Now that we’ve passed the All-Star break, we are moving into the unofficial second half of the season. Some players are renowned for their second-half surges, yet some are infamous for falling apart in the dog days. I’ve taken the liberty of breaking the Phillies’ starters into three categories…
SELL HIGH: Players who have historically proven a disappointing second half
- Ben Revere sees his average drop 33 points after the first half as well as a decrease in just about every other fantasy stat.
- Chase Utley experiences a drop in offensive production in the second half, most drastically in slugging percentage.
ON THE FENCE: Players who haven’t proved enough to predict an increase or decrease in performance
- Cody Asche in his limited major league experience has slightly lower numbers in the second half.
- Domonic Brown in a small sample size sees an uncommonly big drop in power in the second half, but fairly even numbers elsewhere.
- Marlon Byrd has better second half numbers, but not by a substantial amount.
BUY LOW: Players who have historically proven a significant increase in production in the second half
- Carlos Ruiz sees an increase in each sector of the triple-slash line: batting average, on-base percentage, and especially slugging percentage.
- Ryan Howard, despite his numbers being down this season, should see a large increase in offensive production, although most likely not enough to see typical end-of-year Ryan Howard numbers.
- Jimmy Rollins experiences a surge in the second half of seasons particularly in power.
Chase Utley is holding on to the top spot for NL second baseman in the MLB All-Star fan voting with an impressive .305/.364/.474 triple-slash line, 5 homeruns, and 33 RBIs. Although, it wasn’t even a month ago that Utley was hitting .333. Since May 24th, Utley is hitting just .253 while slugging a traumatic .326 in 24 games. That’s a batting average 80 points lower and a slugging percentage 220 points lower than his numbers prior to the date!
The Phillies, however, are streaking at the moment, winning eight of their last ten. Perhaps Utley has heated up with the team? Wrong. In those 10 games, Utley is hitting .243 and slugging .324 with just 3 RBIs. His numbers have been visibly declining as the season progresses. Conclusion: we can call April and May just a “hot start” and his current numbers are deceiving of how he is actually producing.
Utley typically performs well in what his former manager Charlie Manuel would call “hittin’ season,” or July. Unfortunately, the following month of August is indisputably his weakest offensive month, given his career record. The fantasy owners of Utley have a decision to make:
A) Hold on to Utley and pray that he heats back up with the weather, but take the sure hit in August.
B) Believe in Utley’s decreasing numbers and sell him high while he still has value as a .300-hitter and soon-to-be All-Star.
For most cases, I suggest Option B.
Phillies RF Marlon Byrd with his .274 average, 8 homeruns, and 32 RBIs through his first 55 games is proving to doubters that his 2-year/$16 million contract wasn’t totally outrageous. Byrd is off to a hot start with his triple-slash line of .274/.330/.476 as compared to his career .262/.316/.389 through May.
Although Byrd is already off to a better than usual start, we have yet to experience the months in which he thrives most. Byrd’s career average in June and July is over 30 points higher than in the first two months of the season. His career OBP and SLG are also significantly higher after May as well. In fact, April and May are the only two months in which Byrd hits below .280, and April is the only month in which he slugs below .400.
Byrd’s best numbers come in June and July, but he doesn’t slack in the dog days of August or September either. Seeing how Byrd traditionally hits considerably better in the coming months than the months we’ve experienced thus far, it may be a good idea to buy low.
We know Byrd’s numbers are going to increase, especially in these summer months, but even in the fall. Byrd is available as a free agent in about 30% of leagues. If you’re looking for a right fielder, I suggest grabbing Byrd while he’s cheap and before he really heats up.
Jose Abreu is scheduled to return to the lineup on June 2nd. Before landing on the DL about two weeks ago for tendinitis in his left ankle, Abreu was slashing .260/.312/.595 with a .900+ OPS and 15 homeruns in just 173 at-bats. He was averaging more fantasy points per day than any other 1B in the bigs and 5th most of any hitter with at least 50 at-bats this year. However, if you’re counting on him to continue carrying your fantasy team for the remainder of the season like he did for the first month and a half, you should be slightly worried.
There have been seven hitters to suffer tendinitis in their lower half since 2010. Four (C. Utley, R. Sweeney, M. Bradley, T. Buck) had either no sample of games before or after the injury. Last season, Melky Cabrera and Kyle Blanks each suffered tendinitis in their left lower half as a right-handed hitter, the same scenario Abreu’s experiencing. Neither player hit a single homerun after returning from the injury. Cabrera’s numbers stayed virtually the same. Blanks, who more accurately represents Abreu’s game, suffered a .200+ drop in SLG% and .272 drop in OPS. Not a good sign.
If you’re looking for optimism, Andy Dirks in 2012 experienced just a slight decrease in power and underwent just a .048 drop in SLG% after returning from his injury. He was a left-handed hitter though. Interesting note: each of the three examples injured their front foot.
There doesn’t seem to be a large enough sample-size to guarantee a decrease in performance, but it’s almost guaranteed that Abreu will not be averaging an 11.5 AB/HR rate anymore. Abreu should continue as one of the league’s top power hitters, but don’t depend on him to be your team’s top player anymore.