching — everyone can always use more pitching — and keep an eagle eye on his situation vis-a-vis the waiver wire.

        But I have my doubts. Another second-half wonder — Encarnacion — is waking up over there and if he merits everyday playing time (they need another big bat in the everyday lineup), it’ll be at third, with Bautista rejoining Davis in a more-and-more crowded outfield (Rivera, Patterson, Thames — who appears to be being groomed for something). And that doesn’t even take into consideration the imminent probable return of Travis Snider.

        Defensively Davis can anchor that outfield better than any of those options, but I’m getting the feeling that Toronto would like to get as much batting thunder in that lineup as possible to compete in that division and that’s why Rajai’s role is shrinking noticeably. (In fact, that could be messing with his mind and explaining his extended slump: desperately trying too hard??)

  2. Nick Tenaglia says:

    Another guy who will be Waiver Wire fodder but usually has good 2nd halves is Jack Cust

    Here are his ’08-’10 monthly splits (SLG, ISO, PA/HR, PA/RBI):
    May – .465, .195, 21.8, 7.7
    June – .403, .182, 22.9, 7.5
    July – .502, .247, 19.3, 7.4
    Aug – .424, .181, 24.6, 11.8
    Sep/Oct – .492, .240, 19.9, 6.9

    Clearly July and Sep/Oct are his best months of production. August isn’t so great, but 2 out of 3 ain’t bad…

    Unless you are in the DEEEEEPEST of leagues this guy will be on the wire (0.4% Owned on ESPN). He’s even available in my 20-Team / 40-man Roster league

    Now this isn’t to say that you should go out and grab him now, but him on your watchlist. July starts tomorrow, so Jack Cust might start turning things around….

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