Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
If you were planning on taking the next few days off, just because there are no baseball games being played, change your agenda.
Now is not the time to relax. Now is the time to evaluate your team and make changes as necessary.
Calculating who on your team has played above and below expectations in the first half isn't hard. Just look at the numbers.
That didn't take long did it?
Now comes a much more difficult step - gauging who will improve in the second half and who will fade from view?
Unless you have a crystal ball or a DeLorean built by Dr. Emmett Brown with a working flux capacitor, this is a tall order.
But one of the great things about baseball is the total volume of statistics available to the fantasy player. One of my favorite statistics is the first- half vs. second-half split.
There are players who consistently play better after the All-Star break. Whether it's the hot weather, or they are simply slow starters, these are the guys to target.
It won't work for rookies, who have no history to evaluate, but for the majority of major leaguers, it's one of the best ways to find your second half stars.
The poster boy for second-half production has always been first baseman Adam LaRoche. For his career his OPS is 94 points higher in the second half of the season. He would always start slowly, be available for a waiver claim in mid- season, and star in your fantasy lineup down the stretch. Since arriving in Washington he's been a more consistent hitter throughout the season, but his second-half production is still better than the first half.
He's not the only one.
Below are a nine more players who have historically been better after the Summer Classic. Let's evaluate which ones we believe will continue the trend.
Ryan Howard, Philadelphia, +129 - This is a bit of a false statistic in that Howard built most of his numbers early in his career. His 2011 and 2012 second halves were mediocre, at best, and he didn't play a game after July 5 last season. Still, the man likes to hit in the summer heat and despite a .220 batting average is on pace for 26 homers and 95 RBI. If he gets a little bit hotter as he has in the past, those numbers would make fantasy owners pretty happy.
Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland, +106 - In his first two seasons the Oakland outfielder has been a much better second-half hitter, so despite a weak first 90 games, I like the slugger to post solid numbers the rest of the way.
Mike Napoli, Boston, +91 - Like most of the Red Sox, Napoli's bat has yet to awaken in 2014. His start is similar to last season, with RBIs significantly lower only because the rest of the team is also struggling. He rebounded to hit 12 homers with a .905 OPS and there is no reason he can't repeat the performance.
Ryan Zimmerman, Washington, +81 - The man without a position (Is he a left fielder, third baseman or first baseman?) needs to find a spot somewhere because he's always produced after the All-Star break. For his owners, it's more about staying healthy. If he's in the Nationals' lineup he should be in yours.
Josh Donaldson, Oakland, +74 - The numbers lie. Since becoming a fantasy stud he's been consistent in his performance in both halves. The problem was he was horrible in the first half of 2010 and 2012 which skews the statistics. He's been top-five at the hot corner since earning the full-time role in 2013, but don't expect a drastic increase in production.
Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees, +72 - Every fantasy owner knows Teixeira's bat never wakes up until June or July. After returning from the injured list, he actually started hitting for power a bit sooner than normal in 2014, posting an .862 OPS in April and .840 OPS in May. His 17 homers at the break is the most since 2011 (he hit 39 that season) and bodes well for the remainder of the season. As long as your roster can absorb his .241 batting average, he's a man worth having in your lineup.
Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado, +69 - It's fun to imaging what the second half could be like if Tulowitzki improves his OPS by almost 70 points. He's already playing at an MVP level, leading the NL in runs (71), batting average (.345), home runs (21), OBP (.435), slugging percentage (.613) and OPS (.1.048). Obviously, if you have him you should resist any and all trade offers. This summer should be a blast.
Adrian Beltre, Texas, +62 - The Texas Rangers may be playing horribly, but don't blame it on their third baseman. Beltre leads the AL in batting average (.337) with 13 HR, 51 RBI and 51 runs scored. Although he's always been a better second-half hitter, unless the team around him improves it's hard to imagine he'll produce much more than he already has through the first 81 games.
Giancarlo Stanton, Miami, +62 - I'm not high on Stanton through the remainder of the season. He jumped out of the gate quickly (16 HR, 51 RBI through May 31), as did his Marlins (28-27), but opposing pitchers have stopped throwing him strikes and both his batting average and power numbers have dropped significantly over the past month. In fact, he's only hit one home run and five extra-base hits in the last 23 games. He's a "trade now" option before the numbers get any worse.
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