Do you remember what you were doing in September? Take a minute. Think about it. ... Done?
If you can't come up with an answer, don't worry. But I do know what many of you weren't doing -- paying attention to your Fantasy Baseball team. In September, most of your focus was probably on Fantasy Football and rooting for your favorite NFL team. However, there was still baseball being played.
Understandably, many people give up on their Fantasy team around the All-Star break. You saw the writing on the wall and figured your time was best spent finishing off your summer tan than crunching batting averages and WHIPs.
What you missed out on were unexpected performances from the not-so-usual suspects, but you can't discredit second-half surges when Draft Day rolls around. Case in point, Washington's Michael Morse had a breakout run in the second half of the 2010 season. He hit .282 with a .865 OPS, 11 homers and 32 RBI in his final 63 games that season. The rest you now know as history. Morse returned in 2011 to post career numbers and finish the season as a top 40 Fantasy bat.
In helping you prep for your 2012 draft we wanted to highlight second-half producers from 2011. Now, you won't find names like Ryan Braun, Albert Pujols and Clayton Kershaw in this column. We are spotlighting the players who are generally picked as mid-to-late-round selections on Draft Day.
Nick Hundley, C, Padres
Second-half numbers: .367 average, .404 on-base percentage, .656 slugging percentage, 1.061 OPS, 11 doubles, four triples, six homers and 14 RBI in 37 games
Analysis: Hundley had a .436 BABIP during his second-half stretch, so he was extremely lucky. That number should drop over a full season. He will fall to the late rounds in all Fantasy formats and might not even make the cut as a No. 2 catcher in mixed leagues, but there is definitely sleeper value here. Hundley has good pop for his position -- let's just hope he can stay healthy, which was a problem last year.
More catchers coming off strong finishes
Yadier Molina, Cardinals: .337 AVG, .535 SLG, .907 OPS, 9 HRs, 13 2Bs, 34 RBI in 58 games
Salvador Perez, Royals: .331 AVG, .361 OBP, .834 OPS, 3 HRs, 8 2Bs, 21 RBI in 39 games
Ryan Doumit, Twins: .328 AVG, .504 SLG, .872 OPS, 4 HRs, 8 2Bs, 15 RBI in 43 games
James Loney, 1B, Dodgers
Second-half numbers: .320 average, .380 on-base percentage, .534 slugging percentage, .914 OPS, eight home runs, 18 doubles and 34 RBI in 67 games
Analysis: Loney's numbers look way better than his first-half splits from 2011 partly due to the fact he didn't have to play all the time against left-handed starters down the stretch. Loney hit .213 against lefties last season as opposed to .312 against right-handers. The fact that Loney might sit against lefties again in 2012 -- and still lacks the home-run power to compete with the elite Fantasy options at first base -- limits him to no more than a late-round selection in mixed leagues.
More first basemen coming off strong finishes
Chris Parmelee, Twins: .355 AVG, .592 SLG, 1.035 OPS, 4 HRs, 6 2Bs, 14 RBI in 21 games
Derrek Lee, Free agent: .323 AVG, .576 SLG, .955 OPS, 6 2Bs, 10 HRs, 31 RBI in 43 games
Daniel Murphy, Mets: .372 AVG, .419 OBP, .931 OPS, 1 HR, 9 2Bs, 13 RBI in 22 games
Jemile Weeks, 2B, Athletics
Second-half numbers: .310 average, .352 on-base percentage, .781 OPS, five triples, 15 stolen bases, 18 doubles and 28 RBI in 66 games
Analysis: Getting on base and speed is what Weeks' game is about. You are going to have to forgo home-run power when drafting Weeks, but his ability to use his speed on the base paths will help make up for that. Weeks will go a bit higher in Rotisserie formats, but he is right on the cusp of being a reliable Fantasy starter and could end up as a nice sleeper pick if you miss out on the second-base studs on Draft Day.
More second basemen coming off strong finishes
Omar Infante, Marlins: .314 AVG, .348 OBP, .842 OPS, 6 3Bs, 6 HRs, 11 2Bs, 22 RBI, 30 runs in 57 games
Ruben Tejada, Mets: .303 AVG, .368 OBP, .745 OPS, 4 SBs, 11 2Bs, 18 RBI in 48 games
Jason Kipnis, Indians: .272 AVG, .507 SLG, .841 OPS, 5 SBs, 7 HRs, 9 2Bs, 19 RBI in 36 games
Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals
Second-half numbers: .276 average, .713 OPS, four homers, 16 doubles and 26 RBI in 64 games
Analysis: Moustakas was one of the majors' hottest hitters at the end of the season. He hit .379 with a .412 OBP, .564 slugging percentage, .976 OPS, four homers, 12 doubles and 19 RBI in his last 36 games. He struggled like most rookies after his initial call-up, but slow starts are nothing new for Moustakas, who hit .229 to open his Triple-A season last year. Moustakas' biggest hurdle is improving against lefties, who he hit just .191 against after his promotion. But Moustakas can hit lefties. He batted .260 with a .832 OPS against them in Triple-A last year. Consider him a solid late-round Fantasy sleeper with upside.
More third basemen coming off strong finishes
Aramis Ramirez, Brewers: .318 AVG, .381 OBP, .528 SLG, .909 OPS, 11 HRs, 14 2Bs, 42 RBI in 63 games
Chipper Jones, Braves: .303 AVG, .545 SLG, .895 OPS, 10 2Bs, 10 HRs, 24 RBI in 49 games
Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays: .291 AVG, .382 OBP, .504 SLG, .887 OPS, 11 HRs, 17 2Bs, 36 RBI, 43 runs in 64 games
Marco Scutaro, SS, Rockies
Second-half numbers: .329 average, .382 on-base percentage, .849 OPS, three home runs, 20 doubles and 39 RBI in 62 games
Analysis: Scutaro was a bit more lucky than usual in the second half last season, posting a .345 BABIP, which is well above his career .293 mark. But add the element of him moving to hitter-friendly Coors Field and being in a walk year, Scutaro could absolutely be a bargain late-round pick on Draft Day. Hitting in front of Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez would help anybody's stat line.
More shortstop coming off strong finishes
Dee Gordon, Dodgers: .345 AVG, .367 OBP, .776 OPS, 7 RBI, 7 2Bs, 15 SBs, 23 runs in 34 games
Cliff Pennington, A's: .303 AVG, .362 OBP, .815 OPS, 5 HRs, 8 SBs, 16 2Bs, 31 runs, 35 RBI in 60 games
Ian Desmond, Nationals: .289 AVG, .417 SLG, .755 OPS, 5 HRs, 15 2Bs, 27 RBI, 31 runs in 69 games
Alejandro De Aza, OF, White Sox
Second-half numbers: .329 average, .400 on-base percentage, .520 slugging percentage, .920 OPS, 11 doubles, 12 stolen bases and 23 RBI in 54 games
Analysis: Forget about the De Aza you knew with the Marlins. In 73 games since 2010 with Chicago, he is batting .324 with a .388 OBP, .500 slugging percentage and .888 OPS. De Aza's career numbers in Triple-A (265 games) are a .309 average, .372 OBP, .479 slugging percentage and .851 OPS. De Aza is the presumed starter in left field for Chicago, so he could end up as a value pick in the later rounds of Fantasy drafts as long as he doesn't buckle under the pressure.
Ryan Raburn, OF, Tigers
Second-half numbers: .341 average, .393 on-base percentage, .574 slugging percentage, .967 OPS, six home runs, eight doubles and 18 RBI in 45 games
Analysis: Raburn was in beast mode down the stretch after another slow start in 2011. The Tigers want him to take hold of a starting job, but his first-half lulls handcuff him. He is a career .228 hitter before the All-Star break, as opposed to .300 afterward. Fantasy owners are going to get the most mileage out of Raburn as a second-base option if he can hit all season like he traditionaly has in the second half.
Lucas Duda, OF, Mets
Second-half numbers: .322 average, .411 on-base percentage, .546 slugging percentage, .957 OPS, 10 home runs, 14 doubles and 38 RBI in 64 games
Analysis: Duda's second-half and Triple-A numbers suggest he can be a key cog in the Mets lineup. Duda hit .310 with a .398 OBP, .606 slugging percentage and 1.003 OPS in 108 games at Triple-A. There's no need to reach for Duda on Draft Day, but he has sleeper written all over him. Don't forget the Mets are bringing in the fences at Citi Field. Duda hit .317 at home last season, but he had just two homers in 48 games. That latter number should rise in 2012.
More outfielders coming off strong finishes
John Mayberry, Phillies: .299 AVG, .576 SLG, .931 OPS, 8 2Bs, 10 HRs, 30 RBI in 54 games
Jerry Sands, Dodgers: .342 AVG, .415 OBP, .908 OPS, 2 HRs, 5 2Bs, 9 RBI in 20 games
Yonder Alonso, Padres: .330 AVG, .398 OBP, .545 SLG, .943 OPS, 4 2Bs, 5 HRs, 15 RBI in 47 games
Andruw Jones, Yankees: .291 AVG, .416 OBP, .612 SLG, 1.028 OPS, 6 2Bs, 9 HRs, 21 RBI in 41 games
Rafael Betancourt, RP, Rockies
Second-half numbers: 0-0, 0.33 ERA, 0.30 WHIP, two runs (one earned), one walk, eight saves and 39 strikeouts in 27 innings
Analysis: The big difference for Betancourt, who completely flipped the script in the second half last season after he inherited the closer's role from an injured Huston Street, was that he went from unlucky to lucky. He had a .330 BABIP in the first half, as opposed to an outstanding .122 mark in the second half. His career BABIP is .283, which is right around the norm. It's unfair to expect that second-half stat line from Betancourt all year in 2012, but he is still one of the more intriguing sleeper relief pitchers because of his high strikeout rate.
Derek Holland, SP, Rangers
Second-half numbers: 9-1, 3.06 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, two complete-game shutouts, 35 runs (30 earned), 26 walks and 80 strikeouts in 88 1/3 innings (14 starts)
Analysis: Holland improved at throwing strikes in 2011 and that helped him lower his fly-ball rate to 33.6 percent, which was down from 42.7 percent in 2010. Holland's strikeouts per nine innings also rose in the second half last season to 8.2 from 6.7 in the first half. The good news for Fantasy owners is that luck had nothing to do with Holland's second-half surge. He had a .291 BABIP in his final 14 starts, which is right around the norm, so consider Holland a very good mid-round bargain on Draft Day.
Jeremy Hellickson, SP, Rays
Second-half numbers: 5-3, 2.64 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 25 runs, 49 strikeouts and 33 walks in 85 1/3 innings (13 starts)
Analysis: Hellickson's biggest blemish from his first full season in the majors was his high walk rate. Otherwise, he stormed away with AL Rookie of the Year honors. Hellickson hasn't been a great strikeout pitcher in the majors, which is why some Fantasy owners will be more inclined to take teammate Matt Moore over Hellickson on Draft Day. Another area of concern is that the fly-ball pitcher has been extremely lucky in his career. Hellickson has a career .230 BABIP at the MLB level. Keep Hellickson on your radar as a mid-round, mid-rotation Fantasy arm.
R.A. Dickey, SP, Mets
Second-half numbers: 4-6, 2.87 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 33 runs (30 earned), 56 strikeouts and 19 walks in 94 innings (14 starts)
Analysis: Dickey is going to get overlooked on Draft Day because he doesn't have a high strikeout rate and pitches for a non-contender, but he is averaging 403.5 Fantasy points the last two seasons. A key the last two seasons for Dickey has been a high groundball rate. He was at 55.1 percent in 2010 and 50.8 percent in 2011. Dickey is not going to be a Fantasy ace, but he can deliver great value as a late-round pick.
Doug Fister, SP, Tigers
Second-half numbers: 8-3, 2.47 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 31 runs (25 earned), 67 strikeouts and 11 walks in 91 innings (13 starts)
Analysis: After years of poor run support in Seattle, Fister was dealt to the Tigers at the July trade deadline and blossomed into a reliable Fantasy option. Fister has the ability to flourish on a contender. He doesn't beat himself with a career 1.18 WHIP and 1.7 walks per nine innings. He was a bit more lucky than usual in the second half (.245 BABIP), but even if that rises slightly, Fister should still have respectable numbers. His strikeout rate also climbed to a career-high 7.3 with Detroit, so consider it a steal if you grab Fister in the middle rounds on Draft Day.
Ted Lilly, SP, Dodgers
Second-half numbers: 6-5, 2.94 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 80 strikeouts and 29 walks in 85 2/3 innings (14 starts)
Analysis: It went from unlucky to very lucky for Lilly last season. He posted a .298 BABIP in the first half and then it fell to .217 in the second half. His career average is .270, so even Lilly's second-half run was out of the norm for him. Lilly continues to be a fly-ball pitcher, but he has made fewer than 30 starts just twice in the last nine seasons and has won 10-plus games each year since 2003. Let Lilly fall to the late rounds on Draft Day and consider him a back-of-the-rotation arm.
More pitchers coming off strong finishes
Jeff Samardzija, Cubs: 3-0, 2.23 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 12 runs (nine ER), 35 Ks, 16 BBs in 36 1/3 innings
Alfredo Aceves, Red Sox: 6-1, 1.77 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 11 runs, 47 Ks, 18 BBs in 56 innings
Ivan Nova, Yankees: 8-0, 3.18 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 26 runs, 47 Ks, 20 BBs in 73 2/3 innings (11 starts)
Brandon McCarthy, A's: 8-4, 3.15 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 36 runs (33 ER), 77 Ks, 13 BBs in 94 1/3 innings (14 starts)
Jeff Niemann, Rays: 7-3, 3.75 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 35 runs (34 ER), 72 Ks, 23 BBs in 81 2/3 innings (13 starts)
Luke Hochevar, Royals: 6-3, 3.52 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 34 runs (31 ER), 68 Ks, 24 BBs in 79 1/3 innings (12 starts)
Vance Worley, Phillies: 7-2, 3.48 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 32 runs, 82 Ks, 26 BBs in 82 2/3 innings (13 starts)
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