Second Half Regression Candidates

This is the worst week of the baseball season. I spent Monday hoping my Derby hitters wouldn’t injure their shoulders, Tuesday night screaming for Cora to pull Brad Hand before he throws a Bauer number of pitches, and we’re still waiting on real baseball! The silver lining is that this is the best time of year to evaluate your team and various players. Are they this good? Are they this bad? The second half is rarely a duplicate of the first. That being said: here is a list of hitters who I expect to regress between now and October.

Fernando Tatis SS San Diego Padres

I am not trying to ruin the fun. This kid is amazing to watch and is a future top 5 fantasy player, but his second half has some red flags. Even if we assume he’s a top 5 BABIP profile, his .419 BABIP is probably 70 points too high. He’s still awesome if he is .265 hitter, but his 28% K rate suggests the plate discipline won’t be able to completely overcome the regression. He’ll still run, but I’d expect a sizable change in Runs and Batting Average in the second half. In redraft leagues, I’d sell high if i’m getting a top 20 hitter. Don’t overreact though; regression is coming, but Tatis is still uniquely talented.

Eduardo Escobar 3B Arizona Diamondbacks

18 HR and 67 RBI at the break is quite valuable from a guy who was drafted around the 20th 3B overall. However, this player is incredibly easy to analyze. He is the exact the same player as last year-like eerily the same. His BABIP is 20 points higher and his HR/FB ratio is up by 3% from 2018. He’s not hitting the ball any harder, no change in line drive rate, the plate discipline indicators are all what we’ve seen before. Therefore, I’d expect to see the 9 HR and 34 RBI that Escobar had in the second half of 2o18. He’s outside my top 15 3B ROS.

Willson Contreras C Chicago Cubs

This is not one that I’d expect to be actionable. Changing catchers is almost impossible, but I wouldn’t expect a repeat of Contreras’ powerful first half. He has a 20% soft contact rate and is 5th in the majors with a 29% HR/FB rate. Not to mention, he only hits the ball in the air 33.7% of the time. He was unlucky in HR/FB rate last year, but it has definitely over-corrected it 2019. Considering catchers fade as the season progresses anyway, I would maybe halve my expectations for Willson Contreras ROS.

Michael Chavis 3B Boston Red Sox
Austin Riley OF Atlanta Braves

I lump them together because they are essentially the same profile right now. Riley came up a bit later, but both have a sub 6% BB rate and a 35% K rate over the last month. Chavis has made up for it with an unsustainable BABIP and Riley has a high HR/FB rate. You’re not dropping these two, but they are the most obvious sell high candidates we’ll see this year if it’s not too late (redraft formats).

Domingo Santana OF Seattle Mariners

I like Domingo Santana a lot. But, you don’t want the bad Domingo Santana ruining your stretch run. He’s maintained an incredibly high K rate and an inflated BABIP all season. In fact, it’s .446 over the last month with a 30% strikeout rate in that span. He’s been exceptional for all but May this season. However, his profile breeds inconsistency. I think you have to assume another May happens this season for Domingo. If so, this is what it may look like.

    • 5.9% BB
    • 33.7% K
    • .237/.297/.452
    • .327 BABIP (this is by far his LOWEST of any month)
    • 18.2% HR/FB (only month below 23%
    • 11 R 4 HR 12 RBI 1 SB in May

He needs to be started, but be ready to sell high or, at least, temper expectations.

Honorable Mentions

Josh Bell is a monster and it’s real, but he is on an unsustainable pace; particularly with regard to RBI.

Cody Bellinger has seen his strikeouts inch back up and we knew the BABIP regression would be there to some extent. No major concerns though.

David Dahl’s BABIP is still too high.

Finally, to end on a positive note, regression goes both ways. J.D. Martinez is the guy I’m expecting to have a huge second half. Call it positive regression if you want, but it’s because he’s actually been better in most indicators than in 2018. His HR/FB rate is down below 20%, nearly a 10% dip from a year ago, and I don’t expect it get to 2018 levels. But, even if its somewhere in the middle I expect a monster second half. He’s hitting the ball harder, striking out less, actually hitting more fly balls and the weather is warmer. I am predicting a 20 HR second half for J.D. Martinez.

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Avid Fantasy Baseball player, Yankees fan, amateur gambler, dog-lover. @AssemblyColin