Written by: Coleman Bahr – Staff Writing Intern (@ColemanBahr)
We have officially reached the halfway point of the 2016 MLB season! We have seen some breakout players, and some players who have fallen way short of expectations. However, there are a few players who I think are in a great spot for a strong finish to the 2016 season.
| Giancarlo Stanton
We’re going to start things off with the Home Run Derby Champion himself: Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton had himself a pretty solid start to his 2016 campaign with a .253 batting average, and a .582 slugging percentage in April, but when May came around it seemed like everything went wrong. In May he only mustered a .173 batting average, and his power dropped off significantly with a .373 slugging percentage, along with a strikeout rate of 35.2%. June wasn’t much better for him with only slight increases in his batting average, and slugging percentage, and his walk percentage decreased by a few points. It was evident at this point that Stanton wasn’t seeing the ball well, and he had to make changes, quick. July came around, and we finally saw flashes of the Stanton we all know and love. In the five games leading up to the All-Star break he smashed his way to five home runs, ten RBIs, and two multi home run games. Stanton showed us his pure strength in the Home Run Derby, knocking out 61 home runs in Petco Park, and taking home the crown.
While Stanton isn’t an All-Star this season, he showed everyone that he’s still a very capable power hitter, and he is poised and motivated for a strong second half of 2016. The Marlins will be getting Dee Gordon back from a PED suspension at the end of July, and that should further help Stanton’s resurgence as an elite power bat in this league. Stanton should look to take the momentum that he has developed in the beginning of July, and the Home Run Derby to power his way to a strong finish to the season, and maybe even lead the Marlins to the playoffs.
| Justin Upton
If the season were to end today, Upton would finish with the worst statistical season of his major league career. He has posted career lows in batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, and walk rate, with a career high strikeout rate. Despite his struggles, Upton has gradually improved as the season has progressed. In the month of June he had the highest average that he’s had in any month all season, along with more home runs and RBI’s than he had in both April, and May combined. Upton is off to a great start in July, and he is on pace to post his best statistical month of the season.
Upton is in a great lineup spot behind some of the premier hitters in the league, and he is in line for a strong comeback in the second half of the season. I fully expect Upton to retake his spot as the best Upton in the league in the second half of the season, and finally fulfill the expectations he had coming in to Detroit at the beginning of the season.
| Chris Archer
The Tampa Bay Rays’ ace has posted far from ace-like numbers thus far in 2016. While he hasn’t been too bad from a fantasy perspective, in real life he has been awful. He has the most losses in the majors at 12, to go along with only four wins. He also has the eleventh highest walk rate among qualified pitchers, and a 4.66 earned run average. The one bright spot is his strikeout rate, which is the 11th highest in the league at 26.9%. The biggest problem for Archer has been pitching on the road, with a 6.75 road earned run average, and his road walk percentage and strikeout percentage are both worse than his home strikeout and walk rate. Another problem has been his tendency to allow the long ball, especially on the road where he has allowed double the amount of home runs, despite only facing 10 more batters. Archer’s career numbers suggest that his home run numbers will start declining soon, and if he actually can start limiting home runs, he should be able to become the ace that he once was.
Archer has shown signs of improvement in both June, and July, so hopefully he can continue his success after the all start break. If he can return to the old Chris Archer, I expect a strong finish from him, and he should be able to at least help the Rays finish with a respectable record this season.