Second Half Hitters - Shortstop

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - In part four of the series, we continue our look into hitters who make the biggest improvement over the second half of the season.

The information can be important to fantasy owners who are looking to improve a position by trade or waiver pickup and those looking to "buy" a player at their lowest value, knowing they have a history of improving in the second half of the season.

Using pre-All Star game and post-All Star game OPS as our evaluation tool, today we check out the shortstop position.

The poster boy for second half improvements at shortstop is Troy Tulowitzki. It's why fantasy owners were so excited when "Mr. Second Half" got off to a blazing start this April, batting almost .300 with seven home runs. Unfortunately, he soon reverted to his slow-starting self, batting .209 in May. "Tulo" began to turn it around in June and based on history should be the top shortstop from now to the end of the season (career OPS by month; July - 0.918, August - 0.894, September - 0.944).

Obviously, you would pay a high price to get Tulowitzki, but it still might be worth it.

Washington's Ian Desmond has only played 250 games in his entire career, so it's difficult to determine if the early trend towards second-half production will continue, but he's worth putting on your "watch list" because his summer production, if it continues at this level, makes him a borderline fantasy- worthy shortstop.

Stephen Drew, Jimmy Rollins and Yunel Escobar are all familiar fantasy starters who have a solid history of production in the summer heat. If I was interested in trading for one of the three, I'd look towards Escobar who should set career highs in runs and home runs as the leadoff hitter in Toronto.

Strangely, Escobar might actually still be available in your league as a free agent with his ownership level hovering at around 75% despite the fact that he's produced better than players like Drew, Hanley Ramirez and Derek Jeter.

If you're searching for power at the shortstop position, try the Orioles' J.J. Hardy who has already hit 11 home runs this season and twice in his career has hit 24-or-more in a season. He's available in about 40% of all leagues and is a proven second-half guy.

And while the Mets' Jose Reyes is currently the best fantasy shortstop in all of baseball, be aware that his career history says he fades down the stretch. His post All-Star game OPS is 15 points lower than his first half OPS (0.787-0.773).

Top-10 First Half/Second Half Splits - Shortstops
Player Team 1st Half OPS 2nd Half OPS Diff
Troy Tulowitzki COL 0.795 0.923 +128
Ian Desmond WAS 0.634 0.751 +117
Stephen Drew ARI 0.744 0.817 +73
Jimmy Rollins PHI 0.730 0.797 +67
Yunel Escobar TOR 0.740 0.805 +65
Jason Bartlett SD 0.692 0.752 +60
Hanley Ramirez FLA 0.864 0.918 +54
Asdrubal Cabrera CLE 0.742 0.779 +37
Derek Jeter NYY 0.819 0.847 +28
Starlin Castro CHC 0.756 0.784 +28
J.J. Hardy BAL 0.747 0.775 +28


Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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