With the first half now in the books, it’s time to take inventory on the OBP/OPS delights and surprises and forecast a bit for the second half.

Let’s start at the top with the undisputed OBP/OPS King of the first half of 2015, Bryce Harper. Harper has paced the league in both categories since late April and hasn’t looked back yet. Harper has a .464 OBP and a whopping 1.168 OPS. Only Miguel Cabrera and Paul Goldschmidt are really in the neighborhood with respect to either category. I do expect Harper’s blistering first half to be the best we’ll see from him. I don’t expect another 1.168 OPS going forward, but he should still wind up in the top spot or so in the season’s end, so don’t expect significant regression. Remember those commercials that showed Harper yucking it up next to the Bambino, in grainy, black and white? It seemed absurd at the time, and it still is, but Harper is at least holding up his end of the bargain when Sports Illustrated dubbed him “The Chosen One.” I’m all in on Harper for the second-half and in 2016 and beyond.

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Grey pointed this out in yesterday’s recap, but I feel it deserves some special attention here: Ruin Tomorrow Jr. has come out and said that Cesar Hernandez has wrestled the starting second base position away from Chase Utley in Philadelphia. While Utley is being shamed, which is a bummer way to close out a stellar career, the upside here is that we get to see more of Cesar. Cesar has been leading off or hitting second for the anemic Phillies lineup, with ridiculous success. In the past two weeks, Cesar is 26-for-58 with 9 steals and a .508 OBP (1.025 OPS). Yeesh! Cesar has been benefitting from an inflated .535 BABIP and will certainly fall to earth, but the speed should help soften the descent. I don’t think Cesar is the next Dee Gordon, but Gordon-lite? Sure. Cesar could post an OBP in the neighborhood of .340 over a full season with 35 steals, based on his minor league track record.

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So, an old boss of mine used to talk about how she was friends with Chris Coghlan. This was back when Coghlan was kind of hip and new. Back when Coghlan won Rookie of the Year (the kind of ROY where we all groan, knowing that it’s probably another Angel Berroa or Bobby Crosby type selection, soon to fizzle out). Anyhow, my boss went to school with him and bragged about it. So of course, I remember ruthlessly hoping for him to fail, for no particular reason other than seeing her reaction. It was petty, and silly, and ultimately, it totally happened. Coghlan sputtered out of Miami and bounced up and down the minor leagues for a bit before resurfacing in Chicago. Let this post be my penitence. Coghlan has been surprisingly decent this season, posting a nice blend of power (8) and speed (5).  Better still for this column, Coghlan has a .462 OBP over the past two weeks (.571 over the past 7 days), going 12-for-40. His playing time has been a bit sporadic with a crowded outfield now featuring Matt Szczur, but he is still a viable play in deeper OBP formats.

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The Kraken of 06010 fame, Jason Heyward, has erupted. Heyward has gone 12-for-24 this past week with an eye popping 1.478 OPS. He has homered in three consecutive games, going 1-for-3 with a dinger and 3 RBI last night. Heyward has had some unfair comparisons thrown his way early in his career, even picking up the outrageously unfair “J-Hey Kid” nickname in his rookie season. He is a man child, looking well past his age, kind of like Greg Oden or LeBron James, so let’s not forget that he is still just 25 years old. Heyward hit 27 homers in 2012 with a .814 OPS but has since posted disappointingly low totals. With 9 homers on the year, he is now on pace for about 21. I could see him doing a bit better than that. I’m going to predict that his year-end OPS sits right around .800. I’m buying.

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I watched the remake of Clash of the Titans for the second time, hoping it wasn’t going to be as god-awful (get it?) as it was when I first sat through it. My hope was quickly extinguished, or as Tehol might opine, I thought I was safe and happy until this film made my joy turn to ashes in my mouth. I enjoy Liam Neeson and tolerate Sam Worthington, but I just couldn’t get into this one (despite the excellent special effects work). How does this relate to OBP? Loosely, but stay with me. I mentioned that Shin-Soo Choo was an OBP demigod last week. If Choo was a demigod of OBP, let’s call him Perseus (Sam Worthington). Every Perseus needs an Olympian father and Joey Votto plays that role, as the Poseidon (Danny Huston) of OBP.

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Quick, who leads the Colorado Rockies in hits? How about batting average? And most importantly for this column, who leads the Rockies in OBP?

If you said Troy Tulowitzki or Nolan Arenado, you’d be wrong. If you said Carlos Gonzalez, you’d be really wrong. The correct answer is D.J. LeMahieu. LeMahieu has been one of the Rockies best batters to start the season and, after a bit of a production dip, has started to hit well again. Walt Weiss has begun experimenting with LeMahieu in the 2-hole, which in a decent Rockies lineup, could lead to some runs. I wouldn’t go out of my way to acquire him, but if he is available on the wire or if someone is wanting to deal him, he is worth the look. His .394 OBP is not sustainable (career .322), but even a marginal slide backwards would be serviceable in most leagues at second base.

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This week I will illustrate some young players adapting to the big leagues both in the outfield and the infield to help your teams. If you play in OBP or keeper leagues, these players should be gone, but in shallower leagues or possibly leagues where owners think back to last year, they may still be in play. The trend emphasized is an improvement in OBP and OPS skills, and a display of confidence in the show.

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Being a consumer of Razzball for years, I’m sure many of you already participate in or know OBP or On-Base Percentage league(s). The metric has eased into MLB broadcasts (along with OPS) as an advanced way of measuring player value and performance. During the course of the season we will look at OBP, OPS, WQS, OPS, RC27 and assorted other measurements to put a lens on how these scoring leagues may differ from standard leagues. This is not a commentary on what type of leagues you should play in, I enjoy playing in all kinds of baseball leagues, Head to Head, Rotisserie, etc… The idea is to provide you some insight, which I hope is helpful regardless of your favorite format.

For the opening week of 2015, I hope you’ve avoided a closer surprise (injury or trade for instance), a starter clutching his arm, or an ex-MVP suddenly hurting his ribs. If you have avoided this, your lineup can benefit with a speculative stash, so stay right here. Most fantasy leagues allow 2 DL spots, look around your league, someone is using them to stash value right now. I didn’t remember to look at this until after I saw Matt Weiters come up in a league with his elbow being on the mend. For longtime RCL leaguers, apologies for “DL 101,” but if you’re new like me, take a look at your wire:

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It is about that time…you’re checking Grey’s daily updates, dreaming about your draft position, and in need of those last minute tips. As high-profile fantasy leagues like Tout Wars and broadcasts begin to infuse OBP an advanced way to look at player productivity, this is an effort to provide you with more data for your OBP drafts this year. First, a few notes to consider while reading…

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From being a consumer of Razzball for a few years, I’m sure many of you already are in or know of OBP or On-base percentage league(s). Chances are if you’re playing in an OBP league, you’re playing with some seasoned teams. The metric has eased into MLB broadcasts and has become an important measurements as to a players overall worth more so than batting average. However the player gets on first, whether he leaves the bat on his shoulder or gets plunked, the idea is, it’s just the same as a base knock. If you play in competitive leagues, I advocate changing from AVG to OBP, for me it increased my understanding of different players who didn’t always get the recognition but are valuable to their teams.

When looking at outfield and considering OBP, you want to consider “does this player make a living beating out bunts?” Speed players generally have lower OBP because they want the ball in play so they can run out a single. It does not translate to all players, but as you look at the rankings, you’ll see players like Billy Hamilton or an Anthony Gose can compromise your OBP category in a Rotisserie league or H2H. Yes, you’re not drafting Hamilton for his OBP (or AVG depending what league you play in), but just know, if he gets 550 + ABs, that will hold down your team ranking in that category for the year unless the makeup of your other players compensate.

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