Fantasy Baseball: First Half Studs to Avoid in the Season’s Second Half

As often is the case, the first half of the 2011 baseball season has had its share of players who have performed much higher than their projected statistical levels. While it is tempting to hold onto these players and expect them to continue putting up huge fantasy baseball numbers, there are several players that may indeed be ‘sell high’ candidates after the first half of 2011, as they may not continue to perform at an elite level after the All Star break. By the same token, if they aren’t currently on your fantasy baseball roster, you may want to consider avoiding these players for the same reason.
Recently, I looked at players to target for a big second half in 2011. Here are a few players who have delivered very well statistically so far in 2011 but are candidates toregress in the second half:
James Shields (TB) –
After pitching 200+ innings for 4 straight seasons (2007-2010), Shields has proven to be durable. However, all those innings have taken their toll as his numbers historically fall off dramatically in the second half. His career ERA is a full 80 points higher after the All Star break while his SO/BB rate falls by 80 points after the mid-point of the year. 2010 was no different (ERA rose 70 points and SO/BB dropped by more than a full point). Shields didn’t fare any better in 2009 as he saw his ERA rise from 3.42 prior to the break to 5.16 in the second half. After putting up MVP-type numbers in the first 3 months of 2011, it might be time to sell high.
Johnny Damon (TB) –
At the press conference when he and Manny Ramirez were introduced to the Tampa media, Damon stated, “I’d love to play all 162 games”. Ramirez replied, “Let’s do this: You play 100 and I’ll play 62”. Well, Ramirez lasted a grand total of 5 games before being forced out of MLB due to (yet another) failed drug test. Don’t expect Damon to play 100. He will be 38 at the end of the season and he plays the game at one speed… ‘Full Throttle’. Players in their late 30’s don’t hold up as well as they did when they were in their 20’s. Damon is simply too much of a risk to either succumb to injury or fatigue. Proceed with caution.
Melky Cabrera (KC) –
After bouncing between leagues the past few seasons, Cabrera has really found a home hitting out of the number 3 spot in the Royals line up. However, he can’t be counted upon to continue to play at a high level throughout the second half of 2011. For years, he has carried the tag of ‘part-time player’ as his past employers did not feel he was able to withstand the burden of an entire 162 game season. You shouldn’t either. Keeping in mind that he hit only 1 home run after the break last season, Cabrera is a candidate to regress in the second half this year.
Jair Jurrjens (ATL) –
The undisputed ace of the Braves staff so far in 2011 and arguably the best pitcher in the National League as well, Jurrjens may be in for a slide. Last season, Ubaldo Jimenezstarted his 4th MLB season incredibly (13-1, 1.15 ERA, 1.00 WHIP) only to regress in the second half (6-7, 4.34 ERA, 1.30). This season, Jurrjens has started his 4th MLB season incredibly (12-3, 1.87 ERA, 1.07 WHIP).Will he regress to the mean as well? Chances are he will. Consider also the fact that his K/9 rates from 2008-2010 were 6.64, 6.36 & 6.65. His K/9 in 2011 is well below those years and sits at 5.29 entering the break. Tread carefully.
Brennan Boesch (DET) –
At first glance, Boesch appears to have started his second big league season on a tear. After hitting 14 HR a year ago, he already has 12 before the All Star break this time around. However, keep in mind that he hit 12 HR and 49 RBI in the first half of 2010 with a slash line of .342/.397/.593. In the second half of last season he plummeted to 2 HR and 18 RBI with a slash line of .163/.237/.222. So far in 2011 he has hit 12 HR and 40 RBI to go with a slash line of .307/.363/.500. I don’t know about you, but I spot the makings of a trend here.
Just because a player has a big first half doesn’t mean he’ll continue that pace. For some players, it is clear that they are ‘sell high’ candidates after a big first half of 2011, and should be projected to slow down after the All Star break. If you own these players they may pay dividends to your fantasy baseball teams in two ways: they have contributed great numbers so far in 2011 and they may just bring you something in a trade.
Have fun and good luck entering the second half of the 2011 fantasy baseball season!

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply