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2012 Draft Prep: What you may have missed

Michael Hurcomb
Fantasy Writer
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Do you remember what you were doing in September? Take a minute. Think about it. ... Done?

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If you can't come up with an answer, don't worry. But I do know what many of you weren't doing -- paying attention to your Fantasy Baseball team. In September, most of your focus was probably on Fantasy Football and rooting for your favorite NFL team. However, there was still baseball being played.

Understandably, many people give up on their Fantasy team around the All-Star break. You saw the writing on the wall and figured your time was best spent finishing off your summer tan than crunching batting averages and WHIPs.

What you missed out on were unexpected performances from the not-so-usual suspects, but you can't discredit second-half surges when Draft Day rolls around. Case in point, Washington's Michael Morse had a breakout run in the second half of the 2010 season. He hit .282 with a .865 OPS, 11 homers and 32 RBI in his final 63 games that season. The rest you now know as history. Morse returned in 2011 to post career numbers and finish the season as a top 40 Fantasy bat.

In helping you prep for your 2012 draft we wanted to highlight second-half producers from 2011. Now, you won't find names like Ryan Braun, Albert Pujols and Clayton Kershaw in this column. We are spotlighting the players who are generally picked as mid-to-late-round selections on Draft Day.

Nick Hundley, C, Padres
Second-half numbers: .367 average, .404 on-base percentage, .656 slugging percentage, 1.061 OPS, 11 doubles, four triples, six homers and 14 RBI in 37 games
Analysis: Hundley had a .436 BABIP during his second-half stretch, so he was extremely lucky. That number should drop over a full season. He will fall to the late rounds in all Fantasy formats and might not even make the cut as a No. 2 catcher in mixed leagues, but there is definitely sleeper value here. Hundley has good pop for his position -- let's just hope he can stay healthy, which was a problem last year.

More catchers coming off strong finishes
Yadier Molina, Cardinals: .337 AVG, .535 SLG, .907 OPS, 9 HRs, 13 2Bs, 34 RBI in 58 games
Salvador Perez, Royals: .331 AVG, .361 OBP, .834 OPS, 3 HRs, 8 2Bs, 21 RBI in 39 games
Ryan Doumit, Twins: .328 AVG, .504 SLG, .872 OPS, 4 HRs, 8 2Bs, 15 RBI in 43 games

James Loney, 1B, Dodgers
Second-half numbers: .320 average, .380 on-base percentage, .534 slugging percentage, .914 OPS, eight home runs, 18 doubles and 34 RBI in 67 games
Analysis: Loney's numbers look way better than his first-half splits from 2011 partly due to the fact he didn't have to play all the time against left-handed starters down the stretch. Loney hit .213 against lefties last season as opposed to .312 against right-handers. The fact that Loney might sit against lefties again in 2012 -- and still lacks the home-run power to compete with the elite Fantasy options at first base -- limits him to no more than a late-round selection in mixed leagues.

More first basemen coming off strong finishes
Chris Parmelee, Twins: .355 AVG, .592 SLG, 1.035 OPS, 4 HRs, 6 2Bs, 14 RBI in 21 games
Derrek Lee, Free agent: .323 AVG, .576 SLG, .955 OPS, 6 2Bs, 10 HRs, 31 RBI in 43 games
Daniel Murphy, Mets: .372 AVG, .419 OBP, .931 OPS, 1 HR, 9 2Bs, 13 RBI in 22 games

Jemile Weeks, 2B, Athletics
Second-half numbers: .310 average, .352 on-base percentage, .781 OPS, five triples, 15 stolen bases, 18 doubles and 28 RBI in 66 games
Analysis: Getting on base and speed is what Weeks' game is about. You are going to have to forgo home-run power when drafting Weeks, but his ability to use his speed on the base paths will help make up for that. Weeks will go a bit higher in Rotisserie formats, but he is right on the cusp of being a reliable Fantasy starter and could end up as a nice sleeper pick if you miss out on the second-base studs on Draft Day.

More second basemen coming off strong finishes
Omar Infante, Marlins: .314 AVG, .348 OBP, .842 OPS, 6 3Bs, 6 HRs, 11 2Bs, 22 RBI, 30 runs in 57 games
Ruben Tejada, Mets: .303 AVG, .368 OBP, .745 OPS, 4 SBs, 11 2Bs, 18 RBI in 48 games
Jason Kipnis, Indians: .272 AVG, .507 SLG, .841 OPS, 5 SBs, 7 HRs, 9 2Bs, 19 RBI in 36 games

Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals
Second-half numbers: .276 average, .713 OPS, four homers, 16 doubles and 26 RBI in 64 games
Analysis: Moustakas was one of the majors' hottest hitters at the end of the season. He hit .379 with a .412 OBP, .564 slugging percentage, .976 OPS, four homers, 12 doubles and 19 RBI in his last 36 games. He struggled like most rookies after his initial call-up, but slow starts are nothing new for Moustakas, who hit .229 to open his Triple-A season last year. Moustakas' biggest hurdle is improving against lefties, who he hit just .191 against after his promotion. But Moustakas can hit lefties. He batted .260 with a .832 OPS against them in Triple-A last year. Consider him a solid late-round Fantasy sleeper with upside.

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More third basemen coming off strong finishes
Aramis Ramirez, Brewers: .318 AVG, .381 OBP, .528 SLG, .909 OPS, 11 HRs, 14 2Bs, 42 RBI in 63 games
Chipper Jones, Braves: .303 AVG, .545 SLG, .895 OPS, 10 2Bs, 10 HRs, 24 RBI in 49 games
Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays: .291 AVG, .382 OBP, .504 SLG, .887 OPS, 11 HRs, 17 2Bs, 36 RBI, 43 runs in 64 games

Marco Scutaro, SS, Rockies
Second-half numbers: .329 average, .382 on-base percentage, .849 OPS, three home runs, 20 doubles and 39 RBI in 62 games
Analysis: Scutaro was a bit more lucky than usual in the second half last season, posting a .345 BABIP, which is well above his career .293 mark. But add the element of him moving to hitter-friendly Coors Field and being in a walk year, Scutaro could absolutely be a bargain late-round pick on Draft Day. Hitting in front of Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez would help anybody's stat line.

More shortstop coming off strong finishes
Dee Gordon, Dodgers: .345 AVG, .367 OBP, .776 OPS, 7 RBI, 7 2Bs, 15 SBs, 23 runs in 34 games
Cliff Pennington, A's: .303 AVG, .362 OBP, .815 OPS, 5 HRs, 8 SBs, 16 2Bs, 31 runs, 35 RBI in 60 games
Ian Desmond, Nationals: .289 AVG, .417 SLG, .755 OPS, 5 HRs, 15 2Bs, 27 RBI, 31 runs in 69 games

Alejandro De Aza, OF, White Sox
Second-half numbers: .329 average, .400 on-base percentage, .520 slugging percentage, .920 OPS, 11 doubles, 12 stolen bases and 23 RBI in 54 games
Analysis: Forget about the De Aza you knew with the Marlins. In 73 games since 2010 with Chicago, he is batting .324 with a .388 OBP, .500 slugging percentage and .888 OPS. De Aza's career numbers in Triple-A (265 games) are a .309 average, .372 OBP, .479 slugging percentage and .851 OPS. De Aza is the presumed starter in left field for Chicago, so he could end up as a value pick in the later rounds of Fantasy drafts as long as he doesn't buckle under the pressure.

Ryan Raburn, OF, Tigers
Second-half numbers: .341 average, .393 on-base percentage, .574 slugging percentage, .967 OPS, six home runs, eight doubles and 18 RBI in 45 games
Analysis: Raburn was in beast mode down the stretch after another slow start in 2011. The Tigers want him to take hold of a starting job, but his first-half lulls handcuff him. He is a career .228 hitter before the All-Star break, as opposed to .300 afterward. Fantasy owners are going to get the most mileage out of Raburn as a second-base option if he can hit all season like he traditionaly has in the second half.

Lucas Duda, OF, Mets
Second-half numbers: .322 average, .411 on-base percentage, .546 slugging percentage, .957 OPS, 10 home runs, 14 doubles and 38 RBI in 64 games
Analysis: Duda's second-half and Triple-A numbers suggest he can be a key cog in the Mets lineup. Duda hit .310 with a .398 OBP, .606 slugging percentage and 1.003 OPS in 108 games at Triple-A. There's no need to reach for Duda on Draft Day, but he has sleeper written all over him. Don't forget the Mets are bringing in the fences at Citi Field. Duda hit .317 at home last season, but he had just two homers in 48 games. That latter number should rise in 2012.

More outfielders coming off strong finishes
John Mayberry, Phillies: .299 AVG, .576 SLG, .931 OPS, 8 2Bs, 10 HRs, 30 RBI in 54 games
Jerry Sands, Dodgers: .342 AVG, .415 OBP, .908 OPS, 2 HRs, 5 2Bs, 9 RBI in 20 games
Yonder Alonso, Padres: .330 AVG, .398 OBP, .545 SLG, .943 OPS, 4 2Bs, 5 HRs, 15 RBI in 47 games
Andruw Jones, Yankees: .291 AVG, .416 OBP, .612 SLG, 1.028 OPS, 6 2Bs, 9 HRs, 21 RBI in 41 games

Rafael Betancourt, RP, Rockies
Second-half numbers: 0-0, 0.33 ERA, 0.30 WHIP, two runs (one earned), one walk, eight saves and 39 strikeouts in 27 innings
Analysis: The big difference for Betancourt, who completely flipped the script in the second half last season after he inherited the closer's role from an injured Huston Street, was that he went from unlucky to lucky. He had a .330 BABIP in the first half, as opposed to an outstanding .122 mark in the second half. His career BABIP is .283, which is right around the norm. It's unfair to expect that second-half stat line from Betancourt all year in 2012, but he is still one of the more intriguing sleeper relief pitchers because of his high strikeout rate.

Derek Holland, SP, Rangers
Second-half numbers: 9-1, 3.06 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, two complete-game shutouts, 35 runs (30 earned), 26 walks and 80 strikeouts in 88 1/3 innings (14 starts)
Analysis: Holland improved at throwing strikes in 2011 and that helped him lower his fly-ball rate to 33.6 percent, which was down from 42.7 percent in 2010. Holland's strikeouts per nine innings also rose in the second half last season to 8.2 from 6.7 in the first half. The good news for Fantasy owners is that luck had nothing to do with Holland's second-half surge. He had a .291 BABIP in his final 14 starts, which is right around the norm, so consider Holland a very good mid-round bargain on Draft Day.

Jeremy Hellickson, SP, Rays
Second-half numbers: 5-3, 2.64 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 25 runs, 49 strikeouts and 33 walks in 85 1/3 innings (13 starts)
Analysis: Hellickson's biggest blemish from his first full season in the majors was his high walk rate. Otherwise, he stormed away with AL Rookie of the Year honors. Hellickson hasn't been a great strikeout pitcher in the majors, which is why some Fantasy owners will be more inclined to take teammate Matt Moore over Hellickson on Draft Day. Another area of concern is that the fly-ball pitcher has been extremely lucky in his career. Hellickson has a career .230 BABIP at the MLB level. Keep Hellickson on your radar as a mid-round, mid-rotation Fantasy arm.

R.A. Dickey, SP, Mets
Second-half numbers: 4-6, 2.87 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 33 runs (30 earned), 56 strikeouts and 19 walks in 94 innings (14 starts)
Analysis: Dickey is going to get overlooked on Draft Day because he doesn't have a high strikeout rate and pitches for a non-contender, but he is averaging 403.5 Fantasy points the last two seasons. A key the last two seasons for Dickey has been a high groundball rate. He was at 55.1 percent in 2010 and 50.8 percent in 2011. Dickey is not going to be a Fantasy ace, but he can deliver great value as a late-round pick.

Doug Fister, SP, Tigers
Second-half numbers: 8-3, 2.47 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 31 runs (25 earned), 67 strikeouts and 11 walks in 91 innings (13 starts)
Analysis: After years of poor run support in Seattle, Fister was dealt to the Tigers at the July trade deadline and blossomed into a reliable Fantasy option. Fister has the ability to flourish on a contender. He doesn't beat himself with a career 1.18 WHIP and 1.7 walks per nine innings. He was a bit more lucky than usual in the second half (.245 BABIP), but even if that rises slightly, Fister should still have respectable numbers. His strikeout rate also climbed to a career-high 7.3 with Detroit, so consider it a steal if you grab Fister in the middle rounds on Draft Day.

Ted Lilly, SP, Dodgers
Second-half numbers: 6-5, 2.94 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 80 strikeouts and 29 walks in 85 2/3 innings (14 starts)
Analysis: It went from unlucky to very lucky for Lilly last season. He posted a .298 BABIP in the first half and then it fell to .217 in the second half. His career average is .270, so even Lilly's second-half run was out of the norm for him. Lilly continues to be a fly-ball pitcher, but he has made fewer than 30 starts just twice in the last nine seasons and has won 10-plus games each year since 2003. Let Lilly fall to the late rounds on Draft Day and consider him a back-of-the-rotation arm.

More pitchers coming off strong finishes
Jeff Samardzija, Cubs: 3-0, 2.23 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 12 runs (nine ER), 35 Ks, 16 BBs in 36 1/3 innings
Alfredo Aceves, Red Sox: 6-1, 1.77 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 11 runs, 47 Ks, 18 BBs in 56 innings
Ivan Nova, Yankees: 8-0, 3.18 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 26 runs, 47 Ks, 20 BBs in 73 2/3 innings (11 starts)
Brandon McCarthy, A's: 8-4, 3.15 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 36 runs (33 ER), 77 Ks, 13 BBs in 94 1/3 innings (14 starts)
Jeff Niemann, Rays: 7-3, 3.75 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 35 runs (34 ER), 72 Ks, 23 BBs in 81 2/3 innings (13 starts)
Luke Hochevar, Royals: 6-3, 3.52 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 34 runs (31 ER), 68 Ks, 24 BBs in 79 1/3 innings (12 starts)
Vance Worley, Phillies: 7-2, 3.48 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 32 runs, 82 Ks, 26 BBs in 82 2/3 innings (13 starts)

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

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Player News
Edinson Volquez picks up no decision after strong start
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11:08 pm ET) Pirates pitcher Edinson Volquez turned in a scoreless start Saturday against the Brewers.

Volquez allowed three hits over seven scoreless frames. He struck out six and issued three walks during the appearance. Though he was mostly unhittable during the outing, Volquez never seriously flirted with a no-hitter. He gave up a double in the first inning, but was able to get out of the frame without giving up any runs. Volquez put two runners on base during the third inning, but was otherwise able to prevent multiple base runners during the start.

Volquez left with the game tied, picking up a no-decision. He’ll take on the Braves in his next start. 


Matt Garza gets ejected during scoreless outing
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11:08 pm ET) Brewers pitcher Matt Garza was ejected during a scoreless start Saturday.

Garza allowed three hits over 4 2/3 scoreless innings. He struck out six and walked two during the outing. Tensions were high after Garza hit Andrew McCutchen with a pitch in the third inning. At that point, both benches were warned. Garza managed to work until the end of the fifth inning. After striking out the first two batters, Garza hit McCutchen again, and was ejected from the game.

Garza earned the no-decision for his performance. He’ll take on the Cubs in his next start. 


Chris Archer wins No. 10
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:22 pm ET) Rays pitcher Chris Archer was able to pitch around his control issues Saturday.

Archer allowed two hits over 6 1/3 scoreless innings. He struck out three and walked four during the outing. Archer was mostly unhittable during the appearance. He gave up a first inning single to Jose Abreu, but kept the White Sox from doing much else over the next two innings. Avisail Garcia added the other hit in the fourth inning, but that was it for Chicago. Walks became an issue late for Archer. After putting two men on via the free pass to start the seventh inning, Archer was pulled. 

With the win, Archer improved to 10-8. He’ll take on the Indians in his next start. 


Hector Noesi turns in quality start
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:21 pm ET) White Sox pitcher Hector Noesi turned in a quality start Saturday against the Rays.

Noesi allowed three runs on six hits over six innings. He struck out one and issued three walks during the appearance. The long ball has been Noesi’s bugaboo all season, and came back to haunt him Saturday. With a man on in the second inning, Nick Franklin took Noesi out to right for the two-run shot. Noesi would give up another run in the fifth inning after a single plated a runner from second. 

With the loss, Noesi dropped to 8-11. He’ll take on the Royals in his next start. 


Mike Leake knocked around Saturday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:20 pm ET) Reds pitcher Mike Leake got knocked around Saturday against the Cardinals.

Leake allowed six runs, five earned, on six hits over five innings. He struck out four and walked two during the outing. After a scoreless first, the Cardinals were able to get to Leake. With two outs in the second inning, the team mounted a mini-rally. After a double and a walk, Tony Cruz belted a three-run shot to left. A home run sunk Leake in the third inning as well. After hitting the leadoff man, Kolten Wong smacked a two-run shot. Leake would give up another run in the fifth inning, but it was due to an error. The run would be unearned. 

With the loss, Leake dropped to 11-13. He’ll take on the Pirates in his next start. 


Michael Wacha fails to go five innings Saturday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:19 pm ET) Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha failed to go five innings Saturday against the Reds.

Wacha allowed two runs on six hits over 4 2/3 innings. He struck out one and did not issue any walks during the outing. Wacha got off to a solid start, tossing three scoreless innings to open the game. He gave up his first run in the fourth inning. After a leadoff single advanced to second on a wild pitch, Brandon Phillips managed to knock the run home with a single. A leadoff single again came around to score in the fifth inning after Kristopher Negron doubled. Wacha was replaced after giving up the hit.

Wacha didn’t go five innings, so he wasn’t eligible for the win. He picked up a no-decision, and will take on the D-Backs in his next start.


Jordan Zimmermann wins 13th game Saturday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:18 pm ET) Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann picked up a quality start Saturday against the Marlins.

Zimmermann allowed two runs, one earned, on five hits over six innings. He struck out four and did not issue any walks during the outing. Zimmermann’s first run came in the first inning. With men on first and second, Zimmermann gave up a run-scoring single to Justin Bour. He would escape the inning without allowing any more damage. His second run would be unearned due to a couple of errors. Reed Johnson hit a double during the fourth inning, but managed to score due to throwing errors by both Denard Span and Zimmermann. 

Zimmermann improved to 13-5 with the win. He’ll take on the Marlins in his next start. 


Jarred Cosart loses despite quality start
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:17 pm ET) Marlins pitcher Jarred Cosart turned in a quality start Saturday against the Nationals.

Cosart allowed three runs on nine hits over 6 1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked two during the outing. Cosart proved to be somewhat hittable during the appearance, but managed to keep the Nationals off the board until his final inning. After a single and two run-scoring triples, Cosart was pulled from the game. Another run would come around to score, and was charged to Cosart.

With the loss, Cosart dropped to 13-10. He’ll take on the Nationals in his next start. 


Jonathon Niese turns in a strong start
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:16 pm ET) Mets pitcher Jonathon Niese turned in a strong start Saturday against the Braves.

Niese allowed two runs on seven hits over 7 1/3 innings. He struck out five and walked one during the outing. Niese was excellent to open the game, throwing seven scoreless innings to start things off. He gave up both his runs in the eighth inning. With one out, Niese loaded the bases on three straight singles. He was pulled from the game at this point. Two runs would come around to score before the Mets could get out of the inning. Those runs were charged to Niese. 

With the win, Niese improved to 9-11. He’ll take on the Astros in his next start. 


Chris Tillman picks up 13th win Saturday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:05 pm ET) Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman turned in a strong start Saturday against the Red Sox.

Tillman allowed two runs on five hits over seven innings. He struck out six and walked two during the outing. Tillman gave up both of his runs in the first inning. After opening the game with a walk, Tillman allowed David Ortiz to belt a two-run homer to left center. Tillman would settle in at that point, keeping the Red Sox off the board for the rest of his outing. 

With the win, Tillman improved to 13-5. He’ll take on the Blue Jays in his next start. 


 
 
 
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