FANALYTICS: At the 2013 halfway point

It's been a really strange season, right? But don't we say that every year? The Pirates have the best record in baseball. Defending AL Cy Young Award winner David Price had an ERA over 5.00 prior to this week's return from the DL. Chris Davis is on pace to break Roger Maris' home run record.

It's the same old story every year.

Truth be told, nothing we are seeing right now is real. The only thing that is real—the only thing that will go into the official record—is what the world looks like on September 30. So, if the Pirates have a second half like the last two years, nobody will remember where they are now. If Price has a vintage second half, nobody will remember the six weeks MIA. And if Davis turns into a pumpkin, well... it was a great run. And still a career year.

How fickle are baseball stats? Just two months ago I asked a seemingly valid question: "Who would you rank first now, Mike Trout or Justin Upton?" It was a legitimate decision I had to make when I was drafting a May league.

Let's take a look at the current in-process reality...

Xtreme Regression Drafting

Let's take a look at the top of our XRD lists, from February 15:

2013  2012  Gain 
====  ====  ==== 
 35   297    262	 Allen Craig
 24   280    256	 Edwin Encarnacion	
 89   -NR-   211	 Ian Desmond	
 92   -NR-   208	 Fernando Rodney	
 98   -NR-   202	 Chris Davis	
 45   243    198	 Chase Headley	
117   -NR-   183	 Adam LaRoche	
 87   269    182	 Chris Sale	
 77   258    181	 Aaron Hill	
121   -NR-   179	 Tom Wilhelmsen

Craig, Encarnacion and Davis are having banner years. Desmond is a few dollars off last year, though nobody is complaining too much about his output. Rodney, Headley, LaRoche, Sale, Hill and Wilhelmsen have all dropped off, though Hill was due to injury. Still, not a terrible hit rate.

2013  2012  Loss 
====  ====  ==== 
298     85   -213	 Ricky Romero	
266     81   -185	 Kevin Youkilis
263     82   -181	 Drew Stubbs	
255     88   -167	 Josh Beckett	
246     80   -166	 Drew Storen	
265    108   -157	 Alex Avila	
224     68   -156	 Michael Young	
276    122   -154	 Chris Young	
176     24   -152	 Tim Lincecum	
244     96   -148	 Tommy Hanson	

The rebounders are always a tougher group because they need both health and opportunity in addition to regression. Virtually nobody on this list has come through, at least not at the mid-point. Stubbs and Lincecum are up a few bucks but not enough to make a difference.

But more important is remembering that all the great performances thus far are likely to tail off significantly in the second half. Here is one intriguing data cut... all the pitchers who had double-digit wins at the half-way point the past four years...

2012          1st half      2nd half
============ ===========  ===========
Bumgarner,M  10-4, 2.85    6-7, 3.96 
Darvish,Y    10-4, 3.57    6-5, 4.23
Dickey,R.A.  12-1, 2.15    8-5, 3.28
Gonzalez,G   10-3, 2.78   11-5, 2.98
Hamels,C     10-4, 3.08    7-2, 3.02
Harrison,M   11-3, 3.16    7-8, 3.42
Lynn,L       10-4, 3.62    8-3, 3.99
Price,D      11-4, 2.92    9-1, 2.20

2011          1st half      2nd half
============ ===========  ===========
Correia,K    10-6, 3.79    2-5, 7.09  
Halladay,R   10-3, 2.40    9-3, 2.29 
Jurrjens,J   10-3, 2.07    3-3, 4.47
Lester,J     10-4, 3.43    5-5, 3.54
Sabathia,CC  11-4, 3.05    8-4, 2.93
Verlander,J  11-3, 2.32   13-2, 2.50

2010          1st half      2nd half
============ ===========  ===========
Buchholz,C   10-4, 2.45    7-3, 2.20
Hughes,P     10-2, 3.83    8-6, 4.59
Jimenez,U    14-1, 2.27    5-7, 3.59
Lester,J     10-3, 2.76    9-6, 3.83
Pelfrey,M    10-2, 2.93    5-7, 4.42
Pettitte,A   10-2, 2.82    1-1, 5.32
Price,D      11-4, 2.42    8-2, 3.03
Sabathia,CC  10-3, 3.33   11-4, 3.04
Verlander,J  10-5, 3.85    8-4, 2.91
Wainwright,A 12-5, 2.24    8-6, 2.65 

2009          1st half      2nd half
============ ===========  ===========
Greinke,Z    10-3, 1.95    6-5, 2.36
Halladay,R   10-2, 2.56    7-8, 2.98
Marquis,J    10-5, 3.88    5-8, 4.21
Slowey,K     10-3, 4.44    0-0, 15.42
Wakefield,T  10-3, 4.20    1-2, 5.58

Both W/L records and ERAs of about 80% these 29 pitchers tailed off in the second half. Those who were able to maintain represented the absolute uppermost echelon of the Elite. That does not bode well for the eight pitchers who have 10+ wins so far this year. Trade them now while their value is at their highest...

The Anti-Market First Round

Back on Februray 22, I constructed a list of the top 15 players for 2013 based on a history of how first rounds have come together over the past nine years. These types of rankings tend to run in opposition to the marketplace. Let's take a look at how that is doing...

===============  ===============  ===============
Miguel Cabrera   Miguel Cabrera   Miguel Cabrera 	
Robinson Cano    Robinson Cano    Robinson Cano 	
Ryan Braun       Ryan Braun 		
Andrew McCutchen Andrew McCutchen 		
Justin Upton     Justin Upton 		
G. Stanton       G. Stanton 		
Prince Fielder   Prince Fielder		
Mike Trout                        Mike Trout	
Carlos Gonzalez                   Carlos Gonzalez	
                 Clayton Kershaw  Clayton Kershaw 	
                 Adam Jones       Adam Jones 	
Matt Kemp        David Price      Chris Davis
Albert Pujols    Billy Butler     Paul Goldschmidt	
Jose Bautista    Cole Hamels      Jean Segura	
Joey Votto       Brett Lawrie     Matt Harvey	
Buster Posey     Dexter Fowler    Jason Kipnis	
Bryce Harper     Alex Gordon      Adam Wainwright	
                                  Jacoby Ellsbury	
                                  Edwin Encarnacion	
                                  Jordan Zimmermann

So far, the ADPs and I both matched and nailed only two of the current top 15 players. We struck out in tandem on five more. The ADPs were correct in sticking with Trout and CarGo; I was correct in tabbing Kershaw and Jones. Major goose-eggs on the remaining nine actual first-rounders.

Seventh Annual Longshot Caucus

As is typical, we don't expect huge hit rates on these out-on-a-limb projections. But there were a few intriguing speculations this year that bear mentioning at the break...

Everth Cabrera will steal 100 bases... From August 21 on last year (in 130 AB), he stole 23 bases, which would put him on pace to reach triple digits. He has a history of much better OBPs—.342 in his rookie year and consistent .380s-plus in the minors—and has little competition for the shortstop job. Along with last year's 92% SB success rate, he could well continue to run whenever he has the chance.

This certainly started looking like it might come to pass before he got hurt. Start with an amazing .378 OBP that began to mirror his minor league level. Add in a near-40% green light. Then consider that his 82% success rate might have room for improvement. We worry about the impact of hamstring injuries, but boy has this been fun to watch.

Giancarlo Stanton will hit .240 with 15 HRs and 65 RBI... With teams pitching around Miami's one big bat, Stanton gets more and more impatient and expands his strike zone. His contact rate plunges to 60% and he winds up struggling all season.

Stanton's April numbers—3 HR, 9 RBI, .227—put him on a pretty close pace to this down speculation. He's done better since he's come off the DL but there's still half a season left.

Jesus Montero will spends all of August in the minor leagues... The Mariners become the second organization to conclude that Montero can't catch. Mike Zunino appears ready for the majors by mid-season. Kendrys Morales and Raul Ibanez are consuming the DH at bats. So Montero is sent to the minors to learn first base (and five weeks in the minors should delay his free agency by one year).

The timing may be a few weeks off, but this one looks dead on.

Mike Trout will hit 21 HR and steal 30 bases... in the first half. He will then slam into the outfield wall during the All Star Game and miss the second half of the season with post-concussion symptoms. The "Trout's value is plummeting?" thread on the BaseballHQ subscriber forum will become the longest in BHQ history with both sides of the debate claiming victory.

Finally -- a projection that Trout falls short of.

So far.


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