Imagine for a minute that you had free reign to add any three players to your team for the second half, while punishing a heated rival by tagging them with three more of your choice. That's basically the essence of this week's revised format: three players who will heat up post-All-Star break and three who will break down faster than you can say Sarah Palin.
The Deconstructed component will still exist within the six picks so as to give you the lowdown on precisely why each player will improve or decline. Hopefully this will whet your appetite more than seeing Emmanuelle Chriqui return to Entourage.
Chris Young: The outfielder, not the pitcher. Don't scoff at welcoming the .196 hitter to your squad. I'll cut right to the chase: He's a really, really good second-half player. He makes up for lost time better than a 30-year-old virgin at the Playboy Mansion.
In 2007, he posted an .823 OPS that made his first-half .704 OPS look every bit as puny as it was. Cracking nearly 20 homers and tripling his stolen base total -- from nine to 27 -- sure didn't hurt. It got even better last year. After hitting a putrid .228 with a .696 OPS in the first half bringing nearly as many "Will he develop into a star?" questions as we saw this year, he went on to bat .278 with an .851 OPS after the midsummer classic.
The mid-July break from action should do wonders for resting his sore groin. (I've always wondered how an athlete describes the cause of that injury when chicks hit on him at a bar.) Young's line drive percentage (18.2) is high enough and his ground ball percentage (27.1) is low enough that he theoretically could get hotter than the Arizona weather in the second half. It would be a dry heat, of course.
Jeff Francoeur: It would seem that a struggling player who doesn't do well in the spotlight would absolutely crumple in the Big Apple. Yet the man who could've played football at Clemson answered the bell with back-to-back two-hit outings in his first two contests as a Met. Yes, even the New York crowd, admittedly somewhat more docile with a Shake Shack in their park, might already be in love with him.
Francoeur instantly looked more comfortable at the plate as a Met. Even old-timer Ralph Kiner could barely contain his enthusiasm during the Mets' Sunday broadcast, describing how he kept his weight on his back foot. Over and over and over...
I can't believe I'm about to make this joke, but any chance us New Yorkers will start seeing Shake Shack 'Frenchy' fries if Francoeur continues to mash?
Mat Gamel/Chris Davis: You couldn't find a bigger copout than this guy, I'll admit it. I can't run through four guys to recommend, but these two youngsters should be grouped to note their power potential.
Davis' strikeout struggles are well-documented. They're more epic than Greek mythology. He whiffed 44.2 percent of the time in the first half, and surely would set a record for most K's in a season if he hadn't been demoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Yet his 15 homers indicated what the man can do with a ball when he actually hit it. He could absolutely tear 20-25 homers in the second half if he lowers his K rate to the mid-30s. Just typing that sentence should make half the Rangers fans reading this throw up in their coffee mug.
Gamel has the kind of power that causes general managers to dream while containing a nightmarish propensity to strike out. His power bat would look awfully intimidating on a nightly basis behind Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. Yet his 40 percent strikeout rate causes a justifiable hesitancy among fantasy owners.
If you're willing to wait on a player to mature and have the roster space to allow for potentially long stretches on the bench, then Davis and Gamel are the kind of young players for whom you want to buy low.
Mark Reynolds: Trade him now. Just do it. Seriously, call a buddy in one of your leagues, get him on IM, Tweet him, do whatever you have to do. Just trade Reynolds. Do. It. Now.
It's not like his .258 batting average will get better. His contact rate (62.9 percent) and line drive percentage (14.4) are career lows. There's just not a chance his 26.7 HR/FB percentage stays at its current rate. He's already four homers short of his total from last year in 214 fewer at-bats.
The 15 steals might be flukey, too, considering they're the most he's attained on any level of professional baseball. I've been pulling the following stat on my buddies at a dizzying rate: Reynolds and Albert Pujols are the only two corner infielders with 20-plus homers and 10-plus steals. It's a great stat and shows the fantasy value that Reynolds has surprisingly delivered.
Yet no man who makes so little contact and who has been so lucky with driving the ball over the fence can keep it up for another half of the year. So just trade Reynolds before you begin feeling like a word that sounds similar to D-back.
Scott Rolen: This won't be strictly an indictment on the man's inability to stay healthy. He played 56, 142, 112 and 115 in four seasons from 2005-08, although he's managed to participate in 77 of the Blue Jays' 90 contests in '09. Ask yourself this question, though: Do you really want to stake your third base position on Rolen remaining healthy? Don't you see a 'Rolen lands on 15-day DL after losing an arm in fall down stairs' headline popping up on the Internet within the next month? No? You mean you're not as willing to bet on a player's health as I am? Fine.
Don't trade the guy because of his impending physical doom. Trade him because his .345 BABIP -- the highest of his career -- is helping prop up his .307 batting average. Trade him because he hits 11 points lower in the second half than in the first for his career. Trade him because his walk rate, 7.8 percent, is at a career-low rate. If you don't, then think twice about crying to RotoExperts on Twitter (@rotoexperts) when Rolen has an anvil land on him. (By the way, did you like that product placement? Still not as impressive as those Gatorade 'G' coolers that looked like they were underneath the basketball hoops during the NBA Playoffs. Or the 'G' bottle beside Derek Jeter during his Home Run Derby interview with Erin Andrews.)
Russell Branyan: Whoa, Russ. Get off that home run train while you can. He's hitting .280, but a .343 BABIP has done wonders for that mark. And do you realize his slugging percentage is 108 points higher at pitcher-friendly Safeco Field than on the road?
Already with 22 home runs, the 33-year-old has never gone yard more than 24 times in a season. He's on his eighth big league team and, realistically-speaking, could turn to his ninth if the Mariners fall out of the AL West race and decide it's best to deal a powerful veteran.
You can make all the comparisons between the rock-solid 6-foot-3, 200-pound Branyan and similarly-named Paul Bunyan that you like. He's not going to continue busting out his lumber at the same rate as he did in the first half.
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