With the All Star break over and the second half of the 2013 fantasy baseball season underway, it’s time to look at a few key players who can help make or break you in the second half.
At this point, a player’s first half has helped get your team where it is today, but it doesn’t matter much for the rest of the season. First half stars can become duds while guys who did little to nothing in the first few months of the season can help carry your team to a championship. One of those players is…
New York Mets OF Marlon Byrd
Byrd has been a curious case for much of his 12-year career in the bigs. He was once a promising young hitter with little power who hit .307 and .298 in back-to-back years for the Texas Rangers in 2007 and 2008. After hitting just 20 combined homers those two seasons, he managed a power surge in 2009 with 20 home runs and 89 RBI while still maintaining a respectable .283 average. The next year he managed just 12 home runs in 152 games for the Chicago Cubs and he has hit just 11 combined in the past two seasons.
This year the Mets took a flyer on the now 35-year-old Byrd and have been rewarded with 15 home runs (his most in a season since 2009), 51 RBI and a .271 average and .818 OPS at the break. After hitting another home run in the first game back from the break he has at least one hit in all but two of 15 June games with four home runs and 14 RBI.
Byrd is getting under the ball more this season with a fly ball rate at 38.4 percent; up from 24.8 last year and six percentage points above his career average. His ground ball percentage is also down six points from his career rate and ground ball-fly ball ratio down to 1.08 – his best since his 2009 season — from a career 1.48. Byrd is swinging more and it’s paying off. His swing percentage of 57.1 would be the highest of his career by a solid margin, but he is also mostly swinging at more strikes. Patience is usually a virtue, but instead watching good pitched go by, Byrd is swinging, connecting and sending them a long way.
There’s no reason to believe Byrd’s power surge won’t continue and there’s a good chance he is also traded to a better lineup by the deadline, which should give him a better opportunity to score and drive in runs. Still available in 30 percent of ESPN leagues, grab him while you can. If you own him, don’t rush to try to sell high as Byrd should continue helping your squad.