Di Fino: Six daring second half predictions

by | Senior Fantasy Writer
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The road to Fantasy stardom is lined with the Scott Hairstons of the world: shrewd pickups who quietly hit 12 first-half home runs and go largely unnoticed -- and unheralded -- on Fantasy rosters. Go scan your own roster: it's not all about All-Stars. Omar Infante, Dillon Gee, and Michael Brantley all could be plugged in to teams and left to produce. True, their numbers didn't jump out at anyone, but they provided the base on which your Fantasy superstars could stand in the first half.

Plenty of leagues have some players floating around on the waiver wire who could do some big things for them, if everything breaks the right way. So, as the Post-All-Star Game stat period begins Friday, here are six somewhat daring predictions for players who have yet to be owned universally:

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1. J.P. Arencibia will finish the year with 25 home runs.
Owned in: 65 percent of leagues
Ummmm: Yeah, he has 13 right now, so we just stretch that out to the full year, and ... 25. Amazing, right? But it's a little more complicated than just some quick math. Even though he's just 26 years old, Arencibia has a "catcher of the future" breathing down his neck: the currently injured Travis d'Arnaud. While d'Arnaud probably won't be ready to play until September -- and there's no guarantee he will get called up, although plenty of signs/rumors/posturing/assuming point to an eventual promotion -- the move could lead to either a trade of Arencibia, a shifting of Arencibia to first base or a splitting of playing time.
Chances He Hits 30 Home Runs: 33%. Arencibia hit 23 last year in his first full season at the major league level, so there's a pretty nice chance he could build on that number. The Blue Jays could also remain in contention for a Wild Card, which would likely lead to them not giving d'Arnaud as much playing time, if any at all.
Chances He Hits 20 Home Runs: 15%. Arencibia isn't 36, he's 26. And he has plenty of power (just not a lot of batting average) in his bat. For the Blue Jays to insert d'Arnaud as even a part-time catcher in September, Arencibia would have to be pushed aside to some degree. And to do that to a player with 30-home run potential, especially in homer-happy Toronto, doesn't make a lot of sense.

2. Huston Street will finish the year with 33 saves.
Owned in: 75 percent of leagues
Wait -- San Diego is last in MLB in runs scored!: But in the last three years, Heath Bell had 42, 47, and 43 saves. In that span, the Padres ranked 29th, 22nd and 28th, respectively, in runs scored. Bad teams tend to score fewer runs, a scenario that puts them in close games, giving their closers plenty of opportunities to get saves.
But Street Only Has 13 Saves: He also missed a month of the season with a lat injury. In that month, Dale Thayer recorded five saves. Getting 20 saves in the second half for a team that recorded 19 in the first (Joe Thatcher snuck one in) isn't an impossible task.
What If Street Gets Traded?: His most likely destination, according to rumors and questions he's addressed directly, has been the Mets, a team that could insert him in the closer role the rest of the season. Although trading for a reliever and inserting him as closer isn't a regular move, it has been done before -- most recently with Matt Capps in 2010 when he had 16 saves for the Twins after being traded to Minnesota by the Nationals.
Furthermore: Street's 2013 contract allows for a $500,000 buy-out option, according to Baseball Prospectus , so, even though rumors are floating that he's on the trading block, San Diego isn't necessarily rushing to move a gigantic contract for 2013. If the right deal doesn't come along, they can just exercise the buy-out, and Street is off the books.

3. Mike Aviles will join the 20-20 club this year.
Started in: 64 percent of leagues
He's Never Even Joined The "20" Club ... On Either Side: But he's gotten close. And he's never had more than 424 at-bats in a season. Aviles has twice stolen 14 bases (in 2010 and 2011) and already has nine home runs and nine steals in just over half a season in 2012.
I Need More Proof: Take a look at his home run landing spots. Eight of his nine home runs have been hit to left field. All eight of those home runs fit comfortably over the Green Monster in Fenway Park. In a different stadium, he could have lost as many as three home runs. With plenty of remaining games at Fenway, Aviles needs to hit just 11 home runs and steal 11 bases to reach 20-20.
And he'll have history on his side?: Over his career, Aviles' average jumps 60 points after the All-Star Game, his slugging percentage rises 63 points and his caught stealing percentage takes a huge dip.

4. A.J. Griffin will have better second half numbers than Chris Capuano.
Owned in: 28 percent of leagues
Blasphemer!: Griffin came up with very little fanfare, and being owned in just 26 percent of leagues, he seems to still be flying well under the radars of most Fantasy owners. But, after three starts, he's put together a nice stat line: 1.50 ERA and 0.72 WHIP. In standard leagues, he's compiled 52.5 points despite not having registered a win. Capuano, meanwhile, is traditionally a poor second half pitcher (4.97 ERA after the All-Star Game), with a 4.84 ERA in July, 5.22 in August and 4.73 in September.
Capuano is owned in...: 96 percent of leagues.
What Makes Griffin So Special?: Griffin put together a pretty impressive stat line in the minor leagues. A converted reliever, he climbed through four levels in 2011, compiling an 11-7 record with a 3.47 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. He also struck out about a batter per inning. The K-rate dropped a little bit across 15 starts in the minors this year -- and continued to drop in the majors -- but it's a minor trifle. In 66 minor league games, Griffin had a 1.01 WHIP. And that kind of control could carry over nicely to the majors across the second half of the season, especially in a home ballpark as friendly to pitchers as the Coliseum.

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5. J.D. Martinez will finish the season with a .300 batting average.
Owned in: 50 percent of leagues
You're insane: Maybe. But just hear this one out. In 1,118 minor league at-bats, Martinez had a .342 batting average. That's not a small sample size and it's not unrealistically inflated due to any blazing speed he possesses. He can hit. He's currently hitting a full 100 points below his career minor league average. .
Do The Math For Us, Fatboy!: Let's assume he finishes the year with 570 at-bats. For Martinez to reach .300 by year's end, he will have to go 103- for-287 the rest of the way, which is a .359 batting average.
That Can't Be Done!: Of course it can. First of all, consider that by September Martinez will be seeing plenty more minor-league call-ups pitching to him as rosters expand to 40 players. On top of that, a host of players hit .359 -- or better -- in the second half of last year, including Mike Napoli (.383), Nick Hundley (.367) and Mark DeRosa (.367)
Yeah, but it still seems unlikely: Sure. But what fun would it be if we just predicted he'd hit .274?

6. Everth Cabrera will finish the year with 45 stolen bases.
Owned in: 17 percent of leagues
Did you mean 30 stolen bases? Because, By Doubling What He Has Now...: No. Cabrera is at 15 right now. And he stole 15 in 34 games at Tucson before his call-up. That's 30 right there. So if he can steal 30 after the All-Star Break, he's at 45. The magic of math!
Pshaw!: Cameron Maybin, Brett Gardner and Michael Bourn all stole 25 or more bases after the All-Star Game last year. Emilio Bonifacio, Coco Crisp, Ben Revere and Eric Young all stole 23. It's not outside the realm of possibility for a speedster like Cabrera to steal 30.
More Remedial Math!: In 155 at-bats this season, Cabrera has 15 steals. Say he gets 280 at-bats in the second half. That puts him on pace for 25.2 steals. Mix in the fact that he will likely pick up five additional steals with more major league seasoning, and... there's your 30.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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