The second half is underway and with that comes trade deadlines and playoff races. Probably the three most exciting months of the year, but if you don't prepare the right way you might be paying more attention to weekly episodes of "Wipeout" rather than Baseball Tonight.
Don't worry because Baseball Professor is here to make sure you get the right guys for the stretch run to keep your team in contention with our second half players to target right now.
Chris - Matt Wieters (BAL): For those of you in head-to-head leagues, don’t forget that Wieters was a fantasy playoff darling last year. He batted .362 in September and posted a .935 OPS.
Bryan - Miguel Montero (ARI): Chris Snyder has had some success in Montero's absence (sound like the reverse of last season?) and is stealing some at-bats, but Montero is the better hitter and sooner or later the Diamondbacks will realize it…again.
George – Kurt Suzuki (OAK): One of my preseason favorites, Suzuki has underperformed so far this season. I don't expect him to finish with a batting average of .252 so a better second half is in store.
Chris - Adam LaRoche (ARI): Those looking for a second half bopper without the high price tag should look into acquiring the services of LaRoche. His career second half batting average is nearly 50 points higher than it is in the first half.
Bryan - Pablo Sandoval (SF): Kung Fu Panda is too good to be batting .263 with just six homers. His line drive rate is down from last season and his HR/FB rate is abysmal, so there is obvious room for improvement in this Vladimir Guerrero clone.
George – Adam LaRoche (ARI): If there was a poster for second half success then LaRoche would be the poster boy. He has a .300 career average in the second half and has hit three fewer home runs in 172 fewer games.
Chris - Ian Kinsler (TEX): His lack of power may scare some of his owners, but he’s performing well in every other category. I’ll take the decrease in power if he’s going to bat over .300 hitting third in that lineup.
Bryan - Howie Kendrick (LAA): Kendrick had a great June (.301/3/20) and a fantastic second half last season (.948 OPS) so if he's available, make a play for him.
George - Ian Stewart (COL): Stewart has been up and down this season, but he went into the All-Star break batting .385 with two home runs and nine RBI over his last seven games. He's someone I think is capable of putting up monster numbers at any point and I wouldn't be surprised if he hit 10-15 home runs the rest of the way.
Chris - Alex Rodriguez (NYY): During the Home Run Derby, A-Rod credited his recent hot streak to his hip finally feeling healthy. His numbers will really start to take off when Mark Teixeira gets going.
Bryan - Aramis Ramirez (CHC): This was the easiest selection by far. Ramirez couldn't get going at all (and I couldn't bring myself to drop him), but a recent five-game stretch in which he went 11-for-21 with four home runs, nine RBI, and seven extra base hits has given me all the confidence in the world.
George - Pablo Sandoval (SF): I just can't believe that a 23-year old who has hit .330 in his short career just flat out forgot how to hit. Sandoval currently sports a paltry .263/.322/.383 triple-slash line, but he should turn that around in the second half and start hitting for some more power. He currently has a .289 BABIP, which is far below his mark in 2008 (.356) and 2009 (.350).
Chris - Elvis Andrus (TEX): Andrus has slowed of late but still has the most stolen bases among shortstops. He’s much safer in the health department than Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins and he really does have more power than Christian Guzman. I promise.
Bryan - Miguel Tejada (BAL): The shortstop position sucks this season, and unless you have Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Rafael Furcal, or Ben Zobrist, you're probably starting someone you didn't expect to own. Add Tejada to that list with his .306/3/12 line over the last 30 days. Not great, but little has been at the position.
George - Jimmy Rollins (PHI): Like clockwork, Rollins starts hitting after the All-Star break and it shows with his .285 career batting average in the second half - compared to a .265 in the first half. He's 32 years old and batting .254 with just four home runs and three stolen bases so you could probably get him for cheap.
Chris - Jay Bruce (CIN): Bruce has had a solid year, not a spectacular one, which means his price tag shouldn’t be too high. His power is like a sleeping giant and could go off at any moment, which could make him a big time second half player.
Bryan - Adam Lind (TOR): As June came to a close, Adam Lind was sitting not-so-pretty with a .204 average and a .608 OPS. However, in just 32 at-bats in July, Lind has pushed his OPS up to .640, its highest since June 10. Lind was a fantasy monster all last season, but his second half saw noticeable increases in his HR and RBI rates so take a flier on this bargain basement outfielder.
George - Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS): Ellsbury owners have to be frustrated at this point and even with a rehab stint in the near future, who knows what setbacks will arise this time around? It's worth seeing what it would take to get him because Ellsbury was a top 10 outfielder last year and could be in store for a monster second half if he can get on the field.
Chris - Gavin Floyd (CHW): After a horrific first two months, Floyd has been dominant since the end of May. Last year he also had a bad first two months and rebounded to have one of the best second halves in the league.
Bryan - Travis Wood (CIN): Chances are you can pick up Wood off the waiver wire and hope the one-hitter against Philly is a sign of starts to come. Wood has good control and plays in the Senior Circuit. As I mentioned in my column on second half prospects , Cincinnati's success with Mike Leake gives you a shred of confidence that Wood can be successful too.
George - Ricky Nolasco (FLA): Nolasco is already starting to heat up (34 K:5 BB in last 28 IP) so you should act quickly on acquiring this second-half stud. He's done it two years in a row so there's no reason you shouldn't expect it again in 2010.
Chris - Chris Perez (CLE): Kerry Wood is likely to be traded, which paves the way for Perez to be the Indians closer in the second half. He’s pitching well and already has experience filling in for Wood.
Bryan - John Axford (MIL): Axford has been a rock for the Brewers since taking over for Trevor Hoffman so chances are he isn’t available on the waiver wire. He might come cheap for those who think Trevor Hoffman will win the job back, but be wary that if Milwaukee falls completely out of the race they may give the job back to Hoffman so he can get to 600 saves.
George - Chris Perez (CLE): Kerry Wood will get traded, and if not, the Indians will throw Perez in the mix just to see what they have with him going into next year. Perez showed that he could close when Wood was out with an injury earlier this season so you would be wise to stash him now before the rest of your league takes notice.
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