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Fantasy Fix: Second-Half Sleepers

The second half of the baseball season, starting Thursday, may yield some great under-the-radar waiver wire pick-ups while your fantasy baseball mates are obsessing about trade deadline moves.

There are a number of players, widely available in most leagues, who would be good for a long bet if you have the roster space to spare. In some cases, they have been on the DL so long they were forgotten. In other cases, they had disappointing first halves and are primed to bloom late.

Here are a few ideas:

Johan Santana, SP, NY Mets: As of last week, Santana was nearing the opportunity to throw to batters, and while a timetable for his return isn't clear, it is looking likely you will get at least a full month, if not more, of starts out of him before fantasy playoffs. Here's to hoping he hasn't lost his touch.

Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pittsburgh: One of my preseason faves, he wallowed on the DL and had a couple of setbacks, but recently was promoted back to AAA. He started very slowly at the season's start but appeared to get hot right before his injury. Last year, he was one of the best players of the second half.

Travis Snider, OF, Toronto: Another young gun who got off to a fairly bad start, though if memory serves, he was actually leading the Blue Jays in RBIs after the first couple weeks of the season. He recently returned to put on a brief display of hitting chops (.367, 1 HR 8 RBIs in the last two weeks), and it appears he will get more playing time with Juan Rivera getting traded to the Dodgers this week.

Nate Schierholtz, OF, San Francisco: Three of his seven homers and 11 of his 31 RBIs have come in the last two weeks, a period during which he hit .431.

Gordon Beckham, 2B, White Sox: Yes, another disappointing first half, though not as bad as 2010. Beckham has hit .349 in the last two weeks, and I think is poised for hot second half as the Sox look for a savior.

Danny Valencia, 3B, Minnesota: Another slow starter who has gotten hot with the weather along with his team's rebound from April-May disaster. The Twins still have a lot of important players out or playing less than 100 percent, but that may leave RBI opportunities to Valencia, who has had 19 of them in the last month.

Andrew Cashner, SP/RP, Cubs: Officially he is only still an RP, having been injured in his first start in April. Don't expect him to save the Cubs, but when he gets back, I like him for strikeouts, ERA and the occasional big blue W.

Dayan Viciedo, OF, White Sox: Southsiders, or at least the media, have been clamoring for him, and Kenny and Ozzie must oblige at some point. Unless the Sox start the second half with an extended winning streak, I bet we'll see him before August 1, and will be measuring his numerous home runs soon after.

Barry Zito, SP, San Francisco: He quietly returned in the last two weeks, posting three wins and a 1.12 ERA in that span. Ryan Vogelsong stole his job in the first half, but Zito has been the better of the two recently. His value could rise quickly if the Yankees want his arm and salary.

Aroldis Chapman, RP, Cincinnati: Seventeen strikeouts in 8.2 innings since returning last month, with a 1.04 ERA (actually 0.00 in his last seven innings). The Reds have closer problems, and I like Chapman to at least move closer to being a full-time closer.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Roto Arcade has another fantasy stat for those of us who don't have our head full of them yet. Take a look at the rankings for which SPs are best at putting away lead-off batters.

* Bleacher Report has a list of players to watch after the All-Star break, like Albert Pujols. But, somebody in your league probably has Pujols, I'm betting.

* Fantasy CPR has pick-up advice for those who have lost Alex Rodriguez to injury. Emilio Bonifacio, 3B/SS, Florida, is incredibly streaky, but streaking right now.

* ESPN's Eric Karabell wonders if 19-year-old Mike Trout will be sent down to AAA after a handful of fruitless at-bats in the bigs. The fantasy baseball world tripped all over itself in the last week recommending Trout as a hot pick-up, but there appears little reason to believe he will stick.

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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at his Beachwood blog SwingsBothWays.

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