5 MLB Players Who Heat Up After the All-Star Break
Even with the advanced conditioning techniques of the modern athlete, staying healthy for a full season is no easy task. The 162-game grind of the baseball season is bound to produce a few nicks and bruises along the way, causing players to wear down by August or September… most of the time.
Inexplicably, some players have developed a reputation for heating up when the rest of the league is cooling down. These five players are particularly prone to the late-season surge:
Something strange must happen to Troy Tulowitzki over the All-Star break. Throughout his career, first-half Troy has been decidedly mediocre — he sports a .267 average along with a middling .801 OPS. But once the Mid-Summer Classic is over, Tulo morphs into a completely different player. His batting average jumps nearly .50 points to .321, while his OPS reaches an amazing .944, ranking among the elite in Major League Baseball. Most impressively, Troy recorded a 15-homer, 40-RBI September in 2010, a performance matched only by Babe Ruth.
Phillies slugger Ryan Howard is exactly the sort of player that one would expect to break down over the course of a long season. At six-foot-four and 255 pounds, Ryan is one of the league’s bigger players, and big players have an unhappy marriage with bad legs. Still, the first baseman has displayed a penchant for the late summer power surge. His second-half OPS rises from a respectable .866 to an incredible .983, to go along with increases in his HR and RBI totals.
Say what you will about Zito’s struggles with the Giants, but the crafty left-hander has carved out a niche as one of the league’s top second-half pitchers. Barry’s career first-half totals of 75 wins, 77 losses, and a 4.14 ERA are unspectacular at best. On the other hand, his post-break turnarounds have become something of an annual event. Zito boasts an impressive 80-55 record, decreases in ERA and WHIP, and an opposing batting average of just .231. Not bad for a free agent bust.
In addition to his role as the unofficial leader of the upstart Nationals, Zimmerman routinely puts up some gaudy second-half numbers. Over the course of his career, the third baseman has posted a second-half batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage that are each at least 30 points higher than his first-half totals. Combine those numbers with marked improvements in his post-June HR and RBI production, and you have one of the league’s most dangerous late-season weapons.
At this point, Adam Laroche probably wishes he could play exclusively in the second-half of every Major League Baseball season. Throughout his career, the journeyman first baseman has posted abysmal early-season numbers. Laroche hits just .247 before the All-Star Game, along with an atrocious .222 average in April. Incredibly, he becomes one of the league’s best hitters from July onward, showing massive increases in power, batting average and OPS. To put this Jekyll/Hyde performance into perspective, Laroche’s 113-point increase in second-half OPS is the fourth-highest total of any player in the last 50 years.