Whether it is a yearly trend or just anecdotal evidence, it seems in a lot of cases we have a tale of two seasons between the first and second halves of the MLB season. We always hear talk of this team being a first half team and fading in the second half or that player being a second half monster. When we’re talking about teams, however, the problem is the personnel isn’t the same for enough years to call it anything more than not comparing apples to apples. With individual players, we’re usually not talking about comparing enough years to call it anything more than a small sample size to declare anything definitive. That being said, it still is a worthwhile exercise to look at which teams and players are hot or cold any given year in order to improve our fantasy team as we try to manage it to a title.
In the East Division, the Atlanta Braves had a small lead over the Washington Nationals. At this point, Washington has opened up a five game lead on the Braves due to a 13-11 record since the All-Star break while Atlanta has gone 8-16. That gives the Braves the worst post break record in the East. The team with the best post ASB record has been the Miami Marlins, who are 15-10 since the Midsummer Classic.
The Milwaukee Brewers had a slight lead over the St. Louis Cardinals going into the break and they are still sitting atop the Central Division with a 66-54 record. The Cards have slipped back to third while the Pittsburgh Pirates have climbed up to second place. Pittsburgh has made their move on the strength of the division’s best record – 15-9 – since the ASB with Milwaukee not far behind at 13-11. St. Louis has only managed a 10-12 mark so far, which is second worst in the Central.
Out in the West Division, the Los Angeles Dodgers had a slim lead over the San Francisco Giants but the Dodgers have opened that up to five and one-half games since the break. Los Angeles has put up 15 wins against nine losses in that time while the Giants have been three games below .500 at 11-14.
The team with the worst result since the break has been the Colorado Rockies, who have only managed six victories to go along with 18 losses. The best record post ASB also comes from the West but it isn’t the Dodgers. Surprisingly, the San Diego Padres hold that honor to date with a record of 15-8.
On the individual player side, chicks dig the long ball so we’ll start there. Giancarlo Stanton and Troy Tulowitzki were tied with 21 home runs followed closely by Anthony Rizzo, Todd Frazier and Marlon Byrd with 20, 19, and 18 respectively. Stanton, with 31, has opened up a four dinger lead over Anthony Rizzo. Giancarlo has ten home runs since the break followed by Lucas Duda with seven and Matt Holliday, Matt Kemp, Mark Reynolds and Anthony Rizzo with six each. Tulowitzki has fallen back in the standings due to injury.
Denard Span has been the hottest hitter with regular at-bats, putting up a .424 batting average. He's trailed by Josh Harrison at .372 and Daniel Murphy at .353. All are at or close to 100 at-bats, which is a decent number to look at. Tommy Medica has been hot with a .373 average but that comes in about half the number of at-bats as those previously mentioned – a much smaller sample size.
Adrian Gonzalez leads the pack with 20 RBI with Stanton nipping at his heels with 19 of his own followed by Kemp and Hunter Pence tied with 18 each. Harrison has the lead with 21 runs scored and Nolan Arenado is second with 17. Carlos Gomez, Ender Inciarte and Gregory Polanco each have 16 runs. Gomez leads the league with ten stolen bases since the ASB with Span, Dee Gordon and Harrison each tied with eight. On the negative side, Marcell Ozuna (33), B.J. Upton (32) and Stanton (30) all have struck out more than a third of the time since play resumed after the break.
A very large number of pitchers have five starts in the second half. Six of those – Ervin Santana, Johnny Cueto, Tyson Ross, Doug Fister, Wily Peralta and Kyle Hendricks – have four wins in their five starts. Santana, Cueto and Ross don’t have any losses to go with the wins. Cueto is leading the league in strikeouts since the break with 40. Cole Hamels has 38 followed by Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg and Alex Wood all with 37. Among starters, Hamels has a microscopic 0.73 ERA with Cueto, Kershaw, Ross and Francisco Liriano all sporting sub 2.00 marks.
Moving to the closers, Steve Cishek has recorded ten saves without blowing any. Francisco Rodriguez is second with nine followed by Jenrry Mejia and Trevor Rosenthal with seven each. Mejia also has one blown save. Surprisingly, of these four saves leaders, only Rosenthal (1.64) has an ERA lower than 2.00. Mejia and Rodriguez both have 3.72 marks and Cishek a bloated 4.15 ERA post ASB.This is just a cursory look at some second half stats to date and is one of the things that makes baseball such an interesting sport - there are so many stats and ways to analyze or argue about them. Fantasy titles are won or lost based on how each team owner interprets them and which moves they decide to make. Now is the time to choose wisely.