Ready for the second half? You better be.Make sure to enjoy the All-Star break and rest up while you can. That way you can hit the second stanza running and finish strong.The best way to do that? Trading for one of these players on the cheap -- before they break
Ready for the second half? You better be.
Make sure to enjoy the All-Star break and rest up while you can. That way you can hit the second stanza running and finish strong.
The best way to do that? Trading for one of these players on the cheap -- before they break out.
Josh Donaldson, 3B, Blue Jays
It's been a rough season for Donaldson -- and probably his fantasy owner, too, who spent a first-round pick on him. The 2015 AL MVP has battled through a calf injury for a large chunk of the season, causing all of his fantasy stats to dip: .261 BA, 19 R, 9 HR, 25 RBIs, 1 SB in 46 games. Making matters worse? The once-formidable Blue Jays offense has struggled mightily all year.
That said, the 31-year-old has had bursts of productivity this year in line with his past four fantastic seasons. In fact, his .224 isolated slugging percentage is right in line with his career .225 mark, and Donaldson actually is walking at a career-high 16.1 percent rate. A huge second half could be hiding in here, and now is the time to make a play for Donaldson, while his surface stats look ordinary.
A.J. Pollock, OF, D-backs
Like Donaldson, Pollock was an early round draft selection whose performance and numbers (.288 BA, 27 R, 3 HR, 12 RBIs, 13 SB) have been stunted by an injury that limited him to 43 first-half games. The D-backs outfielder missed nearly two months with a strained right groin before returning only in the final week of the first half.
While the 29-year-old has gained a reputation as being injury prone over the last two years, Pollock's per-game production should remain near-elite. If you're looking for a good sign, consider that he homered and, more importantly given his recent ailment, stole a pair of bases in the final game before the break. If he can stay healthy, look for Pollock to turn it on as the leadoff hitter in a potent D-backs lineup.
Joc Pederson, OF, Dodgers
Sensing a theme? Pederson fits in as another player whose first half was marred by injury. Playing in just 59 games due to a groin strain and then a stint on the DL for a concussion, the 25-year-old hit .241 with 32 runs, nine homers and 26 RBIs. Not to mention, he tends to be overlooked on a Dodgers roster loaded with other young stars like Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger. If anything, that just makes Pederson more obtainable.
Since making it back on June 13, he is quietly slashing an impressive .304/.434/.696 with seven homers and a 13-to-15 walk-to-strikeout ratio in 24 games. Given the lefty swinger's ongoing struggles against southpaws (.595 career OPS vs. LHP, compared to .895 vs. RHP), Pederson's upside is somewhat capped. He should, though, continue to be a solid source of power, and being a part of the juggernaut Dodgers can only boost his stats the rest of the way.
Byron Buxton, OF, Twins
Well, the breakout many fantasy folks were hoping for Buxton hasn't happened. At least, not yet. The former No. 1 overall prospect sports a .216/.288/.306 line that, simply put, is difficult to roster. The price of acquisition on Buxton is so low, though, that it's worth taking a flier on him, given the upside, pedigree and all-around game he flashed during his huge September 2016 (9 HR, 1.011 OPS in 29 games).
Since bottoming out with a .082 average and a ghastly 46 percent strikeout rate on April 20, Buxton has hit a respectable (by comparison) .248/.323/.350 in 68 games, while compiling all five of his homers and 15 of his 16 steals. That's actually sneaky useful, particularly if you're an owner in need of addressing the hard-to-come by stolen bases category. Don't expect any miracles, but Buxton does appear to be finding his way, if ever so gradually.
Archie Bradley, SP/RP, D-backs
Among pitchers who currently inhabit the closer role, Fernando Rodney's five blown saves so far are second most (behind only Atlanta's Jim Johnson). Combine that with his 5.58 ERA and, well, it wouldn't be shocking to see the upstart D-backs make a change as they undertake a postseason push.
Sure, they could look to make a trade in order to address the ninth inning … but perhaps they have an answer on the roster already. Once a stud prospect as a starting pitcher, hard-throwing Archie Bradley has excelled in his conversion to reliever, posting a 1.10 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 47 strikeouts against only eight walks over 41 frames this season. That smells like closer-in-waiting material, and a savvy owner would consider trading for him ASAP, on the chance that there won't be much more waiting.
Jason Catania is a fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com.