Everyone remembers the players who helped lead you to a fantasy title. Especially the ones who get hot down the stretch and seem to carry your whole squad. Today we are looking at the flip side of that coin. The players we try to forget right after they tanked our season. These MLB pitchers teased fantasy owners with elite production in the first half of the season only to turn into major disappointments in the second half. What does this second-half slide mean for 2024 fantasy baseball? Read on…
3 MLB Pitchers Who Disappointed in the Second Half
Hunter Brown, RHP, Houston Astros
After a brief cameo in 2022, Brown started 2023 on a high note and seemed poised to be the next great arm out of the Astros pitching lab. He had 111 strikeouts in the first half and held opponents to a .258/.327/.387 slash line with an 83 OPS+. That turned out to be just a tease as he settled into being a major disappointment in the second half of the year.
In 14 second-half starts, he only struck out 67 batters while they teed off on him to the tune of an .899 OPS and 125 OPS+. He gave up 17 home runs after only allowing nine in the first half. His 4.12 ERA in the first half was respectable but sputtered down the stretch with a 6.57 ERA.
The issue was the type of contact Brown gave up. He was only in the 8th percentile in Avg Exit Velocity and in the 9th percentile in Barrel %. Once MLB hitters sized him up, he gave up way too many hard-hit balls. There are obvious signs for a 2024 breakout but there will also have to be a wait-and-see period to see if he’s made the necessary improvements.
Jon Gray, RHP, Texas Rangers
The Rangers spent big money on Gray before the 2022 season hoping that getting him out of Colorado would do wonders for him. In the first half of 2023, it seemed like that bet paid off. He had one of the best stretches of his career in the first half, holding opposing hitters to a .230/.302/.363 line. Little did we know that disappointment was right around the corner.
In 13 starts across the second half, he gave up 11 home runs with a .291/.356/.450 slash line. Opponents had a 122 OPS+. He went from a player you couldn’t wait to start in the first half, to a player you hoped your opponent was starting. One of the main problems is his fastball. It was only in the fifth percentile in spin rate, which means that even though the velocity looked good, to the hitter it comes in straight. That means the hitter can just sit on it and tee off. According to Statcast, Globe Life Field is the 6th most hitter-friendly park in the league so that is something you will always have to take into account when looking at Gray and the rest of the Rangers staff.
Zac Gallen, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Gallen pitched like an ace in the first half on the way to his first All-Star appearance. If there was any disappointment it was for the people in your league who passed on him. Unfortunately, Gallen couldn’t keep up his Cy Young caliber pace and we saw him scuffle in the second half.
The biggest disappointments for Gallen were his strikeout and walk statistics. In the first half, he had a 5.43 Strikeout/Walk ratio and in the second half it was only 3.96. Gallen’s 125 first-half strikeout number was elite but fell off a bit with only 95 in the second half. While won-lost record isn’t the best indicator of success for starting pitchers it is important for fantasy purposes. In the first half, he was 11-3 with a 3.04 ERA while in the second half, he was 6-6 with 4.03 ERA.
Gallen still has elite talent and all of his other metrics look good. While he may have disappointed down the stretch this season, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he takes the leap this upcoming season and can carry his dominance throughout the year this time.
The ability to adapt may be the most important skill in fantasy baseball. It is vital to be able to know when to pull the plug on a disappointing player. It gets hard when it’s a player who helped carry you for half a season but being able it identify key statistics that prove the rough patch is a little more serious than it might seem at first. Keep these second-half MLB disappointments in mind when fantasy baseball draft season rolls around.