This time of the season can be labeled as “being in the thick of things” for many fantasy managers. On many occasions, it is to no fault of their own. Many high-profile players did not live up to expectations in the first half of the 2022 MLB season. Now that teams are chugging along and hoping to make one last push for the fantasy playoffs, managers are wondering whether those players can now turn it around and help catapult them towards a championship.
Entering drafts, there was a lot of hype surrounding players in better situations. Others were looking to build off of the success they had last season. Then, some are looking to recapture the glory they have shown at one point in their career. Everyone starts as optimistic, probably more hopeful, that THIS is their year.
The first half for these players was not what many hoped for. Can they now turn it around?
Note: All data as of July 26th.
City of Brotherly Love?
Nick Castellanos was one of the more polarizing players heading into this season. He signed a massive $100 million deal with the Phillies and found himself in the middle of a lineup compromised of Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, J.T. Realmuto, and Rhys Hoskins.
As the season has gone on, Castellanos has not been able to recapture the same production that netted him that big deal. With an OPS over .100 points lower than his career mark, the loss of Bryce Harper has not helped his case.
The advanced metrics look as rough as the surface numbers. From the elevated K% of 24.7, the lowered walk rate of 5.5%, and even down to the .246 xBA he is sporting this season, Castellanos has had a rough time producing for his fantasy managers.
The most alarming statistic would be his career-low 7.3% barrel% that pairs “nicely” with the 5 Barrel/PA rate this season, which is also a career-low. The inability to make hard contact on the ball is what is hurting him the most. Not to mention the fact that the frustrations are now spilling off the field as seen by the recent boos, and subsequent post-game interviews, that Castellanos has had to go through lately.
A second-half surge is possible for Castellanos. However, if the players around him also continue to struggle, he will have a hard time reverting to the Cincinnati version of Nick Castellanos.
Co(dy)uld He Turn It Around?
One of the riskiest players heading into the draft was Cody Bellinger. If you drafted before Spring Training, you were willing to take the chance that he figured himself out, finally got healthy, and was ready to revert to his MVP status. However, if you waited until after Spring, maybe even during, you were just hoping the discount you grabbed him at would be worth the risk in that spot.
Cody Bellinger continued to portray the same struggles during spring that he had last season. Other than a few flashes during the playoffs last season, Bellinger has struggled.
The one thing that Bellinger does seem to have to go for him is the bump in Barrel % and Barrel/PA compared to the 2021 season. A slight bump in his average Exit Velocity is also something that may be worth holding onto at this point. Although it might look better because of the abysmal 2021 season, the numbers aren’t near the MVP-like numbers he has shown the ability to produce in the past.
Cody Bellinger finds himself playing for one of the most dynamic offenses in all of baseball. He is also benefiting from being able to learn from a future Hall of Famer in Freddie Freeman. Will he take advantage of that and finally figure it out? While it isn’t likely, at this point, we are hoping for some consistency from the young Dodger. With a Chase% near 63%, it is going to be hard for managers to depend on Bellinger for the rest of the season.
Deep Blue Sea
When you take a look at José Berríos‘ savant page, you will see a lot of blue.
Coming into 2022, we all knew Berrios was not going to be an ace but had the track record of being an above-average option for fantasy teams throughout his career. This season has been anything but that. Heading into July 26th, Berrios has an ERA, K/9, and BABIP that are all worse since his rookie season in 2016 with Minnesota.
The biggest flaw to Berrios’s performance right now is his inability to limit hard contact when he goes out and pitches. With an average Exit Velocity of 90.5 MPH, and an 11% Barrel%, he is going to continue to have trouble being a reliable option for managers looking to make a run into their fantasy playoffs.
Other than his change-up, which is his least utilized pitch, Berrios has not been able to locate any of his pitches effectively. That is, unless, he is trying to leave it in the heart of the plate in hopes of fooling hitters.
Berrios finds himself pitching in one of the, if not the, most hitter-friendly ballpark divisions in all of baseball. Pair that with the prolific offenses that he has to face consistently and it seems like a recipe for disaster.
At this point in the season, Berrios might just be a matchup play going forward. Even then, he is susceptible to blow-up games more often than not. If you are going to proceed with him, be cautious.
Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter) / Photography by Brandon Sloter & Adam Davis / Icon Sportswire