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High Fives: Second look

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Brandon Funston

Brandon
Funston
Matt Buser

Andy
Behrens
Brad Evans

Brad
Evans
The first half of the 2008 MLB season is in the books, and the Yahoo! Sports fantasy experts already have some thoughts on how the second half might play out.

Topics include – Rebounds, reality checks, prime pickups, prize prospects and trade bait

Top five players that underperformed in the 1st Half who will rebound
Brandon Says: Andy Says: Brad Says:
  1. Robinson Cano – Hits 54 points higher and averages 11 HRs in 2nd half. Stink of April (.151) still lingers, but he's hit .288 since
  2. Edwin Encarnacion – Like Cano, has been stunted by bad month (.172 May). He's hit .299 outside of May and was 8-for-15 with 2 HRs in 4 games prior to break
  3. Dustin McGowan – His ERA was a run better after the break last year. His stuff is just too nasty to keep slumming with a mid-4 ERA
  4. Adrian Beltre – Has raised his average more than 30 points in the past month, and his power always kicks up a notch in the 2nd half
  5. Carlos Pena – He's a 2nd half guy (26 HRs post break last season) who is showing signs of digging himself out of his April/May hole.
  1. Miguel Cabrera – It feels like he's been around forever, but Cabrera is still only 25. For three straight seasons he's hit above .320 with a slugging percentage over .560
  2. A.J. Burnett – K rate (8.93 K/9) slightly better than his career average (8.23) – K/BB and HR/9, too. A trade to an NL contender wouldn't hurt
  3. Manny Corpas – Since June 1, he has 18 Ks and only one walk in 19 innings. That's more like it. Corpas will have the first opportunity at closing when the inevitable Fuentes trade happens
  4. Justin Verlander – OK, this is cheating, because turnaround already underway – complete game four-hit win over the White Sox on June 11. He hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in any start since
  5. Robinson Cano – Dug himself a deep hole in April, but he's been serviceable since. We're all aware of his post-All Star break binge last season (13 HR, .343 AVG)
  1. Robinson Cano – Craps his drawers in the first half every year but always tighty-whitey clean after ASB – .343 BA in ‘07
  2. Nick Swisher – Swisher Sweet will huff and puff his way to a powerful post-break resurgence – 15 HR, 35 RBI.
  3. Chone Figgins – Vigorous contact numbers and improved health are excellent indicators of revival
  4. Troy Tulowitzki – Accidental hand laceration after breaking bat a microcosm of first half – he’s too talented to blow forever
  5. Aaron Harang – Once healthy, one would believe his unfortunate luck (.331 BABIP) would reverse course
Top 5 players that overperformed in the 1st Half who will come back to earth
Brandon Says: Andy Says: Brad Says:
  1. Joe Saunders – He's pitched to his max potential so far, but his ERA is 4.11 in his past 8 starts and he's two runs worse career post break.
  2. Xavier Nady – Injuries and/or slumps seem to find him eventually. He's not going to continue to hit 42 points above his career average
  3. Gavin Floyd – Walks (47), BABIP (.226), HRs (17), Run Support (6.29) suggest he's been sleeping with Lady Luck
  4. Brad Lidge – Has been better than anyone could have imagined. I'd be inclined to bail now before the pennant race pressure really starts weighing heavy
  5. J.D. Drew – You have to think that his wet paper towel durability has to catch up with him at some point
  1. Justin Duchscherer – Right now, thanks to the league's lowest BABIP (.213), he's putting up Dead Ball Era stats. No way this can last. The question is, what can you get while his ERA is still below 2.00?
  2. Milton Bradley – It's not that he isn't a terrific hitter, but a 1.050 OPS is uncharted territory for the 30-year-old Bradley. He's also only played 100 or more games in a season twice in his career
  3. Daisuke Matsuzaka – High WHIPs and very low ERAs don't usually coexist. Matsuzaka has issued 57 walks in only 88.1 innings. The wins and Ks should be there, but his ratios could cause you problems
  4. Ian Kinsler – Another very talented Rangers hitter who I'm willing to shop around, if only to see what the returns might be. His .365 BABIP has exceeded all projections
  5. Xavier Nady – No one's ever telling you to buy low on Nady, are they?
  1. Gavin Floyd – As another Floyd said it best – “You better run!†High BB/9 coupled with FB% in 40s and .226 BABIP spells disaster
  2. Edinson Volquez – Ugly peripherals suggest an ERA/WHIP hike is on the horizon, but he’s still an elite talent
  3. Ryan Ludwick – Beach-ball sized pitches will continue to come his way hitting behind Pujols but 27.5 LD% is unsustainable
  4. J.D. Drew – Come on, do you really think “Nancy†can avoid the injury imp for an entire season?
  5. Dan Haren – Fortunate .266 BABIP and history of post-ASB meltdowns say Haren is a venomous fantasy Snake
Top five players still on the farm most likely to make the biggest MLB impact
Brandon Says: Andy Says: Brad Says:
  1. Francisco Liriano – With 8 wins in his past 9 starts and just 1 ER allowed in his past 4, I think it's time that Minnesota put Rochester in Liriano's rear-view mirror
  2. David Price – Has yet to lose (8-0) or allow a HR (60 IP) as a pro. He's ready whenever the Rays are
  3. Andrew McCutchen – As soon as Bay or Nady is dealt, McCutchen's 15/40 skills will be on display in Pitt
  4. Matt LaPorta – International experience with the U.S. Olympic team could set stage for a strong follow-up Cleveland debut run
  5. Gio Gonzalez – Has allowed 1 ER or less in 5 of past 6 Triple-A starts and Billy Beane is clearing out his rotation at a break-neck pace
  1. Francisco Liriano – Finally, results. Has allowed just one run in his last four starts at Triple-A
  2. Matt LaPorta – Continues his massive season in Cleveland's system, with Double-A Akron. LaPorta just homered on Friday, and he's now hitting .292/.401/.575. At some point, the 41-53 Tribe will want to show him off
  3. Brett Myers – His return is reportedly a week away. Myers' K-rate has been just fine (88 in 101.2 innings), but control has been the issue. Well, and a total inability to keep hitters in the park (24 HR allowed)
  4. Clayton Kershaw – He's barely 20, and already a post-hype sleeper. The bullpen shuffling could trigger a wheel play that leads to his return
  5. Andrew McCutchen – The 21-year-old is still hitting at Triple-A Indianapolis (.282 AVG, .371 OBP), and he has 24 steals. Eventually, a trade will lead to an opportunity
  1. David Price – Molestation charges could be filed if the Noise is within arm’s reach of the Vandy Dandy
  2. Matt LaPorta – Better than Shin-Soo Choo, Franklin Gutierrez and, hell, Rocky Calovito in his prime, right now
  3. Mat Gamel – Numbers for Double-A Huntsville are absolutely staggering – upgrade over Hall/Branyan but Sept. call-up likely
  4. Francisco Liriano – Velocity improving with each start along with numbers – Fransucko alter-ego appears buried
  5. Max Scherzer – If he can overcome shoulder woes the door is open for Mad Max’s return to D-Back’s rotation
Top five pickups among those owned in less than 40 percent of Y! leagues
Brandon Says: Andy Says: Brad Says:
  1. Mike Aviles – KC Masterpiece is No. 6 among SS in per game roto value. Seriously, folks, pick this guy up
  2. Kazuo Matsui – Returned from DL w/ 2 hits in each of his 4 games before the break. Has 115 Runs, 45 SB and a BA over .285 in his past 162 games
  3. Scott Baker – Since last year's All-Star break: 12-8, 3.45 ERA, 129 K, 31 BB, 174.2 IP
  4. Adam Jones – .328, 25 RBIs in past 41 games. Like the chance of his 25 HR power kicking in sometime in 2nd half
  5. Damaso Marte – K per inning closer available in more than 60 percent of Y! leagues? Go figure …
  1. Scott Baker – What must Baker do to make you add him? He's already striking everybody out, limiting runs, and issuing no walks
  2. Damaso Marte – Few current closers meet the 40 percent threshold, but here's one. Career 3.18 ERA, and a K per inning.
  3. Mike Aviles – We've more than done our part in urging you to add Aviles. In fact, we briefly considered creating an Aviles-only blog, then realized that's what Roto Arcade had become. For the record, Aviles is hitting .310 and slugging .486
  4. Masa Kobayashi – Another source for saves, just sitting out there un-owned. Bold prediction – he'll be at least as good as Borowski. Maybe better
  5. Adam Jones – I mention Jones for three reasons – 1) you should check out his head-shot if you haven't already done so; 2) to remind Funston that he made a bet with another fantasy sports professional regarding Jones' end-of-year batting average, and Funston is well-positioned; 3) because Jones has been very good over the last month (14 R, 1 HR, 15 RBI, 3 SB, .360 AVG)
  1. Randy Winn – Rodney Dangerfield of fantasy is more valuable than Kosuke Fukudome but owned in 60 percent less leagues
  2. Scott Baker – Cooks up quality start after quality start with little fanfare – 4-1, 3.32 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 35 K last 38 IP
  3. Mike Pelfrey – Finally peaking, NY’s Empire State Building 6-0, 2.56 ERA, 1.22 ERA, 63.5 GB% last month
  4. Alexei Ramirez – South Side’s Cuban Missile igniting the jets offensively – No. 5 two-bagger over last 30 days in Y! leagues
  5. Mike Aviles – Funston’s supreme man-crush has us all smitten – three multi-hit games in last seven
Top five players you expect to see moved by the trade deadline
Brandon Says: Andy Says: Brad Says:
  1. Raul Ibanez – Both New York teams are in the market for an outfielder of Ibanez's ilk, and the Mariners are motivated sellers
  2. Casey Blake – Well-regarded veteran who can play both corner spots and the outfield will be a popular Plan B option on the market
  3. Brian Fuentes – Who doesn't want an extra power lefty arm in the pen?
  4. A.J. Burnett – Jays need some offense and, with Halladay, Marcum, McGowan and Litsch, they can certainly afford to deal A.J.
  5. Randy Winn – The Giants need to continue to try to get younger and Winn, at 34 years old and owed more than $8 million next season, is a logical trade chip
  1. Brian Fuentes – He almost certainly will not move into another closing job, while Corpas likely takes over for Colorado
  2. Jon Rauch – Looking back, perhaps Washington regrets that they didn't deal Chad Cordero
  3. A.J. Burnett – He's arguably the best, and he's definitely the healthiest, of the available aces. Many contenders are circling the Jays
  4. Joe Blanton – Blanton is getting expensive, and his contributions this season have not been all that useful. The A's could be motivated sellers. (Editor's note – Andy turned in this homework assignment before the Blanton deal was made. A+ for Behrens)
  5. Ken Griffey – Seattle now seems like a ridiculous destination, but maybe Tampa
  1. Greg Maddux – Lands on a contender, Mad Dog will foam at the mouth with even adequate run support
  2. A.J. Burnett – The Cardinals seem like the right fit – Dave Duncan could do wonders for his control issues
  3. Brian Fuentes – Half the teams in the Majors, Independent and Japanese leagues have Fuentes on their short-list
  4. Matt Holliday – Unbelievably the Nationals may have more to offer than anyone for the Coors crusher
  5. Jon Rauch – The Washington Monument supposedly has 10 potential suitors – so long save opportunities