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Every year, inexplicably, players have drastically different first- and second-halves. It defies logic but nothing turns a top home run hitter or strikeout pitcher into a dud like the halfway point of the season. The real halfway point, not the arbitrary post-All-Star break “second half”. While it strikes unexpectedly, there are second-half drop offs that we can predict so let’s take a look at eight players with the highest likelihood of a prolonged second-half slump.
Chris Davis: .338/.417/.688, 21 HR, 56 RBI, 46 R, 21 2B
No one has been more impressive out of the gate than Chris Davis who leads even Miguel Cabrera in the home run race. That having been said, this is not at all the Chris Davis we know and sooner or later his torrid power streak is bound to level out. He currently leads the league in home runs, slugging, and OPS. Meanwhile, the most home runs we’ve ever seen from him is 33 last season and 36 in his first full season in the minors. His current pace puts him at well over 45. The highest slugging we’ve seen from him in a full season was .501 last year, nearly .200 under his current. The highest OPS we’ve seen from him is .827, nearly .200 points under his current. He’s always been a powerful guy but I can’t see this pace holding up in the second half.
Fearless Prediction: .278 BA, 38 HR, 103 RBI, 89 R
Domonic Brown: .282/.324/.576, 19 HR, 48 RBI, 33 R, 6 SB
No one was clamoring about the coming Brown breakout before the season than yours truly, here and here and here. Now that it’s happened, I see no way he can sustain this kind of pace through a full season. In his previous two seasons, he combined for 10 homers over 112 games while batting .240 across those two seasons. This year he has twice, and a .282 BA, in just 66 games. The most home runs we’ve seen Brown his is 20 over 93 games in Triple-A back in 2010. He has certainly come a long way but 40+ home runs seems like a pretty big leap that I don’t think he can make.
Fearless Prediction: .265 BA, 33 HR, 93 RBI, 65 R, 10 SB
Everth Cabrera: .295/.374/.413, 4 HR, 24 RBI, 35 R, 30 SB
Everth has always been a lousy hitter who makes up for it with great defense and speed. His .295 BA is more than 40 points above his .252 career average. His 24 RBI is seven short of his full-season career high and his .787 OPS is nearly .100 higher than his career high. His career-high 44 SB over 115 games last season was impressive but he was tough to keep on a fantasy roster with a .246 BA and just 49 R over 115 games. Can he keep his league-leading steals pace? Maybe, he once stole 73 bases in the minors, but if you need help in other categories in the second-half I don’t think you can lean too heavily on Cabrera.
Fearless Prediction: .265 BA, 6 HR, 40 RBI, 65 R, 60 SB
Kelly Johnson: .254/.323/.466, 10 HR, 37 RBI, 26 R, 6 SB
This one isn’t speculation, it’s a fact. Kelly Johnson is a one-month hitter who is useless the other five and once again he will disappoint fantasy owners by disappearing in the second half. Last season, nine of his 16 home runs came before the end of May. In 2011, seven of his 21 home runs came in May. In 2010, nine of his 26 home runs came in April and another seven came in September. He’s not a guy who plays a full season so don’t expect him to start this year.
Fearless Prediction: .230 BA, 16 HR, 55 RBI, 50 R, 12 SB
Jean Segura: .339/.374/.545, 10 HR, 30 RBI, 40 R, 19 SB, 8 3B
While we have seen plenty of the other guys on this list, Segura remains a mystery after playing just 109 games over the last two seasons. I think it’s pretty safe to say that his current pace is unsustainable since he’s outdoing even his minor league production. His 10 HR over 64 games matches his minor league career-high which came in 130 games. He’s always been a singles hitter and has suddenly found his stride, hitting 25 XBH in 257 at-bats. I have no doubt he can continue his steals pace, he stole as many as 50 in the minors, but I don’t see him matching his first-half production as his first full season moves along.
Fearless Prediction: .305 BA, 16 HR, 60 RBI, 80 R, 42 SB
Coco Crisp: .297/.384/.505, 8 HR, 24 RBI, 42 R, 13 SB
While Segura is a mystery, after 12 seasons, we have a pretty good idea of who Coco Crisp is. A .300 hitter he isn’t. He also hasn’t hit more than 11 home runs since 2005, driven in over 54 since 2007, and scored more than 69 times since 2007. He’s had an excellent first-half but that just tells me there’s leveling out to be done in the second-half.
Fearless Prediction: .270 BA, 14 HR, 54 RBI, 82 R, 33 SB
Nate McLouth: .285/.369/.407, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 40 R, 22 SB
The problem with projecting McLouth for a 162-game season is that there is no way he touches 162 games. He’s already missed time this season and hasn’t played over 89 games since 2009. That said, we can still assume his .285 BA and 22 SB over 57 games aren’t going to stay at their current pace since his full season career average is .251 and his career-high in steals is 23. He’s scored over 100 runs before, albeit all the way back in 2008, but that’s an unlikely number to hit with the incredibly high injury risk.
Fearless Prediction: .250 BA, 7 HR, 25 RBI, 65 R, 34 SB
James Loney: .318/.379/.502, 8 HR, 35 RBI, 30 R, 16 2B
Let’s not kid ourselves about Loney, who has now nearly matched his 2012 full season production through 66 games. He hasn’t batted over .289 since 2007, has never hit more than 15 home runs, and hasn’t driven in over 65 in three years. And that was a good, younger Loney. Tampa has a knack for getting the best out of guys like him but the numbers show a clear ceiling for how high his production can realistically go.
Fearless Prediction: .280 BA, 12 HR, 58 RBI, 50 R
Stay tuned for the most likely second-half drop-off pitcher candidates next week.
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