While the 'Polar Bear,' Pete Alonso, stole the show in the Home Run Derby, all the credit in the world goes to Trey Mancini. After battling colon cancer last season, Mancini made it to the finals in the Derby, giving Alonso everything he had. While Mancini has slowed down as of late, it's been a nice bounce-back season for him to this point.
The focus of today's podcast was on the biggest busts from the first half of the season. There are always going to be players who underperform. It's the nature of this game we play. It's our job to figure those players out. First, what is the root of this underperformance? Is regression on the way or have skills diminished? Also, we need to learn from our mistakes so we become better Fantasy players in the future. Two players instantly come to mind: Cody Bellinger and DJ LeMahieu. Bellinger should have never been a second-round pick coming off shoulder surgery. Sure, it didn't help that he hurt his calf earlier this season as well. As for LeMahieu, buying a 32-year old coming off a career-year isn't the most profitable plan in Fantasy Baseball. You can read more on the rest below.
Alonso goes back to back
Mets 1B Pete Alonso is your Home Run Derby champion -- again! The slugger won his second and consecutive derby with a massive display of natural power. It just looked so easy for Alonso out there the entire time.
Chris and I did a derby draft earlier today, and he absolutely destroyed me in it. Towers landed Shohei Ohtani, Juan Soto and Trey Mancini in addition to Alonso. And me? My picks were Salvador Perez, Matt Olson, Trevor Story and Joey Gallo! Talk about getting absolutely dominated in a draft. If you ever need Home Run Derby picks, Chris is your guy.
Alonso took the trophy home, but the battle between Ohtani and Soto was an all-timer and the highlight of the night. The most interesting moment of the night was Soto flexing by using a lefty pitcher (as a lefty hitter).
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Could the Derby actually help Soto?
One of the most interesting quotes from the Derby came from Soto. As everyone who plays Fantasy Baseball is well aware, it hasn't been exactly a banner first half for the star Nationals outfielder. Soto's power hasn't shown up nearly as much as expected. Traditionally, most fans assume the Derby can actually have a negative impact on a batter's power in the second half, but Soto believes this event can do the opposite for him.
"It might mess with the swing of all the guys who are locked in, but I think it's going to fix mine because I'm hitting too many groundballs," Soto said. "I hope it fixed by swing trying to put the ball in the air." His 55% groundball rate in the first half is a career high for Soto despite the fact that he's absolutely crushing the ball from an exit velocity standpoint. The window to trade and buy (somewhat low) for Soto is closing fast. Make some offers now.
The curse of the Derby is just a myth
Speaking of the Derby actually negatively impacting a batter for the second half, Chris poured into some research on Monday and found the so-called curse to be nothing more than hearsay. You can dig into the numbers in Towers' piece, and he acknowledges that it has happened before (even citing players who have suggested it messed up their swing), the data tells a separate story overall.
Based on all Derbies back to 2003 -- player performances in the first half of the season, the second half of the season and in the prior season -- unsurprisingly players performed worse after the All-Star break, but that doesn't mean there's anything there! If you compare it to what they did the prior season, when they weren't in the Derby, their first and second-half numbers looked nearly identical. The second-half drop-offs have nothing to do with the curse, slump or hangover and are more accurately described by a statistical term -- regression to the mean. If you're playing well enough to be selected to the Derby, you're probably just playing over your head.
More news and notes
- White Sox OF Eloy Jimenez has gone 3 for 7 with a home run, a walk, two runs and two RBI through the first two games of his rehab assignment at High-A Winston-Salem. He's up to 87% rostered on CBS.
- Mets SP Carlos Carrasco is scheduled to pitch one inning in a rehab game at High-A Brooklyn on Thursday. The Mets are loosely targeting early August for Carrasco to return, assuming he endures no setbacks with the hamstring during the rehab assignment.
- The Giants optioned Joey Bart back to Triple-A despite going 2 for 5 with an RBI on Saturday, which sounds like Buster Posey could be back after the All-Star break.
- The Mariners reinstated SP Yusei Kikuchi from the COVID IL Monday, meaning he's allowed to pitch for the American League squad in Tuesday's All-Star Game.
- The White Sox granted OF Adam Eaton his unconditional release. This might be the end of the line for him.
- OF Manuel Margot could return late July for the Rays. Wonder what will happen with Vidal Brujan by then?
- The Padres were encouraged by the results of the MRI that P Ryan Weathers underwent on his right foot Sunday, but the team expects him to be sidelined until at least the early part of August.
The first half 'All Bust' team
My pick: Mets C James McCann was drafted as a top-10 catcher and is currently C20 in Roto and averaging just 1.6 FPPG. He has a career-high 30.6% K rate and 51% GB rate.
Towers' pick: Braves C Travis D'Arnaud. He was awful even before he got hurt.
My pick: Dodgers 1B Cody Bellinger with a 14.6 ADP, .176 average with four homers and a .593 OPS in just 34 games. After two seasons in a row with his K rate below 18%, it's 27.7% this season. Also, his hard hit rate is down about 10%, according to Statcast.
Towers' pick: Bellinger is the go-to pick! But overall, 1B has been a big disappointment for all of the projected top picks at the position.
My pick: Yankees 2B DJ LeMahieu with a 25.8 ADP as the first second baseman off the board and is currently the 21st-best 2B in Roto and 16th-best 2B in FPPG.
Towers' pick: Brewers 2B Keston Hiura. Aside from a week when he first got called back up, he hasn't hit well at any point and was unplayable for most of the first half.
My pick: Reds 3B Eugenio Suarez with an ADP of 62 overall as the 10th 3B off the board and he is currently the 21st-best 3B in Roto, 31st in FPPG. Since the start of 2020 (143 games): .185 average with a .200 BABIP (46% fly ball rate). His quality of contact is way down.
Towers' pick: Rolling with Suarez as well. He also suggests buying low on Anthony Rendon and Alex Bregman.
My pick: Yankees SS Gleyber Torres had an ADP that was 57.6 as the SS12 off the board. He is currently SS37 in Roto, averaging 2.0 FPPG. He is batting .240 with three homers in 77 games -- that's fewer than Ramon Urias, Mauricio Dubon and … Adalberto Mondesi, who has played 67 less games than Torres.
Towers' pick: Spoiler -- he's also rolling with Torres! How can we pick anyone else?
My pick: Brewers OF Christian Yelich -- with an ADP of No. 12 overall! Like Gleyber, Yelich has been awful since last season (blamed it on not having in-game video), but could be playing through that back injury. In 117 games since 2020: .222/.778 OPS and his average exit velocity is down about 3.5 MPH this season.
Towers' pick: Mets OF Michael Conforto -- the opportunity cost of having drafted Conforto has hurt rosters.
My pick: Phillies SP Aaron Nola -- but I'm predicting a second-half bounce-back -- so buy low!
Towers' pick: Padres SP Blake Snell