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Second Half Hitters - First Base

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - In part two 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 first base position.

Unlike the catching position, there are plenty of guys who play better after the All-Star break than before it. All told, there are 14 starting first basemen who improve their numbers after the "summer classic."

We begin with two of the most notorious second-half hitters - Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira and the Phillies Ryan Howard. Howard's numbers are a bit better than Teixeira's statistics in our study, but that's only because "Tex" frequently starts his hot streak in late May (April OPS 0.775, May OPS 0.909) while Howard usually makes his big leap forward in July (June OPS 0.897, July 0.983).

Adam LaRoche is right up there with the big guys in second-half improvement, but he won't be helping your team this year after last week's season-ending left shoulder surgery.

Another guy who can turn it around is Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena, though if Monday was any indication (two home run day) he may not be waiting until after the All-Star game. Pena's career OPS after the break in 86 points higher than before it (0.799 vs. 0.885). Over his last nine games, he is batting 0.281 with an OPS of 1.199 and six home runs. Being one of the streakiest hitters in the game, Pena (65% owned) might be available in your league if his frustrated owner dropped him earlier in the season.

Aubrey Huff of the defending champion San Francisco Giants, has gotten off to a slow start, but his June numbers indicate he's finally gotten over the short off-season. He's batting .300 this month with four homers and 16 RBIs.

Meanwhile, in Toronto Adam Lind is off to an excellent start this year and if he produces even more statistics in the second half, could become a top-level first baseman. He's batting 0.314 with an OPS of 0.942, 16 HR and 49 RBI. With pitchers doing everything they can to avoid pitching to No.3 hitter Jose Bautista, Lind will get plenty of RBI opportunities the rest of the way. If he makes his career average 51-point improvement in the second half, he'll be in rarified air. Not bad for a ninth-round pick and he should be a primary acquisition target if you are looking for first base help.

Top-10 First Half/Second Half Splits - First Basemen
Player Team 1st Half OPS 2nd Half OPS Diff
Ryan Howard PHI 0.869 1.017 +148
Adam LaRoche* WAS 0.758 0.889 +131
Carlos Pena CHC 0.799 0.885 +086
Mark Teixeira NYY 0.877 0.957 +080
Aubrey Huff SF 0.782 0.852 +070
Todd Helton COL 0.949 1.010 +061
Billy Butler KC 0.794 0.850 +056
Adam Lind TOR 0.789 0.840 +051
Albert Pujols STL 1.024 1.063 +039
Derrek Lee BAL 0.843 0.879 +036
* - out for season

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

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