Quentin Batalillon

General News 2024

Fantasy Baseball Second Half Recovery (2024)

Julio Rodriguez - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, MLB DFS Picks, Betting Tips

The 2024 MLB regular season has been full of surprises. Injuries, slumps, outbreaks — navigating the baseball landscape has been extra difficult this year. For most fantasy managers, that can be a source of frustration. After months of planning and preparation, almost nothing has gone right.

While it would be easy to give up and move on, it’s important to remember that we haven’t even reached the All-Star break yet. There’s still plenty of time to turn things around. And it’s no secret that great players struggle in the first half of every year and make up for it in the second half. This year is no exception.

With the All-Star Break just around the corner, we’ve rounded up nine potential buy-low/waiver-adds hoping to capitalize on their (hopeful) second-half breakouts. RotoBaller’s Wade J. Smith takes on fantasy baseball’s second-half bounce-backs. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out to us at X (@wadejosephsmith).

Be sure to check out all of our fantasy baseball lineup resources and weekly lineup resources:

Obvious choices

Julio Rodriguez, Seattle Mariners

It wouldn’t make sense for anyone else to start the “Obvious Choices.” J-Rod has gotten off to a slow start once again. In 377 plate appearances, he’s hitting just .247/.297/.335 (85 OPS+) with 40 runs, seven doubles, eight home runs, 30 RBI, 18 steals and a 22:101 BB/SO ratio. For a consensus top-5 pick going into the season, his struggles have likely left a number of teams near the bottom of their league.

While it’s hard to see him underperforming, J-Rod should turn it around. He’s been much better in the second half since his rookie year in 2022.

Source: Baseball Reference

J-Rod, a top-7 finisher in back-to-back AL MVP races, has earned the benefit of the doubt, so trading him won’t be easy. Wise managers will bank on his second half, but it’s still worth a shot. And it might cost a lot, but there aren’t many players with more potential. If/when he heats up, you’ll be glad you got him.

Pablo Lopez, Minnesota Twins

After finishing seventh in the AL Cy Young race last year, Lopez has struggled to limit the scoring. After 99 innings, he has a 5.18 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and a 116:22 K/BB ratio. His underlying stats, however, suggest he’s been incredibly unlucky. He currently has a 3.37 xERA, 3.82 FIP (3.19 xFIP) and 3.17 SIERA. With numbers like that, you’d expect elite production, and that’s what I expect him to deliver post-ASG.

With such a wide gap between expected and actual numbers, Lopez should (in theory) regress toward the mean. If that happens, expect similar production to his second half of 2023, when he posted a 3.36 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and 96:18 K/BB in 83 innings. I’d recommend pursuing him aggressively. Hopefully, whoever gets him overemphasizes his ERA and you can land him at a discount. Either way, it’s hard to imagine a pitcher this talented finishing the season with an ERA above 4.50 — especially with all the signs pointing to better luck down the road.

Marcus Semien, Texas Rangers

The second runner-up in last year’s AL MVP race, Semien’s first half was disappointing. In 397 plate appearances, he’s batting .229/.295/.378 (91 OPS+) with 16 doubles, 12 homers, three steals and a 33:54 BB/SO. However, like J-Rod, slow starts are the norm. For example, Semien’s first half in 2022 is eerily similar to his performance this year (.239/.297/.400 (97 OPS+), 15 doubles, 13 homers, 17 steals and a 30:65 BB/SO). But he rebounded nicely that year, slashing .259/.312/.465 (118 OPS+) with 16 doubles, 13 homers, eight steals and a 23:55 BB/SO in the second half. Here are his career splits:

Source: Baseball Reference

Playing better after ASG is simply what Semien does. Last year was no exception. His first half was excellent (.271/.338/.483 (113 OPS+)), but his second half was much better (.283/.362/.532 (140 OPS+)). Ultimately, his track record speaks for itself. There aren’t many second basemen I’d rather have in the second half. Semien is an ideal candidate for a steal that I’ll add wherever I can.

Cunning second half stars

Nathaniel Lowe, Texas Rangers

Lowe is certainly not having a bad year. He just hasn’t delivered much fantasy value. But that will likely change in the second half. He’s been at his best in recent years (especially 2022). Here are his career splits:

Source: Baseball Reference

After starting the season on the IL, it took Lowe a while to get going. But in 124 plate appearances since June 1, he’s been pretty solid (.283/.339/.443, six doubles, four homers, 18 RBI, 10:28 BB/SO). What’s more, the Rangers’ lineup is loaded with hitters primed for a second-half comeback. With Lowe in the middle of that batting order, he should get plenty of RBI opportunities. Overall, he’ll be a solid addition to your team if you can get him.

Josh Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays

Maybe second-half breakouts are just in the Lowe family gene pool. Like his older brother, Josh has a track record of success post-ASG. He was excellent in 2023 (.292/.335/.500), but he hasn’t been the same so far. He still has plenty of time to recover, though. While it’s a relatively small sample size, his career splits have been promising.

Last year, J-Lowe was extremely productive from August 1st through the end of the regular season. In 180 plate appearances, he hit .329/.372/.527 with 13 doubles, six homers, and 10 steals. Overall, he’s an impressive athlete who is clearly capable of heating up. Furthermore, his underlying metrics suggest he’s been somewhat unlucky. His .294 wOBA is noticeably lower than his .327 xwOBA. His .443 xwOBA through contact, 14.9% barrel rate, 9% walk rate, and 41.4% hard-hit rate are all higher than they were in 2023 (.433 xwOBA; 11% barrel rate; 6.2% walk rate, 39.7% hard-hit rate). With that in mind, I’m excited to see what Lowe does going forward.

Gabriel Moreno, Arizona Diamondbacks

It may be a small sample size, but Moreno’s second-half numbers are impressive. In 162 plate appearances, he’s hit .331/.401/.535 (153 OPS+) with nine doubles, six homers and a 16:26 BB/SO. Few catchers have that kind of upside, so I’d recommend pushing him. While he may not exactly match those numbers, he should surpass his current pace.

Moreno may already be warming up. Since returning from the IL on July 2, he’s 10-for-28 with three doubles, a homer, five RBI and a steal. The turnaround in the second half could have already begun. Take advantage of it.

Major risks for big increases

Nolan Jones, Colorado Rockies

Jones has been awful thus far. Through 46 games, he’s slashing .187/.291/.303 with seven doubles, three homers, three steals and a 22:62 BB/SO. His underlying numbers aren’t much better. He’s just not the same player he will be in 2023. Despite his woes, there is a glimmer of hope. When he’s good, he’s producing elite production. Last year, he went 15-for-15 with a 160 OPS+ in the second half alone. If we can get even a little bit of Jones, it’ll be worth the risk.

I doubt many people will necessarily want to keep Jones, and I doubt they’ll ask for much in return. He might even be on your waiver wire (he’s only listed in 68% of Yahoo leagues and 39% of ESPN leagues). While he might not figure it out, there’s enough upside to warrant a waiting bench spot.

Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pittsburgh Pirates

This time last year, Hayes was struggling offensively. In 307 plate appearances, he was hitting just .252/.290/.393 (87 OPS+) with 16 doubles, five homers and a 16:62 BB/SO. He followed that up with a monstrous second half, slashing .299/.335/.539 (133 OPS+) with 15 doubles, 10 homers and a 12:42 BB/SO in 218 plate appearances.

The reason Hayes isn’t a “Sneaky Second-Half Stud” is that he hasn’t been consistently better in the second half, so there isn’t much evidence to suggest another breakout in 2023. Still, what he did last year is worth noting. For those who just lost Royce Lewis to the IL (again), Hayes could be a serviceable replacement. At the very least, he’s worth a waiting bench spot.

Frankie Montas, Cincinnati Reds

After 77 1/3 innings, Montas has a 4.19 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, and 62:33 K/BB. Those numbers are fairly comparable to his first half numbers from 2021 — he wasn’t injured or traded last season. He had an incredible second half that year.

Source: Baseball Reference

Here’s why he could do it again: For the first time since 2021, he’s finally consistent. He’s not injured. He’s (probably) not going to get traded. Montas may not halve his ERA, but there’s certainly potential for an improved second half. If you can get him cheap (he’s only 17% ranked in Yahoo leagues and 9% ranked in ESPN leagues), I say go for it. Pitching is a nightmare anyway.

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