10 MLB Players Not on 25-Man Rosters Who Will Be Huge Second-Half Sparks
One of the most exciting things about baseball is that players such as Bryce Harper and Mike Trout can start the season off the 25-man roster, yet still provide huge sparks to their teams.
When Trout made his season debut on April 28th, the Angels were 7-14 and nine games out of first place. Today, they sit four games back with a record of 36-31 and Trout is hitting .324 with 16 steals and 35 runs scored. Bryce Harper, at only 19 years old, has become one of the biggest draws in all of baseball by hitting .333 with a .591 slugging percentage in June.
As the season rolls into the second half, there will be more top prospects such as Wil Myers of the Royals and Trevor Bauer of the D-Backs who have similar impacts.
In addition to the young guns, there are countless MLB stars that will return from the DL and change the playoff fortunes for not only their own organizations, but their rivals as well. For these veterans I have calculated their potential value added using their average WAR from the past few seasons combined with their projected games played in 2012.
Without further ado, here are 10 players not currently on 25-man rosters that will make a huge difference in the second half.
Kansas City Royals OF Wil Myers
Coming into the season, Baseball American ranked Wil Myers as the 28th best prospect in all of baseball.
However, with 24 home runs and 61 RBI in just 66 minor league games, not to mention a .337 batting average and .716 slugging percentage, Myers certainly established himself as one of the top hitters in the minor leagues.
With the Royals sitting just five games back of first place in the AL Central, Myers will get his chance as Kansas City looks to make a playoff push.
Arizona Diamondbacks SP Trevor Bauer
You will be hard pressed to find a more dominant pitching prospect in the minor leagues.
After being drafted third overall in last year's draft, Bauer has gone 11-1 with a 2.11 ERA in 14 starts this season with 104 K's in just 85.1 innings.
The D-Backs surprised baseball last year with a 94-win season and NL West Division title but have not found similar success in 2012. As we get closer to July, Bauer's debut inches closer and the sooner he comes up, the bigger impact he will have on the NL playoff races.
Detroit Tigers SP Jacob Turner
The Tigers made their move this weekend and will call up their top prospect to start on Thursday vs. the St. Louis Cardinals.
With the ninth overall pick in the 2009 draft, Detroit selected Jacob Turner and he has not disappointed. The 6'5'' right-hander has ranked in Baseball America's top 30 prospects each of the last three years and has a career 3.25 ERA in 310 minor league innings.
Despite their pronounced pitching struggles that have them in the bottom 10 in ERA, the Tigers find themselves only three games out of first place. Turner will be replacing the likes of Casey Crosby and Adam Wik, who have posted 9.49 and 8.18 ERAs respectively.
Turner could be the piece that turns this division around in Detroit's favor.
Toronto Blue Jays C Travis d'Arnaud
Another top 20 prospect coming into the season, Travis d'Arnaud has taken those expectations and blown them to pieces.
After hitting 21 homers with a .311 batting average and .542 SLG percentage last season, d'Arnaud already has 15 bombs this season while hitting .335 with a .602 SLG.
Even with the Blue Jays' recent struggles, they remain in contention in the toughest division in baseball that is the AL East. Only J.P. Arencibia and his .218 batting average with 59-9 strikeout-walk ratio sit in front of d'Arnaud, so he shouldn't stand in his way much longer.
Chicago Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo
With a 23-44 record heading into Tuesday's action, it is hard to imagine what the Cubs are waiting for.
Yes, Anthony Rizzo struggled with the Padres last season, but he has absolutely obliterated Triple-A this season. In 63 games, Rizzo has 23 homers and 59 RBI with a .364/.426/.745 slash line. Bryan LaHair has had a very nice season as the Cubs everyday first baseman, but Rizzo is the future and it appears his call-up is coming soon.
While the Cubs will not magically jump into playoff contention, Rizzo's dynamic bat will add something to Chicago's lineup that they have lacked for some time.
Los Angeles Dodgers OF Matt Kemp
If that was not good enough, in just 36 games this season he earned a 2.3 WAR which over the course of 162 games (he averaged 161 from 2009-2011) would have come out to 10.35!
Unfortunately for Kemp and the Dodgers, the young outfielder re-injured his hamstring in just his second game back and was forced to the DL again for 4-6 weeks.
The Dodgers have proven to be a stronger team than anyone gave them credit for, going 9-7 in his absence, but if Kemp can return to his April form and stay healthy for the Dodgers final 70 or so games, his boost will be bigger than any other contributor on this list.
Potential Value Added: Five Wins (2.3/36 *70 games played)
Tampa Bay Rays 3B Evan Longoria
From 2008-2011, Longoria's first four seasons as a big leaguer, his cumulative WAR was 26.8. This season, the Rays 3B was on his way to an outstanding year, posting a career best slash line of .329/.433/.561.
Late Monday night it was reported that Longoria left his rehab game early after re-aggravating his hamstring injury. The Tampa Bay Times said his rehab will be suspended indefinitely, so the Rays are going to have to wait a little longer to get his much needed thump back in the middle of their order.
Projected Value Added: Two Wins (0.9/23 *50 games played)
St. Louis Cardinals: Lance Berkman, Chris Carpenter, Matt Carpenter
While their return dates are very much up in the air, Chris Carpenter threw off a mound recently and Berkman is expected to return some time in August, giving each of them more than enough time to have an impact on the playoff race.
The most underrated and under-appreciated name on this list however belongs to Matt Carpenter.
After putting up a .288/.356/.519 slash line in 118 plate appearances earlier this season, Carpenter injured his oblique and was placed on the DL. His replacement Matt Adams has struggled, so while the Cards still rank atop the NL in runs scored heading into Monday night's action, Carpenter would provide a nice boost.
The best part for Cards' fans is, it appears he is close to beginning a rehab assignment, so that boost should be coming shortly.
Projected Value Added: Five Wins (Berkman 1.5, C. Carpenter 1.5, M. Carpenter 2)
Boston Red Sox: Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, Andrew Bailey
The Red Sox have barely survived a rash of injuries. When they start to get healthy and these three guys return, the rest of the American League is going to take notice.
Jacoby Ellsbury was baseball's best position player last season with a 9.4 WAR and while it may take him a little bit to get his swing back, he is still one of the most dynamic players in the game and will be better than any possible trade deadline acquisition.
Carl Crawford was awful in his first season in Boston, but after seven outstanding seasons in Tampa, his pedigree says he will bounce back this season. With reports suggesting Crawford is close to playing in rehab games, he appears to be the player most likely to return first. Considering the Red Sox have given the likes of Marlon Byrd and Darnell McDonald 175 at-bats, Crawford's return will be a much needed boost.
The third and final member of Boston's other "big three" has yet to appear with the team after being acquired in the offseason. Through the first three years in his MLB career, Andrew Bailey has a sparkling 2.07 and 75 saves in 174 innings. The Boston Globe reported that he has flown down to Florida to start throwing, and if he can return by the All-Star break, he would solidify the Sox much maligned bullpen.
Projected Value Added: Six Wins Added (Crawford 2, Ellsbury 3, Bailey 1)
Philadelphia Phillies: Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay
The Phillies have been the most dominant team in the National League over the past five seasons, but coming into the year with the oldest team in the league has its risks.
They knew they would be without Chase Utley and Ryan Howard for a good chunk of the season and would have to stay afloat until they returned. However, when Roy Halladay was forced to the DL, it looked like they were in a lot of trouble.
Nevertheless, here we are in the middle of June and they still remain just five games out of the Wild Card race with each star moving forward in their rehab.
As long as the Phillies remain within a reasonable amount of games as July and August roll around, these three will return and have the biggest impact of any players on this list.
Projected Value Added: 6.5 Wins (Utley 2.5, Howard 1, Halladay 3)