The All-Star game is in the books and that means the second half of the Major League Baseball season is upon us. With one half of the season over and a fresh one beginning, the residents of Splitsville have been hard at work researching a very specific type of statistic: Second-half splits.
You hear all the time about players who can't heat up until the weather does. Players who start hot but fizzle after the league figures them out. Some guys are great from April through June but begin to break down in the second half. Others need a large number of at-bats before they start heating up.
Below are the players we're targeting this week. We're looking for the best, and the worst, second-half players.
Now, on to the Week 15 (July 15-18) -- and second half -- splits.
Five Strikes (Positive Splits)
Billy Butler, 1B, Royals
Upcoming Schedule: Three games vs. Oakland
Fantasy owners have already recognized Butler as being a solid option in any mixed format. We're here to tell you that you 'aint seen nothing yet. The 24-year-old superstar-in-the-making has always been a much better and decidedly more powerful hitter in the second half. Butler has a career average of .305 after the All-Star break and has five more home runs after the break than before over 225 fewer at-bats. There is no question that Butler doesn't really play his best until it starts getting really hot in Kansas City. Now add in the fact that Butler easily had the best first half of his career. He batted .322 with nine homers and 46 RBI over 329 at-bats and every one of those statistics represents a new career high for the first half of any season. He hit .342 over the first two months and then fell off since June began with a .291 average since. The splits suggest he's about to get hot again and all owners should be taking advantage beginning Week 15.
Get the latest news and analysis from the most informed Fantasy staff in the industry by following us on Twitter and Facebook.
Delmon Young, OF, Twins
Upcoming Schedule: Four games vs. Chicago White Sox
Young has provided the Twins with a pretty sexy bargaining chip if they want to trade him since he finished the first half of the season with All-Star-caliber numbers, the best of his young career. Young is hitting .389 in July, has been hitting .338 since June started and has 31 RBI through 37 games over that stretch. In all, Young had the best first half of his career with a .305 average, 10 homers and 58 RBI. The scary thing is Young has always been far better after the break. His .305 average in the first half was the first time he ever finished that portion of the schedule over .300. Young has only finished the second half under .300 once and he hit .297 in 2008. He is a career .302 hitter after the ASG and has only two fewer homers (23) and 44 fewer RBI (123) through almost 300 fewer at-bats. Young is working on his finest season in the majors and the splits say he is in for big things in the second half, whether he remains on the Twins or not.
Adam LaRoche, 1B, Diamondbacks
Upcoming Schedule: Three games at San Diego
We've already begun to see the changes in LaRoche's swing. Prior to suffering some slight back issues that kept him out of the last few games before the break, LaRoche had hits in 10 of his last 11 games with two homers and four RBI. LaRoche hit .253 over the first half with solid run production (13 homers and 55 RBI). What is his career batting average for the first half? Try an eerily similar .252. With his first half numbers being so close, it stands to reason he'll mimic his career numbers in the second half. LaRoche has always been awesome after the break. He is a career .300 hitter from the middle of July forward. LaRoche has 73 career homers in the second half compared to 76 in the first despite almost 600 fewer at-bats. LaRoche hits .293 in July, .310 in August and .302 in September and October and slugs almost 100 points higher after the All-Star break.
Jorge De La Rosa, SP, Rockies
Upcoming Schedule: July 17 start at Cincinnati
De La Rosa spent most of the first half injured and made just one appearance since April on July 9 with a no-decision against San Diego. He finished the first half 3-1 with a 4.94 ERA over five starts. The Rockies are expected to give him the second start following the break and Fantasy owners might do well in using him based on his splits. De La Rosa has a career ERA of 5.82 with a 23-25 record before the break and those numbers catapult to 21-16 and 4.34 after. In his first four second halves, De La Rosa went 4-11. However, since 2008 he's been one of the best second-half hurlers in baseball with a 17-5 record and 162 strikeouts spanning 161 1/3 innings. Last season was the best example, as he went 6-7 with a 5.21 ERA at the break and finished 10-2 with a 3.46 ERA over his final 15 starts.
Nyjer Morgan, OF, Nationals
Upcoming Schedule: Three games at Florida
Morgan had a dismal first half with a .252 batting average, no homers, 14 RBI and 20 steals through 329 at-bats. The Nationals have looked in other directions with Justin Maxwell and Roger Bernadina at times, but they would prefer a productive Morgan atop their order. With the All-Star Game behind him, the Nationals might just get their wish in the second half. That is because there have been few hotter hitters after the break over the last few seasons. Morgan is a career .259 hitter in the first half and that number bolts up to .340 after the ASG. Morgan batted .143 in the first half in 2008 and .280 in 2009. Those numbers improved to .347 and .365, respectively, after the break. Morgan has never hit worse than .299 in the second half in his three years in the league and could be in for a huge turnaround beginning in Week 15.
And one more ...
Scott Baker, SP, Twins
Upcoming Schedule: July 17 or 18 start vs. Chicago White Sox
If you are worried about Baker's 7-8 record and 4.87 ERA at the All-Star break than this split should ease your concerns just a bit. Consider Baker went 7-7 with an even uglier 5.42 at the break last season for the Twins. How did he finish the year? How about 8-2 with a 3.28 ERA to finish 15-9, numbers that dictated taking him among the first 30 hurlers in Fantasy drafts before the season. In fact, for his career, Baker has gone 25-26 with a 4.95 ERA in the first half and has improved to 25-15 with a 3.71 ERA after the break. Baker has gone 13-4 in the second half in his last two seasons and it should be more of the same in 2010.
Five 7-10 Splits (Negative Splits)
Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins
Upcoming Schedule: Four games vs. Chicago White Sox
The guy is putting up Triple Crown-like numbers in the first half. Morneau missed the All-Star game due to a concussion but prior to that hit .345 with 18 homers and 56 RBI. His .345 batting average was the best figure he's had at the break since hitting .323 back in 2008. The weird thing about Morneau, however, is that he tends to cool down after the break. In fact, the hotter the weather gets, the more frigid his bat becomes. Morneau is a career .306 hitter in the first half, but that number dips to .260 after the break. Last year, Morneau managed just a .201 average, nine homers and 30 RBI in the second half. He hasn't notched double figures in second-half homers in each of the last three seasons and he's only hit over .270 in the second half once in his career. Shockingly, his OPS goes from .929 before the break down to .791 after and last season his OPS was even worse at .713.
Mike Pelfrey, SP, N.Y. Mets
Upcoming Schedule: July 17 start at San Francisco
Fantasy owners lucky enough to take advantage of Pelfrey's first half had a hidden gem on their hands, especially after he finished the first half at 10-4 with a 3.58 ERA. However, his last three starts before the break left a lot to be desired as he went 0-2 over those three starts, couldn't get out of the fifth inning in any of them and carried a 10.13 ERA with just six strikeouts and eight walks over 13 1/3 innings. That could have something to do with his second-half splits, which haven't exactly been solid. Pelfrey has gone 26-21 with a 4.12 ERA over his career before the All-Star Break but is just 12-15 with a 4.83 after. Pelfrey went 7-4 over 17 starts before the break last season and finished 3-8 with a 5.67 ERA over his final 14 starts.
Brandon Inge, 3B, Tigers
Upcoming Schedule: Three games at Cleveland
The Tigers' scrappy third baseman spent the first half hitting .264 with six homers, 39 RBI and 22 doubles through 299 at-bats. The career .247 first-half hitter is having a solid go of it thus far though he didn't come close to matching the 21 homers he had at the break last season. Inge finished with just six homers the rest of the way last year and has historically been a terrible hitter following the ASG. He's a career .226 hitter in the second half and has hit .186 and .193 the last two post-All-Star breaks, respectively. Inge has thus far hit .364 over nine games in July with nine RBI over that span. He's hitting well right now and can be used in deeper mixed Fantasy leagues. Still, watch out for that second-half plunge because Inge has a long history of falling off after the break.
Adam Jones, OF, Orioles
Upcoming Schedule: Three games vs. Toronto
Jones has one of the more interesting splits entering the second half of the season. Historically, the young Orioles center fielder has been horrendous after the All-Star break. Last season, Jones hit .303 with 12 homers and 47 RBI before the break and earned a spot in the All-Star game. Once the second half began, things changed and Jones managed to go just .222 with seven homers and 23 RBI the rest of the way. In fact, Jones is a career .286 hitter in the first half but hits just .233 after the break. So why will this season be any different? Jones ended the first half with a .276 average but started the year in ugly fashion at .251 over the first two months to go with five homers and 15 RBI over 207 at-bats. Since June, Jones is hitting .313 with nine homers and 24 RBI over just 144 at-bats. Jones has typically hit well early because he's a free swinger. Once pitchers figure him out, they get him out more regularly. Pitchers had his number from the outset this season and he's since adjusted successfully. For that reason, Jones' splits might just prove an opposite trend this year and he could have the best second half of his career.
Clay Buchholz, SP, Red Sox
Upcoming Schedule: Projected July 16 start vs. Texas (Currently on 15-day DL)
The All Star earned his spot on the team by going 10-4 and finishing the first half second in the American League with a 2.45 ERA. The splits say it could all come crashing down when the Red Sox resume play. Granted, Buchholz might be more established now than he's ever been before, but his career record after the break is 10-10 and his ERA is over one full run higher than his first-half figure at 4.65. Buchholz went 0-5 after the break in 2008 and 7-4 with a 4.21 last season. While we fully expect him to continue being worth using in most mixed Fantasy leagues, owners should temper expectations and realize that if he does have an excellent second half, it goes against his recent splits. Buchholz has gone just 1-4 with a 5.40 ERA for his career over seven July starts and has not been better in August at 3-5 and 6.13.
You can e-mail our staff your questions at DMFantasyBaseball@cbs.com. Be sure to put Splitsville in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state. We'll get to as many as we can.