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Improving catcher production

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - There are people who are early risers and others who like to sleep in late every morning. Then there are those who eat meat and others who are vegetarians. In the baseball world, there are players who, over their careers, are consistently better in the first-half and others who's bat or arm warms up with the hot summer weather.

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.

We will start our evaluation at the catching position. In general, catchers wear down from the heat and all the innings behind the plate, so to find a fantasy catcher who improves in the second half is a special player and great value.

Using pre-All Star game and post-All Star game OPS as our evaluation tool, just five catchers show an increase in second-half production over their careers - Carlos Ruiz, Ramon Hernandez, Matt Wieters, Yadier Molina and Miguel Montero.

Ruiz is the best of the bunch in terms of improving in the second half, posting an 0.819 OPS after the break which is 129 points better than in the first half of the season. His second-half OPS puts him in the company of much more highly rated catchers like Brian McCann (0.836), Mike Napoli (0.816), Geovany Soto (0.811) and well ahead of others like Carlos Santana (0.652), Miguel Olivo (0.683) and Kurt Suzuki (0.691).

The best news for fantasy owners is that they can pick up this "bargain" for the price of a free agent waiver claim in the majority of all leagues. He's owned in just three of every 10 leagues.

Cincinnati's Hernandez is a perennial second-half hitter, improving 58 points from 0.728 to 0.786. He's only owned in about 25 percent of all leagues, but the downside is that he shares the position with Ryan Hanigan so you'll have to pick your spots carefully.

The Orioles' Wieters also improves in the heat of the summer and into the fall, producing at a 0.750 OPS rate after the All Star game. But while Ruiz is most likely a free agent, Wieters will require you to make a trade to obtain his services. He's own in about 90 percent of all leagues.

Cardinals' catcher Yadier Molina is the fourth player on the list, but his improvement in the second half still leaves him posting a mediocre OPS of 0.715. That's probably not enough production out of the catchers' spot and he should be left on the bench.

The final second-half hitting catcher is Arizona's Miguel Montero. The young Diamondbacks catcher goes from 0.778 in the first half to 0.793 in the second half. It's not that big an improvement until you realize that overall the starting catchers in the majors lose 23 points as a staying at the same level is actually gaining on most other players at the position.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at

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