The Major League All-Star break is here and it’s also a good time for fantasy players to take a nice break. There will be a little more than 70 games left for most teams when they return. We’re officially in a sprint to the finish line. The mindset we had in last year’s shortened season is the same we need now during the final couple of months.

During the next week, we will look at the hitters and pitchers who have performed well and those who haven’t through the first half of the season. Today, we’ll focus on the hitters.

Three Up:

1. Los Angeles Angels Designated Hitter Shohei Ohtani — My preseason prediction to win American League Most Valuable Player has performed extremely well. He is batting .279, leads the majors in home runs with 33 and has 70 RBIs and 12 stolen bases. We’re spotlighting Ohtani as a hitter, but his contributions as a pitcher have made him one of the most impactful players in all of baseball. The Angels were cautious early in the season when it came to using him as a hitter after pitching, but that has stopped. Ohtani is set to have a huge second half and hopefully win the MVP.

2. Toronto Blue Jays First Baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. — If it wasn’t for Ohtani’s impressive first half, Guerrero could earn the title of the best hitter in baseball. The 22-year-old is leading the majors in batting average at .332 and has hit 28 home runs with 73 RBIs. It took a couple of years, but Guerrero is finally the hitter everyone envisioned he would be when he was one of the top prospects in baseball as a teenager.

3. Baltimore Orioles Center Fielder Cedric Mullins — The 26-year-old has cracked this list often this season and for good reason. Mullins is fourth in baseball in hits with 106 to give him a .314 batting average. The outfielder has also hit 16 home runs while stealing 16 bases and scoring 49 runs. Mullins is impacting every category for fantasy owners, and after having an average draft position of 468 back in March, it would be hard to find a more impactful fantasy performer through the first half.

Three Down:

1. Chicago Cubs Shortstop Javier Baez — A big whiff for me, as Baez was listed as a bounce-back candidate for fantasy owners this season. After batting .203 in 2020, Baez has only been a little better in 2021 with a .238 batting average. The shortstop leads the majors in strikeouts with 115 and has a low on-base percentage of .284. The Cubs’ recent struggles mean Baez could be on another team in two weeks, but it’s extremely concerning that his offensive woes have lasted for two seasons.

2. Cincinnati Reds Infielder Eugenio Suarez — The power production has been there, as Suarez has hit 18 home runs with 50 RBIs through the first half of the season. The good news ends there, as the infielder is batting .175. Suarez could hit 40 home runs, but when the batting average is that bad, it’s still a killer for fantasy players. Suarez finished 2020 with a .202 batting average, so this isn’t new. Suarez was being drafted in the early rounds back in March, and even with the power, he has not lived up to draft day expectations.

3. New York Yankees Shortstop Gleyber Torres — The 24-year-old was expected to be the next top performer at the shortstop position after hitting 38 home runs in 2019. However, it’s been a struggle. Torres has only hit six home runs since the end of the 2019 season. The slugging percentage is down to .308 this season, which would be a career worst. Torres is also batting .240 after finishing 2020 with a .243 batting average. This is supposed to be the prime of Torres’ career, but the shortstop has regressed in a big way and is becoming unreliable for fantasy players.

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

Phil Backert

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