Saying goodbye to slumping players at the halfway mark

Odds are against a big second-half rebound for B.J. Upton. (USATSI)
Odds are against a big second-half rebound for B.J. Upton. (USATSI)

Is it time to give up on your struggling players in your Fantasy league?

Cutting ties with a big-ticket acquisition can be hard. Players who are drafted at or near the top of Fantasy drafts or who go for big bucks in Fantasy auctions have some sort of track record of quality play. Owning one can be the dagger in a potential championship season, but letting one go for nothing is a very hard thing to do.

Now that we've reached the three-month mark of the season as we storm towards the All-Star break, let's take a look at the slumping players of 2013 and whether they were able to turn around poor performances in the second half.

For this exercise, I've employed the wRC+ stat at Fangraphs, taking all players who posted a wRC+ at least 20 points lower than their career marks in the first half. This came out to the biggest 16 first-half slumps of last season. I then portioned the players into three groups based upon their performances in the second half. You'll find those below, allowing with two numbers for each player: the first is the difference between the player's first half and career mark heading into 2013, and the second is the difference between the player's second half and first half.

  • Players who failed to rebound at all in the second half of 2013 due to injury or further struggles include Albert Pujols (-57/inj), Melvin Upton (-50/-6), David Murphy (-37/+5), Vernon Wells (-32/-11), Starlin Castro (-30/-4), Carlos Pena (-30/DFA), Placido Polanco (-27/+6) and Ryan Howard (-21/inj).
  • Players who saw some level of rebound but still didn't become Fantasy factors in the second half include Jeff Keppinger (-48/+29) and Miguel Montero (-31/+13).
  • Players who improved to around their career levels or better include Josh Hamilton (-43/+30), Elvis Andrus (-31/+55), Martin Prado (-31/+56), Jon Jay (-28/+39), Pablo Sandoval (-24/+30) and Andre Ethier (-20/+45).

Half of the players continued to struggle through the second half or succumbed to injury, and two more saw some improvement but not enough to approach their career levels. Of the players who improved, none hit more than seven home runs in the second half, and though Andrus was able to chip in 23 stolen bases, each player's positive contribution in standard leagues mostly came from a hike in batting average.

What does this mean for your Fantasy team this year? Obviously any one player has a wide range of expected outcomes, but it may be time to cut the cord on any massively disappointing players at this point rather than to hold out hope for a turnaround. Players like Domonic Brown , Allen Craig , Brian McCann , Ryan Howard, Eric Hosmer and David Wright will be hard-pressed to reach career levels in the second half, and any potential rebound will likely be modest. As for repeat offenders like Albert Pujols and B.J. Upton, it's unwise to expect any return to career levels of production in any season moving forward. Adjust your baselines and move on. If you own a disappointing player who still retains some level of Fantasy value, I'd say it's about time to consider selling low and seeing what others are willing to pay.

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