Which players came through in the first half and which failed? Ray Flowers gives his thoughts.
First Half Surprise: Carlos Ruiz
First Half Failure: Carlos Santana
Wilin Rosario has 14 homers, Jarrod Saltalamacchia has 17, and A.J. Ellis has come from nowhere to hit .285 with a .405 OBP, but it’s all about Ruiz. When you hit .350 with 13 homers and 46 RBIs in half a season people tend to take notice. That’s especially true when your previous bests in five seasons are nine homers, 54 RBIs an a .302 average (career .276).
Carlos Santana was drafted as a top-3 catcher in every league. At this point in the season he isn’t even a top-15 option behind the plate as he’s batting in the .220′s with only five home runs. Terribly disappointing doesn’t even begin to cover it.
First Half Surprise: Mark Trumbo
First Half Failure: Eric Hosmer
He showed power last year with 29 homers and 87 RBIs, but few saw Trumbo’s 2012 breakout coming. At least not to this level. Trumbo is already up to 22 homers and 57 RBI, and when you add in his 42 runs scored and .306 batting average you’ve got a first half all-star, not bad for a guy who hit .254 last year and came into this season without a full-time role.
Most pundits had Hosmer as a top-10 first baseman coming into the year. He’s hasn’t lived up to that, not in the least. Even with some better work at the dish of late we’re still looking at a second year player who is hitting .231 with nine homers and a .670 OPS. The only thing that has remotely saved his value is eight thefts, but that’s not close to being enough to justify his draft day cost.
First Half Surprise: Jason Kipnis
First Half Failure: Rickie Weeks
Some had Kipnis in their top-10 at second coming into the year, but many had him in the top-15. Well, both groups have been terribly wrong in the early going. At this point of the season Kipnis has only been outperformed by one second sacker (Robinson Cano) as he has hit .277 with 11 homers, 49 RBIs, 53 runs scored and 20 steals doing his best Ian Kinsler impersonation.
Weeks can never stay healthy. Well, he’s somehow appeared in 81 of 85 games. So he must be killing it at the dish, right? Not even close. He’s hitting .199 with a .658 OPS as he has sucked a tailpipe virtually all year long. He has improved of late hitting .345 over his last eight games so let’s hope the good times finally start rolling.
First Half Surprise: Edwin Encarnacion
First Half Failure: Mark Reynolds
Using Edwin at third base is a bit of cheating, he has only one game played there this season, but with 36 games last season at the hot corner he qualifies at third in the overwhelming majority of leagues. Coming into the season with career bests of 26 homers, 76 RBIs and 75 runs scored, EE has almost already reached those numbers with 23 homers, 58 RBIs and 55 runs scored in just 83 games. Toss in a career best nine steals and a .295 batting average (career .264) and this is arguably already his career best effort. He just signed a 3-year deal for $27 million for his efforts.
I could have easily called out Evan Longoria for his hamstring issue, but I’ll pick on a guy who has been awful while playing. The last three years Reynolds has been top-5 at the third base position in homers, runs batted in and runs scored. This year? Not so much. Not only is Reynolds batting a mere .207, he’s also gone deep only seven times leading to 23 RBIs and 28 runs scored.
First Half Surprise: Ian Desmond
First Half Failure: Troy Tulowitzki
Obviously I could have listed Trevor Plouffe (.253-19-36-39-0), but given that Desmond is the #1 fantasy shortstop in baseball right now I felt it was more appropriate to list him. Desmond is hitting .284 with a pace that would net him 30 homers, 95 RBI, 90 runs scored and 20 steals, all of this from a guy who entered the season with two full years under his belt and career highs of .269-10-65-65-25.
Tulo is always hurt. It’s why I would never take him in the first round of a fantasy draft, even given his immense skill.
Currently out after groin surgery, Tulo will fail to appears in 125 games for the third time in five years and he might even have trouble surpassing his previous low of 101 games played (currently 47 games played).
First Half Surprise: Mike Trout
First Half Failure: Jacoby Ellsbury
On a per game basis, Mike Trout has been the most valuable fantasy performer in the game. ON pace for a 20/40 effort even though he’s appeared in just 64 games, Trout currently leads the AL with a .341 batting average and 26 steals. He was always billed as a once in a generation talent, but this is just ridiculous.
There are plenty of names that we could toss out for failures. How about Carl Crawford, Brett Gardner, Desmond Jennings, Justin Upton, etc.? I realize it’s not really fair to blame a guy for an injury, but many people spent a first round selection this year on Ellsbury and he played in all of seven games in the first half. He should return from his shoulder injury Friday, but he’ll never make up for his lost first half.
First Half Surprise: R.A. Dickey
First Half Failure: Tim Lincecum
Right now Dickey is the best starting pitcher in fantasy baseball. I know, it’s a total shock. The knuckleballer from New York leads baseball with 12 wins (tied with Gio Gonzalez). His total of 123 Ks is only five behind Stephen Strasburg for the NL lead, and he has a 2.40 ERA and 0.93 WHIP. Phenomenal.
Lincecum has 104 Ks in 96.2 innings. So ends the positive talk. Lincecum has been abysmal with a 3-10 record, 6.42 ERA and .158 WHIP. Better times lay ahead, but even if he has a second half to match Dickey’s first, he’d still have a greatly disappointing 2012 season.
First Half Surprise: Fernando Rodney
First Half Failure: Mariano Rivera, Drew Storen, Ryan Madson, Brian Wilson, Sergio Santos, Joakim Soria, Jordan Walden, Andrew Bailey…
I can’t explain it, but Rodney has become Mariano Rivera after previously being, well, Fernando Rodney. He’s 25-for-26 in saves, ha a 0.93 ERA and 0.75 WHIP. Come to think of it, Rodney has been ever better than Mo Rivera, which just goes to show you how amazingly good/exceedingly lucky that he has been for the Rays.
I could go on and on with the failures, but you get the point. At the All-Star break literally two-thirds of teams have a different closer than they did on opening day. It’s been an epic season of disappointment in the bullpen this year.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 5-8 PM EDT, Monday through Friday. Ray’s baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys’ Twitter account.