Yesterday I kicked off this party with Part I which covers my methodology and includes a table of all the folks we’re talking about.
It also looks at nine young guys – rookies and near rookies – who broke out. Today we take a look at some less-young guys.
We’ll start with established fantasy stars who struggled out of the gate.
- Ryan Zimmerman – Zimmerman has varied between fantasy stud and DL-bound disappointment throughout his career. This year was no different. He played only 95 games and posted an ugly first half driven by a low BABIP, a high GB rate and a low HR/FB rate. In the second half, gain in limited time, his numbers were excellent. The lesson? I don’t know – if he is healthy, he’ll hit; if not, he won’t. Good luck with that.
- Robinson Cano – Cano has always been a high BABIP bat who gets by with high HR/FB rates, good contact, and plenty of LD and GB leading to high BABIPs. In the first half the K% climbed, the BABIP plummeted, and his HR/FB rate was painfully low. In the second half, he looked like Robinson Cano again. I don’t think he’s done and another season as an elite 2B would not surprise me (though more in the 20 HR range than 30).
- Chase Utley – Utley was better in the second half, mostly with the Dodgers. But he has also been injured lately, is 37, doesn’t have a job yet and has struggled for a couple years in a row. I think the second half was more about being used sparingly and well than about a real resurgence. Not interested.
- Adrian Beltre – Beltre announced after the season that he played the second half with a torn ligament in his thumb, which makes his .318/.376/.509 second half line even more impressive. Like most on this list, his BABIP rose, but he also made more hard contact, hit more LD and walked more. Beltre seems to have at least one year left in him, and if the price is low, I’d gladly take a shot on him as my 3B.
- Matt Kemp – No one teases like Matt Kemp, so it’s tempting to say look the other way. But his second half doesn’t look crazy at first glance – his BABIP didn’t move. He walked more, struck out less, hit more FB and made harder contact. The risk is always there for an injury or a lost season, but he’s only 30 and 2011 and 2012 weren’t THAT long ago, right?
- Ian Desmond – Desmond has always seemed on the edge of falling apart – lots of strike outs and few walks, relying heavily on power and speed. You just never know when that skill set will cease to produce. For four months it seemed to catch up with him. Then came August. The problem is, August didn’t last. Desmond’s second half breakout was really just one insane month before he returned to his first-half form. If you can sell another owner on Desmond’s 2nd half as a sign he is over a slump, do it.
- Melky Cabrera – Melky actually increased his Ks with little change in BBs in the second half, but he still played better. Part of it was a BABIP rise, but mostly his ISO jumped. He made more hard contact, increased his HR/FB rate, and traded GB for LD. I don’t expect Melky to post a career year next year, but solid mid-tier OF production? Sure.
- Carlos Beltran – Beltran turns 39 next April. He won’t be prime Beltran again. But I don’t see any clear signs that his second half was a fluke. Sane BABIP, reasonable batted ball rates. It has been a couple years since he put together a full season, but I’d love to have him as a platoon bat, only facing righties, particularly at home.
- Jayson Werth – Werth turns 37 next May. He won’t be prime Werth again. But I don’t see any…ok, I will stop the repeat of what I said about Beltran and end with this – I am buying. I think he has more left than Beltran and his 2nd half was actually BABIP-deflated.
The remaining eight guys aren’t quite as young as yesterday’s list and have never had the success of the guys above.
- Asdrubal Cabrera – Cabrera’s second half BABIP was way high and his HR/FB rate was even higher than his 25 homer 2011 season. I’d stay away.
- Alexei Ramirez – Alexei Ramirez has not had fewer than 22 combined HR and SB in his career, but it took a big second half to get to his 10/17 this year. But there is nothing flukey here. A new home park could hurt his HR numbers, but another 25-30 combined HR and SB is probably pretty likely. Not much beyond that, though.
- Dexter Fowler – Fowler posted a career high in HR, but his second half HR/FB rate would have been a big jump from his previous career high – which he posted in Coors. He’ll continue to reach base and steal bases, but I think he reverts to previous form.
- Jedd Gyorko – His second half was driven by a jump in HR/FB rate – basically, he went back to looking like the 23-home-run hitter from 2013. I won’t pay for 30 HR upside – but it may be there and I’d love to buy it at 15 HR prices.
- Yan Gomes – Gomes was injured and took a while to get back into the flow. Even after that, he didn’t have the high BABIP he showed the last two years and throughout the minors. The OBP won’t be high, but even without a BABIP bounce back, he is a playable C. If the ball falls in more, he becomes more.
- Danny Valencia – The real question here is if Danny Valencia figured out RHP. After years of struggling against them, he crushed’em this year. His deflated first-half numbers came from a large number of games in which he didn’t start or didn’t finish. If you can use him against lefties – and watch his performance against righties – he an produce for you.
- Yangervis Solarte – BABIP and Ks are the story here – he stopped striking out so much and had much better luck on balls in play in the second half. But that “better luck” was still not “good luck,” per se. If he can continue to avoid the Ks, he might be able to sustain second half Solarte.
- David Peralta – Peralta got his first real shot this year, at age 27, and delivered. The second half was a BABIP-induced explosion, but his first half was very good, too. Like some others, his P/G was dragged down by a bunch of PH appearances in a crowded Arizona outfield. That outfield probably doesn’t get less crowded, but Peralta earned plenty of playing time and can produce.
Chad Young is a product manager at Amazon by day and a baseball writer (RotoGraphs, Let's Go Tribe), sports fan and digital enthusiast at all times. Follow him on Twitter @chadyoung.