With the second half of the 2017 MLB season in course, it’s time to assess the best MLB second half performances of 2016. The players are organized in groups according to whether they were an All-Star, veteran, breakout performer or rookie.
Jon Lester, Starting Pitcher, Chicago Cubs
|2016 First Half Stats||18 GS||9-4 W-L||3.01 ERA||1.08 WHIP||8.8 K/9||110.2 IP|
|2016 Second Half Stats||14 GS||10-1 W-L||1.76 ERA||0.94 WHIP||8.7 K/9||92 IP|
In his 11th major league season, Lester ended the year with 19 wins and a 2.44 ERA. He finished second in the National League Cy Young vote and was a key part of the Chicago Cubs’ championship run.
In his 14 second half starts, Lester was nearly unhittable. He had a record of 10-1 with a 1.76 ERA and .189 batting average against, or BAA.
His home run to fly ball rate, or HR/FB, dropped from 16.2 percent in the first half to 6.8 percent in the second. This, along with the fact that his left on base percentage, or LOB%, rose from 83.7 percent to 86.4 percent, made him arguably the most successful pitcher in the second half of the 2016 MLB season.
Miguel Cabrera, First Baseman, Detroit Tigers
|2016 First Half Stats||86 GS||18 HR||53 RBI||49 R||.293/.370/.507 BA/OBP/SLG|
|2016 Second Half Stats||70 GS||20 HR||55 RBI||43 R||.346/.423/.653 BA/OBP/SLG|
The future first ballot Hall of Famer had an incredible second half. Cabrera batted .346 with 20 home runs, 55 RBIs and 43 runs scored in 70 games.
The largest analytical differences between Cabrera’s first and second halves included his batting average on balls in play, or BABIP, rose from .314 to .366, as well as his weighted on-base average, or wOBA, rose from .368 to .438.
The 33-year-old’s second half of 2016 is a prime example of why he is one of the greatest hitters of this generation.
Justin Verlander, Starting Pitcher, Detroit Tigers
|2016 First Half Stats||18 GS||8-6 W-L||4.07 ERA||1.13 WHIP||9.2 K/9||117.1 IP|
|2016 Second Half Stats||16 GS||8-3 W-L||1.96 ERA||0.86 WHIP||10.9 K/9||110.1 IP|
Verlander managed to finish 2016 as the American League Cy Young runner-up even after failing to make the AL All-Star team. How is this possible you ask? Well, it may have something to do with his poor 4.07 ERA in the first half.
His astonishing second half resulted in a 1.96 ERA, .180 BAA and 134 strikeouts in 110.1 innings. The 33-year-old’s success could be attributed to his ability to limit walks and strand runners on base. His strikeout to walk ratio, or K/BB, was an incredible 5.58, while his LOB% was an astronomical 90.6 percent.
Many people argue that Verlander was snubbed of the 2016 AL Cy Young award, and for good reason, as his mind-blowing second half lead to a 16-9 record, 3.04 ERA, .204 BAA and a league leading 1.00 WHIP and 254 strikeouts.
Joey Votto, First Baseman, Cincinnati Reds
|2016 First Half Stats||84 GS||14 HR||42 RBI||48 R||.252/.386/.446 BA/OBP/SLG|
|2016 Second Half Stats||71 GS||15 HR||55 RBI||53 R||.408/.490/.668 BA/OBP/SLG|
Votto managed to continue the lore of being one of the greatest second half hitters of all time, as he slashes .327/.440/.569 on his career after the All-Star break.
His 2016 campaign resulted in a .326 average, 29 home runs and 97 RBIs. In the second half alone, Votto managed to bat .408 with 15 home runs and 55 RBIs in 72 games. The major changes in his analytics included his strikeout rate, which decreased from 24.2 percent to 10.2 percent, his BABIP, which rose from .308 to .418 and his wOBA, which rose from .357 to .478.
Votto’s 2016 second half will go down as one of the most dominant in baseball history.
Yadier Molina, Catcher, St. Louis Cardinals
|2016 First Half Stats||78 GS||2 HR||28 RBI||30 R||.259/.329/.341 BA/OBP/SLG|
|2016 Second Half Stats||65 GS||6 HR||30 RBI||26 R||.365/.398/.529 BA/OBP/SLG|
One of the greatest catchers of his era, Molina has been a National League MVP candidate on five separate occasions, while also winning eight Gold Gloves and one Silver Slugger award. His 2016 second half helped him re-enter the MVP conversation for the first time since 2013, where he finished third in the NL MVP vote.
His first half in 2016 was quite abysmal, as the 33-year-old batted only .259, which was well below his career batting average of .284. Although in the second half, Molina batted a phenomenal .365.
The major analytical difference between Molina first and second half was his BABIP, as it rose from .291 in the first half to .388 in the second.
Molina has always been a more productive player after the break, but he had never taken his production to levels like this.
Kyle Hendricks, Starting Pitcher, Chicago Cubs
|2016 First Half Stats||16 GS||7-6 W-L||2.55 ERA||1.03 WHIP||7.8 K/9||98.2 IP|
|2016 Second Half Stats||14 GS||9-2 W-L||1.68 ERA||0.92 WHIP||8.3 K/9||91.1 IP|
Hendricks finished third in the NL Cy Young vote and 23rd in the NL MVP vote in 2016. The 26-year-old led the league in ERA and ERA+, which exemplifies his utter dominance over the entirety of the season. Although he was great all year, his overall success was majorly due to his impeccable second half.
Hendricks managed to finish the second half with a 9-2 record, 1.68 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. One major analytical difference between halves was his ability to strand runners on base, as his LOB% rose from 74.1 percent in the first half to 90.7 percent in the second.
The interesting thing with the rest of Hendricks’ splits include that his BABIP and hard contact rates both rose from the first half to the second, which would suggest he got luckier in the first half, even though he was more successful in the second.
D.J. LeMahieu, Second Baseman, Colorado Rockies
|2016 First Half Stats||78 GS||5 HR||32 RBI||53 R||7 SB||.334/.398/.490 BA/OBP/SLG|
|2016 Second Half Stats||66 GS||6 HR||34 RBI||53 R||4 SB||.363/.437/.500 BA/OBP/SLG|
After being snubbed in the NL All-Star vote, LeMahieu had an exorbitant second half that landed him 15th in the NL MVP vote.
His BABIP rose from .379 in the first half to an even better .397 in the second, which kept his batting average well above .300. LeMahieu finished the year with a league leading .348 batting average, although it was his .363 batting average in the second half that blew fans away.
The 27-year-old had almost identical contact rates from one half to the other, although the direction of the contact had changed drastically. His pull percentage decreased from 24 percent to 19 percent, while his opposite field percentage rose from 35 percent to 41 percent. LeMahieu was able to spray the ball across the diamond while sustaining contact rates, which makes his 2016 second half even more impressive.
Trea Turner, Second Baseman/Outfielder, Washington Nationals
|2016 First Half Stats||3 GS||0 HR||0 RBI||0 R||0 SB||.429/.500/.571 BA/OBP/SLG|
|2016 Second Half Stats||67 GS||13 HR||40 RBI||53 R||33 SB||.340/.367/.567 BA/OBP/SLG|
The 13th overall pick in 2014 exploded onto the scene in the second half of last season. Turner batted .340 with 13 home runs, 53 runs, 40 RBIs and 33 stolen bases in 67 starts, which resulted in a runner-up finish for the NL Rookie of the Year (Corey Seager).
His second-half success can be attributed to his .387 BABIP, which positively impacted Turner as 44 percent of his batted balls went for ground balls. His contact rates were also great, as he made over 80 percent medium and hard contact on all balls batted in play.
Turner showed glimpses of what could be an elite fantasy asset, as he displayed contact, power, production, speed and consistency atop the Washington Nationals’ star-studded lineup.
Jose Peraza, Shortstop/Second Baseman/Outfielder, Cincinnati Reds
|2016 First Half Stats||15 GS||0 HR||4 RBI||6 R||9 SB||.246/.278/.246 BA/OBP/SLG|
|2016 Second Half Stats||41 GS||3 HR||21 RBI||19 R||12 SB||.355/.380/.477 BA/OBP/SLG|
Peraza was called up in May of 2016 for his first extended stint in the majors, as he made his major league debut for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015.
After struggling in his first 15 games last season, he finished the year with a .324 batting average, 25 runs scored, 25 RBIs and 21 stolen bases in 56 starts.
The 22-year-old put together an amazing second half, where he batted .355 with 19 runs scored, 21 RBI and 12 stolen bases in 41 starts.
Peraza’s second-half success can be attributed to multiple things, including his .389 BABIP, his ability to make 83 percent medium or hard contact and his ability to spray the ball over 29 percent of the time to each field.
His ability to make solid contact and spray to all fields helped propel him to having one of MLB’s best second halves in 2016.
Featured image by ESPN.com
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