Colorado outfielder Carlos Gonzalez is the "real deal."
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
There is more than one way to be a fantasy superstar. Albert Pujols is a fantasy stud because while it takes a top pick to get him, he's more reliable than the United States Postal Service.
But you can also be a fantasy star if you play well above what fantasy owners expected from you back in April. Of course, you have to produce for more than the first three months, so today we will evaluate some of the fantasy "superstars" of the first half to see if they can continue at their new production level.
Since we don't have any questions about whether Pujols and those like him can continue to produce, I'll be concentrating on the unexpected first half producers. None of the players listed below were drafted before the 10th round and most were selected after the 16th round.
Lets look at them a little closer.
Colorado outfielder Carlos Gonzalez is the "real deal." He showed the rare combination of power and speed over the second half of 2009 and has continued into 2010. Combine his talents with the spacious outfield of Coors Field and you have a future batting title contender. Don't even think about trading him in a keeper league or you'll regret it for many years to come.
Alex Rios started the season in amazing fashion, but he has definitely cooled off the past few weeks hitting only one homer in the past 17 games. His batting average is also falling fast. Since his OPS historically drops 56 points in the second half, this week's All-Star break would be the perfect time to send him packing to an owner who hasn't done his due diligence.
I thought the "Fountain of Youth" was somewhere in Florida, but it looks like Vladimir Guerrero has discovered its whereabouts in Arlington. He's playing like a 30-year-old instead of the 35-year-old, 15-year veteran with bad knees that we know he is. Enjoy the ride, but remember he hasn't played more than 100 games since 2008.
Adrian Beltre is finally away from all those "pitcher-friendly" parks he was playing in and is having a great year in Fenway. Surrounded by a lot of fantastic hitters, Beltre will continue to shine the rest of the way and unless you are overwhelmed with an substantial offer, keep him.
Paul Konerko's name has been on the trading block of late and it may be affecting his hitting. He's batting a solid .299, but hasn't hit a homer in 11 games and those power numbers are the major reasons the first baseman should be on your roster, or want him on your roster. My advice is to wait until after the trade deadline and you will probably see that power return.
Cincinnati Reds' third baseman Scott Rolen has been great so far this season, giving fantasy owners much more than they could have expected, but I believe he is tiring. After all, he's already played 78 games this season and because of injuries, that's almost as much as he's been used to playing over the past four years. Don't forget, he's hitting just .225 over the past two weeks! Perhaps the break will be enough to rejuvenate him, but I believe now would be a good time for a trade while he's still near his peak value.
Did you know that Martin Prado leads the majors in base hits? Not only that, he's hitting for power too, with an OPS of .863, fourth-best among second basemen. Not bad for a 24th-round selection, or more likely a free agent pickup. Prado is a keeper.
If Brett Gardner could keep his OPS over the .800 mark for the entire season, then he'd be an excellent value given the production he'll give you in the stolen base category. However, I believe his "power" is a mirage. Add in a career second-half OPS of just .636 and now is the time to "sell."
San Francisco 1B/OF Aubrey Huff has been the Giants best hitter this season. Unfortunately, he hasn't had much competition for that "title" but his .294 batting average and 17 home runs are more than almost anyone predicted back in April. Not bad for a player who was an afterthought on Draft Day (ADP 347). Historically, he's been a second-half hitter, so keep running him out there every day.
I really like what Angel Pagan has done for the Mets, but all indications are that when Carlos Beltran returns, it will be Pagan who loses a lot of playing time. Too bad because Pagan has been the Mets best outfielder this season. Unfortunately, we're not managing the Mets, so all you can do is hide him on your bench for next year in keeper leagues or trade him while he still has value in single-season leagues.
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