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Little Big Men

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Yesterday we did a piece on "little guys" who were making their presence felt with a big stick. Today, we're going to talk about five "big guys" who are coming up small.

Most fantasy teams only have a few big boppers on their roster and they have to do their job for the team to succeed. That's because the "chicks" aren't the only ones who dig the long ball. The home run brings with it - runs scored, RBIs, batting average and OPS improvement, making that one swing valuable in five categories.

David Ortiz hasn't been stroking the ball well for a while and its killing fantasy owners. You can blame interleague play for "Big Papi's" problems. When the Red Sox went on a road trip to three National League cities, Ortiz's role was primarily as a cheerleader as he mainly sat on the bench and watched the games. The trip went from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and finally to Houston and in those nine games, Ortiz got just 11 at-bats. He went zero-for-11. Since that road trip began on June 24th, Ortiz is batting .196 with an OPS of 0.731, well below his season average which has fallen to .295 and 0.937, respectively. Fantasy owners can relax in the knowledge that interleague play has been completed for 2011 and Ortiz has always been a slightly better second-half hitter.

Ryan Howard has always been a second-half hitter too, which is why his sudden "power shortage" is so puzzling. Howard had an "average" June, hitting five homers, knocking in 22. His OPS for the month, 0.870, was similar to his career June OPS of 0.899. But while his career statistics for July, August and September show big jumps in production (July - 0.938, August - 0.918, Sept/Oct - 1.084), this month has been a disaster for the Phillies cleanup hitter and fantasy owners. So far in 16 July games, Howard is batting just .200 with one home run and 10 RBI. While the Phillies continue to roll without their big man producing, fantasy owners aren't as lucky. Hopefully, he'll find the swing soon or his owners, who used an early second-round pick to get him last March (ADP 13), will have to start thinking about next year.

Paul Konerko had an unexpectedly good season in 2010 (.312, 39 HR, 111 RBI) and many fantasy owners relied on that production in their 2011 strategy. And the big White Sox first baseman put up solid statistics in April and May, then exploded for 10 HR and 20 RBI in a "monster" June. Which makes his July slump so confounding. So far this month he's batting .254 with one home run and eight RBI. My only good news for his fantasy owners is that historically, August is Konerko's second-best month with a career OPS of 0.906.

It's no surprise with all that surrounds the Los Angeles Dodgers franchise these days that the team isn't playing well going 7-10 since July 1st. Matt Kemp had a great first half, but he's a human being like the rest of us and all the question marks can have an effect on player production. After batting .398 with 22 HR and 67 RBI through June 30th, Kemp is batting .190 with two homers, nine RBIs and an OPS of 0.575 in July. Kemp has not been a second half guy over his career, so a trade could be part of your future strategy with the Dodgers' outfielder.

Matt Holliday's numbers look respectable from the outside, .312, 14 HR, 51 RBI, 0.952 OPS, but since the All-Star break he's batting just .250 with one extra base hit, a double. Over his career, July and September have been Holliday's best months, so you shouldn't panic over a six-game slump.

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

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