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The second half of the baseball season is a few days away, and without any roster changes to busy myself with during the All-Star break, I thought I'd make a few predictions on what the rest of the season holds:
Player Most Likely To Produce Second-Half Value Who Currently Has 0% Ownership in Yahoo! Leagues: Jonathan Herrera, 2B/3B/SS, Cubs.
He's 7-for-18 in the last two weeks with one HR, four RBI and four runs scored. He seems destined for more playing time with the Cubs for a variety of reasons: 1) Addison Russell's development at the major league level has stalled. He either needs rest or more time in the minors or both. Barring a trade Herrera appears most likely to benefit. 2) Kris Bryant needs rest. 3) Starlin Castro is either headed out of town or needs competition for starts. Herrera won't hit many more HRs, but he is a big SB threat waiting for a bigger chance.
Player Most Likely To Fade Who Is Currently Ranked In Top 10: Bryce Harper, OF, WAS.
He's having an outstanding season - 26 HRs, 61 RBI and a .339 average, and he's unquestionably a fantasy stud, but he has only five HRs over the last month, and that average has been sliding down steadily from Ty Cobb territory of late. I wouldn't be surprised if he pulls himself together and wins the MVP, but in his first three seasons, he's seen most of his stats fall in July, August and September.
Player Most Likely To Lead American League In Both Strikeouts And Walks In The Second Half: Carlos Rodon, SP, White Sox.
His WHIP is ridiculously high - 1.61 - but his ability to overpower batters is also clear, to the tune of 68 strikeouts in 66 IP. He probably will have many more games this season like last week's visit to Wrigley Field - 5 IP, six strikeouts, six walks, and didn't hang around long enough to get the victory. Still, I could see him with a couple of big 14- or 15-strikeout games before the season is done.
Biggest Fantasy Disappointment Who Could Still Save Your Team: Yasiel Puig, OF, LAD.
An injury-marred first half and reports of further character problems might have you wanting to unload Puig, but be careful. He's already demonstrated an ability to quickly pile up extra-base hits. The Dodgers have too easily found their way into first place, and will need Puig to step up in the second half.
Pitcher Most Likely To Remind Fantasy Owners Of Mark Prior And Kerry Wood: Stephen Strasburg, SP, WAS.
The talent is indisputable, but he's now on the disabled list for a second time this year. Most signs point to him returning soon, but Strasburg sure is starting to look like someone who manages short stretches of brilliance before inevitably being sidelined with something or other - kind of like two other guys Cubs fans used to know.
Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.