by Will Overton
The all-star rosters were announced last night which means we are right there at the half way point of the season. We’ve had a first half full of surprises and disappointments. We should also now be in a better position to judge where we are in terms of fantasy baseball and our standings.
If you’re in the hunt, or just outside that point, you have to try and make just the right moves. Part of that is identifying the guys to grab off waivers before the guys in your league do. Anyone can identify the guy hitting .400 for the last two weeks as a good add, but you may be too late at that point. Try pinpointing those guys before they get hot. One way of doing this is looking at their history. If a guy has a history of being a strong second half performer it makes sense to gamble on that guy doing it again.
Here are some guys with some history as strong second half hitters who might be worth watching:
Will Venable – OF, San Diego Padres: This is a guy who was owned in all leagues at the beginning of the season and now he’s owned in none. That tells you something about how bad Venable has been and the .193 average really tells the story. However, we know Venable has more than what we have seen and there’s hope we see it in the second half. Last season at the all-star break Venable was hitting .224, and in the second half he hit .315 with 11 HR’s and 13 SB’s. Previous seasons splits aren’t quite as drastic, but Venable has posted better second half numbers than first half numbers in every season of his career.
Venable has played poorly enough to put himself in a time share, but if he gets hot or someone gets traded that could end in a hurry. Venable is arguably the most talented outfielder on the roster and if he gets himself going well again he’ll likely be put back in the leadoff spot as the Padres offense isn’t exactly the most talented group.
Matt Dominguez – 3B, Houston Astros: There’s a part of me that thinks Dominguez should already be owned in more leagues that he is now. His 11 HR’s and 38 RBI is far from a poor showing for the first half of the season. Still, last season when he had similar numbers at the halfway point he got better in the second half. Dominguez hit .260 last season in the second half which is a strong number for him. The Astros offense hasn’t been as bad as some might assume this season, and Dominguez has a chance to continue knocking in runs on a pretty steady basis. If we see another uptick in average over the second half Dominguez will be a very underrated fantasy baseball addition.
Nick Swisher – 1B/OF, Cleveland Indians: The second half numbers aren’t drastically better for Nick Swisher throughout history, but they do tend to go up. Over the last three seasons Swisher has a .269 average in the second half compared to .251 in the first half. Swisher also has double digit HR’s in the second half each of the last nine seasons, including 37 combined the last three seasons.
Swisher has really done nothing to earn his keep on the team, but the Indians haven’t ruled themselves out of the playoff hunt yet and Swisher is a veteran with a track record. The Indians are still running Swisher out there nearly every day and it feels to me like it’s only a matter of time before Swisher gets hot and starts hitting. Grabbing Swisher and anticipating a hot streak could be a gamble worth making. I would lean towards Swisher over Venable at this point.
Wade Miley – SP, Arizona Diamondbacks: I have been touting Wade Miley as a good add off the waiver wire in a few places and I’m going to take this chance to do it yet again. Miley posted a 2.93 ERA last year in the second half after a pretty pedestrian first half performance. I think a run like that could be possible yet again. Miley has looked poised for a breakout, allowing just three runs in his last two starts over 14.2 IP. He’s also racking up the swings and misses with eight strikeouts or more in four of his last five outings and six of his last eight. Owned in just 11% of ESPN leagues I can see Miley being a top 50 pitcher in the second half.