The first half of the 2012 MLB season brought plenty of surprises.
Many previously unknown players exploded into stardom as teams rose from the cellar to become division leaders.
Some of those teams will cling to playoff births on the backs of their stars.
However, other stars will fade out through the rigors of the long MLB slate, as their teams also fall out of contention.
Here are a few players who will fade out late after having hot starts in 2012.
New York Mets right-hander R.A. Dickey was one of the biggest surprises of the first half of the season.
The 37-year-old knuckleballer had the best record in baseball at 12-1 with a 2.40 ERA heading into the All-Star break.
In May and June, the Nashville, Tennessee native threw pure smoke, going 9-0 and allowing just 14 runs off 47 hits in 11 starts.
Not to mention consecutive one-hitters and eight appearances in which he lasted seven innings or more.
However, the Mets have been fading out of playoff contention, which won't help Dickey's cause.
His first-half performance has been inconsistent with his career performance, as he is just two games above .500 in the majors.
Also, his current performance is trending south, as he has given up five earned runs in three of his last four starts.
Add all that up and you have to figure that Dickey's luck will run out soon.
Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen is one of the rising stars in the league.
He has been the biggest catalyst in the Pirates' hot start and the rebirth of the entire franchise.
The Fort Meade, Florida native is currently leading the majors in batting average (.371), slugging percentage (.650) and OPS (1.074) and has belted five home runs in the last four games.
His production has been raging at such a torrent pace that it has to slow down at some point.
Despite the presence of the best hitter in the league, the Pirates are in the bottom half of every major hitting category.
Insert "back is getting tired from carrying the team" joke.
But all jokes aside, McCutchen can only carry the Pittsburgh offense so far and before long, his production will drop off.
Josh Hamilton started hotter than any other player in the majors.
In April, he hit .395, belted nine home runs and drove in 25.
He followed that up by hitting .344 with 12 homers and 32 RBI in May and his OPS was absolutely gargantuan—1.182 in April and 1.187 in May.
But since then, he has been going the wrong direction.
He hit only .223 with four home runs in June and is hitting just .152 in May.
The former first overall draft pick was hampered by various injuries and illnesses during the first half, so if he can stay healthy, he could turn things around.
But right now, it appears as though the Texas star has gone cold from his steaming start.
Cincinnati right-hander Johnny Cueto is having the best year of his career.
The 26-year-old is 10-5 with a 2.39 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. He is on pace to throw 221.1 innings, dwarfing his career average of 161.1 innings and even his career-high of 185.2.
The worst news for Cueto, though, is the loss of a serious MVP candidate in Joey Votto to knee surgery (via Associated Press, h/t ESPN.com). Votto will be gone for three to four weeks, which will dial up the pressure on Cueto and the Reds staff to keep their run totals down.
If they can't do that, the Reds will lose hold of their division lead.
Cueto won't have a bad year by any means, but he also won't be able to keep up his outstanding first-half performance.
Carlos Ruiz was one of the best hitters in the majors in the first half.
Chooch has been stroking the ball to lead the Phillies offense in the absence of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, as he is hitting .353 with 14 home runs and 50 RBI.
The 33-year-old has already eclipsed his career-high of nine home runs and is just four RBI short of his career-best of 54, and we're only at the halfway point.
The fact that he is so far above and beyond his career numbers is a major red flag waving in the direction of him experiencing a second-half drop off.
Also, Howard and Utley are back, which should take some pressure off of him to perform at such a high level at the plate.
Additionally, Philadelphia's postseason hopes have continued to diminish.
If the Phils expect to make the playoffs, Ruiz will have to keep finding the gaps—but I don't see that happening.