Fantasy Baseball: Breakout Candidates to Target at Every Position
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You can always find a way to improve your team. It doesn't matter if you're currently in first or seventh, there's always room for improvement.
Whether it a be key pickup on the wire or making a trade just before the deadline, championships are often won by second-half decisions.
Here's a list of breakout candidates for the second half. These guys can certainly help you make a playoff push.
Catcher: Yasmani Grandal, San Diego Padres
Grandal is on fire since being called up.
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2012 stats: .286 BA, 4 HRs, 6 RBI, 7 Rs
Owned in Yahoo!: 16 percent ... Owned in ESPN: 8 percent
Yasmani Grandal made a splash in his first MLB start by blasting two home runs.
He hasn't cooled off since that breakout game. In 10 games so far, Grandal has belted four homers to along with a .286 average.
It's amazing that Grandal isn't owned in more leagues. If you're in a two-catcher league, then he's a must have.
Even if you're in a one-catcher league, Grandal warrants serious consideration.
Obviously his 30.8 HR/FB rate will be hard to maintain, especially in a park like PETCO, but the former Miami Hurricane standout has flat out raked at every level he's been at.
Honorable Mention: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals; Michael McKenry, Pittsburgh Pirates.
First Base: Chris Carter, Oakland A's
Carter has produced since his callup.
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2012 stats: .353 BA, 3 HRs, 5 RBI, 6 Rs
Owned in Yahoo!: 1 percent ... Owned in ESPN: 0.4 percent
Chris Carter is finally looking like the ballplayer everybody expected to see.
After making three appearances on Baseball America's Top 100 prospect list over the years, Carter (25 years old) is now looking comfortable in a big league uniform.
Carter struggled in his first two trips to the MLB. In 124 plate appearances, Carter hit .167 with three homers.
But, he already has three long balls in 18 PAs this season.
He's currently platooning with Brandon Moss, but if Carter continues to produce he'll see more at-bats at DH, especially if Seth Smith continues to struggle. (He's 6-for-32 in the last two weeks.)
Honorable Mention: Adam Lind, Toronto Blue Jays; Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals.
Second Base: Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee Brewers
Weeks has too much upside to ignore.
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2012 stats: .199 BA, 8 HRs, 29 RBI, 34 Rs
Owned in Yahoo!: 61 percent ... Owned in ESPN: 58 percent
Rickie Weeks' struggles have been a mystery this season, but it looks like he's finally starting to turn it around.
Since July 1, Weeks is hitting .345 (10-for-29) with four doubles and two home runs.
Weeks' BABIP is a dismal .267, 38 points lower than his career average. I have a hard time believing that number won't improve after the All-Star break.
Weeks' HR/FB is at 10.8 percent, which is the lowest it's been in five years. Again, Weeks should see an increase in the second half.
Weeks is way too talented to be on the wire, but he's available in nearly 50 percent of leagues. I would take a chance on Weeks.
Honorable Mention: Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels; Alexi Amarista, San Diego Padres.
Third Base: Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals
Zimmerman is a second-half player.
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2012 stats: .243 BA, 8 HRs, 40 RBI, 42 Rs
Owned in Yahoo!: 94 percent ... Owned in ESPN: 100 percent
Ryan Zimmerman is a notorious second-half player. He owns a .270 average before the break, but has a .302 average in the second half.
Zimmerman is already starting to break out of his funk.
In the last two weeks, Zimmerman has been the best third baseman. He hit .321 (18-for-56) with five home runs and 17 RBI.
Zimmerman had a brutal start; his average dipped as low as .218 on June 23. If you stuck with him or added him (either through a trade or on the wire) then he's rewarding you now.
Expect Zimmerman to remain on this tear. The only problem is you'll most likely have to trade for him now.
Honorable Mention: Kevin Youkilis, Chicago White Sox; Casey McGehee, Pittsburgh Pirates.
Shortstop: Stephen Drew, Arizona Diamondbacks
Stephen Drew is finally back from injury.
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2012 stats: .179 BA, 0 HRs, 3 RBI, 3 Rs
Owned in Yahoo!: 22 percent ... Owned in ESPN: 16 percent
Stephen Drew finally returned to action on June 27.
It's been a struggle so far, but Drew is generally a slow starter. In his career, Drew hits 21 points higher in the second half (.280 compared to .259).
He also blasts more home runs. Before the All-Star game, Drew hits a home run every 49.32 at-bats, but in the second half, he belts a homer every 32.85 at-bats.
ZiPS projects Drew to have a .326 wOBA for the rest of the season. With that number, he would be in the top 10 for shortstops.
When healthy, Drew is a solid play. He hit .278 with 15 home runs in 2010.
Honorable Mention: Alexei Ramirez, Chicago White Sox; Yunel Escobar, Toronto Blue Jays.
Outfield: Rajai Davis, Toronto Blue Jays
Davis tends to heat up in the second half.
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2012 stats: .253 BA, 4 HRs, 23 RBI, 30 Rs, 23 SBs
Owned in Yahoo!: 15 percent ... Owned in ESPN: 25 percent
Rajai Davis is valuable because of his stolen base rate. He is currently second in the MLB with 23 steals.
But, he could become even more valuable in the second half.
History shows us that Davis is a second-half player. Davis has a .248 average before the All-Star break but that jumps all the way up to .297 after the break.
The more Davis gets on, the more chances he has to run. Davis averages a stolen base every 3.43 games in the first half, but that improves to 2.96 after the Midsummer Classic.
Additionally, Davis' best slugging percentage months are all in the second half. He has clips of .416, .403 and .393 in July, August and September respectively.
Honorable Mention: Cameron Maybin, San Diego Padres; Logan Morrison, Miami Marlins.
Starting Pitcher: Anibal Sanchez, Miami Marlins
Sanchez is better than his record indicates.
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2012 stats: 107 IP, 4-6, 4.12 ERA, 95 Ks, 1.25 WHIP
Owned in Yahoo!: 78 percent ... Owned in ESPN: 79 percent
Anibal Sanchez deserves a better record that what he has. His 7.99 K/9 rate and 4.12 ERA are good enough to earn him more than just four wins.
Additionally, he's actually pitching better than what his ERA shows. His FIP is 3.43 and that number ranks him ahead of guys like C.J. Wilson, Jordan Zimmermann and Johan Santana.
Sanchez is also stronger in the second half.
For his career, Sanchez has a 4.14 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in the first half and then improves his numbers to a 3.40 ERA and 1.28 WHIP after the break.
Sanchez is available in more than 20 percent of Yahoo! and ESPN leagues. If he's available, pick him up.
Honorable Mention: Trevor Bauer, Arizona Diamondbacks; Ian Kennedy Arizona Diamondbacks.
Relief Pitcher: Juan Oviedo, Miami Marlins
Oviedo could provide some saves down the stretch.
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2012 stats: N/A
Owned in Yahoo!: 6 percent ... Owned in ESPN: 0.6 percent
The man formerly referred to as "Leo Nunez," will be reinstated by the MLB on July 23 after an eight-week suspension for age and identity fraud.
Oviedo was never a fantastic closer (4.34 career ERA, 7.26 career K/9), but Heath Bell has been one of the biggest first-half disasters this season.
Oviedo isn't that valuable in shallow leagues, but if you're in an NL-only league or a deep mixed league, Oviedo certainly acquires attention.
Ozzie Guillen can only take so many of Bell's implosions.
Honorable Mention: Francisco Rodriguez, Milwaukee Brewers; Shawn Camp, Chicago Cubs.