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Who to trust in the second half
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Ever watch a TV show or movie where the good guy turns bad? Of course you have. It's a Hollywood staple. Harvey Dent from Batman and Breaking Bad's Walt White are two recent examples of this popular plot device.

Similarly, fantasy studs aren't always what they seem. The season is split into two halves and the stars who shine brightest in the first half aren't always the ones who will carry you to the finish line. Below are eight players who excelled in the first half but may or may not in the second. Have a look.

Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto Blue Jays

Nobody loves Joey Bats more than me. Okay, maybe that's not true. The guy has about a zillion Twitter followers and just led all players in All-Star voting for the second time in four seasons.

But year after year, Bautista has proven he can't stay hot in the second half. He's hitting just .240 in his career after the All-Star break, well below his .266 first half average.

Bautista (.292, 17 HR, 52) has already overachieved in a big way this year, hitting 35 points above his career .257 clip. With that said, Bautista hasn't been nearly as productive over the last two months (only three home runs since June 1) and is hitting just .200 in the month of July. That could have something to do with Edwin Encarnacion (strained quad) not being in the lineup to protect him.

It's also worth noting that Bautista's body has a tendency to break down late in the year, having logged just 124 post All-Star Game at bats since 2012. Given all the risks, I wouldn't touch this guy with a ten-foot pole in the second half.

Adrian Beltre, 3B, Texas Rangers

Beltre's second half splits (.290 AVG, .344 OBP) aren't a whole lot different than his first half numbers (.279 AVG, .329 OBP) and that's good news for fantasy owners. If we had to pinpoint one key difference, it would be Beltre's home run totals. Despite a thousand fewer at bats, Beltre actually has more homers in the second half (198) than he does in the first (190). Overall, his slugging percentage is 47 points higher after the break (.506 versus .459).

If that wasn't enough to convince you of Beltre's second half prowess, consider this: he's hit .300 or better after the All-Star break in each of his last four seasons.

Nelson Cruz, OF/DH, Baltimore Orioles

Cruz's first and second half splits are remarkably similar. In fact, his pre and post All-Star game averages are only ten points apart (.266 in the first, .276 in the second) and his OPS for both halves are exactly the same (.836).

Power-wise, Cruz's slugging percentage has been a little better in the first half (.510 compared to .498). He's homered less frequently after the All-Star break but the difference isn't glaring (one home run every 19.5 at bats versus one every 16.3). The Orioles have more games away from Baltimore than at home in the second half, which bodes well for Cruz given his paltry .232 average at Camden Yards this year.

Johnny Cueto, SP, Cincinnati Reds

Fantasy owners should be careful with how they use Cueto in the second half. Cueto's 3.92 second half ERA isn't unbearable, but it does represent a huge drop-off from his first half numbers (3.02 ERA in 721 innings). Hitters have been far more successful against Cueto in the second half, batting .261 in 1,468 at bats compared to only .230 in the first half. Cueto's post All-Star winning percentage is barely above .500 (23-21) while his WHIP is also much higher (1.14 in the first half, 1.32 in the second). At least Cueto has still been able to punch out hitters at a rate of 7.4 K's per nine innings after the break (7.2 K's per nine in the first half).

Ian Kinsler, 2B, Detroit Tigers

Kinsler has been great for Detroit this year but how much longer will his success last? Well, if we trust Kinsler's career second half splits, the clock's already ticking.

In the past, Kinsler has been a much better performer before the All-Star break than he has after it. The vast majority of Kinsler's career home runs (101 of his 167) have come in the first half despite an identical strikeout rate (13.3 percent in both halves). Kinsler's batting average is 25 points lower in the second half (.260), which seems tame compared to his 43-point dip in slugging percentage (.473 in the first half, .430 in the second).

Maybe it's just been bad luck. Kinsler's batting average on balls in play is just .266 after the break, well below his career mark of .284.

Jonathan Lucroy, C, Milwaukee Brewers

Uh oh. The second half is about to start. That usually spells disaster for Lucroy. Not only is his batting average higher in the first half (.301 to .270) but so is his slugging percentage (.478 versus .391).

Lucroy's power has been almost nonexistent in the second half. In 235 post All-Star break appearances, he's homered once every 42.1 at bats. In the first half, that number rises to once every 29.7 at bats. Lucroy has had a higher second half batting average only one time in five big league seasons.

Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado Rockies

For Tulowitzki, the best is still to come, at least if you believe his splits. In general, Tulowitzki has been far more productive after the All-Star break. Tulo's second half slash line (.317/.542/.931) is a thing of beauty. He's been particularly dangerous in the month of August, hitting .324 in 614 at bats. Even better is the fact that Colorado still has 35 more games at Coors Field, where Tulowitzki owns a .433 average in 150 at bats this season. It's going to be tough to top Tulo's first half numbers (.350, 20 HR, 49 RBI) but he just might.

Adam Wainwright, SP, St. Louis Cardinals

If there's any difference between the first and second half of a baseball season, Wainwright hasn't seemed to notice. His splits are so similar it's almost eerie. See for yourself.

First half: 2.98 ERA, .642 win percentage, .240 BAA, 7.5 K/9

Second half: 3.02 ERA, .646 win percentage, .247 BAA, 8.0 K/9

It doesn't look like we have to worry about Wainwright letting us down in the second half.

First and second half splits aren't gospel but there's a reason we have them. Go with your gut but if you have doubts, use the splits as your compass.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.

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