With the end of MLB’s All-Star break, focus has shifted to who will make the most of the season’s latter half.
For players that have struggled in the first half of the year, this becomes even more important.
Every year, it seems that a handful of players are able to turn it around following the break.
Joey Votto hit .362/.535/.617 (213 wRC+) with a 26.5% walk rate in the second half of the 2015 season.
He then hit .408/.490/.668 (201 wRC+) with a 10.2% strikeout rate in the second half of the 2016 season. https://t.co/8dCu9szDnm
— Matt Wilkes (@_MattWilkes) March 22, 2020
There is no reason that 2022 will be any different.
Here is a look at three players who need to step up from now until the end of the season.
Coming off a Rookie of the Year campaign in 2021, expectations for Jonathan India were high.
He has fallen flat so far.
Much of this can be attributed to injuries that have kept him off the field for a lot of 2022.
However, his time on the field has been bad, to say the least.
In 41 games, India has posted a -1.0 WAR, meaning he is playing below the level of a typical replacement level player.
He has hit .231, with five home runs and a .289 on-base percentage.
These numbers are far from the potential he showed during his rookie season, and it has been very disappointing for Cincinnati Reds fans.
The good news is that India showed positive flashes just before the All-Star break.
Give Jonathan India the MVP award now. pic.twitter.com/YvcZTWhZyQ
— Chad Dotson (@dotsonc) July 13, 2022
In a three game series against the New York Yankees, India went 5-13 with a homer and four RBI.
He added another homer against the St. Louis Cardinals on the final day before the break, while slugging another in the first game after.
All that being said, India might be getting hot.
2. Juan Soto
When looking at Juan Soto’s season, there are some interesting question marks.
Has it been bad?
At times, very bad especially when he is contending for a $500 million contract extension.
Soto started the year with numbers far below his normal stats, hitting in the low .200s with significantly less power.
However, he then returned as the best hitter in baseball during the month of July leading up to the All-Star break.
Now, with 20 homers, a .250 average and the league lead in walks with 79, Soto has the chance to completely flip his season around.
— MLB (@MLB) July 19, 2022
He went through something eerily similar last year, when Soto used the Home Run Derby to fix his swing and return to form.
Not only is he a good enough hitter, but Soto may also benefit from being traded to a contending team.
That will put even more pressure on his second half, as anyone who acquires the star outfielder will instantly place him under a microscope.
As such, Soto needs to have a stronger second half.
1. Joey Gallo
For the last year, Joey Gallo has inexplicably become the worst hitter in baseball.
While his style of hitting has never been conventional, Gallo has been very productive throughout his MLB career.
If you look beyond his batting average, he has shown the ability to get on base via the walk and drive the ball out of the park.
However, he is doing neither in 2022.
In fact, he is swinging and missing more this year than he has in any other.
At this point, he is a lost cause for the Yankees.
— MLB (@MLB) July 23, 2022
They will more than likely replace him during the trade deadline, opting to move Gallo to a different team as he hopes to restart his career.
Because of this, the second half of the season may be the most important period for the outfielder’s career.
Once traded, Gallo will need a strong conclusion to 2022 to show that he is still a viable hitter.
There is a good chance he will be traded to a contending team, so they will need him to hit that way again and be productive.
This is what makes the second half so critical for the slugger.