Struggling MLB stars prepare to get hot in 2nd half | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats & Rumors

0 out of 10

    AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

    The All-Star break can sometimes serve as a fresh start for players who struggled to produce up to expectations in the first half of the season.

    With post-season racing heating up, the tough first few months of the year can quickly be forgotten if a player catches fire just as post-season racing begins to heat up.

    Ahead, we’ve highlighted 10 MLB stars who haven’t performed as hoped so far this season compared to their previous streak, but are on course to turn things around in the second half based on advanced, recent performance, and historical metrics.

1 out of 10

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    Jose Berrios posted a 3.58 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 78 strikeouts in 70.1 innings over 12 starts after joining the Blue Jays on a term deal last summer, and Toronto signed him to a seven-year, $131 million extension in the offseason.

    Expected to be among the favorites for the AL Cy Young, he instead struggled to hit a 5.22 ERA in 101.2 innings in the first half. However, he finally appears to be turning a corner with a 3.09 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 23.1 innings in four starts in July.

    The big issue was homers, as he allowed an AL record 20 after giving up just 22 in 90.1 more innings last year. He’s only been taken deep three times in his last four starts after serving eight long balls in five outings in June, so things are going in the right direction.

2 out of 10

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    After 34 homers, 100 RBIs, 137-OPS+ season with the Cincinnati Reds last year, Nick Castellanos opted out of the final two years of his contract and signed a five-year, $100 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.

    Set to join Bryce Harper and fellow newcomer Kyle Schwarber as mid-range hitters, Castellanos instead hit a punchless .251/.297/.376 for 90 OPS+ with eight homers and 46 RBI.

    However, the 30-year-old has a 33-point career-higher OPS after the All-Star break, so he was always a better second-half player. Acting Rob Thomson hasn’t lost faith.

    “I didn’t really think about [moving him down in the lineup] because I think he’s going to be okay any moment,” Thomson told reporters. “And when he does, he’ll be in the right place.”

3 out of 10

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    It hinges on Joey Gallo being traded by the New York Yankees at the deadline.

    No player in recent memory has needed a change of scenery more than Gallo, who simply never found his groove in the Bronx while facing relentless scrutiny from Yankees fans.

    It’s telling that he hit much better on the road (.718 OPS, 7 HR) than at home (.533 OPS, 4 HR), and with all his recent struggles, it’s easy to forget that at this time a year ago he was an All-Star with the Texas Rangers and had a 138 OPS+ with 25 home runs and 4.2 WARS in 95 games before being traded to the Yankees at the deadline.

    The 28-year-old is playing in a one-year contract, and while he might have to settle for a one-year deal on the open market, a strong second half would go a long way to boosting his 2023 salary .

4 out of 10

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    Veteran Craig Kimbrel converted 16 of 19 save chances in his first season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he did so with a less-than-stellar 4.22 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 34 appearances.

    Should the Dodgers consider a ninth-inning upgrade at the deadline?

    Behind his mediocre ERA, Kimbrel has a 1.92 PIF and one .392 batting average on balls in play, which is a good indication that he was the victim of bad luck.

    He still knocks out hitters at an elite rate with 13.5 K/9s, and with 388 career saves, no one has a better record for nailing games among active pitchers. The Dodgers could use another bullpen arm or two, but there’s no reason to think Kimbrel can’t handle closer duties.

5 out of 10

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    Expectations reach another level when you sign a 10-year, $341 million deal, and it’s fair to say that Francisco Lindor hasn’t lived up to those expectations so far during his time with the Mets. from New York.

    The 28-year-old is hitting .248/.324/.432 for 114 OPS+ with 16 home runs and 66 RBIs in 92 games, and while that’s a solid production for most players, it’s a little short of what’s expected of a $341 million player.

    With a .275/.351/.493 line in 77 plate appearances in July, he’s starting to look more like the perennial MVP contender we saw in Cleveland, and he entered the All-Star break on a streak of 11 hit games.

6 out of 10

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    After posting a 69 OPS+ in 208 board appearances in 2021, Marcell Ozuna is still chasing the MVP-caliber form he showed in 2020 when he led the NL in home runs and RBI before signing a new $65 million deal. dollars over four years with the Atlanta Braves.

    The 31-year-old is hitting a measly .221/.278/.407 this season, and while he’s hit 17 homers, his 87 OPS+ ranks 131st among 155 skilled hitters.

    If his batted ball metrics are any indication, better days are ahead. He ranks among the MLB leaders in hard hitting rate (84th percentile) and barrel rate (89th percentile), and its 22.2% the strikeout rate is in line with his career mark.

7 out of 10

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    Aside from a memorable double-header on June 7 when he went 7-for-8 with three home runs, it was a quiet first season with the Texas Rangers for Marcus Semien after signing a seven-year, $175 million contract. during the off season.

    After finishing third in AL MVP voting a year ago, he is just 0.242/0.303/0.405 for 101 OPS+ with 16 doubles, 13 home runs and 43 RBIs in 90 games.

    However, if his July numbers are any indication, he’s in for a great second half.

    The 31-year-old is hitting .290/.364/.580 with five home runs and 11 RBIs in 77 board appearances this month, and he went 2-for-3 with a brace in his first game coming out of the All – Star break.

8 out of 10

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    The San Diego Padres used a six-man rotation for most of the season, and Blake Snell was the weak link with a 5.22 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in 50.0 innings over 10. departures.

    The 2018 AL Cy Young winner struggled in his final first-half start, allowing four hits, six walks and five earned runs in 3.2 innings against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field, but he seemed to find his rhythm in the previous two starts. .

    He had his two highest strikeout totals of the season against the Los Angeles Dodgers (5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 12 K) and the San Francisco Giants (6.0 IP, 3 H , 1 ER, 11 K) in his first two starts. in July, and looking at the bigger picture, his 3.69 BIP is a good indicator that it is due to some positive regression.

9 out of 10

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    Looking for more of a roster retooling than a full-scale rebuild, the Chicago Cubs signed Marcus Stroman to a three-year, $71 million deal that includes an opt-out option after the first two years and $50 million of the contract.

    The 31-year-old threw a 3.02 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 179.0 innings with the New York Mets last season, and he’s been a workhorse capable of producing on the front line while throughout his MLB career.

    So far he has a 4.69 ERA in 55.2 innings in a Cubs uniform, and he missed time in June with a shoulder injury.

    He returned to action July 9, and while the Cubs patiently rebuild his arm, he’s allowed just three hits and one earned run in 8.1 innings in his first two appearances since being activated. With a clean bill of health, a productive second half awaits.

10 of 10

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    Somewhat overshadowed by teammate and NL winner Cy Young Corbin Burnes last season, Brandon Woodruff was an elite starter in his own right, posting a 2.56 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 211 strikeouts in 179.1 innings to finish fifth in Cy Young’s ballot.

    The 29-year-old has been decidedly less dominant this year with a 3.93 ERA in 66.1 innings, but with a 3.04 PIF and an impressive 84 strikeouts in 66.1 innings, it’s only a matter of time before his numbers look more like his 2021 output.

    He missed most of June taking care of Raynaud’s syndrome, a circulatory condition that causes numbness in the extremities. Since returning June 28, however, he has a 2.38 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 31 strikeouts in 22.2 innings.

    All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference and accurate in Thursday’s matches.

Kimberly B. Nguyen