The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 576 – “Call Your Shot” – All-Star Edition Ep. 5


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Subprime Day: The Birchwood Brothers’ 10 Bold Second-Half Predictions

We’re back, and as always, we’re here to help. If, like us, you play almost exclusively in redraft leagues, it avails you naught to know that a recognizedly good player who’s underperforming will probably improve, perhaps a whole lot, in the second half. Someone else has him, and probably won’t trade him, even if your league permits trades. Thus, you don’t really want to know that we envision an MVP-caliber rest-of-season performance from Justin Turner, although we do. Our beat is instead the overlooked, the disbelieved, and the unforgiven—players who will be cheap, or even costless, to acquire, and might produce some value in the second half. So what follows is an annotated list of ten players, none of whom is owned in more than 30% of CBS leagues and most of whom are owned in fewer than 5%, who might assist you when, or maybe even before, your team springs a leak. Read the rest of this entry »

The Second Half All Star Team: Bats To Buy

It’s the end of All Star week which means it’s time to look ahead to the “second half” of the fantasy. If it feels like a quick half, that’s because most teams only have about 65 games remaining. This is crunch time. Let’s take a peek at some players poised to slay the final two-plus months. I’ll be listing Depth Chart projections.

Remember, it’s unreasonable to acquire every player on this list. If you manage to add even one, you should feel pretty good about competing.


Buster Posey, SFG | .292 AVG, .368 OBP, .433 SLG, 5 HR, 2 SB in 230 PA

With Gary Sanchez waylaid, Posey is the catcher to roster for all-around solid contributions. He’s projected for the most games and plate appearances of any catcher in the second half. Even designated hitters with catcher eligibility like Evan Gattis aren’t projected to top 200 plate appearances. His best categories are rate stats and run production. He won’t offer much fuel to the home run or stolen base fire.

Posey is still very well-regarded. However, his lack of home run fire power could lead to an affordable price tag.


Freddie Freeman, ATL | .295 AVG, .395 OBP, .532 SLG, 12 HR, 3 SB in 273 PA

So you know this isn’t blindly by projected offense, I’ve bypassed top-ranked Joey Votto due to modest concerns about his declining quality of contact. Freeman is on the rise and could easily outperform this already delicious projection. The Braves may reinforce their lineup too. I boldly predicted a 190 wRC+ from Freeman this year. While he’ll (predictably) fall short, I still anticipate a huge second half.

This is a buy high recommendation. It’ll cost a mint. Your best bet to buy low is maybe Jose Abreu or Justin Smoak. Or if you need swipes try Wil Myers.


Jose Altuve, HOU | .314 AVG, .374 OBP, .476, 7 HR, 9 SB in 253 PA

Who else did you expect? Altuve is the author of the most disappointing .332/.394/.470 triple slash in history. Remember, it’s not Altuve’s fault that Jose Ramirez, Mookie Betts, and Alex Bregman reached new heights. Altuve’s power numbers have declined dramatically even as his hard contact has surged. Buying “low” is still going to hurt, but I expect a huge second half. Stolen bases are cool too.

Of course, let’s also recognize Brian Dozier who for two straight seasons has utterly dominated the latter months of the baseball calendar. Can he make it three in a row?


Trea Turner, WAS | .280 AVG, .340 OBP, .435 SLG, 7 HR, 17 SB in 262 PA

Depth Charts says Turner is the sixth best shortstop over the rest of the season, but that’s because stolen bases are worth diddly squat to the Steamer-ZiPS amalgamation. Few players can break the stolen base category without making big sacrifices in other stats. There’s a reason Turner was often selected third overall, and it’ll show in the second half. His plate discipline has actually shown encouraging gains.


Jose Ramirez, CLE | .296 AVG, .369 OBP, .526 SLG, 11 HR, 9 SB in 263 PA

This recommendation bores me. Of course you want Ramirez’s dirty five category contribution with a side helping of Alex Bregman. Nolan Arenado paces the home run projections while Kris Bryant seems poised for most improved. He’s only hit 10 home runs, a total he should easily double in less than half a season.


Mike Trout, LAA | .300 AVG, .436 OBP, .594 SLG, 15 HR, 8 SB in 261 PA


Giancarlo Stanton, NYY | .274 AVG, .360 OBP, .601 SLG, 21 HR, 1 SB in 261 PA

He’s projected to lead the league in post-break home runs by a wide margin. That’s meaningful. Of all possible top three outfielders, Stanton carries the most risk and reward.

Mookie Betts, BOS | .308 AVG, .383 OBP, .540 SLG, 11 HR, 10 SB in 254 PA

I’ll take the over on this home run total. I buy his increased fly ball and HR/FB ratio. Additional analysis is deemed unnecessary.

Other outfielders on the short list include J.D. Martinez, Aaron Judge, Charlie Blackmon, and Andrew Benintendi. If that latter name doesn’t look like it belong, just remember that few hitters can match his balanced five category production.

The Most Disappointing Starting Pitchers: Will They Rebound?

With two ratio categories out of four they contribute to, starting pitchers could turn around their seasons much more easily than hitters, who must make up ground in four counting stats. I compare the CBS projected and actual rankings and sorted by the difference for a list of the most disappointing and surprising starters. I eliminated any pitcher currently on the DL. These six are arguably the most disappointing. Will any of them deliver the kind of value over the second half that fantasy owners paid for?

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The First Half All Value Stars

Here’s a look at the best value players by position through the first half. There is no set threshold, but I’m using 150+ ADP as a loose guideline. I pushed that threshold at shortstop but still threw in a late-round honorable mention.


Yasmani Grandal, LAD| .251 AVG, 13 HR, 47 RBI, 41 R, 1 SB in 306 PA, 220th ADP

Catcher has been a sinkhole this year, but we kinda knew that coming into the season as just three were taken in the top 100. I could’ve used Wilson Ramos here, who slots 2nd on the Auction Calculator and was drafted 159th on average. Grandal is just a spot lower at 3rd and was drafted 61 spots later.

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The First Half All-Sell-High Team

The All-Star game has come and gone, but the festivities are ongoing here at RotoGraphs. It’s time to rank the first half’s “All-Sell-High Team.” These are players who had big first halves, but who aren’t necessarily the best bets to repeat that performance in the second half. Without further ado, let’s get right to the list: Read the rest of this entry »

Brad Johnson’s 10 Midseason Bold Predictions

I was going to review my preseason bold predictions today, but that can be done in two words. “Too bold.” There. I’m done. Pleasure chatting.

In lieu of reviewing mostly busted prediction updates, let’s make some new ones.

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Poll 2018: Which Group of Pitchers Performs Better?

Since 2013, I have polled you dashingly attractive readers on which group of pitchers you think will post the better aggregate ERA post all-star break. The two groups were determined based on ERA-SIERA disparity, pitting the overperformers versus the underperformers during the pre-all-star break period.

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Two Good Starts, Two Bad Starts: Luke Weaver and Chase Anderson

After trending the wrong way for more than a month, Luke Weaver pulls into the All-Star break with two of his strongest outings of the year. Just when it seemed safe to start Chase Anderson again, he finished his first half with a sputter.
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The First Half All-Fantasy Team

Here’s a look at the best players by position through the first half:


J.T. Realmuto, MIA | .310 AVG, 12 HR, 45 RBI, 46 R, 1 SB in 303 PA, 109th ADP

Being stuck on a rough Marlins team hasn’t held Realmuto back, though there’s also the glaring fact that the position has been a dud on the whole this year. Gary Sanchez is hitting .190, Willson Contreras has just seven homers, and the late round standouts have only ascended to C2 status.

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