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July 21, 2013

Overthinking It

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

by Ben Lindbergh


Part two of a series that started with the American League.

NL East

Atlanta Braves
Riser: Jason Heyward. The 23-year-old is making more contact, walking more often, and hitting more line drives than he did last season. There should be better days ahead of him as soon as his hamstring lets him get back on the field.
Faller: Luis Avilan. Avilan started the season as a low-leverage reliever, but his success, coupled with injuries to other Braves, has led to more late-inning work. The problem: in 39 innings, he’s struck out 20 batters and walked 16, and he’s been among the most fortunate pitchers on balls in play.

Washington Nationals
Riser: The bench, collectively. Roger Bernadina, Steve Lombardozzi, Chad Tracy, and Scott Hairston have batted .197 in 518 first-half at-bats. That worked for Rob Deer, but most of the Nats’ backups haven’t had Deer’s patience or power.
Faller: Tyler Clippard. One of baseball’s best setup men, but not quite this good. Even extreme flyballers on good defensive teams can’t keep their BABIPs below .200.

Philadelphia Phillies
Riser: Carlos Ruiz. What with Ruiz and Melky Cabrera both following career years and subsequent suspensions with lousy seasons, this hasn’t been the best year for PED skeptics. In general, 34-year-old catchers don’t make for buy-low opportunities, but Ruiz has fallen so far so fast that he might have at least a dead-backstop bounce in him. The Phillies don’t have a whole lot of other candidates for improvement (much as Ruben Amaro might want to believe otherwise), though Cole Hamels could have a better second half.
Faller: Jonathan Papelbon. Papelbon’s velocity and strikeout rate are down. His ERA isn’t up yet, but I’ll take the over on his career average, which is about where it stands now.

New York Mets
Riser: Ike Davis. His stint in Las Vegas—as good a hitter’s park as it is—showed that he’s not completely broken. I wouldn’t bet on a repeat of the 20-homer second half he had last year, but merely managing to hold on to a roster spot would be an improvement.
Faller: Marlon Byrd. Byrd has never slugged .500 in a season, and age 35 seems like a strange time to start.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Overthinking It: Secon... (07/21)
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Premium Article Overthinking It: The N... (07/22)
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