Today we take a brief look at nine player whose fortunes we expect to change in the second half, either by improving on their first half numbers, or conversely returning to earth after a stratospheric first half.
Downward Trending (high risk, trade them while the value is high)
Albert Pujols (1B, Cardinals): Not only was it announced yesterday that Pujols will head to the DL for at least three weeks with a strained calf, but Pujols badly needs surgery which he has been putting off as long as the Cards could consider themselves to be contenders. By the time he is healed enough to return that dream should have faded and you can expect the Cards to shut him down long before the season ends.
Chipper Jones (3B, Braves): You don’t really think Chipper is going to be the first .400 hitter since Ted Williams did it back in 1941 do you? Be realistic, Jones is a career .310 hitter who has put up awesome numbers through the first 60 games. While he could end up with a career type year his value is at an all time high right now. He has been going one for one with guys like Miguel Cabrera, Grady Sizemore, A-Rod and even the aforementioned Albert Pujols all of whom are better fantasy players than Chipper.
Pat Burrell (OF, Phillies): Burrell is on a pace right now to hit 40 home runs and is hitting 20 odd points better than his career average. That won’t last. Trade him while his value is at his apex and get a quality player in return who’s less likely to have a major slump in the second half.
David Ortiz (OF, Red Sox): The 33 year old Ortiz is currently residing on the DL for a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist and even when he comes back that is going to effect his hitting. His stats look good enough now that you can probably get full value for him and not take the risk that his injury poises to his final numbers.
Cliff Lee (SP, Indians): Lee has already started struggling over his last five games but most people won’t look too hard at the trends when they see his 10-1 record with a 2.52 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. You should. That ERA has climbed by almost 2 runs in the last month as have his walk and hit totals. The scary thing is that the Tribe has won four of those last five starts despite the fact Lee has yielded 19 runs in the last 27.1 innings. Trade him quick before the implosion gets worse.
Upward Trending (Buy Low)
Curtis Granderson (OF, Tigers): Believe it or not Granderson is on a pace to set a career best in home runs, but it’s his average (.235) and stolen base totals which have owners sweating bullets and willing to listen to offers. However 17 of last year’s 26 steals came in the second half as did his best two months of average. Take advantage of the nervous and acquire him if the price is right.
Matt Holliday (OF, Rockies): Holliday’s 2008 numbers thus far .316-8-26-24-8 look pretty mundane compared to last season’s breakout but he’s really not as far off of last year’s pace as you would imagine. His best months for power and RBIs were in the second half and the return of the supporting cast from last year will be complete when Troy Tulowitzki returns late this month or early next.
Robinson Cano (2B, Yankees): Along with the rest of the Yankees order Cano is slumping mightily and is on a pace to put up his career worst year. It’s more likely that the Yankees will wake up and that Cano will put up another second half surge. His splits show him to be a huge second half player so if you can get him in the upcoming weeks he’s worth a gamble.
Paul Konerko (1B/DH, White Sox): Konk is already showing signs of life and should make up ground and put some of his ugly first half numbers behind him. He’s always been a better second half player, displaying more home runs, better average and solid RBI totals. That’s unlikely to change in a player that is only 33 years old, but he will finish with weaker numbers than last year.
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