After an incredibly exciting first half, the “second half” of the baseball season is underway. Often people like to do their best to predict who they think will break out in the second half. This is not this article. Although much of what this article entails will be based on statistics, we opt for predictions of the bold variety. Not so bold that you’ll think, “That’s the dumbest article I’ve ever read…there’s no way someone like Jeff McNeil will end the year with 50 homers”. We go bold with a realistic twist.
1. CJ Cron ends the season outside the top 10 at first base
Through the first 90 games of the 2022 season, Cron has been an absolute savage at the plate. His .296 average, 22 home runs and 70 RBIs tied him with Pete Alonso for sixth at first base in class leagues. But there is a slight problem. That problem… it’s Coors Field.
— MLB Homeruns (@homers_mlb) July 24, 2022
The field itself hasn’t been a problem for Cron, as he’s hitting a solid .352 there this season, being AWAY from Coors has been the problem. On the road, Cron is hitting just .229 with five home runs and 16 RBIs. That said, the Rockies will spend the majority of their second half on the road. After playing just 40 games on the road in the first half, the Rockies’ second half of the season doesn’t look too kind to Cron moving forward.
If you’re fielding Cron currently, take advantage of his heavy first half at home. Try moving it for someone with a higher advantage in the second half.
2. Christian Walker falls short by 40 home runs
To say this has been an outstanding season for Walker would be an understatement. In 92 games this year, Walker has the ninth-most home runs with 22. Just seven off his career high. Much of that improvement came from his much improved bat contact.
Why hit a home run, when you can hit two?
Christian Walker, probably. pic.twitter.com/LymLHT7akj
— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) July 3, 2022
As it stands, Walker is currently in the 91st percentile of barrel rate, 92nd in xwOBA, 94th in xSLG and 90th in hunt rate. Not only does he make solid contact, but he also sees the ball incredibly well. The hangup comes on news that the Dbacks are interested in moving their slugger before the trade deadline. Depending on where he would end up, there are few baseball fields as suitable for smashing home runs as Chase Field. If Walker were to go somewhere like Yankees Stadium, of course, his power is still going to translate, but the chances of the Yankees needing a new first baseman are pretty much zero.
If Walker stays in Arizona, I don’t see a reality where he won’t end up hitting 40-45 dingers. It all depends on where it lands. With the high likelihood that he will end up in a much less forgiving stage in the future, betting on him not making it to 40 seems like one of the safest bold predictions to me.
3. Luis Castillo is one of the top 30 SPs in the second half of the season
Let’s face it, the Reds ace is damn good. Despite the fact that he’s been plagued with some pretty inconsistent seasons in the past, Castillo is showing that this season is shaping up to be dominant again. His 2.77 ERA and 9.46 K/9s are impressive, especially for someone who pitches his home games in the batter-friendly Great American Ballpark.
Luis Castillo ends his night with a K and loves it!! pic.twitter.com/f6M3nweSEh
— ATBBTTR (@ATBBTTR) July 15, 2022
Much like Christian Walker, a big part of what makes this one of the bold predictions is the trade rumors surrounding Castillo. Overall, his numbers for the season are dominant, but it’s his numbers away from Cincinnati that are most intriguing. Thanks to 43 IP away from Great American Park, Castillo has an excellent 2.09ERA45 strikeouts, .188 batting average against and 2.74 FIP.
If Castillo were to be moved to a contender, his value should and will shoot through the roof. He has the field arsenal and the efficiency to be dominant anywhere. Well, as long as it limits the use of this sinker. This is the second year in a row that people have earned more than 0.300. The .138 batting average against his fastball through 421 uses, however, makes up for the deficiencies in the lead. Castillo is on a hot streak right now, so his fantasy value will be quite high, but this production seems like what you can expect going forward.
4. Michael Harris II has a 12 home run, 15 stolen bases in the second half
Michael Harris II is proving to be one of the players where his minor league ability has transferred exceptionally well to the major leagues. His average, speed and 0.289 power have all been as good, if not better, since joining the Braves. Somehow the Braves seem to have a knack for finding guys with exceptional speed and power who play great defense. The fact that they have a roster with Acuna, Harris and Albies is pretty damn impressive.
Michael Harris II tonight 😳
4 for 4
4 RBIs pic.twitter.com/VdK89NaXuF
— Kevin Keneely (@KevinKeneely1) July 9, 2022
Harris’ 10.4% barrel rate, 89.7% average output bike and 34.8% sweet spot rate are all well above the league average. His 5.1-degree launch angle will hamper his power numbers a bit, but he has the bat-to-ball ability to still flash over 20 home runs. His speed isn’t lacking either, currently sitting in the 91st percentile of all baseball.
All in all, the future star that is Michael Harris II is still a bit of an unknown. Heading into the 2022 season, he had played just 154 minor league games over two seasons. In those 154 games, however, Harris hit .299 with 34 doubles, seven triples, nine homers and stole 35 bases. Harris is an additional base machine that will put the league on even more notice in the final half of the year. As far as bold predictions go, this is probably my favorite.