With the 2019 MLB All-Star Game quickly approaching, many struggling players around the league will be looking forward to turning a new leaf in the second half of the season. The Yankees don’t have many players who scuffled through the first half, but that doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from a few standout second-half performances as they look to keep their foot on the gas and win the division for the first time since 2012. Here are a few players who tend to turn it on in the second half.
If history can repeat itself, the Yankees might have acquired Encarnacion at the perfect time. Not only is he a great option for Aaron Boone with Luke Voit currently sidelined, but Encarnacion also has a history of hitting his stride later in the season. His career slash line is .255/.344/.488 in the first half and .272/.363/.509 in the second half, displaying a significant increase in production down the stretch. His advanced age hasn’t changed that trend either. Just last season, the slugger increased his OPS from .777 to .866 after the All-Star break. Encarnacion has improved his OPS in the second half of each of the past four seasons, but with an .853 OPS already this season, any improvement would be icing on the cake for the Yankees.
Despite a few standout outings, Paxton hasn’t necessarily been the number one or two starter the Yankees were hoping to get from Seattle. The good news is, Paxton historically pitches better in the second half of the season—at least when he’s been able to stay healthy. The big left-hander owns a 3.68 first half career ERA in 383.2 IP and a 3.25 second half ERA in 263.0 IP. Unfortunately, Paxton has battled injuries down the stretch in multiple seasons, but he’s still posted an improved xFIP in the second half each of the past four years. The Yankees know what Paxton looks like at his best, and now they’ll be hoping to see it more frequently as they head towards playoff time.
The Yankees are likely to make a deadline deal to improve their pitching staff, but they might be due for an internal boost to their rotation as well. Tanaka has historically been a second-half pitcher for the Yankees. He owns a career 3.32 second-half ERA, compared to 3.77 in the first half. If you want to be optimistic, look no further than last season. After scuffling to a 4.54 ERA in the first half, Tanaka posted a 2.85 ERA after the All-Star break. The right-hander has significantly improved his strikeout and walk rates after the break in each of the past three seasons and owns a combined 3.15 second-half ERA during that time. He’s had trouble with his splitter this season, but he’s shown an ability to figure things out down the stretch. He could spark the Yankees playoff push again in 2019.