2011 MLB All-Star Game: 10 All-Stars Who Will Decline in the Second Half
Well, the 2011 MLB All-Star Game is now behind us.
With the NL's 5-1 victory at Chase Field Tuesday night, the first half of the season is officially over. That means it's time for Act II.
The second half of the season means trade rumors, prospect call-ups, and pennant races. It also means the All-Stars have a lot to live up to.
In this slideshow are the 10 participants in the Midsummers whose statistics suggest that they won't be able to maintain their first-half performances over the course of the rest of the season.
For a quick brush-up on some statistics used to quantify and isolate luck, take a quick trip to the FanGraphs Sabermetrics Library.
10. Alex Avila, Tigers
Leon Halip/Getty Images
Avila seemingly came out of nowhere to emerge as the best catcher in the league in the first half, hitting .286/.370/.506 with 10 homers, 46 RBI and 2.7 WAR.
Unfortunately, there's a red flag on his stat sheet: his .349 BABIP.
As a powerful hitter with good plate discipline, it's reasonable to expect that Avila could maintain an above-average hit rate. But over 50 points above the norm? Probably not.
9. Andre Ethier, Dodgers
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Ethier's power is way down this year (his ISO has dropped 49 points from last season), but he's still managed to post a very solid .311/.383/.463 triple-slash. His 134 wRC+ to-date is the best of his career.
Blame it on his .371 BABIP.
The Hardball Times' Simple xBABIP Calculator—which takes into account speed, power and batted-ball profile—has Ethier at a true-talent .329 hit rate. And even that's assuming he can sustain his 27.7 percent line drive rate.
8. Gio Gonzalez, Athletics
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Gonzalez is enjoying a breakout year, going 8-6 with a 2.47 ERA. Unfortunately, much of his success isn't his fault.
His 3.57 FIP and 3.56 xFIP are more than a full run higher than his ERA, suggesting his true-talent level isn't quite as good as his superficial stats would have us think.
Neither his .278 BABIP nor his 80.1 percent strand rate are wholly unsustainable, but they're low and high enough, respectively, to be significant deviations from the mean.
Gonzalez outperformed his peripherals last season, but that doesn't mean he has the preternatural ability to do so continuously. In fact, in 2008-09 his ERA was nearly two full runs higher than his xFIP.
7. Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Gonzalez has been an absolute beast in Boston this year. Unfortunate for the Red Sox, he's not as good as he's looked.
Someone with his power and plate discipline can be expected to maintain a high hit rate—his career BABIP is .319, and his xBABIP is .331—but A-Gone's .394 BABIP is far beyond the boundaries of where talent alone can take you.
He's without a doubt one of the best players in the game. He's just not quite as good as you think he is.
6. Alexi Ogando, Rangers
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Ogando's been one of the biggest surprises of the 2011 season. He's successfully managed the transition to the rotation, and he's started off 9-3 with a 2.92 ERA.
But part of that is luck. He has an insanely low .240 BABIP, and I'm not optimistic that he can maintain a HR/FB rate under eight percent while pitching half his games in Arlington. Hence his still-good-but-far-from-great 3.70 xFIP.
In addition, his conversion may end up taking its toll on him as the season drags on—he could have trouble handling the large increase in innings pitched.
5. Jose Reyes, Mets
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
The frontrunner for NL MVP, Reyes is having a fantastic season, hitting .354/.398/.529 with 30 steals, 65 runs scored and 5.2 WAR.
However, that's coming largely courtesy of a ridiculous .375 BABIP.
A guy with Reyes' speed, contact ability and gap power can definitely be counted on to produce an above-average hit rate, but not to this extent. His .313 xBABIP and .314 career mark are more than 60 points lower.
Moreover, there is the question of whether Reyes can keep up this level of play, given his history of injuries and inconsistency.
4. Jhonny Peralta, Tigers
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Peralta's having a breakout year, and he looks much better than he ever did with the Indians. He's hitting .312/.362/.529 with 14 homers, 50 RBI and 3.3 WAR.
His .336 BABIP isn't that out of the question for a powerful line-drive hitter, but it's way above his .295 xBABIP. As a contact hitter who doesn't walk much, he's particularly liable to changes in luck.
Also, a large part of his value is based on the perception that he's played good defense. After half a season, I'm not sold that a guy with a -4.8 UZR/150 at shortstop will keep up his solid glovework.
3. Jair Jurrjens, Braves
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
A popular pick for the first-half Cy Young, Jurrjens has been great this year, going 12-3 with a 1.87 ERA.
However, a good chunk of that is just good luck.
Jurrjens has a .256 BABIP, an 84.1 percent strand rate and a 4.2 percent HR/FB rate. His 3.10 FIP is nearly a run-and-a-half higher than his ERA, and his 3.76 xFIP is more than double it.
His history suggests he may have preternatural ability to outperform his peripherals (his career ERA is 48 points below his career FIP), but he actually underperformed them last year, and a discrepancy this large is hard to chalk up to anything but luck.
2. Hunter Pence, Astros
Bob Levey/Getty Images
Pence had a terrific first half of the season, hitting .323/.364/.496 with 11 homers, 60 RBI and 2.7 WAR.
It's no coincidence that his career year is coming with the aid of some very good luck.
Pence has an insane .389 BABIP, and I don't think anyone would argue that he is truly the second best player in the game at making good contact. Even his .327 xBABIP—62 points below what he's doing now—seems a little high to me.
Look for him to cool off in the second half.
1. Josh Beckett, Red Sox
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
In 21 starts last year, Beckett went 6-6 with a 5.78 ERA. In 17 starts in 2011, he's 8-3 with a 2.27 ERA.
What's the difference? Luck.
He got the short end of the stick last year, and now the winds of fortune are blowing hard in his direction.
His BABIP is down 113 points. His strand rate is up 17 percent. And his HR/FB rate is down almost nine percent.
Beckett's xFIP (3.86 last year, 3.70 now) has barely budged. His xFIP- is actually slightly worse than in 2010.
Look for a big regression in the second half.
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