Predicting second half fantasy studs and duds

Ryan Howard normally has a much better second half than first half.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It's the All-Star break and you have a chance to catch your breath. It's also the right time to evaluate where you are in your league and to assess your team's individual performances as you look towards the second half.

Will your first-half "stars" be able to keep up their pace? Will those players who struggled through the first four months be able to turn it around? Should you trade for a player who is hot? Should you trade for a player who is struggling because you believe he will turn it around?

It was Spanish philosopher George Santayana who in 1905 wrote "Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it," and it holds true in the fantasy sports world as well.

To predict one's future performance, you must look at a player's career numbers and see how he has performed in his past second halves. Fortunately for you, I have done the research and I am here to give you the results.

I have evaluated the top players at each position, based on OPS (OBP + SLG) and have come up with a list of those who traditionally have better second halves than first halves. I also made a list of those that you should consider trading because they almost always have lower second-half production.

Catcher - The grueling marathon season usually takes its toll on the catching position. A survey of the top players at the position over their careers shows a drop from an OPS of .791 to .772. Some fall even further. Ivan Rodriguez (.855 - .766) and Joe Mauer (.889 - .802) struggle mightily down the stretch. But two lesser-known catcher actually improve over the second half and should be considered an option. Ramon Hernandez has the best first half-to-second half statistics with his OPS going from .717 to .782. Jason Kendall also showed improvement from .746 to .789.

First Base - He leads the majors in home runs (28) and the National League in RBI (84), but Ryan Howard normally has a much better second half than first half. His numbers jump from a respectable .882 to a stunning 1.078 during the heat of the summer. A stronger second half would put Howard's HR and RBI statistics in rarified air. On the other hand, two very well-known players seem to fade over the second half and you should consider dumping them while their value is at its peak. The two first basemen who traditionally struggle the most in the second are Kevin Youkilis (.895 - .734) and Justin Morneau (.891 - .795).

Second Base - Apparently, playing second base takes a lot out of you as many of the top stars at the position have much better first halves. The only significant increase in second-half production from a second basemen comes from Robinson Cano, who jumps an astounding .176 points from .730 to .906. This has been a tough year so far for Cano and he could probably be gotten for a relatively inexpensive price. On the other hand, Dan Uggla (.881 - .782), Ian Kinsler (.891 - .764) and Justin Pedroia (.829 - .745) all come up short after the All-Star break.

Shortstop - The position didn't really have anybody who falls apart after the All-Star break, but does have two candidates to vastly improve. The first is 2007 NL MVP Jimmy Rollins (.742 - .813) and its possible that with his weak first half he could be had for a reasonable price. The second is Yunel Escobar (.741 - .876).

Third base - Two lesser-known players have solid second halves and should be considered if you are struggling at the position. Joe Crede (.721 - .805) and Adrian Beltre (.748 - .827) are traditional second-half bloomers. Meanwhile, Mike Lowell seems to struggle and his OPS shows it as it drops from .850 to .768.

Outfield - One outfielder shows up big after the All-Star break, much better than anyone else at the position. Nick Markakis sees his OPS jump from .797 to a stunning .919 after the break. If you have any weakness at the position he is the man you should target. Going in the opposite direction is the Colorado Rockies Brad Hawpe who sinks from .889 to .803 over the second half.

If you set your sights on those who have a better second half and trade away those who traditionally falter down the stretch, you are likely to see an improvement in the standings.

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

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