|Gutierrez has surprised with the bat
Okay, so we've taken a look at some first-half standouts and disappointments, now on to some players to watch for the second-half.
Howie Kendrick: I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that Kendrick will hit better than .231 in the second half. He did nothing but rake after being demoted to Triple-A Salt Lake on June 13, compiling a .346/.414/.526 line with two homers, six doubles and 11 RBI in 78 at-bats on the farm. While you can usually count his walks on two hands, remember that Kendrick was a .306 career hitter entering the 2009 season. It wasn't too long ago that people were touting him as a future batting champion. He's one of the better bounce-back candidates for the second half.
Jorge De La Rosa: Dan Haren has been robbed of several wins already, but De La Rosa is among the unluckiest pitchers in the sport right now. On the surface his 5-7 record, 5.14 ERA and 1.44 WHIP offers little hope for rebound, but if you take a closer look you'll see that his FIP (Fielder Independant Pitching) is a more-palatable 3.81. Only two starters (Cole Hamels and Carl Pavano) have a bigger disparity between their ERA and FIP. Remember, De La Rosa averages 9.37 K/9 -- only six pitchers are better -- while he has allowed three runs or less in four of his last six starts, highlighted by a season-best eight shutout innings against the Diamondbacks on Friday night.
Franklin Gutierrez: Watching Adam Jones make his first All-Star team as a member of the Orioles is a little less painful knowing that Gutierrez is showing signs of a breakout season of his own. When the Mariners acquired him as part the J.J. Putz trade over the winter, they knew they were getting an excellent glove-man, but he's been so much more than that. In addition to the +12.0 UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) to lead all center-fielders, Gutierrez has a solid .300/.362/.447 line with seven homers and 22 RBI since a poor .230/.299/.328 showing in April. He's even hit right-handers at a .274 clip. Maybe this guy can hit after all.
Joel Hanrahan: Hanrahan was in the midst of a nightmare season for the Nationals (7.71 ERA and 1.96 WHIP in 24 appearances) before being dealt to the Pirates as part of the Nyjer Morgan trade last week. The 27-year-old right-hander already has a shaky appearance under his belt as a Bucco (two runs on three hits and a walk on Friday night against the Marlins) but he stands to benefit if the club decides to trade Matt Capps, as rumored. Keep in mind that the hard-throwing Hanrahan is among the bullpen elite with a 9.21 K/9 in his career. He's also gotten incredibly unlucky with a 64.1% strand rate and a 4.34 gap between his ERA (7.79) and FIP (3.44) -- the largest such disparity in the majors this season.
Bud Norris: This might be a selfish choice considering I own him in my Scoresheet league, but the 2006 sixth-round pick from Cal Poly has absolutely picked apart the hitter-friendly PCL this season, leading the league in ERA (2.52) and all of Triple-A in strikeouts (92). He recently jumped Tommy Hanson, who struck out 90 in just 66 2/3 innings with Triple-A Gwinnett. The strong first half has earned the 24-year-old a start for the PCL All-Star team on July 15. Norris, who was named second-best prospect in the Astros system by Baseball America over the winter, features a plus-fastball, slider and developing change-up. He's just biding his time in the minors.