Virtually every fantasy baseball manager that is in playoff contention at the halfway point is looking for that one largely ignored player that is poised for a surge down the stretch; see Carlos Gomez or Chase Headley 2012 pre/post all-star break splits. The ability to snatch up that player before they go on their second half tear and everyone else notices them can very often be the difference between an early playoff exit or contending for a championship in your league. Let's take a look at one pitcher and one position player, from the American League, that you should be adding to your roster if the opportunity is there.
Ivan Nova (New York Yankees, SP)
A trip to the minors seems to be just what the doctor ordered for the 26 year old. 2011 saw him emerge as a Rookie of the Year candidate by posting 16 wins for the Yankees, including an 8-0 mark with a 3.18 ERA after the break. Landing fairly high on many fantasy draft boards going into last season, Nova would manage to rack up 12 wins but also posted a frustrating ERA of 5.02 with a 1.47 WHIP. The inconsistency would continue through the first two months of this season leading to his demotion to AAA. Over three starts at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the right-hander went 2-0 with a 2.04 ERA while striking out 17 in 17+ innings. The form has held after his reentry into the Yankee rotation. In two starts against the Orioles and another versus Tampa Bay, two of the AL's best offenses, Nova is 1-1 while sporting a 2.95 ERA with 18 Ks through 21 1/3 innings pitched. Taking the mound next on July 10th versus the Royals, this solid performance should continue as long as the sub 1.00 WHIP displayed over the last three starts is maintained.
Aaron Hicks (Minnesota Twins, CF)
Baseball America's #72 prospect coming into the season, Hicks won the Twins everyday job in center field after hitting an outstanding .350 during spring training. By the end of May, however, the 2008 first round pick had been moved from the leadoff spot to the bottom of the order with a .164 AVG and a strikeout rate approaching 27%. Even though he smashed six long balls in the season's second month alone, Hicks had simply become too much of a liability to have on your roster. Starting off the next month by going 7 of 22, it seemed as if a turnaround was beginning only to see him end up on the disabled list June 10th with a hamstring strain. Returning to the Twins lineup on July 2nd, after a week long rehab assignment, the rookie center fielder picked up where he left off and seems to have turned the corner with hitting big league pitching. He has hit .400 with five extra base hits and two steals over seven games since his return. Hicks could soon return to the top of the Twins order in front of Mauer and Morneau. This move would only increase his value as the 23 year old appears headed to the form that saw him rack up 45 extra base hits and 32 steals at AA New Britain last season.
Mike actually predicted Aaron Hicks would win the AL Rookie of the Year!
Post All-Star Game Potential in the NL