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July 21, 2013

Overthinking It

Second-Half Risers and Fallers for Every Team, AL Edition

by Ben Lindbergh


Baseball is back, and while there’s less of it remaining than there usually is when the so-called second half starts, there’s still plenty of time for good seasons to go bad and bad seasons to get better. Mike Gianella went position-by-position in search of second-half risers and fallers from a fantasy perspective earlier this week; I’m going to go team-by team, picking an opposing pair from each roster. We’ll start with the American League, since the DH is not as clumsy or a random as a pitcher who hits; an elegant position for a more civilized age. (NL picks are here.)

AL East

Boston Red Sox
Riser: Will Middlebrooks. With the exception of Joel Hanrahan, whose season is over, Red Sox who’ve significantly underperformed expectations have been few and far between. I’m not a big believer in Middlebrooks in the short term, but he’s young, he can’t be much worse than he was, and the Sox are platooning Brock Holt and Brandon Snyder at third base, which means that barring a trade, Middlebrooks is a Pawtucket hot streak away from a shot at redemption.
Faller: Jose Iglesias. What, you thought it would be someone other than the .367 hitter with the .400-plus BABIP and the .244/.296/.292 career Triple-A line?

Tampa Bay Rays
Riser: David Price. Injuries limited Price to 12 starts and 80 innings in the first half, and struggles with runners in scoring position made his line look worse than it was. If his three dominant starts leading up to the break—admittedly, all of them against the Astros or White Sox—were any indication, he’ll be back in something like Cy Young form going forward.
Faller: James Loney. The Rays have already gotten their money’s worth with Loney, even if they get squat from him for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, that scenario isn’t completely far-fetched. The first baseman has cooled off considerably since his hot two months to start the season, though he walks enough and plays good enough defense not to be a black hole if he can’t recapture the BABIP magic of April or the surprising power of May.

Baltimore Orioles
Riser: Matt Wieters. Okay, so Wieters isn’t the hitter we thought he’d be. But he’s a better hitter than this.
Faller: Tommy Hunter. The owner of the lowest BABIP in the AL (min. 50 innings), Hunter throws hard and isn’t walking anyone, but he’s also not missing many bats. Miguel Gonzalez is also leading a charmed life, with an ERA roughly a run lower than his FIP through his first 200-plus innings.

New York Yankees
Riser: Curtis Granderson. You can take your pick of Yankees who missed most or all of the first half and might make a bigger (read: any) contribution down the stretch, but Granderson is the youngest and best of the bunch. He just has to hope that painful hit by pitches don’t come in threes.
Faller: Hiroki Kuroda. We can’t pick a hitter, since no one on the offensive side has very far to fall. So it has to be a hurler, and while Kuroda has pitched perfectly well, there’s nothing in his peripherals to support an ERA in the mid-2.00s. The real faller might be the team’s one-run record, which sits at 16-9 and has helped the Yankees outplay their 44-51 Pythagorean record.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Daily Roundup: Around ... (07/21)
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