So far, I'm having an excellent fantasy season this year. At the All-Star Break, I sit no lower than fourth place in all three leagues I'm playing in. But to make a run at some titles, certain things will need to happen. So here's a short list of things I'm hoping to see occur in the second half ...
1. Justin Morneau rediscovers his home-run swing. At this point, I can't complain too much about Morneau being the one player I drafted in all three of my leagues. The production numbers are there; he's driven in 68 and scored 55 runs. It's the 14 home runs that are somewhat disappointing. Last year, he had 24 at the break (yet only seven after). In '06, he had 23 at the break (only 11 after). It's easy to see that he's traditionally a first-half power hitter. But I need that trend to magically reverse itself this year. Maybe winning the Home Run Derby will have a kind of anti-Abreu effect on him.
2. Geovany Soto keeps on keeping on. He was rakin' before the break in July, so I'm now convinced that his downturn in June was totally a result of that swollen finger. I love that I bypassed the V-Marts and Martins and Mauers of the world in favor of this rook in two different leagues.
3. Brian Fuentes gets traded and the Rockies immediately name Taylor Buchholz the full-time closer. My money league is a weekly-lineup league where we have to start two RPs. Right now, I'm carrying these four guys just to make sure I have two full-time closers to start for the rest of the year -- Nathan, Fuentes, Buchholz and Marte. And yet, unbelievably, I still could end up screwed if the Pirates trade Marte, the Rockies trade Fuentes and Buchholz ends up sharing the closer's role with Corpas.
4. Brad Hawpe continues his turnaround. I have him in two leagues: a daily-lineup league, where I sometimes sit him against lefties, and a weekly-lineup league, where I'm starting him all the time. (In the latter, I traded him in early May, only to pick up back up off waivers at the end of the month when the other guy cut him.) Check out Hawpe's slugging and OPS numbers for this year: April -- .352/.743; May -- .364/.635; June -- .697/1.113; July -- .419/.777. Yeah, he regressed somewhat this month, and he traditionally plays better in the first half. Still I'm hoping to get at least one more month out of him where his numbers look like they did in June.
5. Shaun Marcum is just as good as he was pre-injury. My hopes are slim with this one, as even if Marcum didn't spend time on the DL with elbow strain, it was unlikely that he could duplicate the 2.65 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 7.84 K/9 he posted in the first half. But it sure would help two of my pitching staffs if it somehow happened.
6. The clock doesn't strike midnight for Carlos Quentin, Jorge Cantu, Justin Duchscherer and Xavier Nady. Were they overperforming in the first half or just hitting their stride as major-league ballplayers? I'm praying for the latter.
So those are my hopes for the second half of 2008. What are some of yours?