The All-Star break can be an unusual time for Fantasy owners. After checking your lineup, box scores, and the waiver wire day in and day out for the past three months, there are no games to watch and no scores to check for the next few days.
If you’re like me, you’ll use the time wisely and, just like a real GM, use the All-Star break to reevaluate your roster, refresh your perspective on your lineup, and try to make that under-the-radar move that can shift your squad into championship contention. With the trade deadline (Fantasy and otherwise) now just weeks away, you can get those trade talks moving in the coming days, or simply find that diamond in the rough that remains on the waiver wire.
With the Midsummer Classic in mind, I’ve found five former All-Stars that could be difference-makers down the stretch. Some are already where they need to be, and others are likely to be aided by a trade prior to the July 31 trade deadline, but these former All-Stars make worthy additions following this week’s All-Star festivities.
Nab Napoli for Post-Break Power Boost
When a veteran like Mike Napoli is sitting at career lows in batting average (.194), OBP (.273), and OPS (.710) at the All-Star Break, that’s the kind of guy I want to buy in on. Despite those putrid numbers and striking out in nearly one-third of his at-bats (32.5 percent), the 2012 All-Star has still racked up 18 home runs in the first half.
Napoli’s power production certainly hasn’t disappointed, as he’s on pace to quietly eclipse the career-high of 34 homers he set just last season. The 35-year-old also has a .215 BABIP meaning his average and counting stats are bound to course correct after the All-Star Break as well. His powers numbers alone make the former All-Star worth adding in AL-only and mixed leagues, so grab Napoli before another savvy owners notices the undervalued commodity sitting on the waiver wire.
Plan to Make A Play for Pence
Another player hitting way below his career averages is three-time All-Star Hunter Pence. After a terribly slow start, Pence put up a solid June in which he hit .310 with two homers, 14 RBIs, and 12 runs scored in 24 games. Expect stats closer to that rather than the three homers, 16 RBIs, and 14 runs he scored in April and May combined.
Pence is too good a baseball player to continue putting up numbers like that, and he already jacked another homer and put up five more RBIs in just eight July games coming into the All-Star Break. Look for a power surge in the second half, as Pence’s .660 OPS is way below his career number of .802. As long as the former All-Star stays healthy, he should be a useful asset in NL-only and deep mixed leagues following the break.
Knuckleballer Should be Solid Second-Half Streamer
R.A. Dickey has been pitching like an All-Star since mid-June. Over his last four starts, the 2012 All-Star has allowed one run or fewer while lowering his season ERA from 5.35 to 4.23 and his WHIP from 1.51 to 1.34. In those outings, Dickey also struck out 23 batters in 27 innings and picked up two wins (both at home).
And that’s where you need to consider using Dickey — whenever he starts at SunTrust Park in Atlanta. So far this season, the knuckleballer is 5-1 with a 3.30 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP at his new home ballpark. Streaming Dickey in home starts in the second half is where the veteran’s value lies, so keep an eye on where he lines up coming out of the All-Star Break.
Trade Could Put Former Closer In Line for Saves
Sean Doolittle is the kind of relief pitcher that catches my eye this time of year. He has everything I covet in a reliever, except that he doesn’t get save opportunities — something that could change very soon. Doolittle currently owns a 3.54 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, and strikes out close to 13 batters per nine. The 2014 All-Star also walks less than one per nine (0.89 BB/9), making him the perfect closer-in-waiting candidate for the A’s, and Fantasy owners.
With Oakland sitting in the cellar of the AL West, Billy Beane will most definitely be selling at the trade deadline and current A’s closer Santiago Casilla is a name being floated in trade talks. If and when Casilla gets shipped, Doolittle has proven to be comfortable in the closer’s role, converting 36 out of 50 save chances in his career, including three out of four this season. If you have a need for saves, make a speculative add of Doolittle as he could be thrust into the ninth-inning role before too long.
Prado Primed for Post All-Star Surge
Martin Prado makes for the perfect MLB trade deadline acquisition. He can play multiple positions, hit for average, and won’t hurt you no matter where you insert him into the lineup. It’s those same attributes that make me like him from a Fantasy perspective.
You might be thinking how can you tout a guy batting .262 with two homers, 12 runs scored, and 12 RBIs in just 33 games? The answer is simple. It’s because Prado is better than those numbers suggest, as he proven with his career .292 average, .341 OBP, and .763 OPS.
The 2010 All-Star is a typical high-floor, low-ceiling waiver grab that should get a nice bump in his counting stats, if and when he gets traded. Prado will be a veteran upgrade with versatility for whatever MLB team he moves to at the trade deadline and he could do the same for your Fantasy squad. Monitor where Prado ends up, and if it’s the Yankees or Red Sox, that should be enough to merit adding him to your roster.
Use these next few days to analyze and over-analyze who’s worthy of an add, but be sure to consider these former All-Stars as they’re all in solid situations to contribute coming out of the All-Star Break.