We’re roughly 90 games into the 2016 MLB season, but we still have a ways to go. That means there’s plenty of time for underperforming players to turn things around.
Below is a list of players who have failed to meet expectations so far this year, but could easily explode for a huge, bounce-back second-half.
Giancarlo Stanton, RF, Miami Marlins
Until late June/early July, Giancarlo Stanton was far from himself. Then, he hit homers in four-straight at-bats and really started to heat up before the All-Star break. In the second half, we should see Stanton figure things out and finally go back to being the guy the Marlins paid $325 million to be. Of course, we’ll have to see whether the 2016 Home Run Derby champ’s swing will be affected by the competition.
Sonny Gray, SP, Oakland Athletics
Sonny Gray placed third in 2015 AL Cy Young voting, but he has struggled mightily thus far in 2016. It’ll be interesting to see if the A’s dangle him at the trade deadline, especially since his value has undoubtedly decreased since this time last season. Regardless, I can’t see him being in Oakland much longer.
Prince Fielder, DH, Texas Rangers
Prince Fielder was the AL Comeback Player Of the Year last season, but he has failed to match the impressive campaign in 2016. The Rangers still have managed to hold a first-place spot in the AL West, but it’d sure be a major boost if Fielder could go back to being his productive self at the plate.
Chris Archer, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays have been an all-around mess this season, and Chris Archer’s struggles are just one of many reasons why. Archer, who placed fifth in AL Cy Young voting last year, has been terrible to say the least. His strikeout numbers are still high, but that’s been pretty much the only bright spot for the 27-year-old.
Justin Upton, LF, Detroit Tigers
Justin Upton wasn’t “great” last year in San Diego, per se, but the Tigers didn’t pay him $132.75 million this past offseason to play the way he has thus far. Upton was supposed to provide a boost to the middle of the Tigers’ lineup, but he’s done just the opposite. His offensive numbers have been less than impressive and he’s struck out 112 times already (tied for fourth in MLB). If the Tigers are to make a run in the second half, they need Upton to heat up big-time.
Dallas Keuchel, SP, Houston Astros
2015 was a magical season for AL Cy Young award winner Dallas Keuchel. 2016 has been a nightmare. His ERA is nearly double what he finished with last year and his K/BB ratio has come back to earth. The Astros struggled out of the gate but played well heading into the break, but it’s imperative for Keuchel to show some signs of his Cy Young self in the second half if Houston is to catch Texas in the division standings.
Jason Heyward, RF, Chicago Cubs
The Cubs’ $184 million offseason signing hasn’t earned his contract thus far in 2016. Heyward’s offensive numbers are way down as something’s been seriously off with his swing. His defense, per usual, has been spectacular, but Chicago didn’t throw that kind of money at him just for a nice glove. Heyward’s a much better hitter than what he’s shown this season, and the Cubs would love to see him produce and pile on to an already-scary lineup.
David Price, SP, Boston Red Sox
David Price has been kind of an enigma thus far in 2016. The Red Sox obviously signed the lefty to be their much-needed ace, but he’s failed to live up to those lofty expectations. He actually hasn’t been as terrible as his ERA would lead you to believe. Both his WHIP and K/BB ratio are among the best in the league. Though, an alarming statistic is the number of homers Price has let up (16). To put that in perspective, he let up 17 in ALL of 2015. The perfect word to describe Price this year is “inconsistent,” and Boston needs him to start stringing together quality starts if they’re to stay in contention.
Bryce Harper, RF, Washington Nationals
Bryce Harper was red hot to start off the season, but once May came around he cooled off big time. If the MLB All-Star Game weren’t primarily a popularity contest, the 2015 NL MVP probably wouldn’t have even made the team. Still, it’d be beyond silly to bet against Harper in the second half. He’ll be just fine.
Francisco Liriano, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what’s wrong with Francisco Liriano in 2016. His command has been way off, and when he’s actually throwing strikes he’s getting racked. A bounce-back second half would be huge for the Pirates, who sit 7.5 games behind the Cubs in the NL Central and should be getting their ace Gerrit Cole back soon.
Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros
It’s not that Carlos Correa has been bad, it’s just that expectations were sky high for the 2015 AL Rookie Of the Year before the season started. I thought for sure the Astros phenom would make his mark as the best shortstop in the game, but he’s not there yet. Still, when I say a guy with 14 homers and .812 OPS in the first half has underperformed, it speaks to the amount of star potential he has.
Andrew McCutchen, CF, Pittsburgh Pirates
I knew Andrew McCutchen getting a haircut in the offseason was a bad idea. McCutchen went from being arguably the best player in the game to being the third-best Pirates outfielder behind Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte. You have to believe a talent like him will turn it around sooner rather than later, but he’s been a major disappointment. I wouldn’t be shocked if his name gets brought up in trade talks at the end of July.
Am I missing anyone? Comment below or tweet me at @_JustinLeger.