Fantasy Baseball Round Table: Top 5 for second half

by Todd Zola, on June 26, 2013 @ 13:10:00 PDT


I recently heard KFFL's Tim Heaney on a SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio spot where he was asked for his top five in a second half league. I disagreed with a couple of his selections and thought it would be an interesting topic for a Round Table, especially since it segues into a topic I've been tossing around in my head the past couple of months.

Here's my top five for a second half league.

1. Miguel Cabrera -- Next
2. Carlos Gonzalez -- Injury risk, but worth it
3. Chris Davis -- Amazing what making better contact can do
4. Paul Goldschmidt -- Jeff Bagwell redux
5. Mike Trout -- Rate of performance less than last season but still special

And even though I didn't ask, here's my 6-10

6. Edwin Encarnacion -- At the FSTA draft in January, I suggested EE and Lawr asked me if he can repeat. I said, no, but 35 HR isn't bad and he can do that. I was wrong, he can repeat.
7. Robinson Cano -- Runs and RBI hurt by lack of supporting cast
8. Andrew McCutchen -- A bit surprised the power is a low
9. Alex Rios -- Proving every other year is a myth
10. Jacoby Ellsbury -- Steals down across the league, can win category with just a little help

Lawr Michaels offered this interesting group.

Maybe I am just hoping to a degree:

1. Miggy
2. Justin Verlander
3. Ryan Zimmerman
4. Michael Cuddyer
5. Matt Kemp

Nicholas Minnix commented thusly.

Los Angeles Dodgers OF Matt Kemp
Big second half: Why not?

It's so difficult to argue that any of Todd's players shouldn't be in that top five. For any of his from 2 through 5, I think of a reason to move one ahead of another, and then I think of a reason to keep it the way it is. Cabrera seems like the only cinch. "Hopeful" is a good word for Lawr's. I have serious concerns about all those guys. But if he's right, he'll probably win this league.

I wouldn't mind picking in the second half (or, in a 15-teamer, one of the next two thirds, preferably the later one) of a draft that went like Todd's. Hard to beat a shot at pairing McCutchen and Cano, both of them having put up very good numbers despite not displaying top form yet. I'd be happy to sub in a Jay Bruce, a David Wright, perhaps Encarnacion or Adrian Beltre or (gasp) Joey Votto and Adam Jones -- players I'd feel more comfortable drafting than trying to decide which of Jean Segura, Ellsbury, Carlos Gomez, Troy Tulowitzki, Starling Marte, Domonic Brown, Dexter Fowler, etc., etc., etc., will continue to exceed expectations substantially and/or will remain healthy by the comeback. And wondering, just a little, if my top guy will keep up his pace. Besides Trout, who's been above solid even if below spectacular.

Of course, what is the value of comfort? I don't freakin' know. We observe all the time reasons that predictability of this stuff involves so much more than what we know. Which is kind of exciting, and which means that it's foolish to call anyone foolish for his or her picks.

Greg Morgan's top five is as follows:

1. Miggy -- Triple Crown
2. Trout -- .300/30/40 upside
3. CarGo -- .300+/30/25 upside
4. Cano -- money at 2B
5. E5 -- will have 3B eligibility and has legit 40-homer power

And finally, Ryan Carey's picks:

1. Miggy. He is unstoppable.
2. Trout. Five category stud.
3. Cargo. Health only flag.
4. Goldschmidt. I am on board. He is the real deal and steals are bonus.
5. Davis. Big time power gives him this slot.

Lord Zola's Wrap-Up:

On one hand we're told to practice patience. On the other there is about a 35 percent success rate historically with our first-round picks. Which is it?

Part of my ongoing research is to help elucidate when a new skill level is real and when it will revert to a career norm (with contact rate being the linchpin) but even then, will the transition be slow or immediate?

Our top fives suggest there are some players we now trust to be performing at a new skill level -- specifically Davis, Goldschmidt and Encarnacion. In all three cases, there is a marked improvement in contact rate. For what it's worth, lost in Trout-mania is he has improved his contact rate (read -- become a better player) but this is lost in the regression catfight.

Lawr's top five touches on a very interesting principle -- volatility. I am of the mind that the smaller the sample, the larger the volatility. And while the party line is to play it safe, there is a contingent of very successful fantasy players that embraces volatility and plays into it. Why not try to nail the 65 percent that jumps into the top five? If you look at Lawr's picks, he splits the difference. Miggy is a given. Water can find its level with Verlander and Kemp. Who's to say Zimmerman or Cuddyer can't have a rocking second half? They have the skill set to get it done. After all, how many of us had Davis and say Segura in our preseason top 10?

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About Todd Zola,

Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.

Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at and, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums. Fantasy Baseball

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