The Second Half All Star Team: Bats To Buy by Brad Johnson July 19, 2018 It’s the end of All Star week which means it’s time to look ahead to the “second half” of the fantasy. If it feels like a quick half, that’s because most teams only have about 65 games remaining. This is crunch time. Let’s take a peek at some players poised to slay the final two-plus months. I’ll be listing Depth Chart projections. Remember, it’s unreasonable to acquire every player on this list. If you manage to add even one, you should feel pretty good about competing. CATCHER Buster Posey, SFG | .292 AVG, .368 OBP, .433 SLG, 5 HR, 2 SB in 230 PA With Gary Sanchez waylaid, Posey is the catcher to roster for all-around solid contributions. He’s projected for the most games and plate appearances of any catcher in the second half. Even designated hitters with catcher eligibility like Evan Gattis aren’t projected to top 200 plate appearances. His best categories are rate stats and run production. He won’t offer much fuel to the home run or stolen base fire. Posey is still very well-regarded. However, his lack of home run fire power could lead to an affordable price tag. FIRST BASE Freddie Freeman, ATL | .295 AVG, .395 OBP, .532 SLG, 12 HR, 3 SB in 273 PA So you know this isn’t blindly by projected offense, I’ve bypassed top-ranked Joey Votto due to modest concerns about his declining quality of contact. Freeman is on the rise and could easily outperform this already delicious projection. The Braves may reinforce their lineup too. I boldly predicted a 190 wRC+ from Freeman this year. While he’ll (predictably) fall short, I still anticipate a huge second half. This is a buy high recommendation. It’ll cost a mint. Your best bet to buy low is maybe Jose Abreu or Justin Smoak. Or if you need swipes try Wil Myers. SECOND BASE Jose Altuve, HOU | .314 AVG, .374 OBP, .476, 7 HR, 9 SB in 253 PA Who else did you expect? Altuve is the author of the most disappointing .332/.394/.470 triple slash in history. Remember, it’s not Altuve’s fault that Jose Ramirez, Mookie Betts, and Alex Bregman reached new heights. Altuve’s power numbers have declined dramatically even as his hard contact has surged. Buying “low” is still going to hurt, but I expect a huge second half. Stolen bases are cool too. Of course, let’s also recognize Brian Dozier who for two straight seasons has utterly dominated the latter months of the baseball calendar. Can he make it three in a row? SHORTSTOP Trea Turner, WAS | .280 AVG, .340 OBP, .435 SLG, 7 HR, 17 SB in 262 PA Depth Charts says Turner is the sixth best shortstop over the rest of the season, but that’s because stolen bases are worth diddly squat to the Steamer-ZiPS amalgamation. Few players can break the stolen base category without making big sacrifices in other stats. There’s a reason Turner was often selected third overall, and it’ll show in the second half. His plate discipline has actually shown encouraging gains. THIRD BASE Jose Ramirez, CLE | .296 AVG, .369 OBP, .526 SLG, 11 HR, 9 SB in 263 PA This recommendation bores me. Of course you want Ramirez’s dirty five category contribution with a side helping of Alex Bregman. Nolan Arenado paces the home run projections while Kris Bryant seems poised for most improved. He’s only hit 10 home runs, a total he should easily double in less than half a season. OUTFIELD X3 Mike Trout, LAA | .300 AVG, .436 OBP, .594 SLG, 15 HR, 8 SB in 261 PA Duh. Giancarlo Stanton, NYY | .274 AVG, .360 OBP, .601 SLG, 21 HR, 1 SB in 261 PA He’s projected to lead the league in post-break home runs by a wide margin. That’s meaningful. Of all possible top three outfielders, Stanton carries the most risk and reward. Mookie Betts, BOS | .308 AVG, .383 OBP, .540 SLG, 11 HR, 10 SB in 254 PA I’ll take the over on this home run total. I buy his increased fly ball and HR/FB ratio. Additional analysis is deemed unnecessary. Other outfielders on the short list include J.D. Martinez, Aaron Judge, Charlie Blackmon, and Andrew Benintendi. If that latter name doesn’t look like it belong, just remember that few hitters can match his balanced five category production.