Fantasy Baseball's Tumbling Dice: Second-half sleepers

by Lawr Michaels, MastersBall.com on July 1, 2014 @ 07:58:03 PDT

 


Coming into the Fourth of July, we are sizing up what we need to do to shore up our teams for the second half.

Some of us are making moves in the marathon season-long contests, like Tout Wars and the League of Alternative Baseball Reality (LABR), while others are starting with a clean slate in second half leagues.

OF Kole Calhoun, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Kole enchilada

So, were I constructing a team that I wanted to either build or fortify between now and October, who would I grab for my roster in those middle rounds that I think will excel on out?

Well, here are six guys I like. Some are stars, some are up-and-comers, and some might be people you dismissed simply because we doubted them. But all have under-performed for the first part of the year for various reasons, but now things are heating up.

Buster Posey (C/1B, San Francisco Giants): Hard to ignore a former MVP on a team in first place, but the Giants are in the throes of their annual "June Swoon," going 4-16 over their past 20 games. Some of it is erratic pitching, and some of it is slumped hitting. Buster has had a respectable .293-9-40 season, but, over the last month Posey has hit .362-2-15, and, well, June is over. Add in that Brandon Belt is on the way back to give Buster a little protection and well, you get the point.

Kole Calhoun (OF, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim): A draft day darling who proceeded to get hurt and start slow and made us think more Gordon Beckham than teammate Mike Trout, Calhoun sort of dropped from our view. Well, the outfielder seems to be back in a groove now, having hit .346-4-13 over the past month, elevating his totals to .284-7-19. And he will get better.

Jake Arrieta (SP, Chicago Cubs): Since Arrieta tossed seven no-hit innings yesterday, generating tweets and pushes all over my iPhone, before Stephen Drew spoiled the effort, he might not be a secret. A fifth-round pick of the Orioles in 2007, Arrieta has had his chances since 2010, when he debuted in the majors, but as mostly mediocre. At least until a 2013 swap sent the righty to Wrigley and the ever shrewd Theo Epstein, and he has pitched the best form of his career: 4-2, 3.66 over nine starts and 51 2/3 frames. Arietta didn't even hit the 2014 rotation till May, but over the past month has simply been lights out, going 3-0, 1.29 with an 0.571 WHIP and 29 whiffs over 21 innings.

Henderson Alvarez (SP, Miami Marlins): Watch out for this team who will have the best outfield in the Majors next year with Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, and Giancarlo Stanton, and some very good young arms. It is easy to overlook Alvarez in a mix that includes Nathan Eovaldi and Jose Fernandez, but dude is 5-3, 2.32 this season with a 1.28 WHIP. Over his last three starts, he's compiled a a 2-0, 1.35 mark with a 1.25 WHIP.

Chris Johnson (3B, Atlanta Braves): I think we tend to think Rob Wilfong (who did hit .300 once) when Chris Johnson's name comes up, but since 2010 he has hit under .279 just one season, and topped .300 twice. I am not saying he is Evan Longoria, but over the past month he is hitting .378-1-10, raising his season totals to .285-3-24. I think Johnson is one of those Ken Reitz/Tommy Herr guys who has a big year in him, and in most leagues, he is still cheap. Or at least undervalued if not dismissed.

Danny Duffy (SP, Kansas City Royals): Third-round pick of the Royals in 2007 whose climb to the show included Tommy John surgery and a time where he retired for a span last year. Add in a slow start to 2014, but Duffy has emerged with the red-hot KC team and is 4-7, with a 2.69 ERA, a 1.075 WHIP, and 52 whiffs over 67 innings. He is 1-2, 1.35 with 19 whiffs over his last 20 innings and three starts with a 0.90 WHIP.

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About Lawr Michaels, MastersBall.com

Lawr Michaels has been a player in the fantasy baseball industry since he began writing for John Benson in 1993. He has written for STATS, Inc, was the first fantasy columnist for CBS Sportsline, and has appeared in numerous journals and on websites. In 1996, he founded CREATiVESPORTS, a staple for serious fantasy players, which he merged into Mastersball in 2010.

Over the years, Lawr has participated in a wide variety of playing formats and won numerous titles, including AL Tout Wars crowns in 2001 and 2009. Along with his Mastersball duties, Lawr works for MLB.com as a statistician.

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