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Groovin’ with Govier: Fantasy Baseball Roundup (7/12)

MLB Fantasy



Michael Govier

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Get into the groove as I take you on a stadium tour across the fantasy baseball realm! It is my hope that you will find this article both entertaining and informative. Don’t forget about our stellar season-long fantasy baseball coverage at FTN Fantasy. Save a couple bones with my promo code MJGOVIER when you sign up so you can get access to outstanding pieces like Matty Davis’ Weekly Hitter Planner. Also, I’ve started a weekly video compliment to this article. Each week a new episode will be live at 6 p.m. ET every Saturday on the FTN Network YouTube channel. Take advantage of the live chat in real-time to ask questions related to this week’s article or for questions you have for the following week’s action.


It is my ultimate goal for you to absorb and apply winning fantasy baseball wisdom from each edition of Groovin’ with Govier. It’s similar to when Neo was offered the blue or the red pill. If you continue reading this, you take the plunge to find out how far my fantasy baseball analysis can take you. Every Tuesday we’re Strokin’ Clarence Carter style in search of the ultimate … a league championship. It’s the All-Star break, so it’s an ideal time to take a look at which teams and players are going to thrive or dive in the second half. I will do so in four parts within two repetitive devices. The teams on the rise and fall according to me are first. Then the players trending upward and downward as I see it are next. As a treat each category will be labeled with a song from the soundtrack for MVP Baseball 2005, the most complete, enjoyable baseball video game there ever was.

2022 Final Standings With 1st & 2nd Half Splits

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We Got the Noise

I put together the chart above to provide an organized guide for where teams went from half to half in 2022. Does it matter for 2023? It’s not universal to be sure, but there are nuggets within the splits that can provide insight into the 2023 version of these teams as the season moves through the second half. Here are the teams who will be on the rise in the second half as they each ascend to their collective destiny:

Houston Astros (+49 Run Differential)

Trust me, I’m not stoked to put the Astros here, but I would be as stubborn as a goat if I ignored their looming presence over the second half. I mean they’ve been to back-to-back World Series with four appearances in the fall classic since 2017. They’re really racking up quite a run here. The Astros are similar to Family Guy episodes that focus on Meg. There isn’t a lot of enthusiasm for them, but in the final analysis the show is better off having Meg as a character than not. Post All-Star break, the Astros get to play the Rockies and the A’s. They also have six games against Kansas City in September. They also have seven games against the Red Sox who are not terrible and six games against those easy to root-for Orioles. The Houston cheating scandal has been exploited for jokes again and again. What’s the point of me trotting out another one here? Well, it’s simply a matter of never letting their fraudulent ways slide! So here is an entire list of lame Houston Astros jokes to get you through another work day. Enjoy!

Cleveland Guardians (-7 Run Differential)

Jose Ramirez Cleveland Guardians Fantasy Baseball Groovin' with Govier

In the chart above, the Guardians had a ho-hum, middling first half of baseball in 2022 before turning it on to win the AL Central with 92 wins thanks to their 46-26 second half. This season is playing out the exact same way so far record wise. The difference this season is the offense has gotten off to a sluggish start while the pitching has carried the water. Last year Cleveland had the breakout effort from Andrés Giménez to help carry the offense that led the way for the Guardians in the first half. Last year’s pitching wasn’t as good as it’s been this year. Cleveland had a 3.87 ERA (nothing to slouch at) as a team in the first half of 2022 and then followed that up with a 2.97 ERA in the second half. For 2023, Cleveland’s pitching staff has a 3.81 ERA (eighth in MLB) which again is Erie-ly (I’m so funny) similar to last season. It’s pretty clear that Josh Naylor and José Ramírez are going to need more participation on the offensive side if Cleveland wants to match their second half tear from 2022. Massive disappointment Amed Rosario has heated up over the last two weeks. Plus I expect Gimenez, Steven Kwan and Will Brennan to boost the offensive production over the second half. All this will lead to the Guardians securing another AL Central title. Sorry, Twins fans. 

San Francisco Giants (+31 Run Differential)

The Giants exploded for 107 wins in 2021 and in the process made their president of baseball ops Farhan Zaidi appear to be a genius of Mensa proportions. That in turn led to everybody expecting at least a 90-win season out of the Giants. I was one of those people because I think Zaidi is arguably the sharpest leader of any MLB team. Unfortunately, the baseball gods had other plans as the Giants finished 2022 exactly at .500 with an 81-81 record. Coming into this season I thought there was no way that happens again. I liked the Giants to compete for the division title this year. However, the Dbacks said, “Step aside Butch” as they have been the best story in baseball this season outside of the firecracker Reds. Offseason addition Mitch Haniger was also lost for the year, which somehow ended up surprising me. No matter. The Giants are 49-41 right now. Right where they need to be. Their pitching staff can take a bow having allowed the second fewest walks in baseball with 239. Yet, outside of four games against Oakland, the Giants are looking at a tough schedule that includes plenty of games against their own divisional foes plus matchups with Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Texas. All NL West participants should be prepared for an epic battle to claim this division. It’s going to be close, but even if they fall short, I like the Giants to continue being a solid team in the second half. 

Seattle Mariners (+36 Run Differential)

How awful has Seattle’s offense been?! It’s incredible that they were able to end up a game over .500 at the break. Stunning even! This feat is at least as surprising as when Magglio Ordonez hit .363 in 2007 to win the batting title over Ichiro Suzuki’s .351. Seattle’s four best hitters (Julio Rodríguez, Ty France, Teoscar Hernández, Eugenio Suárez) have combined to hit .247 so far this year. Last year, even with the caveat that Teoscar was still in Toronto, the four of them combined to hit .264. I admit Suarez’ strength is certainly his power. Not his batting average. The bottom line is they are not that far off from last year. The real culprits are the supporting hitters who share the lineup card with them. When the top four hitters are removed from Seattle’s production this year, the rest of the Mariners are hitting .220 on the season! Seattle’s pitching should get almost all of the credit for keeping Seattle in it to win it. Their staff’s 3.74 team ERA is fifth best in MLB with seven shutouts to their credit (Toronto and the Cubs lead MLB with 10 as a team). George Kirby, Logan Gilbert and the rest of Seattle’s pitching staff have surrendered the fewest walks in MLB this year with only 228. Their 1.17 team WHIP is second in baseball behind Minnesota at 1.16. Combine all that with their home park limiting home runs (third in MLB with 89 dongs) and this team is set up nicely to thrive in the second half. The schedule difficulty is helped with multiple series remaining against the A’s and the Royals, but Seattle closes their final ten games against the Rangers and Houston. Seattle’s success will likely hinge on improved second halves from Jarred Kelenic, Cal Raleigh and maybe Kolten Wong? I know, I know. A fella can dream though.

San Diego Padres (+39 Run Differential)

Maybe it’s obvious to pick a team loaded with highly paid, highly qualified talent to play better going forward. But the way the Padres have pitched in the first half combined with the hitters they have available in their clubhouse indicates there are better results ahead down the stretch. Last year, the Padres ripped it up on their way to the NLCS. Comparing their two halves of baseball from 2022, the Padres basically played slightly above average baseball throughout the season. This time around the hitting just has to improve. I know that’s not a stable argumentative position, but each baseball season is full of these quirks. Manny Machado catching fire over the last two weeks is an excellent development for San Diego’s chances. It feels like there is a trade that happens here to possibly shake up the team for the better. Especially with A.J. Preller at the helm, who may be feeling the pressure from all those big money contracts he inked. As a team, Padres hitters are currently top 10 in homers, walks and steals. The problem with playing in the NL West is somebody has to lose. The AL East is the ultimate divisional anomaly. San Diego can’t win simultaneously alongside more wins for the Dodgers, Dbacks and Giants. This means the Padres have to sweep their five remaining contests against the Rockies. The Friars’ schedule also features potential wins over the Pirates, Tigers and White Sox. With the confidence to know that they can play better, the Padres are very likely to end up with a better record in the second half compared to the first. Will it be enough for a playoff run? Outlook is not so good

Chicago Cubs (+26 Run Differential)

Is David Ross a solid manager or not? When he was hired, I was sure he would be an excellent manager because he was a catcher of course. Plus he already had a presence within the organization as a player and special assistant. Whatever the hell that means. I assume it means Ross got a paycheck to be a public face for the organization who did plenty of public service announcements who every once in a blue moon would be asked to have a chat with a struggling player. I honestly have no clue what these special assistants or consultants do. I do know that Ross has not fared well since starting the job in 2020. Take away the bozo divisional title he won in 2020 and his record is 184-224. The Cubs made an excellent charge in the second half of 2022, but that was after a pitiful 35-57 start. This year the starting pitching for Chicago has been decent. They’re sporting a team ERA of 4.00 with a .241 batting average against. Justin Steele is becoming an ace while Marcus Stroman turns back the clock. Remember those Turn Back the Clock special editions of Topps baseball cards? I specifically recall the Ron Blomberg card from 1988 Topps. Blomberg was the first DH in MLB history. Despite playing at Wrigley Field where the wind can be friend or foe, the Cubs have surrendered the second fewest homers in baseball with 88. They’ve also only secured 13 saves on 21 tries. Both are league lows in MLB. This likely means that the Cubs are a prime target to allow more dongs in the second half, but they will also likely get more save opportunities down the stretch as well. You can take that to the bank. Schedule wise, the Cubbies have multiple series remaining with the Pirates, White Sox and Rockies plus one with the Royals. The difficulty of the remainder of their schedule also depends on the view of the Cardinals and whether they remember how to pitch.


Let It Dive

Within the confines of this section reside the teams who know that their days are numbered. These are teams who hung around in the mix up until the All-Star break only to come crashing back to reality thanks to the wicked ways of this wacky game we call baseball:

Colorado Rockies (-147 Run Differential)

This is an easy one. The Rockies have four other teams in their division that are honest-to-goodness playoff contenders. The rest of their July schedule isn’t too tough with series against the Nationals and Athletics. After that, though … welcome to hell. Both August and September are going to be very cruel toward the Rockies. Each month features six games that are slight reprieves: St. Louis and the White Sox in August and then six games against the Cubs in September. The rest of the competition are their NL West foes, the Rays, Orioles, Blue Jays and the Twins. If they find 20 wins in the second half that will be impressive. Outside of some hitting streamers here and there, the Rockies will offer very little to the rest of society besides the easy wins for the competition. 

Miami Marlins (-5 Run Differential)

Nobody wants this party to end. Sadly, the Marlins are a classic example of a team playing beyond their means. They certainly have starting pitching even though reigning NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara has been mediocre thus far. Somehow, Luis Arraez and Jorge Soler have helped the Miami offense be respectable this year. If Soler was removed from the equation the Marlins would have 64 dongs as a team, which surprisingly wouldn’t be dead last in baseball (Cleveland has only hit 60). Miami is third in MLB in batting average at .265. They are no doubt returning to the game’s small ball roots thanks to this season’s rule changes. They don’t draw walks much as they’re fourth to last in MLB plus they’re not as good at avoiding strikeouts as I thought they would be, as they’re 21st in baseball with 739 hitting whiffs. 

Cincinnati Reds (-9 Run Differential)

There is no pleasure for me in writing this. As a former resident of Colerain Township in Metro Cincinnati (I mastered the spelling of Cincinnati when I lived there thanks to writing the address on my rent check every month), I love seeing the Reds take the league by storm! They’re the epitome of a team that brings me the closest I can come to baseball heaven. They have come completely out of nowhere after losing 100 games last year. I have often contended that Great American Bozo Park provides the largest offensive advantage of any park outside of Coors in MLB. The Reds have lots of fun, young and exciting players that draw people in with their passion for the game. Elly De La Cruz is the second coming for sure, but guys like Matt McLain and Spencer Steer do just as much for me as a long-time observer of baseball. Up and down the lineup the Reds offer pressure point after pressure point. Even the old man Joey Votto is feeling the joy as he cranks homers out of Great American Bozo Park in search of his third playoff appearance (2020 bozo season doesn’t count) and his first since back-to-back appearances in 2012 and 2013 when Dusty Baker was managing the Reds.

Elly De La Cruz Cincinnati Reds Fantasy Baseball Groovin' with Govier

By this point it may become obvious that I have not mentioned any pitchers yet. Yep … here it comes. Just because I love watching them (even though their owner is a massive turd), how about we revel in the stellar breakout season of closer Alexis Díaz? He was one of my favorite closer picks during draft season, so I am not surprised to see that he has thrived. I am shocked by how many chances to close games he has had already and that he has converted 26 of 27 tries, tying him for the MLB lead in saves. Unfortunately, the pitching can’t last for Cincinnati. For starters, their 4.87 ERA (fourth worst in MLB) is a scary proposition. They’ve also walked the fifth-most batters in MLB with 341. For those who wish to be optimistic by looking at the last 30 days, it’s not much better. Reds pitchers still have a 4.46 ERA, 1.46 WHIP and 100 walks allowed, which puts them one behind the Nationals, who lead baseball over the last 30 days with 101 walks. I don’t care about the potential of Andrew Abbott, Brandon Williamson or Ben Lively. Their pitching staff will be as bad in the second half even if the reinforcements arrive. Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo returning from the IL means the Reds inherit two talented pitchers no doubt. For me, Lodolo has the higher ceiling of the two (Greene’s fastball has heat but still doesn’t have enough movement on it). Despite Lodolo showing serious stuff late in 2022, I’m not sure he can be the savior for this team this season.

That bozo ballpark in the summer will not be kind to pitching on any team that enters it. I mean, even Graham Ashcraft has had some buzz of improvement this year, but he still sits with a 6.28 ERA (5.00 SIERA). The Reds have a ten game homestand out the gate against Milwaukee, San Francisco and Arizona. After that beyond their NL Central rivals they face the Nationals, Tigers, Blue Jays, Angels, Guardians and Twins. Their bozo park is a two-way street. It provides offense for the Reds just as much as it does for their visiting opponents. I’ll be rooting like hell for the tri-state area’s squad, but sadly I’ve seen this movie before. 

Arizona Diamondbacks (+27 Run Differential)

Sigh … another team I love to root for because they are loaded with fun, young talent. Plus they have former part-time Tiger Torey Lovullo as their manager. I had his Score baseball card as part of a future stars collection in 1989. Mainly I just miss those Tigers road jerseys from the ‘80s with the orange and blue trim. I’ve also never been a fan of the cursive lettering on the current road uniforms. Anyways, Arizona has a similar problem to the Reds in that they both have solid offenses, but porous pitching. The Diamondbacks have created a tremendous culture of competition in their clubhouse this season with their positional players. It seems like nearly every hitter has another player lurking right behind them just waiting to pounce.

The season Geraldo Perdomo is having is a prime example of this philosophy in action. They will bring anybody in if they think that player can help them win. The latest example is Dominic Canzone who was called up last weekend. He has shown excellent plate discipline in the minors with 39 walks to 40 K’s at AAA Reno this season. The Diamondbacks see themselves as potential buyers at the trade deadline, so it seems they are firmly committed to making the playoffs. Sadly though, their pitching is their greatest weakness. They just lost promising rookie pitcher Drey Jameson just before the break. That is going to hurt. Pitcher Brandon Pfaadt is supposedly one of the up-and-coming cornerstones for Arizona. He may have been overhyped though as it appears that Pfaadt is a not-ready-for-prime-time player similar to the original crew from the early days of SNL. Fortunately for those early SNL players, not being ready for prime time was a hilarious concept. Not so much though at the highest level of professional baseball. Even Arizona GM Mike Haven admitted recently that Pfaadt might get tagged more often for homers because he is such a consistent strike thrower.

Zac Gallen is no doubt the master these days, but what about the rest of the rotation? Even when Merrill Kelly returns from his calf issue, their starting pitching options remain fairly bleak without a trade. Zach Davies or Tommy Henry (Go Blue) is not going to get it done. Without Zac Gallen the Dbacks pitching stats are nightmarish. Just imagine if Gallen’s stats were removed from the team’s 4.35 ERA. Their pitching is in the bottom 11 for hits allowed (765), most walks allowed (304) and team WHIP (1.32). On top of all that the fiery competition in the NL West spells danger for the Dbacks in the second half. Another challenging schedule awaits the Dbacks as their remaining six games with the Rockies offer the easiest path to wins other than a late September series on the southside of Chicago. Beyond the NL West showdowns, Arizona takes on Atlanta, Seattle, Minnesota, Texas, Baltimore and the Yankees. They need to trade for starting pitching ASAP. Otherwise, the second half is going to be a bummer for the snakes. 

Funny Little Feeling

Predictions are a dangerous game, but I refuse to think of them as a tired game. As long as there is another new day before us to look forward to, predictions will always be fascinating to us all. So here are the players who I have a funny little feeling about in the second half. For each player mentioned, I provide a list of players I would not want over the player mentioned for comparison’s sake. I’m here to help.

Alec Bohm, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies

Mark Bohm’s (Wasn’t Mark Bohm Steve Carrel’s character in The Big Short?) birthday down on a calendar as he turns 27 Aug. 3. The former third overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft is going to set a new career high (13) in homers by the end of the season despite missing time for a hammy issue. He’ll also post a career best wRC+. Alec Bohm hits the ball hard (43% HHR) while continuing to progressively hit less balls on the ground (42.7%). Plus his bat benefits in the post-shift era because he is more of a classic batting average hitter than slugger. No matter though. Bohm is ready to finish the season strong as his skills and experience coalesce to form a possible top ten fantasy asset at 3B.

I would prefer Bohm over: Eugenio SuárezJ.D. Davis/Jeimer Candelario/Jake Burger/Ke’Bryan Hayes/Nick Senzel/Brian Anderson

Sandy Alcantara, SP, Miami Marlins

Think about all the hullabaloo and frustration related to Sandy Alcantara’s performance this season. Despite all that, he still has a WHIP under 1.30 (1.25) and a 4.72 ERA (3.86 FIP) that is not a total disaster. I may be letting my Sandy bias overtake me here, but it’s pretty clear he is better than his numbers show. He has a brutal 64.6% left on base rate. Combine that with his BB/9 jumping up to 2.60 from 1.97 in 2022 and that’s where the pain comes from. He walked 50 hitters all of last year. He’s walked 33 so far. His BABIP is also up to .295 from his career .272 average. I know BABIP is more complex than the overall number, but it adds to the list of corrections that Sandy can account for. Even though I just predicted the Marlins to fall off in the second half, that doesn’t mean Sandy can’t thrive every fifth day on the bump. He won’t win a Cy Young, but Sandy will be a difference maker in the second half.

I would prefer Sandy over: Aaron Nola/Pablo López/Mitch Keller/Freddy Peralta/Hunter Brown/Logan Gilbert/José Berríos/Tyler Wells/Max Scherzer/Shane Bieber/Cristian Javier

Daulton Varsho, C/OF, Toronto Blue Jays

For anybody with time to spare, go check out Daulton Varsho’s stat line for the season. For those who do this, the discovery will be crystal clear. Varsho’s 2023 is not much different from his 2022. From Aug. 23 to the close of the 2022 season, Varsho cranked 11 round trippers, stole eight bags in nine tries and had a 122 wRC+ over that final chapter of the 2022 season. I remind all fantasy baseball managers of this point because from July 21 to the end of the 2021 season, Varsho ripped 10 homers, scored and drove in 30 runs each while finishing that stretch of 2021 with a 128 wRC+. I am going to confidently state that Varsho’s still got another hot run in him before this season is through. Now is the time to strike.

I would prefer Varsho over: Salvador Perez/Willson Contreras/Elias Díaz/Shea Langeliers/Danny Jansen/Jake Rogers

Tarik Skubal, SP, Detroit Tigers

For most of the time over the last four years, Matt Manning was a distant third to Tarik Skubal and Casey Mize when once upon a midnight dreary the three young pitchers were hailed as the next big thing for Detroit. Now Mize has been out forever with TJ surgery, Manning has returned to modest results and Skubal just came back to make his season debut last week. I really like Skubal. A lot! His ability to induce whiffs is what excites me most. His changeup is really coming into its own. Skubal used the change to induce 3 whiffs on 7 swings against the Blue Jays last week. He threw an equal number of sliders too in that game but unfortunately was unable to induce any whiffs. No bother. The slider is also a solid pitch that will cause more havoc as Skubal becomes accustomed to pitching on an MLB mound every five days. With the help of pitching coach Chris Fetter, Skubal is going to thrive in the second half. His only half this season. I am all about adding him to my rotation.

I would prefer Skubal over: Yu Darvish/Taj Bradley/James Paxton/Michael Wacha/Gavin Williams/Tyler Glasnow/Jordan Montgomery

Leody Taveras, OF, Texas Rangers

During his first taste of the big-league life in 2020, I was unimpressed by Leody Taveras. In the following two seasons, I still remained distant. However, it’s all come together now for Leody and I must say: I am stuck in the Leody again. His manager, three-time World Series champion Bruce Bochy thinks Taveras has a high ceiling and we have not seen the best of him yet. I completely agree with Bruce. The massive reduction in K% down to 19% this year has opened up a world of wonders for Leody. He hits the ball nicely with a 40% hard-hit rate yet doesn’t pull the ball that much for endless power. He can hit it all over the park. Plus he has excellent wheels to get motoring when in the base paths. Taveras could show us more patience at the plate along with more drives to the gap for doubles and triples with his speed, but that’s just fine for now. This is it, folks. This is the last chance to get Taveras before his price increases further. He can do everything on the diamond. This dude has won me over. I am all in and everybody else should be too.

I would prefer Taveras over: Alex Verdugo/George Springer/Brandon Nimmo/Austin Hays/Teoscar Hernández/Bryan Reynolds/Josh Lowe/Daulton Varsho/Cody Bellinger

Willy Adames, SS, Milwaukee Brewers

This one feels like cheating a little bit because Willy Adames has already taken flight over the last 10 days. Adames crushed four dongs over the last week of play going into the All-Star break. I have never given up on him, but I’ve certainly benched him more times than I care to recall. His first half was so awful that he would have to be injured for it to continue further. Low and behold here he is as the Brewer’s offense gets ready to come alive for the stretch run. Adames is going to hit 30 homers before the year is out. A month ago that sounded preposterous.

I would prefer Adames over: Jeremy Peña/Carlos Correa/Ezequiel Tovar/Orlando Arcia/Anthony Volpe

Starling Marte, OF, New York Mets

I do not think we are witnessing the end of Starling Marte’s career. Not at all. He’s coming off back-to-back seasons with at least a 130 wRC+. He’s stolen 23 bases already. It’s all about the current environment in Queens these days. It’s been a crappy year by the Mets’ new standards, which were imposed by (scummy hedge fund douche but also the ideal owner every fan would want for their baseball team) Steve Cohen. Marte is hitting the ball a lot harder (40% HHR) than he did last year (34% HHR). So his skills have not eroded. I am all in on a strong second half from Starling Marte. The Mets are going to make a charge with him leading the way.

I would prefer Marte over: Lourdes Gurriel Jr./Kris Bryant/Michael Conforto/Anthony Santander/Lane Thomas

Adbert Alzolay, RP, Chicago Cubs

As I alluded to in the teams portion of this piece, the Cubs did not get a lot of save chances in the first half. They had the fewest. That means there will be more opportunities in the second half for Adbert Alzolay. I predicted Alzolay would secure at least 20 saves right here in this article a couple of days before opening day. I’m going to stick with my expectation now that the Cubs are starting to realize Alzolay is their best reliever. His slider is the stuff of dreams! Hitters should be concerned when they step in the box against my man Adbert.

I would prefer Adbert over: Craig Kimbrel/ Carlos Estévez/Alex Lange/Daniel Bard/Scott Barlow/Giovanny Gallegos/Hunter Harvey

Brendan Donovan, 1B/2B/3B/SS/OF, St. Louis Cardinals

I’ve been banging the drum just like that super annoying guy in the Cleveland bleachers used to do in support of Brendan Donovan for a while now. Especially in OBP leagues! Donovan is superb at drawing walks, but oddly enough his BB rate has dipped under 10% to 9.6% this year. That’s disappointing. Yet he still has a .369 OBP thanks to his .284 batting average and his penchant for avoiding K’s at 15%. Last year Donovan finished with a 129 wRC+ over 468 PA. This year he is rocking 119 wRC+. He’s not far off last season’s pace. Plus he hits leadoff. I know the Cardinals stink, but that’s due more to their pitching than their lineup. Donovan has had some arm pain going on lately that has limited him. Losing season plus injury can equal early shutdown depending on the player. I think Donovan still has to prove his worth or at least feels he has to prove his worth still. When you include his ideal positional eligibility, Donovan is an excellent piece to insert anywhere in a fantasy baseball lineup.

I would prefer Donovan over: Jake Cronenworth/Jeff McNeil/Jurickson Profar/Zach McKinstry/DJ LeMahieu

Gunnar Henderson, 3B, Baltimore Orioles

Gunnar Henderson Baltimore Orioles Fantasy Baseball Groovin' with Govier

This year started off badly for Gunnar Henderson. There were a lot of questions coming my way about what to do with him. In the end, patience paid off as Gunnar is now a 122 wRC+ player at this juncture in the season. He still whiffs at 30%, but his 12% BB rate in concert with his 51% HHR make him a formidable adversary in the batter’s box. This dude is going to be really good. He’s only 22 years old, but the Orioles have trusted him to get through the hard times to help them make a playoff push this season. I doubt any fantasy managers will let Gunnar go, but if it is possible to acquire his services, I would do my dutiful best to do so.

I would prefer Gunnar over: Isaac Paredes/Ryan McMahon/Alex Bregman/Matt Chapman/Eugenio Suárez

Amed Rosario, SS/OF, Cleveland Guardians

Since June 7, when he went 3-4 against the Red Sawks, Amed Rosario has been a 127 wRC+ player. Not much power to speak of, but 10 XBH overall during this span. He also has scored 19 runs and driven in 20 in this time frame. Rosario made plenty of contact, which kept his K rate at 13.7 % since June 7. His overall season stats still look fairly grim, but Rosario will be a key piece for Cleveland as they make their second half charge to glory. Rosario is a quality addition for those looking for steals, runs and batting average.

I would prefer Rosario over: J.P. Crawford/Chris Taylor/Orlando Arcia/Geraldo Perdomo/CJ Abrams

Ty France, 1B, Seattle Mariners

To know me is to understand my passion for Ty France. There is no way he is the guy his stats say he is right now. He closed out 2021 with a 130 wRC+ over 650 PA followed by his 126 wRC+ output over the course of 613 PA. Full seasons with solid output over the last two. He hasn’t suddenly gotten worse this year. Yes, the entire Mariners offense seemed to be infected with the same offense suppressing sickness, but France is simply a much better hitter than we’re seeing right now. I have no concerns about him in the second half. He’ll never be a 30-homer hitter. I accept that. France has ripped 22 doubles though already and is on pace for a new career high which will eclipse his 32 doubles in 2021. Go get some Ty France right now.

I would prefer France over: Andrew Vaughn/Rowdy Tellez/Spencer Torkelson/José Abreu/LaMonte Wade Jr./Garrett Cooper/Luke Raley

Bobby Miller, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

Kid’s got gas for days without a doubt, but I’m concerned he needs more reps so he can learn how to pitch, not just throw. He has 15 walks to 42 K’s over his first 44 IP in The Show so far. Bobby Miller has three outings with at least 7 K’s already in his limited duty. Plus his SIERA (4.14) and FIP (3.71) are lower than his 4.50 ERA. This is a tough call as Miller might be one of these guys who flashes brilliance one minute then gives up a bunch of hits and walks the next. This dude is a rookie after all. It’s only fair to assume patience this season. Spencer Strider has spoiled the whole lot I swear. I know my guy Jason on Twitter is terrified that Miller’s fastball is too easy to rip. I would like to think he is wrong, but the data may say otherwise.

I would prefer Miller over: MacKenzie Gore/Reid Detmers/Chris Bassitt/Andrew Heaney/Yusei Kikuchi/Nick Pivetta

Seiya Suzuki, OF, Chicago Cubs

Right now, Seiya Suzuki feels like an afterthought in fantasy baseball. Maybe it’s the high expectations of his five year $85 million deal after his arrival to MLB from Japan that unfairly set him up to fail? Maybe. Maybe not. I’m stunned to see that he technically has a wRC+ of 105 this season despite appearing to be a ghost on my fantasy teams. That’s a good sign. If a player can feel so lacking in the output department, but still have slightly above average run production, that’s a good sign. That’s what we’re looking for here in the second half. Suzuki is holding down an 11% BB rate combined with a 50% HHR. Those pieces have building block value. Everybody in my home league BYB (which includes multiple Cubbies homers) dismisses Suzuki as having zero trade value in a 14-team league. It will taste so good if Suzuki provides offensive firepower in the second half. I am rooting for this dude to do well.

I prefer Suzuki over: Mickey Moniak/Max Kepler/Jesús Sánchez/Jordan Walker/Will Brennan/Jake McCarthy

Will Smith, RP, Texas Rangers

When Aroldis Chapman was traded to the Rangers a couple weeks ago, the official campaign to wish Aroldis into the closer gig was underway. Most fantasy managers look at Will Smith and scoff. This was a guy who was left off of a playoff roster as recently as last season. It’s hard to forget something like that. Then the question becomes, how does a pitcher who’s not good enough to make the ALDS roster for the Astros become the untouchable closer in Texas a few months later? It’s simple. New surroundings with old faces like manager Bruce Bochy provide a glimmer or a spark that brings a warm sense of security to a player. Will Smith is that player in Texas. I do not see Smith being taken out of or playing himself out of the closing job in Texas. If he gets hurt, that’s different. That will likely be the only way Aroldis Chapman slides into the closing chair. Smith is pitching quite well. He’s keeping the walks under control while avoiding the big fly with only two surrendered over 32.1 IP this season. The peripherals support Smith as well. Bochy and Smith plan to take this Ranger team all the way just like Thelma & Louise except for the driving off a cliff part of it. I want Bruce and Will to live long, fulfilling lives. As long as they’re together, there won’t be no Aroldis coming between them.

I prefer Smith over: Raisel Iglesias/Carlos A.J. Puk/Pete Fairbanks/David Robertson/Evan Phillips

MJ Melendez, C, Kansas City Royals

With the way MJ Melendez has performed this year, it’s becoming harder to recall that he was really solid as a rookie last year. It’s also difficult to remember that he played enough to reach 534 PA. Melendez recorded a 12% BB rate and a 24% K rate during 2022 for a final wRC+ of 99. He was an average player by run production standards in his debut season on a very weak offensive team in Kansas City which was managed by the red ass Mike Matheny. An impressive beginning that led to a higher ADP for 2023 drafts. Unfortunately, this season Melendez has been taking it on the chin. The walk rate is down 2% while the K’s have jumped 5%. Yet, his BABIP is much higher at .285 right now than it was by the end of 2022 at .258. His .176 ISO from 2022 has seen a decrease down to .127 so far this year. What does it all mean? It means he’s going to have a much better second half. Book it.

I prefer Melendez over: Danny Jansen/Jake Rogers/Shea Langeliers/Keibert Ruiz/Gary Sánchez/Christian Bethancourt/Connor Wong/Yan Gomes


Honest Mistake

It can happen to any of us. Putting our expectations onto a player to perform. No fantasy baseball manager is above it. Let’s look at some players who will mistakenly be relied on in the second half:

Tyler Wells, SP, Baltimore Orioles

I really do not want to write this one up. I have nothing but love for Tyler Wells and his ability to keep my ratios neat and tidy. There is a job to do here though, and I can’t let my personal affection for Wells get in the way of the likely truth. The truth is Wells has a much higher FIP (4.64) in comparison to his stellar ERA (3.18). It’s a real shame. Wells has delivered such a wonderful first half performance for many of my fantasy teams. I don’t take calling him out lightly. I’ve been around too long though to let my feelings get in the way of the reality that is up ahead for Wells and me. His ERA and WHIP are due to creep up in the second half because the numbers tell the story. Another pitcher with an incredible strand rate that can’t last. 86% is too damn good, and Wells is going to pay the price soon. Especially with a career norm of 75.5%. Yes, Wells doesn’t have a lot of MLB experience for a 28-year-old, but this one is pretty clear cut: Wells will regress in the second half. I won’t be happy about it at all. I’ll curse the gods for this. I won’t take it lying down. I will fight for you, Tyler Wells.

I would prefer the following players: Zach Eflin/Charlie Morton/Hunter Brown/Sonny Gray/Shane Bieber/Justin Steele

Mickey Moniak, OF, Los Angeles Angels

How long will pitchers keep serving it up to a guy with no patience at the plate? It makes no sense that Mickey Moniak has 10 dongs with a 43-4 K-BB ratio. Stop serving it up to this dude and make him earn it! He will falter. I don’t wish the man ill will by any means, but it seems like a pretty simple fix to me. It’s enjoyable to see Moniak make things happen in part-time duty for the Angels. Truly it is. By September though, Mickey will be an afterthought. This can’t continue.

I would prefer the following players over Moniak: Bryan De La Cruz/James Outman/Jake Fraley/Tommy Pham/Josh Lowe/Kerry Carpenter/Jarred Kelenic

Yusei Kikuchi, SP, Toronto Blue Jays

I recall being on “The Sleeper and the Bust” with Justin Mason and Jason Collette back in April. Colette made a remark about not trusting Yusei Kikuchi going forward. If any fantasy manager ignored that, they would have reaped the benefits of Kikuchi’s 96 K’s in 93 IP along with seven wins, a 4.24 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. Useful for the K’s but certainly less so for the ratios. Expect those ratios to creep up in the wrong direction from here on out. Kikuchi’s 84% strand rate is very impressive, but also highly difficult to maintain. That’s an 11% upgrade from his career mark of 73%. Less success stranding runners means one thing: more runs scored against. Watch out now.

I would prefer the following pitchers over Kikuchi: Reid Detmers/Lance Lynn/MacKenzie Gore/Braxton Garrett/Michael Kopech/Clarke Schmidt/Tanner Bibee

Yandy Díaz, 1B/3B, Tampa Bay Rays

Last year, Yandy Díaz finished the year with a 146 wRC+, which is very good! Most MVP winners are at 170 or higher. There is no question that 146 stands out though. This year, Diaz is holding onto a 165 wRC+ as the Rays tore up baseball during the first half. However, it’s time to slow that roll, Yandy. The master of the ground ball has incredibly ripped 13 homers already this season, which is one behind his personal best in 2019 when the super juicy fun ball was in use. Yandy also has a .359 BABIP even though for his career that number is .320. Last season Diaz was more in line with his career norm in BABIP. This leads me to believe that some regression is in order for Yandy’s bat in the second half. By the way, every time I type Yandy I immediately think of that Yandu character from Guardians of the Galaxy, played by the fabulous Michael Rooker. Anyway, Yandy has to have more bad luck in the second half. These numbers are coming down. In OBP leagues though, he remains an important asset.

I would prefer the following hitters over Yandy: Elly De La Cruz/Josh Jung/Matt Chapman/Gunnar Henderson/Max Muncy

Josiah Gray, SP, Washington Nationals

Josiah Gray Washington Nationals Fantasy Baseball Groovin' with Govier

It’s possible this one needs little explanation. Most fantasy managers know by now that the peripherals for Josiah Gray are a nightmare in waiting. His 3.41 ERA coincides with his 4.79 FIP. He’s not even striking out nine hitters per nine innings pitched and his walks are up a bit from last year with 47 in 100 IP. The Nationals are about to be bulldozed by the other teams in the NL East during the second half. Any manager hoping that Gray can keep this house of cards going for another start or two is living in denial. Live in the now, man.

I would prefer the following pitchers over Gray: Nathan Eovaldi/Marcus Stroman/Domingo Germán/Kyle Gibson/Miles Mikolas

Austin Hays, OF, Baltimore Orioles

Not buying this one. Austin Hays made the All-Star team because he’s hitting .314. His power has been modest with 9 dongs on a .185 ISO. Without the batting average Hays is nothing special. I’m selling here because he has a .389 BABIP. Seems pretty simple to me. He’s not dominating in any other category, has a modest-at-best 6% BB rate and just doesn’t appear to be a 136 wRC+ player. Sell sell sell.

I would prefer the following players over Hays: Adolis García/Steven Kwan/Alex Verdugo/Lane Thomas/Leody Taveras/Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

Bryce Elder, SP, Atlanta Braves

Atlanta sure can churn out the starting pitching, can’t they? My whole life Atlanta has been doing this. Bryce Elder is another in a long line of starters that goes all the way back to Tom Glavine and Steve Avery. Elder sure had a good time securing a sub-3.00 ERA over 106 innings. No easy feat to be sure. Elder doesn’t overpower hitters with his stuff, which is a concern up ahead. His 4.39 SIERA indicates that Elder is about to enter a world of pain. Elder has given up 10 dongs with a 80-34 K-BB ratio. He has definitely battled. Unfortunately, the time has come. Elder will go backward in the second half with his ratios at the very least. He might scrape by with a few wins thanks to his offense, but Elder holds little value in the second half for me. Especially since Atlanta is all hands on deck for another championship run. Thanks for the memories Elder. It was fun while it lasted.

I would prefer the following pitchers over Elder: George Kirby/Alek Manoah/Joe Musgrove/Lucas Giolito/Brayan Bello

Jack Suwinski, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

With three double-dong performances over 15 games from late May to mid-June, Jack Suwinski has now gone yard 19 times already. Suwinski is still the same old strikeout machine he was before all that, but now he’s a 32% K rate hitter with a 15.5% BB rate. Captain Jack is a lot of fun to be sure. However, the fun will eventually be done in Pittsburgh for ole Jack. For some reason I feel confident that his .280 ISO is not going to hold over the second half of the year Jack’s power is prodigious. No argument there. Other than that though, he’s just a dude on a run who will come back to Earth sooner than later.

I would prefer the following players over Captain Jack: Leody Taveras/Bryan De La Cruz/Seiya Suzuki/Riley Greene/Nolan Jones/Colton Cowser

Dane Dunning, SP, Texas Rangers

I implore all fantasy baseball managers to get out of business with Dane Dunning. His ruse is way overdue for being exposed. This dude has 59 K’s to 24 BB’s in 92 IP. His stuff is weak, and he’s getting lucky on the gopher ball, with only six surrendered this season. And all those happened after the first 48 innings, where Dunning didn’t give up a single homer. This dude has been very fortunate in 2023. I’m happy for all those fantasy managers who kept rolling him out there to secure eight wins. Outside of that though, I don’t know what else he has to offer. Diddly poo, that’s what. Run away now from Dunning in the second half before he starts unloading monster stat lines that leave ratios trembling in terror.

I would prefer the following pitchers over Dunning: Alex Cobb/Kyle Bradish/Braxton Garrett/Gavin Williams/Kyle Hendricks

J.D. Martinez, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

Boy, what a time it was to be alive when J.D. Martinez came back from the dead to be a major factor for the Detroit Tigers in 2014. He hit 23 yambos while hitting .315. It was a sight for sore eyes, I’ll say. Now Martinez is 35 years old playing for the Dodgers on the west coast while still showing the rest of the world he still has that power stroke. He’s been strokin’! 22 dongs for J.D. in the first half put him over the 300 mark for his career, now sitting on 304 MLB dongs. I’m very happy for him. Sadly, it looks like the party has to slowly start coming to a close. J.D. is striking out at a career-worst 30% clip this season. His .315 ISO is also completely unsustainable along with his impressive 25% HR/FB rate. That can’t last, can it? Martinez is the consummate pro who has really been helped by the in-game video when he was in the Boston clubhouse. J.D. loved it so much he convinced the Dodgers to hire the video guy who was suspended by MLB. The bottom line for Martinez is that he is an aging hitter who is showing 40 homer power this year. Those strikeouts may be a byproduct of J.D. trying to sell out for the dong, but eventually there will be negative outcomes from this. Expect the second half to be more challenging for Martinez.

I would prefer the following hitters over J.D.: Nick Castellanos/Cedric Mullins/Cody Bellinger/Josh Lowe/LaMonte Wade Jr./Byron Buxton

Luis Castillo, SP, Seattle Mariners

Pitching in one of the safest places to avoid the dong, Luis Castillo has already given up 15 of them in 2023. He had back-to-back double-dong games at home recently against the Rays and Nationals. Castillo had challenges with the long ball in the past, but that was in Great American Bozo Park where it is to be expected. On the surface Castillo’s 2.85 ERA over 107 IP is a dream. In reality, he’s been fortunate to maintain an ERA under three. His FIP is almost a run higher at 3.78. Combine that with the homers and there is a possibility the second half will not be so kind to Castillo. Now, even at a 3.70 ERA, that’s still pretty solid. It’s just not elite. For those who drafted Castillo as a No. 1 or No. 2, there is a certain expectation that comes with that. Baseball doesn’t care about expectations though. As the final 70 games play out, be weary of Castillo’s output. If more runners on base come home, that will likely be the difference between an ERA of three or four by season’s end for Castillo.

I would prefer the following pitchers over Castillo: Logan Webb/Zach Eflin/Justin Steele/Joe Ryan/Jesús Luzardo/Sonny Gray

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