Yunel Escobar is quietly having a better season than Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
In Part IV of our six-part series, we look at second half hitting stars from the National League Eastern Division. The information is valuable to fantasy owners because it will tell us when to trade away a player (sell high) and when to trade for a player (buy low).
We will again look at a player's career OPS as our guide and first half/second half as the All-Star break. Obviously, the more years a player has played the more reliable the information. Mark Teixeira's OPS increase in the second half (+.078) is more reliable than Luke Scott's increase (+.129) because Teixeira has six full major league seasons of results versus Scott's two seasons of 400+ at-bats.
Ryan Howard has always been empirically known as a second-half hitter and the numbers bear that out. But from the beginning of spring training this year, Howard has been hitting the ball well. So if he gets his typical second half boost of 168 points in his OPS, he'll have an unbelievable second half. He's already hitting 40 OPS points high than his normal first half. Howard has averaged 51 homers and 143 runs batted in over the past three seasons.
Yunel Escobar is a nice sleeper pick at shortstop, who is still available in 45% of all leagues. Why is beyond me, as he's having a solid first half and has the second-best post All-Star game jump of any NL East hitter. While Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins get all the attention, Escobar is quietly having a better season than two of them (Reyes, Rollins). He's batting .298 with 27 runs scored, five HRs and 27 RBIs. And given that he was the 15th shortstop selected and had an Average Draft Position (ADP) of 157, he's a bargain.
Speaking of Rollins, he was horrible in April (.207, 9 runs, one HR, six RBI) and below average in May (.238, 22 runs, two HR, 12 RBI). But he's traditionally a slow starter and I have enough faith in Rollins ability that yesterday I traded the hot hitting Marco Scutaro (.299, 43 runs, 5 HR, 25 RBI) for Rollins even up.
The remainder of the top-five NL East second-half hitters consists of injured/sick New York Mets players - Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran. Delgado is still 9-10 weeks from returning and Beltran has missed the last three games with a stomach virus.
Beltran's illness has interrupted a very good start - .352 with 31 runs, six HR, 31 RBI, seven SB and an OPS of .998. But he'll be very expensive to obtain in a trade. Instead of Beltran, perhaps you should look to his teammate, Gary Sheffield, if you need help in the outfield. Sheffield is owned in just 27% of all leagues and has a career second-half OPS of .920. The only category he can't match Beltran is in stolen bases.