Emerging profit-growth picks include Internet companies like Priceline Group, which has risen nearly 10 percent this year, and Web-travel rival TripAdvisor. Netflix, Starbucks and Time Warner round out Goldman's consumer picks.
Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P, said the 24 percent return spread between the top 10 S&P 500 stocks and the rest of the index "is not a common occurrence." But he offered another way to view the data, which could provide some hope for stock pickers (though not as much for index fund investors).
The low index return, 0.23 percent year-to-date, is hiding the fact that 64 percent of the index has moved at least 10 percent year-to-date: 145 up and 178 down. It's also worth noting that valuations, while high, are not anywhere near the level of 1999 and 2000, when the return spread between the top 10 and the rest of the S&P 500 was 55 percent and 39.5 percent, respectively.
"There is definitely a sense of safety with a passive S&P 500 index investing strategy that is more fragile than they (investors) may realize due to the domination of just a few companies," Goldberg said. "By being selective, one can focus on growth names. ... Or, one may focus on picking the few diamonds in the rough within the lower 489 names. Or, one can employ both styles," he said.
— By Tim Mullaney, special to CNBC.com