A year ago, Rougned Odor was a universal breakout candidate. He managed a decent .259/.297/.402 batting line as a 20-year-old in 2014, and as a former top prospect, had the pedigree to dream about superstardom. Unfortunately, he got off to an absolutely miserable start to the season last year, hitting .144/.252/.233 in the first 29 games and ultimately earning a trip back down to Triple-A. Where many Fantasy owners subsequently forgot about him.
Odor is a good example of how our outrageous expectations for young players can work against our best interests for Fantasy purposes. When you're a young, unproven player with nothing but potential, we love you. Once you've failed, however, we have no problem giving up on you, as we move on to the next shiny thing. Odor returned to the majors and hit .292/.334/.527 in his final 367 plate appearances, but it took a while for Fantasy owners to buy back into him after his rough start. And if you waited too long, you missed on one of the best Fantasy players in the league in the second half.
Joc Pederson pretty much had a mirror image season from Odor -- if you drafted him late he carried you in the first half, but was basically waiver-wire fodder after the All-Star break. We saw the whole range of possibilities with Pederson as a rookie. He made the All-Star game on the strength of a .230/.364/.487 first-half line when he hit 20 home runs. Then he floundered with a .178/.317/.300 line after the break, hitting just six more home runs.
When Fantasy players go to draft for the 2016 season, we're already starting to see which player's inconsistencies are given more weight. Unsurprisingly, the second-half view of Pederson seems to be winning out, as he currently sports an Average Draft Position of 165th overall at FantasyPros.com, while Odor sits at 99th.
It's been a while since we've seen the star version of Pederson, and the general assumption about his season is that this was no second-half swoon. The flaws in Pederson's game were exposed for good. And maybe that is the case. He has huge swing-and-miss tendencies and platoon concerns, two things that could mean we never see the 2015 first-half version of him again. Given that Odor is a middle infielder as well, the gap in their ADP makes some sense.
However, I think it probably overstates the difference between the two. Pederson is a legitimate 30-homer threat and he averaged 38 stolen bases per 150 games in the minors, so there is plenty of room to grow on his surprisingly slow rookie season. And, while the second-half splits clearly favor Odor, there is reason to believe you may just be falling victim to recency bias if you put too much stock in that. FanGraphs.com did a study that showed a higher correlation between full-season numbers than either first- or second-half numbers.
This isn't rocket science. Larger sample sizes tend to show a player's true talent more than any smaller slice. There are extenuating circumstances, of course. Odor's revival began almost immediately upon his return from the minors, a sign that he figured out some mechanical adjustment that keyed his breakout, for instance.
Still, there are reasons to believe in Pederson, and to be skeptical of Odor. Both players have shown extended flashes of both star potential and the kind of flaws that can sink a player. That one player had his breakout in the first half and the other in the second doesn't necessarily mean as much as you might think.