There are some guys you wouldn’t expect who are absolutely dominating in the 2nd half of 2011. Could it be a preview of a continued breakout for 2012, or is it just a tease of an eventual bust? You be the judge.
Mike Carp, LF/DH, Mariners
.305/.349/.509, 15 2B, 11 HR and 44 RBI
Carp is playing very well for the Mariners, using the gaps and developing into an interesting talent. He could be another version of Raul Ibanez, a player who quitely hits about .280 with 30-35 doubles and 20 homers per season. He needs to keep playing LF to maintain value, though, which may not happen in the long-term.
Mark Trumbo, 1B, Angels
.256/.285/.493, 15 2B, 12 HR and 46 RBI
Sure the slash is a bit ugly, especially the .285 OBP and his 49/9 K/BB, but Trumbo, a 25-year-old rookie, has 30 2B and 29 homers on the season. His 114/25 K/BB is even uglier than his 2nd half breakdown, but you can take the power numbers as a sign of future value.
Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals
.329/.369/.514, 15 2B, 10 HR and 41 RBI
To say that Hosmer has had a coming out party in the 2nd half would be an understatement. In fact, to say that his rookie season is anything less than outstanding would be blasphemy. Hosmer’s great second half puts his overall numbers at .300/.343/.474 with 26 doubles and 18 homeruns. At 21-years-old, Hosmer’s ceiling is vaulting higher each day.
Dexter Fowler, CF, Rockies
.289/.386/.508, 18 2B, 10 3B, 5 HR and 25 RBI
Fowler’s 2nd half is going to allow the Rockies to put Tim Wheeler in Triple-A at the start of next season, it may even make Wheeler move to a corner. Why? Because since Fowler was re-called on July 15th, those numbers above are his production. A Minor League stint that got the message through. Fowler still strikes out a lot (125 this season), but he has managed to walk 66 times, too. He has skills and will be just 26 on Opening Day of 2012.
Desmond Jennings, OF, Rays
.289/.380/.498, 9 2B, 4 3B, 9 HR, 18 SB and 23 RBI
Jennings has been outstanding for the Rays. You have to wonder: Where would they be if they had Jennings playing LF instead of Fuld and Ruggiano earlier this season, especially with the Rays just a game out of the Wild Card race right now. I still don’t know how real the power is, but even if he ends up as a 15 HR/30 SB-type, he’ll have a ton of fantasy value.
Mike Napoli, C, Rangers
.389/.475/.689, 15 2B, 14 HR, 35 RBI and 43/31 K/BB
Salivation…that was my reaction to Mike Napoli landing in Arlington. Anaheim isn’t really a hitter’s paradise and Napoli ripped 92 HR in 1,549 AB in his five seasons there, or roughly 30 per 500 at bats. So…given regular playing time (no Jeff Mathis) and a hitter-friendly environment, Napoli is finally getting the chance to show what he can do. His 26 HR tie his career high, set last season, and his 1.034 OPS is a whopping .303 higher than his five-year average as an Angel. He is arbitration eligible and he has earned a raise.
Madison Bumgarner, LHP, Giants
8-3, 2.43 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 89 IP, 89/19 K/BB
At the tender age of 22, Bumgarner is becoming the ace that the Giants envisioned. He won’t turn 23 until next August and he has thrown 193 2/3 innings this season, easily a career high. While he may not win more than 15 games in a season due to the Giants offense, he is still a great bet to be one of the best left-handers in baseball going forward.
Ian Kennedy, RHP, Diamondbacks
11-1, 2.05 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 87 2/3 IP, 88/19 K/BB
Kennedy has broken out this season. He’ll be 27 on Opening Day and is a very capable innings eater and dominant starter going forward. His 194/53 K/BB in 216 IP are nice additions to his current 20-4 record and 2.88 ERA this season. Kennedy is settling in nicely in the National League, where he is 29-14 with a 3.31 ERA over 64 starts.
Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Dodgers
11-1, 1.23 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 95 1/3 IP, 95/18 K/BB
We all knew he was good. I just wanted to make sure everyone understood just what Kershaw was capable of. I was a doubter. I questioned Kershaw due to his control issues, as his 172 walks over 375 1/3 IP in 2009 and 2010 made me wonder what he could do long-term. Well…I was wrong. He is 20-5 with a 2.27 ERA and 242/53 K/BB over 226 IP. It is more impressive because his BB/9 IP is down to 2.1, when he averaged 4.8 in 2009 and 3.6 in 2010. Top five starter in baseball going forward and he will be 24 on Opening Day.
Luke Hochevar, RHP, Royals
6-3, 3.52 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 79 1/3 IP, 68/24 K/BB
If only because his career ERA still stands at 5.29, Hochevar actually looks impressive. We can’t consider this something that makes him worthy of a top pick by any means, but he is someone to fill out a roster with in 2012. His K/9 is 7.7 and his BB/9 is 2.7 in the 2nd half, which is much better than his 5.9 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 career averages. He is eligible for arbitration this offseason but he has saved himself from being non-tendered, though we’ve probably all cut him at some point from our fantasy teams.