For many the All-Star break is a chance to get recognized for how well they've played for the past four months. For others, it is a perfect opportunity to get healthy or make some changes in their game to prepare for a big second half.
Here are nine players who have seen their stocks drop but will see a boost in production as the second half comes rolling in.
1. Coming into the season I was very high on Brian Matusz, he even showed signs of off-season growth in his first two starts of the year (11 IP, 3 ER). However, since his start against Oakland on June 6 his ERA exploded to 8.77 and he lost four consecutive starts. It is no secret that Matusz is a talented pitcher, but he's currently attempting to fix himself in triple-A, but when he returns from the minors you can expect a different pitcher. Last season his ERA dropped more than a full run after the All-Star break and he emerged as one of baseball's best young pitchers. The same thing can happen in 2011.
2. The Oakland rotation has been ravaged by injuries but they still boast the third best team and starters ERA. For Oakland's young starters the All-Star break will be just like extra rehab time without being on the disabled list. Tyson Ross, who is nearly done rehabbing at triple-A sacramento, can use the time to get back to the big leagues. Brandon McCarthy is fresh off a DL stint and successful return to action and will welcome a few extra days between starts. The oft-injured Rich Harden, who still has some value, will be able to shake off his recent loss to Texas where he lasted just five innings. The lone Oakland All-Star, Gio Gonzalez, might actually pitch in the game, but he won't take a hit. If anything it will strengthen his confidence. There aren't many pretty names on the Oakland depth chart, but there is plenty of value in the Oakland rotation and this break will only help their cause.
3. Dan Uggla has been better in the power department this month with 5 home runs and 12 RBIs even though his average is still suffering. Uggla has never been a go-to-guy for batting average, but he is starting to remember hot to hit the long ball consistently and could use a four day break from baseball to get himself back on track.
4. Joe Nathan hasn't done much since returning from Tommy John Surgery this year. He started the season as the Twins closer but lost that job after blowing 2 of his first five save chances. Another DL stint sidelined him for most of June, but this only helped him find his old self. He's allowed just one run in his last five innings and his velocity has returned. He even could have been used to close out Minnesota's game on Wednesday if the situation arose. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire keeps up that Matt Capps (16.88 ERA in July with 1 blown save) is his closer, but if Nathan keeps up his recent success there might be a closer battle in the Twin Cities after the break. Keep a close tab on the once-elite Nathan.
5. Jose Canseco has some interesting advice for Adam Dunn that might fix the broken slugger's problems. We all know the story for Dunn, new team, new league, unfamiliar pitching and no first base. I think Ozzie Gullen might have to start tricking Dunn into thinking he's playing first base in order to get him to start producing at the plate. Dunn hits much better when he is in the field than he does when he is the DH, but there is no way Konerko is going to move from first base. Maybe all Dunn needs to get him going is a little break from it all.
6. Ubaldo Jimenez has been far from dominant this year like he was in 2010, but he's been showing some signs of life (2.45 ERA in June). His only July start wasn't pretty (3 earned runs in 5.1 innings) but he recorded 9 strikeouts. It is only a matter of time before Jimenez realizes his problems and he puts together a complete season. This break gives him a chance to restart and get himself together. He is a solid second half option.
7. After back to back seasons of opening up the year with a home run, it seems we've all forgotten about Braves right fielder Jason Heyward. He was stellar in April and gave us all hope of a breakout year with 6 home runs and a OPS of .840, but since then he's been lifeless. A DL stint kept him from playing in some of May and half of June, but even then we've watched his average dip to .233 on the year. His batting average this month is a paltry .182 and he has just 2 homers since April 30. Good news for Heyward is that this break is mandatory and isn't because of an injury. Expect him to come back a different player.
8. Evan Longoria got off to rough start this season. After being drafted highly in nearly every league, he practically started the season on the disabled list and when he has played it hasn't been the same player we saw over the last three seasons. The power is there (11 HRs in 58 games) but his average has hovered around .250 almost the entire season. We haven't seen any of the speed he alluded to having when he stole 15 bags last year. A fresh second half is something I'm sure Longoria and all his owners will welcome.
9. If you drafted Hanley Ramirez second overall in your league then you're most likely shaking your head in disgust, but things are looking up for HanRam. The disabled list has kept him off the field at various points this season, but even when he was healthy he wasn't hitting, until the calendar turned to July. He is 10-26 this month with 2 homers and 8 RBIs. It might be too late for his final stat line, but what he does the rest of season is what I'm interested in. His OPS has only increased from this point on in his career (.904 in July, .954 in August, .952 in September/October) and now he has a few extra days to rest his banged-up body. Expect Hanley-like numbers from this point forward.
Take a closer look at some of the top young sleepers for the second half that are available on the waiver wire.