WATCH: MLB NEWS – MIKE TROUT UPDATE
As baseball takes a break for the All-Star Game which marks the end of the first half of the season, it’s a great time to evaluate where players are and how your overall strategy on DraftKings has served you so far this season. Heading into the second half, here are five players who I think are set up for success and five that I would avoid in the second half of the season which gets underway Friday.
Five Players to Watch
Paul DeJong – 2B/SS – St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals called up their 23-year-old middle infielder at the end of May, and DeJong instantly made an impact hitting a home run on his first Major League swing. He has had his ups-and-downs since then, but overall he’s been solid finishing the first half with a .313 average, nine home runs, 20 RBI and a .932 OPS. He hit safely in each of his last six games before the break and went 9-12 with four doubles and three home runs in the Cardinals’ three-game series against the Mets. Even with his bat heating up and a solid first 36 games in the majors, he’s typically very affordable and can help fill in the sometimes-shallow middle infield spots in your DraftKings lineup.
Jake Faria – SP – Tampa Bay Rays
Another 23-year-old making an impact this season is Rays’ rookie Jake Faria who has made six starts in his MLB career. All six of those starts qualify as quality starts, and he has compiled an outstanding 2.11 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. He improved to 4-0 after a great start against Boston on Thursday night. He has walked just nine batters and struck out 37 in his 38.1 innings in the majors so far this season after striking out 84 in 58.2 innings with the Triple-A Durham Bulls.
Mike Trout – OF – Los Angeles Angels
Trout was having another MVP-caliber season with the Angels before getting injured on May 28th and missing the last six weeks. Before the injury, he was producing 12 FPPG supported by his .331 average, 16 home runs, 10 stolen bases and 1.184 OPS. He has looked good in his rehab appearances and should return to his slot as one of the best hitters in the game once the break is over. Take advantage of his discounted price as he works his way back to the top of the salary structure. Interestingly, when he returns this Friday he’ll be facing Jake Faria and the Rays.
Clint Frazier – OF – New York Yankees
The Yankees called up Frazier for his MLB debut on July 1st. After a splashy debut with a double and a home run, Frazier went 1-12 and didn’t look ready for major league pitching. However, after making some adjustments to compensate for the extra adrenaline of the major league environment, the 22-year-old Georgia native went 5-11 over the weekend against Milwaukee with two triples, two homers and eight RBI. He hasn’t attempted a stolen base yet since joining New York, but he had nine stolen bases and 12 homers in Triple-A this season showing the power/speed combo that makes him a top prospect. Moving forward, he’ll be a bat worth watching especially in homer-happy Yankee Stadium.
Yuli Gurriel – 1B – Houston Astros
Gurriel isn’t the well-established fantasy threat that his teammates Carlos Correa, José Altuve and George Springer are, but he has been a great contributor for Houston and remains an affordable option to regularly roll out at 1B. Gurriel struggled in May hitting just .200, but since June 1st he is hitting .347 with 14 doubles, seven homers, 25 RBI and a .981 OPS. He struggles against lefties which is unusual for a right-handed hitter, but when he’s facing a righty he’s almost always worth considering priced under $4K.
Five Players to Avoid
Aaron Judge – OF – New York Yankees
Judge has been the breakout story of the first half, and he is putting together a season that has him the runaway favorite for both Rookie of the Year and MVP. While I do think he will be a power-hitting fixture in the Yankees’ lineup for many years to come, I also think he’s in line for a little bit of regression in the second half. Judge has a way-above-average .426 BABIP which indicates he has been “lucky” to get hits on more of his balls in play than most players (average BABIP is around .300). He hasn’t hit over .290 since his first year of Single-A ball and only hit .179 last year in his stint with the Yankees, so expect his average to come back to earth a bit in the second half. Right now, he is extremely expensive on DraftKings, and I think he’ll end up being overpriced as he levels out over the second half.
Travis Shaw – 3B – Milwaukee Brewers
Although not on Judge’s level, Shaw has been a beast in the first half. He has flourished in his first season in Milwaukee hitting .299 with 19 homers and a .937 OPS. Shaw also started hot last year but struggled badly in the second half. After the All-Star break, Shaw only hit .194 last year with a .619 OPS. His first half this season could be a breakout, but he has not proven he can sustain production for a whole season. Proceed with caution when banking on Shaw the rest of the way.
Ervin Santana – SP – Minnesota Twins
Santana got off to a ridiculously good start for the Twins going 7-2 with a 1.75 ERA in his first 11 starts of the season. Since then, though, he has had a series of up and down starts allowing five earned runs or more in four of his last six outings to drop to 10-6 with a 2.99 ERA. With a low strikeout rate and recent inconsistencies, Santana isn’t a pitcher I’ll be high on in the second half.
Scooter Gennett – 2B/OF – Cincinnati Reds
Gennett has been red hot for most of the first half hitting .311 with 15 home runs, 47 RBI and a .966 OPS. While the hometown hero has given Cincinnati a huge boost, there is also plenty of potential for him to cool off in the second half. In three full seasons with Milwaukee, he averaged under 10 home runs a year and hit .274. The Reds don’t have a natural everyday spot for Gennett either, so if he stops hitting he’ll likely stop being in the lineup. Especially avoid Gennett against lefties, he’s hitting just .209 against them this season.
Jason Vargas – SP – Kansas City Royals
Vargas’ comeback after Tommy John surgery has been spectacular, and he has put together an impressive first half going 12-3 with a 2.62 ERA. Even with a fastball under 90 MPH, he manages to limit damage and has game-managed his way to an AL-leading 12 wins. Vargas has tailed off a little bit lately allowing five home runs in his last three starts. According to both SIERA and FIP, Vargas has been getting better results than average given his opponents batting average, strikeout-rate and walk-rate, so expect a little bit of regression in the second half.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Z.Thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.