While it is true that second half success isn't always an accurate predictor of future success, post-All-Star break splits are something that many fantasy baseball owners (me included) take into consideration when preparing for drafts each spring. Was there a clear reason behind the statistical surge? How likely is it that the player will carry over these gains into the following season? But, we have all winter to ponder that question. For now, here's a look at some of this year's top second half performers within the five standard rotisserie hitting categories heading into Saturday. Note that I'm using Hits instead of average.
Carlos Gonzalez: 24 Home Runs (1st in MLB) - Something strange has happened this year. Car-Go has actually stayed healthy, and while his current .270 batting average is well below his career mark of .290 and he's not stealing bases anymore, his 37 homers place him 2nd in the NL, behind his teammate, Nolan Arenado. Owners who took a chance on Gonzalez this year certainly netted a nice profit, but he still went for $26 in Mixed Auction Tout Wars, far from a bargain basement price. Considering his lengthy injury history and his guaranteed higher price tag next season, I won't be a Gonzalez owner in 2016.
Josh Donaldson: 57 RBI (1st in MLB) - I'll admit it, I wasn't targeting Donaldson at all in drafts this year, and it wasn't because I didn't think he would have a productive season. Now with the Blue Jays and playing his home games in a hitter's park, maybe he would improve upon last season's .255-29-98 line. But judging from draft results, the market was valuing him as if he would significantly improve upon that line ($32 in Mixed Auction Tout Wars), and I wasn't so sure about that. As it turned out, the market was right. With three weeks remaining in the 2015 regular season, Donaldson is the favorite to win the AL MVP, and I will never doubt him again.
Xander Bogaerts: 73 Hits (1st in MLB) - Bogaerts struggled throughout much of his first full season in the big leagues last year, but he is finally showing why he was such a highly regarded prospect. The Red Sox shortstop is batting .346 in the second half, this after hitting a not too shabby .304 prior to the All-Star break. My concern with Bogaerts from a fantasy perspective, however, is that outside of average, he doesn't offer much. The good news is that he will be only 23 on Opening Day 2016, so an improvement in the power department isn't out of the question.
Curtis Granderson: 43 Runs (5th in MLB) - Yeah, Granderson has benefited from a much-improved Mets offense in the second half, but the reality is that the veteran outfielder is rather quietly enjoying a tremendous season, both in real life and in fantasy. Not only does he rank 6th in the NL in runs (86), but Granderson has posted his highest on-base percentage (.362) since his career-best 2011 campaign. And then there's the 23 homers and 11 steals. The four-year, $60 million contract the Mets handed to him following the 2013 season doesn't look so crazy after all.
DJ LeMahieu: 11 Stolen Bases (7th in MLB) - LeMahieu opened the 2015 season on the waiver wire in most mixed leagues, but it wasn't long before he became a must-own player. The Rockies second baseman will finish the year with career-bests in every standard rotisserie category, and I didn't even realize before looking it up that he's still only 27 years of age. As long as he remains a Rockie and continues to play half of his games at Coors Field, where he's a career .319 hitter, LeMahieu will carry plenty of fantasy appeal as a middle infielder who can hit for a high average and steal 20-plus bases.
Second half success might not always be an accurate predictor of future success, but since most fantasy owners have short memories, the second half leaderboards tend to significantly influence the draft stocks of certain players. So why wait? Decide right now whether or not you're willing to invest in these guys next season.
OK, you don't have to decide right now.
That's what the next six months are for.