It is human nature to heavily lean on the most recent information, even when we know it’s not in our best interest. This comes into play in fantasy drafts and auctions, as some of us will think back to the latest memories we have about a player and that will shape our perceptions of his performance to come. With that in mind, here are some a few position players who had rough second halves that may overshadow what they did in the first half of 2015. Some may be good buy-low candidates next spring, and others may have been foreshadowing more struggles to come.
2nd Half: .220/.274/.390 10 HR 5 SB
In the first half of the season, Frazier was one of the elite fantasy players in the game, tying for fifth in home runs while putting up above-average numbers across the board. Everything fell apart in the second half, however, and he wound up finishing the year outside the top five at the hot corner. He’ll be entering his age-30 season in 2016, so it’s easy to see some decline coming in his game, but not to the extent he went through in the second half. In the end, it all depends on what you’re looking for out of Frazier. If you’re looking for him to be the All-Star he was in the first-half, you’ll be disappointed. He should be closer to that than his second-half self, however, especially in the power department. An AVG in the .260-.270 range with 30+ home runs is well within his true-talent level, and he can even swipe double-digit bags on top of that. It’s hard to pin down a real value on him given the possibility that he’ll be moving away from the hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park, but until that happens fantasy players should be able to capitalize on Frazier’s rough second half.
1st Half: .302/.377/.484 10 HR 15 SB
2nd Half: .206/.300/.292 6 HR 5 2B
Looking at his overall batting line, it was just another year for Gardner, but he took a strange road to get there. While he’s historically played better in the first few months of seasons than the latter months, the split was much more extreme in 2015. He flat-out stopped hitting the ball hard in the second half, with his power dropping precipitously and his BABIP falling from .363 to .247. With that being said, the power drop off was mostly in terms of doubles, as he still put a few balls over the fence. He’s going to be more intriguing in OBP leagues than in standard ones, but he could be a good value in any league. If he drops below the top-24 outfielders in drafts and auctions next year, he should be able to outproduce that despite a horrendous second half in 2015.
1st Half: .298/.355/.473 13 HR
2nd Half: .243/.306/.325 4 HR
Over the last five years, Peralta has been one of the most boringly consistent fantasy players in the league, never finishing near the top of the shortstop leaderboards, but always finishing in a respectable place. He finished in that same range in 2015, but showed some real decline that is mildly concerning. At age 34, 2016 could mark the beginning of his post-prime career. He’s actually in a similar position to Gardner, with a huge power dropoff in the second half as well as a BABIP decline. However, he doesn’t possess the same consistent approach as Gardner, not does Peralta have the speed of Gardner to leg out a few extra singles. Most importantly, Peralta plays shortstops, a position with fewer starting spots in most leagues. Additionally, there has been a huge influx of young talent at that position over the last couple years, making Peralta’s consistency less attractive than it was two or three years ago. With guys like Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor and Corey Seager figuring to take big jumps in 2016, shortstop is not the black hole it once was. Peralta could very well bounce back, but his rough second half, his age and his new competition make him less attractive than he was at this time last year.
1st Half: .280/.343/.434 9 HR 10 SB
2nd Half: .238/.292/.322 2 HR 5 SB
The players outlined above have been veterans, but here we have a young player in Wong who looked like he was having a breakout season before having the rug pulled from under him in the second half. He will be entering his age-25 season in 2016, making it very likely that there will be a fair amount of hype around him despite his poor second half. I would be very nervous to give in to that hype, as he’s still not able to draw many walks and that first half power surge seems a bit fluky. I would imagine his batting average from the second half is poised to come up, but the rest of his ratios seems about right. His second half was more of a warning sign of things to come rather than an opportunity to buy low. He’s much more likely to finish around the 10th-best second baseman than jump up into the top five.
1st Half: .282/.401/.526 14 HR
2nd Half: .162/.280/.218 2 HR
We end with the mother of all second-half collapses, and the player who will likely be the most affected by a change in perception based on his struggles. After playing well enough to earn an All-Star appearance in the first half, Grandal fell apart later in the season, including a stretch in which he had zero (0) hits in 45 plate appearances. Luckily, this is something that you should be able to take advantage of next spring. Even through that horrible stretch in August and September, Grandal was able to keep his plate discipline, and will still be an asset in OBP leagues even if he struggles in AVG. He’s shown an ability to hit for power in both of his full major-league seasons, and that combined with his on-base skills makes him a viable starter at a weak catcher position. Those late-season struggles have made it likely he’ll be a cheap option next year, and he could pay huge dividends if you take a chance on him late in your draft.