First Half Wizards

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It's always nice to get off to a quick start in your fantasy leagues. To do that, you need to get players who do their best work in April and May.

That means, you are not going to pick Mark Teixeira at the draft because he's a notorious bad starter. The facts bear it out, as the New York Yankees first baseman has a career .508 slugging percentage before the All-Star break and .569 after the mid-summer classic.

And you probably won't want Ryan Howard either, because his first half slugging percentage is .531 and his second half percentage jumps to .616.

For those guys, you'll want to leave yourself a note to trade for them just before the All-Star break.

Looking back at 2010, here are some of the hitters who went off in the first half.

Josh Willingham has always been a better first-half hitter and 2010 was no exception. For his career, the spring slugging numbers are 41 points higher and in 2010 he out-did those statistics by hitting 176 points better (.502 vs. .326). Willingham should get plenty of at-bats in the weak Oakland lineup and given his low ADP (235), could be an excellent value.

Andre Ethier is another fast starter with a career first-half slugging percentage 127 points higher than in the heat of the summer and late fall. His 2010 numbers fell right in line, as he slugged at a .553 rate before the break. He's an ideal target to draft and trade.

Alex Rios has career numbers 40 points higher in April, May and June and last year he was even better with a slugging percentage 135 points higher. In the strong White Sox lineup, which got even more powerful with the addition of Adam Dunn, Rios should build on last year's 21 HR, 88 RBI, 34 SB season.

Speaking of Dunn, he's a career .547 slugger in the first half and just a .491 hitter after the break. Last year he had 22 homers by mid-July with a slugging percentage of .588.

Veteran Cincinnati Reds third baseman, Scott Rolen, got off to a great start last season (17 HR, 57 RBI, .548 slugging) before injuries and father time wore him down. At 36-years-old, he is an injury risk once again, but with an ADP of 224 he could be a nice late-round bargain for half-a-season.

New Seattle Mariners catcher Miguel Olivo was a monster in the first few months of 2010. In his first 63 games (228 at-bats), Olivo smashed 11 home runs and had a .548 slugging percentage which was better than Joe Mauer or Brian McCann. Things went down hill after the break, as he hit just three homers, batted .193 and "slugged" at just a .313 rate. That was in Colorado, versus his new home ballpark which is a pitchers' paradise compared to Coors Field, so perhaps Olivo is in a situation where logic should take precedence over the trend.

Tomorrow, we will look at players to avoid in the first half.

2010 First Half Stars
PlayerTeam1st Half Slug2nd Half SlugDifferenceADP
Miguel OlivoSEA0.5480.3130.235311
Josh WillinghamOAK0.5020.3260.176235
Alex RiosCWS0.5180.3830.13565
Andre EthierLAD0.5530.4260.12754
Scott RolenCIN0.5480.4200.128224
Adam DunnCWS0.5880.4660.12247


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

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