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Saturday 16th Dec 2017

What an improbable second half of the season it’s been so far. Sure, the sample size is still small, but a glance at the post All-Star break leaders in the traditional five fantasy hitting categories (with hits replacing batting average) will surprise you. Or at least some of it will surprise you. Let’s take a look.

RUNS: Josh Harrison (18)

Heading into the season, Harrison was nowhere near the fantasy radar. Four months later, the 27-year-old, fresh off his first All-Star Game appearance, is one of the hottest hitters in baseball, batting .367 with five homers and six steals since the break to go along with the major league leading 18 runs. Yeah, skeptics can point to the thin track record, but by now, the results speak for themselves. Even if Harrison begins to struggle at the plate, his ability to fill multiple positions affords him a long leash when it comes to playing time.

HITS: Denard Span (38)

Of all my purchases in this year’s Mixed Tout Wars auction, a strong case could be made that a $1 Span, and not a $10 Nelson Cruz, has netted me the biggest profit. The Nationals centerfielder has been a reliable contributor in runs and steals all season, but since the beginning of July, he’s raised his game to a whole new level, improving his batting average by nearly 40 points. Oh, and his second half average is .452. If Span keeps up his current pace, he will finish the season with 101 runs, 33 swipes and a .304 average. Pretty good for a guy who opened 2014 on the waiver wire in the majority of mixed leagues.

HOME RUNS: J.P. Arencibia/Giancarlo Stanton (7)

Stanton leading a home run list isn’t a very exciting topic of conversation, so we won’t waste time with that. Instead, we’ll focus on Arencibia, who was so awful over the season’s first seven-plus weeks that he spent the rest of the first half in the Minors. Arencibia will never hit for a high average, but he’s always had power, and he’s certainly putting that power on full display since the break. J.P. is spending his time at first base these days, but the fact that he remains catcher-eligible makes him worthy of consideration in deeper two-catcher mixed leagues if you’re in need of some pop. But be warned that he’s liable to go ice cold at any moment, so be prepared to cut bait when that happens. And it will happen. It’s just a matter of time.

RBI: J.P. Arencibia (22)

Arencibia will go ice cold at any moment, so be prepared to cut bait when that happens. I seem to remember saying something like this before.

STOLEN BASES: Denard Span/Dee Gordon (8)

Talk about under the radar. Span being tied with the major league stolen base leader in steals since the All-Star break is something that I was totally unaware of, this despite owning Denard in multiple leagues. With 23 thefts through 105 games, he’s only four steals shy of setting a new single-season high. The chances of Span continuing to swipe bags at this rate are only marginally better than the chances of him maintaining his .515 post All-Star break OBP.

Improbable? Yes. But impossible? No.

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