4 Hitters Ready to Bounce Back After the All-Star Break
Baseball can be a high-variance game. Some hitters we expected to be studs aren't performing as well, and some hitters are wildly surpassing our expectations. Sometimes this can come through true declines or improvements in play. But a deeper look into the numbers can reveal some hitters whose production simply doesn't line up with how well (or how poorly) they're hitting the ball. That can give us an idea of who is poised to turn things around over the second half of the season.
The great thing is that it's a long season, and between second-chance leagues that start up after All-Star break and the ability to make up ground in your current leagues, even struggling fantasy players aren't dead in the water. Yet.
Let's examine four hitters whose low production but impressive numbers could leave them primed for a bounce-back second half, letting you acquire them on the cheap by trade or waiver wire acquisition.
Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians (2B/3B)
Positional Rank: 18th
It honestly surprised me that Jose Ramirez was even this high on the Player Rater, but that ranking is being held up by his 18 steals through the first half of this season. If you invested heavily in Ramirez early on in drafts, your season could be stuck in neutral.
Ramirez certainly doesn't seem likely to match last year's total of 39 home runs, as he has only seven at the break, but there's some signs of life here. His batting eye remains strong with an 11.5% walk rate, and while his power has dropped tremendously in terms of isolated power (.126, ISO), both his hard-hit rate (36.4%) and fly-ball rate (48.7%) have improved in 2019 from where they sat in 2018.
It may not be a lost season, so consider Ramirez as a trade target with a solid steals floor.
Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers (3B)
Positional Rank: 23rd
At first glance, Justin Turner isn't too far off from his original ADP slot. But given his batted-ball profile, Turner could be in line for a monster second half.
Turner tumbles pretty far back in the third base ranks, primarily due to his lack of pop. At a position loaded with home runs, Turner's 10 homers put him only 22nd at the position. That's a steep drop from the category leader, Mike Moustakas, who leads with 25.
But that doesn't mean more power isn't available from Turner. Still posting a solid .294 batting average, his hard-hit rate has surged to a career-best 51.7% mark.
Playing on one of the best offenses in the league, the Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman could break out again.
Justin Smoak, Toronto Blue Jays (1B)
Positional Rank: 55th
Hey, look at that! Justin Smoak exactly matches what his ADP was prior to the season, so this means drafters were right all along, right?
Not exactly. Smoak was one of the best values of the draft season, following up a 2018 season where the switch-hitter slugged 25 home runs and a .247 batting average, along with a 2017 that saw Smoak pop 38 home runs with a .272 batting average.
With a poor batting average and only 14 jacks, Smoak may look like a disappointment, but fear not. Smoak has a career-best 16.4% walk rate, and his pop really hasn't waned with a .201 ISO. He's also recorded improved marks of a 44.1% hard-hit rate and 45.7% fly-ball rate.
If Smoak is available on your waiver wires, consider the slugger for a first base, corner infield, or utility slot.
Danny Jansen, Toronto Blue Jays (C)
Positional Rank: 30th
Unlike Smoak, Danny Jansen had a lot of draft helium as the winter/spring drafts rolled on, and projecting a rookie backstop to step in and start swatting the baseball with authority was probably a fool's exercise.
But a funny thing happened during the season -- Jansen has gotten more comfortable at the dish, and he has started to explode:
Danny Jansen isn't wearing batting gloves again.
Danny Jansen just collected another RBI.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) July 7, 2019
Until June, Jansen was hitting only .163 through 145 plate appearances, and had an ugly 25.5% strikeout rate. Since then, a he's got a crisp 9.9% strikeout rate, six home runs, a .286 average and an eye-popping .310 ISO.
Other fantasy owners in your league may not be aware of how hard he's been hitting the ball lately, so try and see if he is available -- he's only 48% owned in Yahoo leagues.