Ever since I started playing fantasy baseball and spending way too many hours reading expert commentary, the terms "first half player" and "second half player" have been a constant part of the vernacular. Coincidence or not, there was always a group of players who repeatedly excelled at certain times of the season while repeatedly struggling at other times. Adam LaRoche and Mark Teixeira are two players that come to mind who routinely got off to slow starts before heating up during the summer months. Over the years, I began to buy into this theory. Maybe it wasn't a coincidence. Maybe there were some players who simply needed a certain number of at-bats to get into a groove.
I could have taken this one step further by putting stock into monthly splits, but I figured it would be taking things too far. Still, the temptation to at least glance at these splits is often too strong to ignore. So, as we begin the month of May, let's take a look at last season's May leaders in the five standard hitting categories. How did they fare the rest of the way? How are they faring so far this season? Could they possibly enjoy an equally successful month of May in 2016? Note that I'm using Hits instead of AVG.
Jason Kipnis (51) - After batting .429 with four homers and 17 RBI last May, Kipnis failed to hit more than two home runs or record more than eight RBI in any of the season's final four months. Although he finished the year with a stellar .303 batting average to go along with 86 runs scored, the power and speed production (9 HR, 12 SB) left a lot to be desired. This season could be a different story for the Indians second baseman, as his three homers and three steals through 20 games has him on pace for his first career 20/20 campaign.
Bryce Harper (13) - Who else but the NL MVP? The month of May turned out to be Harper's most productive month overall, as he batted .360 with 13 homers and 28 RBI. The rest of his season was pretty good too, and Bryce has been outstanding so far this year. Don't be surprised if he's the clear-cut No. 1 overall pick in drafts next spring.
Ryan Braun/Prince Fielder/Bryce Harper (28) - In addition to Harper, Braun and Fielder both made their fantasy owners smile last May, and both entered the season with legitimate injury concerns. By season's end, Braun was the only player in baseball with at least 25 homers and 24 steals. Despite his fine 2015 performance, the injury risk factor once again lowered Braun's draft day price this year, and owners who were willing to take a chance on him are so far feeling good about their decision. Through 21 games, Milwaukee's right fielder is batting .338 with five homers, 17 RBI and two swipes. As for Fielder, after going .305-23-98 last season, he's off to a so-so start this year, batting a meager .193 with a modest two home runs but a solid 16 RBI. Prince has been an ultra-consistent run producer when healthy, so fantasy owners should be pleased about their investment, especially since his DH-only status likely shaved a few bucks off his price tag.
Jason Kipnis (30) - See above, though I must add that Kipnis has never disappointed in the runs department, and I don't expect him to disappoint this year.
Dee Gordon (12) - Well, I guess Gordon won't be stealing 12 bases this May. In fact, he won't be stealing any bases. News of his 80-game suspension really came out of nowhere, and it's obviously a tough break for his fantasy owners. But this is the downside of building your squad around a dominant speedster. Those who spent a top-30 pick on Gordon penciled him in for 50-plus steals and likely did not draft enough 20-plus SB guys. I prefer to spread the risk. The good news is that Gordon will be back, and with two-plus months to make up ground, he could still finish the season with 25-30 steals.
But that's just an estimate. I'll need to check his August, September and October splits from last year to give you an exact number.