13 Jul Fantasy Baseball: Second-Half Breakout Candidates
By: Mike Stromme
As thrilling as the entire All-Star festivities were, the two days of no baseball that followed seemed like an eternity.
Hope everyone’s nice and refreshed, because this second half is going to be intense! Better buckle up, it’s going to be a crazy ride!
Here are some breakout candidates for the second half of the 2017 season. The three players have a few things in common: they all started slow, battled adversity and don’t have great overall numbers. They might not be perfect, but each of these guys finished strong going into the All-Star break. They all have shown flashes of success in the past and are primed to make a splash in the second half (or at the very least, finish strong). Time will tell the truth, but the next few months look bright for these three!
Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers:
We were all cautiously optimistic regarding Joc Pederson coming into this season. I mean, .246-25 HR-68 RBI wasn’t ideal, but fantasy owners were optimistic that the 25-year-old had the potential to improve. There’s just so much raw power in the bat of Joc Pederson.
Then, Pederson started out of the gate just about as well as a Clydesdale on a frozen pond. He hit just .220 in April, .180 in May and had just 2 HR over the first two months of the season. He also spent some time on the DL.
Then something magical happened, the calendar flipped to June and all of a sudden, Pederson started to MASH!
Here are Pederson’s numbers from June 1 until the All-Star Break:
17.6 K% (career 27.5 K%!)
That, and he’s hit 3 HRs in his last 10 games leading up to the break! Young Joc is en fuego!
Hey, we’ve seen Pederson get hot with the power stroke before. Remember the first half of 2015 when he hit 20 HR before the break? He might not be THAT hot, but he’s clearly figured something out.
We’ve seen Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager and Justin Turner go nuts in Dodger Blue in 2017. Looks like Joc might be next.
Mike Clevenger, Cleveland Indians:
We’ve seen glimpses in to who Mike Clevenger can really be. Essentially, it’s the inverse of his teammate, Josh Tomlin; not a ton of hits, lots of strikeouts, limited damage done with the long-ball and a high-walk rate without the high WHIP.
Here are Clevenger’s numbers since June 1 (31 IP):
0.9 HR/9 (pretty impressive, given the huge spike in HRs this season!)
1.16 WHIP (despite 4.9 BB/9)
This might be asking a lot from a pitcher who owns a career 4.78 BB/9 over 29 big-league appearances, but if he can limit the walks just a tad, he’ll be freaking DOMINANT!
As long as Danny Salazar continues to struggle with health/consistency, Clevenger will have a home in the Indians’ rotation. Perhaps some stability and a resemblance of a routine will help his walk rate. He’s spent the majority of his big league career bouncing around from the minors, to the majors and jerked between the bullpen and rotation once he’s arrived. Some continuity will do him some good, I expect big things from Clevenger in the second half.
Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks:
Patrick Corbin got off to a decent start, he was the proud owner of a 2.29 ERA – 1.27 WHIP – 30/11 K/BB ratio in the month of April.
Corbin was looking like his 2013 All-Star self again! Then, things got awkward… And by awkward, I really mean grotesque. In the month of May, Corbin owned a 9.00 ERA, allowed a WHOPPING 8 HRs and opposing hitters were hitting .359 against him. Yep, things got really ugly, really quickly for Patty C.
As ugly as that blip was, it was just that; a blip. Heading into the All Star Break, Corbin had quality starts in four of his last five. He’s allowed 3 ER in five of his last six, has struck out 5+ hitters in eight of his last ten and has walked 3 or less in his final ten starts before the break.
Doubters will point out the fact that Corbin calls Chase Field (AKA Coors Light) his home ballpark. And while it’s a notoriously a hitter’s haven, Corbin has historically pitched well in the desert: he owns a career 3.58 ERA at home (3.17 ERA in 2017 at home).
Is Corbin going to be Chris Sale-esque over the second half? Probably not. But, I expect him to be a hell of a lot better than his 6-9, 4.71 ERA and 1.53 WHIP. He should be solid going forward.