According to Katie Sharp of ESPN.Com, new Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche is a notorious second half slugger:
“Perhaps the Nationals should have waited until after the All-Star game to sign Adam LaRochewho has a history of heating up in the second half of the season. LaRoche has posted a .766 career OPS before the break and a .889 OPS after the break.
The 113-point gap in his first-half/second-half OPS is the fourth-largest differential over the last 50 years among players with at least 1,500 plate appearances both before and after the break.”
I’ve always weighed the options on whether or not it is good to have a streaky or consistent hitter. In the end two different guys can bat say .270/.340/.430, but have completely different outputs for their team. Look at Ivan Rodriguez last season. In April he batted .413 and helped drive the club to their most exciting start since 2005…and then he was pretty lousy for the rest of the season. Was it worth it to have the lousy (or in some people’s case average) second half in order to have his stellar first half?
In some cases I think so. When a player is hot he can carry a club, when he is cold, he doesn’t absolutely kill a club. The good news is for the Nationals that they struggled in the second half last year, so having a bat that performs better than is a good thing.