As play concluded on Aug. 13, exactly one month had passed since players returned from a well-deserved rest during the All-Star break. The following 10 men have taken their play to another level since July 14 and have the skills to remain especially productive until the regular season concludes on Oct. 1.
In addition to making his usual stellar power contributions (11 homers across 78 at-bats), Gallo has turned in a .244 batting average that greatly exceeds the .194 mark he logged prior to July 10. And owners who assume that the slugger cannot sustain a respectable batting mark should be aware that he has overcome a .222 BABIP since the Midsummer Classic. Gallo is emerging as a younger version of Orioles slugger Chris Davis -- a premium power bat who rides peaks and valleys on his way to delivering game-changing counting stats.
A productive performer prior to the All-Star break (.883 OPS), Schoop has caught fire of late, hitting .320 with seven homers and 31 RBIs across 122 at-bats since returning to action. And, his lofty batting mark is well-supported by a mostly sustainable .339 BABIP. By making some strides with his walk rate this season (5.8 percent), the free swinger has shown just enough patience to make pitchers give him something to hit.
Merrifield started to heat up at the beginning of July before taking his game to another level after the Midsummer Classic. As the sparkplug of a Royals lineup that has found its form after a slow start, the multi-position asset is flashing premier plate skills (.326 average, seven home runs across 132 at-bats) and solid speed (five swipes) since play resumed on July 14. A candidate to produce 20 long balls and 25 steals, Merrifield should be a lineup fixture in all shallow leagues.
An ultra-talented youngster in a potent lineup, Bregman retained the attention of wise owners during an uninspiring stretch prior to July 10 (.256 average, .757 OPS). And in the past month, the 23-year-old has rewarded patient owners by posting a game-changing .323/.411/.625 slash line. With 12 steals this season and a red-hot bat, Bregman should be a five-category asset and a top 10 fantasy shortstop during the stretch run.
Dropped in some shallow leagues during an unproductive first half (six homers, .256 average across 328 at-bats), Herrera found his form in mid-July by hitting .382 with six homers across 102 at-bats since the All-Star break. While the potential five-category contributor is still lagging behind in the speed department (seven swipes), he should post a helpful batting mark and swat a handful of round-trippers from this point forward.
A popular late-round pick after swiping 43 bases last season, Davis spent the All-Star break on waivers in many mixed leagues after hitting .210 with 15 steals across 245 plate appearances prior to July 10. But those who gave the 36-year-old a second chance after the Midsummer Classic have been rewarded with a .333 average, three homers and 10 stolen bases across 68 plate appearances. While Davis still ranks as a marginal overall asset in shallow leagues, he is one of the few players who can make a major impact in tight steals races.
For good reason, Nola was dropped by many owners during the first half of the campaign. After all, few owners are looking to roster a starter who posted a 6.61 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP while dealing with injuries from June 16, 2016, to the same date the following year. But the former elite prospect found his form during his final four outings prior to the '17 break and since July 14 has been one of the most productive starters in baseball (1.85 ERA, 1.08 WHIP).
After establishing himself as a lineup fixture in all leagues while posting a 3.54 ERA rate prior to July 10, Severino has taken his game to another level (2.68 ERA) since the All-Star break. While his post-break surge has been partially fueled by a .268 BABIP that is lower than his .295 career mark, the 23-year-old possesses the combination of control and swing-and-miss skills to rank among the elite fantasy starters for years to come.
Among the most disappointing starters during the first half (5.40 ERA), Salazar returned from the disabled list on July 22 and immediately established himself as a potential second-half standout. The right-hander has logged a 1.42 ERA, a 0.95 WHIP and a 12.8 K/9 rate across four starts since rejoining the rotation and is thriving on the strength of stellar swing-and-miss skills rather than extreme batted-ball luck.
Fantasy owners who drafted Diaz on the strength of his magnificent strikeout skills were likely questioning their choice when the right-hander briefly lost his closer's role in May and finished the first half with four losses and three blown saves. But with the help of some positive batted-ball luck (.233 BABIP) and plenty of save chances, the 23-year-old trails only Kenley Jansen in post-break production among relievers with 12 saves and a 12.9 K/9 rate.
Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.