Is your fantasy season half-over or half-started? It all comes down to your perspective (and probably whether or not you drafted Tim Lincecum).
Although we're at the point in the season when the standings start to cement into place, there's still a deceptive amount of time left to turn things around or put some distance between you and the pack.
If you're still paying attention to your team, you already have a decisive advantage of most of the owners who forgot the season continues after the Home Run Derby. And while guys like Carlos Santana might have been underwhelming so far, they can still be vital contributors down the stretch.
And things had been going so well. After a preseason filled with heightened expectations for Brett Lawrie, he was doing an admirable job living up to them.
The Jays super-sophomore hit .278 with two home runs and 13 in March and April, .287 with two home runs and eight RBI in May and then .310 with four home runs and 12 RBI in June. But a minor calf injury in July has been the least of his fantasy owners' concerns. Lawrie has been brutal with a .200 average and next to no power numbers.
Still, this is a former No. 1 draft pick with one previous August in the majors in the books—and he went .326 with six homers and 18 RBI. And he's already showing signs of life with a leadoff home run Sunday against the Red Sox, good for nine on the year.
If you have Ernesto Frieri, you probably got him for far less than he's been worth. Considering his ascent to the closer role depended on the failure of Jordan Walden, Frieri has been one of the biggest surprises of the season with 11 saves, 1.38 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 65 Ks in 39 innings.
But last week's power rankings weren't kind to Frieri, as his appearance after the All-Star break was especially rocky. He walked two, served up a homer to Mark Teixeira and allowed his first three runs as an Angel. And since Mike Scioscia gives Scott Downs some of the save chances, Frieri looks a lot less like the sure thing he did in June.
Don't let the splits fool you. In his next appearance—a non-save situation—Frieri struck out two of the three Tigers he put away, and he's still the favorite to close in Anaheim.
Eric Hosmer has broken more hearts this summer than Scarlett Johansson.
An attractive sleeper pick before the season, the Royals' second-year man has yet to justify that status. Nine homers and steals are relatively okay and all, but the .230 average is pretty tough to look at. But just as he appeared to have pulled things together with a .270 June, he's been testing his owners all this month. Zero homers, four RBI and 18 strike outs are pushing him off rosters.
While it's getting harder and harder to believe, Hosmer is absolutely capable of a five-homer, 18-RBI month at any time. He's still striking out less and walking more than he did last year, and at some point, his luck has to change.
J.J. Hardy hasn't been helping anyone lately—well, except for his fantasy owners' opponents.
He was a little bit of a mess going into the break (.193 with two home runs in June) and he's been even more of one coming out of it (.130 with one home run in July). But there's no denying Hardy is among the preeminent sluggers at the shortstop position—especially since Troy Tulowitzki is out. Even with Hardy's horrible run, he's still second among shortstops with 14 homers.
Think of him as Dan Uggla standing on the opposite side of second base. While the average will never impress, the homers come in bunches—and he just hit one Sunday.
Aside from spending most of the year on the DL, Berkman has been just a shell of his former self. He's batting .283 through 20 games total, but it took him a minute to come back after his injury earlier this month: He needed five games and nine at-bats before recording his first hit.
But the window on acquiring his services will soon shut. Berkman started two consecutive games for the first time over the weekend, and he went 2-for-5 with a double and steal. Even when he's healthy, he's prone to down months; but he's also among the top contenders to hit eight homers in any given month.
He's scary, that's for sure. Tommy Hanson has long been touted as a future ace, but his shoulder injury history has been enough to keep him from ever being much more than a third starter option.
This year, he was looking capable of delivering on his promise up until mid-summer. Although he went 4-0 in June, there were already signs he was falling off (he gave up eight home runs and struck out just 22 batters). But July has been another situation entirely, as Hunter has allowed 21 runs for an 8.10 ERA.
It's true he might have to wait another year to run at that "ace" designation, but if he's able to stay on the field, Hunter is sure to increase his value. A guy who puts up about 20 fantasy points per week can't put up negative points for more than two weeks in a row—and he just had two weeks like that.
If it wasn't for Jacoby Ellsbury, the most disappointing Red Sox player drafted within the first two rounds of most fantasy leagues would be Dustin Pedroia. (Maybe Adrian Gonzalez, too. But let's stick with Pedroia.)
Probably among the top three second basemen taken in your league, Pedroia has been ineffective when he's been on the field, hitting just .265 with six homers, six steals and 43 RBI. People are legitimately trading him for Kelly Johnson.
Odds are that Pedroia falls short of his career averages, but that doesn't mean he can't still climb back to the top of the second base rankings. He had two months last season where he hit below .250, then three where he hit .300 or better and one where he hit .404.
It doesn't get much worse than watching the projected No. 1 catcher in fantasy threatened with a demotion to the minors. But that's what owners of Carlos Santana have endured recently.
Santana is batting just .232, but he is a .238 career hitter. The glaring problem is that at this point, it seems like it would take him three seasons to hit 30 home runs—not just one and certainly not this one. So what's wrong? He's just not hitting the ball in the air. His strikeout and walk rates are right in line, but his HR/FB rate is 6.3 percent compared to 14.1 percent last year.
But Santana is 4-for-7 in his past two games and smacked two homers in the past week. He'll never lead the league in batting but considering how cheap he likely is right now, there could be no more significant upgrade you could potentially make at catcher.
You can't put up stats if you don't play. Thanks to a scheduling anomaly, Zack Greinke started three consecutive games for the Brewers before and after the break, and he hasn't pitched since July 13.
With all the trade rumors swirling ominously overhead and Greinke's occasional tendency to implode, his owners could be looking for a more stable option. After all, he's 0-1 in his four July starts and he's allowed 15 runs—eight more than he gave up in June.
However, Greinke is a habitual "buy low" candidate. Consistently under the radar, he's still on pace for 200 Ks and he looks like he'll be playing for a paycheck next year. I wouldn't give up Felix Hernandez for him, but he's definitely worth more than his current peers like Hiroki Kuroda and Mark Buehrle.
You really can't blame Carlos Beltran for his current status—well, not entirely.
Maybe it was just a little unrealistic to expect him to keep up his torrid early-season pace—he hit 20 home runs in just 70 games. A one-time top three pick in fantasy, Beltran shot back into the popular stratosphere in 2012 as a resurgent veteran, MVP candidate and the savior of St. Louis all in one.
But Beltran came tumbling back to reality this month with a .208 average, zero home runs and just seven RBI.
Is it time to give him away? Just the opposite. Beltran typically sees his average jump in the second half, and although he probably won't have another 52-point week like he had in May, he's much more likely to score around 20 (like he has most weeks) than around 12 (like he has the past few).