BATTERS: Second half surgers, 2019

Identifying production and batting eye changes from one half to the next can help you allocate your speculative dollars most efficiently.

Let's take a look at the hitters from 2019 who showed the greatest growth in either their OPS or batting eye (BB/K) ratio from before and after the All-Star Break.

The following bats experienced a substantial spike in their OPS between the 1H and 2H of 2019:

  • OPS, 2019 Post-ASB vs. Pre-ASB*
    
    Name                League  Position     OPS 1H  OPS 2H  Diff
    ==================  ======  ===========  ======  ======  =====
    Ramirez, Jose           AL           3B    .652   1.105  +.453
    Romine, Austin          AL            C    .560    .914  +.354
    Hernandez, Teoscar      AL           CF    .628    .939  +.311
    Laureano, Ramon         AL           CF    .782   1.090  +.308
    Hampson, Garrett        NL        2B/CF    .524    .809  +.285
    Castro, Starlin         NL        2B/3B    .608    .892  +.284
    Soler, Jorge            AL        DH/RF    .805   1.076  +.271     
    Suarez, Eugenio         NL           3B    .810   1.081  +.271
    Pollock, A.J.           NL           CF    .617    .885  +.268
    Mejia, Francisco        NL            C    .599    .866  +.267
    Tauchman, Mike          AL           LF    .721    .977  +.256
    Lagares, Juan           FA           CF    .494    .743  +.249
    Flores, Wilmer          FA        2B/1B    .725    .964  +.239
    Cano, Robinson          NL           2B    .646    .880  +.234
    Cruz, Nelson            AL           DH    .921   1.147  +.226
    Gomes, Yan              NL            C    .606    .828  +.222
    Semien, Marcus          AL           SS    .797   1.018  +.221
    Schwarber, Kyle         NL           LF    .777    .997  +.220
    Encarnacion, Edwin      AL        1B/DH    .817   1.035  +.218
    Altuve, Jose            AL           2B    .781    .995  +.214
    Hiura, Keston           NL           2B    .793   1.006  +.213
    Barnhart, Tucker        NL            C    .605    .815  +.210
    Gurriel, Yulieski       AL        1B/3B    .796   1.005  +.209
    Bregman, Alex           AL        3B/SS    .927   1.134  +.207
    Martin, Richie          AL           SS    .507    .713  +.206
    Seager, Kyle            AL           3B    .659    .863  +.204
    *min 100 PA each half

These players posted a big spike in their batting eye ratios from the 1H to 2H:

  • Eye Ratio (BB/K), 2019 Post-ASB vs. Pre-ASB*
    
    Name                League  Position     Eye 1H  Eye 2H  Diff
    ==================  ======  ===========  ======  ======  =====
    Profar, Jurickson       NL           2B    0.39    1.17  +0.78
    Suzuki, Kurt            NL            C    0.32    1.09  +0.77
    Diaz, Aledmys           AL        1B/2B    0.54    1.27  +0.73
    Simmons, Andrelton      AL           SS    0.38    1.00  +0.62
    Rendon, Anthony         NL           3B    0.67    1.27  +0.60
    Beaty, Matt             NL        1B/LF    0.20    0.78  +0.58
    Winker, Jesse           NL           LF    0.52    1.00  +0.48
    Dozier, Brian           FA           2B    0.45    0.90  +0.45
    Soler, Jorge            AL        DH/RF    0.26    0.64  +0.38
    Marte, Ketel            NL        CF/2B    0.48    0.84  +0.36
    Garcia, Greg            NL           2B    0.49    0.83  +0.34
    Cabrera, Asdrubal       NL        3B/2B    0.46    0.79  +0.33
    Molina, Yadier          NL            C    0.26    0.58  +0.32
    Bregman, Alex           AL        3B/SS    1.31    1.63  +0.32
    Ahmed, Nick             NL           SS    0.34    0.65  +0.31
    Walker, Christian       NL           1B    0.32    0.61  +0.29
    Bell, Josh              NL           1B    0.53    0.82  +0.29
    Donaldson, Josh         NL           3B    0.53    0.81  +0.28
    Bote, David             NL        3B/2B    0.39    0.67  +0.28
    Murphy, Tom             AL            C    0.09    0.36  +0.27
    Hedges, Austin          NL            C    0.15    0.42  +0.27
    Soto, Juan              NL           LF    0.70    0.97  +0.27
    Cuthbert, Cheslor       AL        1B/3B    0.15    0.41  +0.26
    Margot, Manuel          NL           CF    0.31    0.56  +0.25
    *min 100 PA each half

Let's take a closer look at a bunch of interesting 2019 second half production and patience surgers.
 

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Ji-Man Choi (1B, TAM) isn't even being drafted as a corner infielder in many leagues (479 ADP). He started the 2019 season slowly, posting a .266 BA, 9 HR, 33 RBI, and .774 OPS before the All-Star Break. While his post-ASB batting average wasn't any better (.254 BA), his production blossomed (.889 OPS). Most of his plate skills were strong too (17% bb%, 0.67 Eye). And his power in the second half was backed by an elite 168 xPX. There's 30-HR potential here if he can carve out a regular role.

Teoscar Hernandez (CF, TOR) also improved significantly after the All-Star Break in 2019. He produced 18 HR in 201 AB during that period, power that was supported by a 168 xPX and solid 59 BPV in the 2H. Just know that inconsistency will be cemented into his profile until he can start making contact at a higher rate (59% ct% in 2H).

Ramon Laureano (CF, OAK) improved both his production and batting eye as the 2019 season went along. His plate skills were subpar pre-ASB (5% bb%, 70% ct%, 0.19 Eye), and his production was more so-so than impactful (.782 OPS). That said, his plate control went from poor to passable post-ASB (8% bb%, 75% ct%, 0.33 Eye). In addition, his production turned elite (1.090 OPS). With another FB% uptick, this is a worthy 30-HR speculation.

Jose Ramirez (3B, CLE) started the 2019 season very slowly, posting a .218 BA, 7 HR, 35 RBI, and .652 OPS before the All-Star Break. He found his power stroke in the second half though (.327 BA, 16 HR, 48 RBI, 1.105 OPS). While he opened up his swing a bit to reach those levels, his plate skills still were pretty strong (6% bb%, 85% ct%, 0.44 Eye). He remains a solid upper-tier bat.

Jorge Soler (DH/RF, KC) enjoyed a breakout season in 2019, and it wasn't driven by early stats. Soler became one of the top bats in the AL during the second half (.299 BA, 25 HR, 58 RBI, 1.076 OPS). In addition, his plate metrics were very solid (15% bb%, 72% ct%, 0.64 Eye). Those marks were much better than what he showed pre-ASB (8% bb%, 68% ct%, 0.26 Eye).
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Wilmer Flores (2B/1B, FA) was pretty lifeless in the first half of 2019 (2 HR, 14 RBI in 128 AB). He became one of the NL's better bats in the second half (.350 BA, 7 HR, 23 RBI, .964 OPS in 137 AB). In addition, he did so while maintaining a high-contact approach (88% ct%). You should be able to get him for nothing in most drafts (588 ADP), making him a worthy speculation yet again.

Keston Hiura (2B, MIL) already is one of the most promising bats in the NL. He was excellent post-ASB in 2019 (.324 BA, 12 HR, 37 RBI, 1.006 OPS). While his plate discipline was a bit of a mixed bag (9% bb%, 66% ct%, 0.28 Eye in 2H), those skills were better than he showed in the first half (5% bb%, 65% ct%, 0.14 Eye). His full-season power skills (165 PX) were backed by a strong 140 xPX. Hiura has plenty of breakout potential heading into 2020.

Manuel Margot (CF, SD) didn't produce much in the second half of 2019 (.225 BA, .712 OPS in 204 AB). However, his plate skills went from decent (7% bb%, 77% ct%, 0.31 Eye in 1H) to very good (11% bb%, 79% ct%, 0.56 Eye in 2H). In fact, both his production and plate skills looked impactful against lefties (.886 OPS, 0.67 Eye vL). Don't assume he has reached his peak yet.

Francisco Mejia (C, SD) quietly turned his upside into results after the All-Star Break in 2019. He had a .305 BA, 6 HR, 16 RBI, and .866 OPS during that period, marks that were paired with a decent approach at home plate (6% bb%, 77% ct%, 0.30 Eye). All of those marks are much better than those we saw from him in the first half (.211 BA, 2 HR, 6 RBI, .599 OPS, 4% bb%, 73% ct%, 0.15 Eye in 1H).

Jurickson Profar (2B, SD) had a very rough follow up to his mini-breakout in 2018. His 2019 stats (.218 BA, .711 OPS in 459 AB) were hampered by a bad 22% h%, so we can't assume they represent his new baseline. Furthermore, his plate skills turned elite in the second half (14% bb%, 86% ct%, 1.17 Eye). And his xBA has been .277 or higher in each of the past two seasons, giving further support for his rebound potential in 2020.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.