Use All-Star break to add underrated players
Vogt, Duda, Wong, among others, should have solid numbers in second half
The week of the All-Star break is a great time to step back from the daily action and assess the needs of fantasy rosters for the final stretch. It is also a great chance to take advantage of the four-day break and load up on underrated starters who can provide K's and wins in favorable matchups. Here are some players who should generate plenty of interest:
Catcher, Stephen Vogt (A's): Productive catchers are hard to find, and Vogt is red hot right now. The 29-year-old is hitting .367 after collecting 16 hits during a 10-game hitting streak. Vogt lacks power, but the A's are finding a way to get his bat into the lineup on a regular basis. Vogt can help in two-catcher leagues.
First baseman, Lucas Duda (Mets): Consistency is Duda's calling card. Fantasy owners can count on him to get on base, slug a few homers and drive in roughly 15 runs each month. He is unlikely to have the dominant stretches of the streakier power hitters, but his numbers will likely be better at the end of September.
Second baseman, Kolten Wong (Cardinals): Wong has teased fantasy owners at times this season, and the talented youngster is trending up again. He has hit three homers in five games since coming off the disabled list, so this is a great time to pick him up.
Shortstop, Jordy Mercer (Pirates): Mercer collected 14 hits during a nine-game hitting streak that ended on Thursday -- that should be enough to put him back on the radar in mixed leagues. Mercer would have more value if the Bucs were to move him up in the lineup, but shortstops who can hit for power and average are hard to find.
Third base, Chase Headley (Padres): Headley's inclusion on this list is more about what he could become than what he is right now. The 30-year-old is a prime candidate to be traded this month, and his value would soar if he were to become the third baseman for a team in a more hitter-friendly venue.
Outfielder, Lorenzo Cain (Royals): After years of teasing fantasy owners, Cain seems to have finally broken through as a speedy high-average hitter. Since July 4, the 28-year-old has picked up 12 hits and five steals in seven contests.
Outfielder, David Peralta (D-backs): The 26-year-old arrived to the Majors without much fanfare, but he is hitting as well as the highly touted prospects. A .325 batting average has earned Peralta some time in the two-hole in front of superstar Paul Goldschmidt. Peralta could score plenty of runs from that spot.
Outfielder: Kevin Kiermaier (Rays): Kiermaier came to the Majors with the reputation of a basestealer, but he has flipped his profile by collecting eight homers and one steal in 148 at-bats. In a perfect scenario, the 24-year-old maintains his power, a .297 batting average and has started to run the bases more aggressively.
Starter, Bartolo Colon (Mets): The Mets travel to San Diego after the All-Star break, which should result in some low-scoring games at pitcher-friendly Petco Park. Colon should get a start in that series, as the team pushes its youngsters to the back of the rotation in an effort to limit their innings. Colon is extremely effective in pitchers' parks, so he should lower his 3.99 ERA and 1.18 WHIP.
Starter, Dillon Gee (Mets): Like Colon, Gee should get a start during the series in San Diego. The 28-year-old has many innings to give during the second half, unlike the team's younger starters. Gee has been outstanding in nine starts this season, with a 2.56 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. He should have little trouble holding the Padres in check.
Starter, Clay Buchholz (Red Sox): The 29-year-old has thrown more than six innings in each of his three starts since coming off the DL. Next up, he will likely get a home start against a Royals squad that lacks power hitters and could be without arguably its best hitter in Alex Gordon.
Starter, Charlie Morton (Pirates): The Pirates will start the second half at home against the Rockies, who are 3-7 in their last 10 games. Colorado has the worst road record in baseball and it is struggling to find innings eaters for the rotation. The Bucs should have a major pitching advantage in each game, and underrated hurlers such as Morton, Jeff Locke and Vance Worley are all worth a look.
Starter, Jimmy Nelson (Brewers): Nelson has gone 10-2 with a 1.46 ERA and 114 K's in 111 innings in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League this season. The 25-year-old seems more than ready for his shot at a Major League rotation spot. The Brewers have made rumblings about calling up Nelson for a Saturday start. Either way, he could have a permanent spot in place of homer-prone Marco Estrada by the end of July.
Starter, Wade Miley (D-backs): Miley owns a strong strikeout rate, and he has tossed three quality starts in his past four tries. The D-backs will open the second half against a Cubs squad that is 19-32 on the road this season. The Cubs are 27th in runs scored, and they are struggling to plug holes in their rotation.
Reliever, Brad Ziegler (D-backs): Addison Reed has allowed nine homers this season, and his inability to keep the ball in the yard could soon cost the closer his role. Ziegler has been the steadier reliever, with a 2.47 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP, and he could soon take over ninth-inning duties.
Reliever, Santiago Casilla (Giants): There is a chance that Sergio Romo will regain his closer's role during the second half, but Casilla is a great short-term option for saves-needy teams. The 33-year-old owns a 1.05 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP, and he could pitch so well that the team keeps him in the ninth inning, even when Romo regains his form.
Fred Zinkie is a Fantasy writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.