Fantasy Baseball: Second half duds

Baseball’s regular season is cut in half by the MLB All-Star break. The event, taking place during mid-July of each year can completely change a player’s fortunes. A player having a career year before the All-Star break may find himself struggling after the break; the opposite is just as likely.

In case you missed it, my most recent article was about players who should be in store for a great second half, but just as there are second half studs, there will also be second half duds. Here are a few players whose fantasy stock is likely to drop after the All-Star break.

Trumbo Smokes a First-Inning Double at Oakland on September 16. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images North America)

Trumbo was activated off the disabled list on July 11 after missing 72 games

Mark Trumbo – Arizona Diamondbacks OF

Mark Trumbo had an excellent start to the 2014 season, clubbing seven long balls in just 21 games. Unfortunately, Trumbo hit the disabled list in April due to a stress fracture in his foot and was just activated off the disabled list on July 11.

During the first six games of Trumbo’s minor league rehab assignment, he hit .471 with four homers and 11 RBIs. While this is certainly a good sign for fantasy baseball owners who have held onto Trumbo, his career numbers don’t point to him having a noteworthy second half.

For his career, Trumbo has a slash line of .264/.319/.517 in the first half. Those numbers fall to just .227/.268/.410 in the second half. Of course, Trumbo has never been valuable in fantasy baseball due to his ability to get on base, but it is still worrisome to see a player post an OBP of only .268.

Trumbo’s power hitting is what gives him value, and a drop of over 100 points in his slugging percentage after the All-Star break raises a red flag. To break this down even more, in the first half, Trumbo hits a home run every 15.28 at bats; in the second half he homers every 22.14 at bats.

For fantasy baseball owners who have been patient and held on to Trumbo, shopping him around in trades may be a good idea as his return approaches, but don’t sell him too low. Since he has sat out the majority of the season, he may put together a solid second half.

Ian Kinsler

Ian Kinsler – Detroit Tigers 2B

Ian Kinsler had a great first half to the 2014 season. Coming into this year, Kinsler’s fantasy stock had fallen due to a trade to the Detroit Tigers, moving him away from Globe Life Park, one of the most hitter friendly fields across all of baseball.

So far into 2014, Kinsler has proven his doubters wrong, posting an impressive .305 batting average to go along with 11 home runs, 49 RBIs, and nine steals. In fact, Kinsler seems to have regained the power that has been absent from his swing over the last two years; his slugging percentage – .477 – is the highest it’s been since 2011 when he slugged 32 long balls.

Taijuan Walker projections

Despite all these great statistics, Kinsler is historically a much better first half player, leading me to believe he will regress after the All-Star break. His career batting line before the All-Star break is .285/.360/.473; during the second half, his line falls to .260/.332/.430.

From a fantasy baseball perspective, I’d try to sell high if I owned Kinsler. He’s currently the third overall second baseman on ESPN’s Player Rater. Before the end of the season, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him fall a few spots, especially if Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia can recover from their mediocre first halves.

Scott Kazmir – Oakland Athletics SP

The 2014 season has revived the career of the Oakland Athletics’ Scott Kazmir. In his first season with club, Kazmir has posted career bests in winning percentage, ERA, and WHIP. His first half numbers – an 11-3 record with a 2.38 ERA and 0.98 WHIP – were good enough to earn him a spot on the American League All-Star roster.

Unlike the other two players mentioned in this article, Kazmir’s numbers are actually better in the second half. His career numbers in the first half are a 4.39 ERA, 1.398 WHIP, and a 2.15 K/BB ratio. After the All-Star break, those numbers fall to a 3.41 ERA, 1.305 WHIP, and 2.54 K/BB ratio.

After seeing those numbers, it may be hard to believe that Kazmir will regress in the second half. The main reason I don’t believe in Kazmir down the stretch is that he is not used to pitching so many innings. From 2011-2013, Kazmir only pitched a total of 159.2 innings. Heading into the break, he has already thrown 117.1 innings.

I don’t think Kazmir’s numbers will completely crumble, but I would be surprised to see him finish with an ERA below 2.70. Luckily for fantasy baseball owners who already own Kazmir, he’s pitching on arguably the best team in baseball. His ERA and WHIP will most likely go up, but he’ll still be in line for many wins.

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