FanPost

Build the Bridge: Hitters

Mike Ehrmann

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Build the Bridge: Hitters

The first thing that most fantasy players look at when assessing a player’s value each off-season is the previous season’s statistics. The next step in the process is usually figuring out whether those statistics were sabermetrically sound or not. Perhaps the player was a bit lucky and put up better statistics than he perhaps should have or maybe he was unfortunate and better can be expected moving forward. It is a helpful exercise each off-season to take a look and find out which players put up significantly better second half statistics in the previous season in relation to their respective first-half statistics. Analyzing each player’s second half, figuring out how legitimate the statistics are, and deciding whether to associate more value on the player moving forward is a process that can help uncover value that many of your league-mates might not realize is there. If it is decided that any of these players will likely build the bridge from last season’s second half to this season then it will likely be worth going an extra dollar or two for them on for auction leagues and moving these players up your rankings appropriately in snake-draft leagues.

Yonder Alonso

1st Half

266 At-Bats

2 HR

18 RBI

.676 OPS

3% HR/FB

.259 AVG

2nd Half

283 At-Bats

7 HR

44 RBI

.801 OPS

9% HR/FB

.286 AVG

Alonso’s HR/FB rate was much more reasonable in the second half and he was also able to improve his CT% by 3 points. With the fences coming in at PETCO, Alonso should be able to hit around 15 HR while maintaining some of the improvement in batting average that he made over the second half of 2012. Something like .275 with 15 HR and 75-80 RBI would be a reasonable expectation for Alonso in 2013.

Erick Aybar

1st Half

267 AB

1 HR

5 SB

.625 OPS

2% HR/FB

.255 AVG

2nd Half

250 AB

7 HR

15 SB

.852 OPS

11% HR/FB

.328 AVG

Aybar’s HR/FB rate was way too low in the first half but a little high in the second half. His batting average gains led to more SB opportunities, therefore, more SB’s in the second half. I would not expect anything close to a .328 AVG moving forward though. Erick’s first half batting average was legitimately bad but his second half average should have been around the .290-.300 range with neutral luck. Overall, a repeat of his full-season 2012 numbers would not be surprising, perhaps with some more consistency throughout the season.

Coco Crisp

1st Half

192 AB

2 HR

16 SB

.572 OPS

4% HR/FB

.219 AVG

2nd Half

263 AB

9 HR

23 SB

.868 OPS

11% HR/FB

.289 AVG

As long as Coco Crisp is healthy I am expecting statistics similar to his full-season line in terms of power and SB but much closer to his second half batting average. Although Crisp remains quite risky in terms of likelihood for DL time, if he can avoid the injury bug it is reasonable to expect a .275 AVG with 11 HR, 45 SB, and solid counting statistics as he will continue to bat leadoff in 2013.

Ike Davis

1st Half

246 AB

11 HR

45 RBI

.670 OPS

.220 AVG vs. RHP

.203 AVG

2nd Half

273 AB

22 HR

45 RBI

.862 OPS

.282 AVG vs. RHP

.249 AVG

Ike Davis will be a player I target in most of my leagues this season. He has admitted that Valley Fever may have played some part in his poor start last in 2012. Based on the improvements he made in the second half I am buying the upside for 40 HR with a batting average in the .265 area. It’s worth noting that Ike hit .265 with 27 HR from June 9th onward. It’s also worth mentioning that he got off to a very nice start in 2011, so there isn't a true history of slow starts for Davis. Hope that his .227 full-season 2012 batting average will scare off your league-mates.

Josh Donaldson

Before All-Star Break

98 AB

1 HR

1 BB

26 K

.395 OPS

.153 AVG

After All-Star Break

176 AB

8 HR

13 BB

35 K

.844 OPS

.290 AVG

While I wouldn't expect anything close to a .290 AVG from Donaldson in 2013, I would absolutely expect many of the gains that he made in after the All-Star Break in 2012 to stick. That post-break BB total is much more in line with his MiLB stats than his pre-break total. Donaldson still isn't a player to specifically target but you can do worse than a .260 AVG, 15 HR and about 8 SB from your 3B, especially if you play in a deep enough league. Something to consider is how much the acquisition of Jed Lowrie will affect Donaldson’s playing time, but that could just push him further down deep-league draft-boards, making him a true sleeper.

Adrian Gonzalez

1st Half

307 AB

6 HR

43 RBI

7% HR/FB

80 CT%

.274 AVG

2nd Half

322 AB

12 HR

65 RBI

12% HR/FB

85 CT%

.323 AVG

It’s reasonable to expect his 2012 overall batting average of .299 to repeat itself in 2013. A return to 2011’s counting stats, 27 HR with over 100 RBI, would also be a reasonable expectation He’ll probably to be overvalued now that he’s hitting in the over-hyped Dodger lineup, but on the chance you are able to nab him at a reasonable price, be confident in his projection. Most people are probably expecting the same type of numbers that I’m projecting for A-Gone but taking into account his second half resurgence and very low first half HR/FB you now know the reason.

Chase Headley

1st Half

284 AB

8 HR

13% HR/FB

2nd Half

320 AB

23 HR

27% HR/FB

Headley had a largely inflated HR/FB % in the second half. I doubt there is any league where there won’t be an owner or two who expects him to repeat or at least come close to repeating his 2012 statistics. It will not happen. Even with the fences coming in at PETCO, I’ll take the under on 23 HR for Headley’s entire 2013 campaign.

Nate McLouth

Before All-Star Break

57 AB

0 HR

2 RBI

0 SB

.385 OPS

.140 AVG

After All-Star Break

209 AB

7 HR

18 RBI

12 SB

.777 OPS

.268 AVG

McLouth is one of my favorite outfield sleepers for leagues that use a 5 OF setup. I think he’s going to continue to hit at or near the top of the Baltimore lineup vs. RHP and is capable of doubling his after the break production. Nate has a real shot to be a poor-man’s Desmond Jennings in 2013, and that makes him very interesting to me. He’s worth taking a chance on and you won’t have to pay anything near Jennings’s price-tag to find out if McLouth can double that after-break production in 2013. He will be in a platoon because of his trouble hitting lefties, making him more valuable in leagues with daily lineup changes.

Dustin Pedroia

1st Half

293 AB

5 HR

4 SB

5% HR/FB

.263 AVG

2nd Half

270 AB

10 HR

16 SB

12% HR/FB

.319 AVG

Due to injury he struggled through much of the first half in 2012 but bounced back in a big way in the second half. That .319 average was not inflated. With health I recommend expecting a repeat of his 2011 full-season production. I value him similarly to the way I did during my drafts last year.

Albert Pujols

1st Half

301 AB

12 HR

.790 OPS

.269 AVG

2nd Half

306 AB

18 HR

.923 OPS

.301 AVG

Both the first half and second half batting averages were legit and not affected much by luck. This is the second year in a row that Pujols has started out slow. While he’s still an elite fantasy option at first base, he's had 5 years in a row of batting average reduction. There have also been 4 years in a row of HR reduction, including 2012, when he had his highest AB total ever. These are big warning signs. On the other hand he posted the lowest HR/FB rate of his career. Bid and draft intelligently, don’t let the "Pujols" name influence your decision-making. I wouldn’t expect double his 2012 second-half production in 2013, although it’s certainly within the range of reasonable possibilities.

Aramis Ramirez

1st Half

267 AB

9 HR

45 RBI

.794 OPS

2 SB

.262 AVG

2nd Half

303 AB

18 HR

60 RBI

.976 OPS

7 SB

.333 AVG

Another season, another slow start by Aramis Ramirez followed by a huge second half. Another season where Aramis Ramirez was much more productive at home compared to on the road. If you don’t draft him then look to trade for him after a couple of months, you know what will be coming in the second half by now. The SB’s are interesting and although I wouldn’t rule out around 5 SB for 2013, I certainly wouldn’t expect anything more than a couple. He hadn’t stolen more than 2 since 2001. I remember I was at Citifield for a Mets-Nationals game on April 10th when Aramis stole his first base of the season. When I saw that box score on my phone I thought to myself that somebody must have not been paying much attention because Aramis never steals bases. Well, that happened 8 more times in 2013, with a pretty nice success rate to boot.

Kurt Suzuki

1st Half

226 AB

0 HR

.495 OPS

.208 AVG

2nd Half

182 AB

6 HR

.728 OPS

.269 AVG

For whatever reason, possible ballpark issues (.183 AVG at Oakland Coliseum) or a hidden injury, Suzuki was atrocious in the first half. What’s important is he bounced back to pretty much his usual self in the second half and is a prime sleeper as a second catcher in leagues that start 2 catchers and/or extremely deep leagues. Wilson Ramos will steal some AB away from Suzuki but with at least most of the playing time look for Kurt to hit in the .240-.250 range with 10+ HR. Fantasy players who simply pay attention to Suzuki’s overall 2012 line might ignore him altogether.

B.J. Upton

243 AB

6 HR

8% HR/FB

.243 AVG

14 SB

330 AB

23 HR

22% HR/FB

.248 AVG

17 SB

Upton dealt with injury issues early in the season and played in his first game on April 20th. Even though his second half HR/FB may have been a little high, he made real gains with his power in the second half. There is potential here for a 35/35 season. For those of you who are into prospects, this is a similar fantasy skill-set and the type of stat-line to expect from George Springer in the future.

Rickie Weeks

1st Half

268 AB

6 HR

9% HR/FB

.600 OPS

6 SB

.183 AVG

2nd Half

320 AB

15 HR

16% HR/FB

.813 OPS

10 SB

.269 AVG

Weeks' luck was somewhat neutral in the first half, his batting average should have legitimately been around the Mendoza line. Perhaps he was playing through injury? His second half bounce-back was very real. The second half HR/FB was right in line with his normal rate, therefore, with good luck staying healthy in 2013 he has the potential for a 30HR/20SB season with a .260+ average. That type of potential makes him a decent target at 2B despite his injury history.

Ryan Zimmerman

1st Half

252 AB

5 HR

.641 OPS

8% HR/FB

.234 AVG

2nd Half

326 AB

20 HR

.965 OPS

22% HR/FB

.319 AVG

Zimmerman struggled with a shoulder injury through a terrible first half of 2012. In the second half he got healthy and really put things together. While the second half HR/FB was a bit inflated it’s important to realize that his batting average was not. I’m expecting similar counting stats for Zimmerman in 2013 (25-30HR and almost 100 RBI), however, I think the batting average stays around .300. This is something that could put him ahead of a guy like Evan Longoria and some other 3B on many draft-boards.

Hopefully this article will make each of these players’ respective values and projections a little clearer. While there are many players that are highly likely to build the bridge from their respective second half 2012 production towards their respective full-season 2013 production there are also some that may have a tough time doing that. Sometimes it's important to analyze players from different angles, like second half production, in order to value them more accurately. I encourage you to do your own analysis and find other players who had strong second halves or even first halves in 2012. You will likely be able to solidify your rankings and projections as a result of this exercise.

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