The cerebral knuckleballer had arguably the best first half of any pitcher in Major League Baseball and has helped the Mets stay relevant in a year in which they appeared destined for the cellar. Dickey was named to his first All-Star team after finishing the first half with a spectacular 12-1 record with a 2.40 ERA and 123 strikeouts. As of July 11, Dickey leads the National League in wins, WHIP, complete games and shutouts.
2 of 18Robert Beck/SI
Though he struggled in his 2011 call-up, Mike Trout has emerged as arguably the top young talent in the majors, even with the strong play of 19-year-old Bryce Harper. The 20-year-old Trout leads the American League in batting average (.343) and stolen bases (26). The Angels are 41-23 since Trout entered the Angels' lineup on April 30. Trout is the current favorite for AL Rookie of the Year and could even enter the MVP discussion if he continues his torrid hitting.
3 of 18John Biever/SI
Add the 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner as another player reinventing his career with the White Sox. Peavy was named to the 2012 All-Star team after finishing the first half 7-5 with a 2.85 ERA and a WHIP below 1. Unable to notch a postseason win during his best years in San Diego, Peavy appears fully healthy for the first time since 2008 and primed to take the White Sox to an AL Central title.
4 of 18Damian Strohmeyer/SI
Encarnacion inked a three-year, $27 million extension with the Toronto during the All-Star break. He'll be a Blue Jay through 2015 with a $10 million club option for 2016. The 29-year-old is on pace to set career highs in batting average, home runs and RBI and has become an established power threat hitting behind Jose Bautista. The key for Encarnacion is to stay healthy. Injury-plagued and inconsistent throughout his career, Encarnacion has played more than 100 games only once since 2008.
5 of 18Brad Mangin/SI
The All-Star game MVP is on pace for a career year in his first season in a decidedly pitcher-friendly AT&T Park. Cabrera arrived from Kansas City with little fanfare, but he earned a starting nod in the All-Star game after finishing the first half with a league-leading 119 hits. The 27-year-old outfielder compiled 51 hits and a .429 batting average in May, when the Giants were without star Pablo Sandoval.
6 of 18John Biever/SI
Kipnis is quickly emerging as one of the top young second basemen in the game and is forming a strong middle infield combo with All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. Kipnis reached the break third in the American League in stolen bases (20) and had only been caught once.
7 of 18Andrew Hancock/SI
The centerpiece in the trade that sent Curtis Granderson to New York, Jackson has provided stability at the top of an otherwise underachieving Tigers' lineup. At the break, he leads the Tigers with a .332 batting average and is second in the American League with a .408 on-base percentage.
8 of 18Robert Beck/SI
An Anaheim Calif., native, Trumbo has emerged as a mainstay in the middle of the Angels' lineup. He led the team with 29 home runs and 87 RBI last year, but was moved from first base to left field after the Angels signed Albert Pujols. Unfazed by the position switch, Trumbo will almost certainly eclipse his home run total from last season (he already has 22) and will provide the warming Pujols with some lineup protection.
9 of 18Chuck Solomon/SI
The White Sox outfielder appears to have revived a career that many thought was lost after he was waived one season after signing a seven-year, $69 million contract in Toronto. Rios is tied for the American League in triples for the upstart White Sox, a team that most thought would be one of the worst in baseball.
10 of 18David E. Klutho/SI
A reliever converted into a starter, Sale has helped the White Sox emerge as a surprise in the American League. Though an innings limit may shut him down earlier than expected, Sale has been spectacular. The lefty is 10-2 with a 2.19 ERA and was named to his first All-Star team in 2012.
11 of 18John Biever/SI
Unable to find consistent playing time in Boston, Josh Reddick arrived in Oakland in a trade for closer Andrew Bailey. Both Reddick and the A's have benefitted. The outfielder has showcased impressive power, hitting 20 home runs in the first half for an otherwise toothless A's lineup. Reddick is also second in the American League with eight outfield assists.
12 of 18Fred Vuich/SI
Once a bright prospect for the Los Angeles Dodgers, McDonald has effectively reinvented his career in Pittsburgh and helped the Pirates to the top of the NL Central. McDonald is 9-3 with a 2.37 ERA and leads the National League in hits per nine innings. McDonald's name was frequently mentioned as one of the more egregious All-Star "snubs."
13 of 18Al Tielemans/SI
The Phillies continue to struggle as a team, but "Chooch" is having a career offensive year. Ruiz has already eclipsed his career-high in home runs and will almost certainly do the same in all other major offensive categories. He reached the break ranked fourth in the NL in battling at .350 and was named to his first All-Star team.
14 of 18Simon Bruty/SI
The durable Nationals shortstop has already set a career high in home runs and has become a staple in the young and exciting Washington lineup. Desmond declined his All-Star invitation because of a left oblique strain, but the Nationals first-half MVP has only missed one game this season.
15 of 18Mike McGinnis/Getty Images
Capuano has not had a winning season since he was an All-Star in Milwaukee in 2005, but he appears to have effectively reversed his losing ways in his first season in Los Angeles. The brainy starter (Capuano graduated Phi Beta Kappa with an Economics degree from Duke) has been stable and effective for the Dodgers, compiling a 9-4 record with a 2.91 ERA. The team needs it; at the break the Dodgers lead only the Cubs and Padres in runs per game.
16 of 18Andrew Hancock/SI
Coming off a disastrous 2011 in Anaheim that left him on bad terms with manager Mike Scioscia, the beardy reliever has resurfaced in Tampa Bay and is almost unhittable. Rodney finished the first half with 25 saves, an 0.93 ERA and strikeout to walk ratio of over 7/1. The Rays' closer has allowed only four earned runs in 40 appearances and has emerged as a finisher at the back of skipper Joe Maddon's bullpen.
17 of 18Chuck Solomon/SI
After Johnson's solid 2011 as a setup man, the Baltimore Orioles decided to stay in house after removing Kevin Gregg from the closer role. The results could not have been better. Johnson has been nothing short of superb, leading the American League with 26 saves at the break and owning a 1.21 ERA and 0.75 WHIP to boot.
18 of 18John Cordes/Icon SMI
Few expected Frieri to be thrust into the closer's role after he was acquired from San Diego in May, but a crisis at the back of the Angels' bullpen allowed the Colombian fireballer a chance, and the results have been incredible. In 26 games with the Angels, Frieri has not allowed an earned run and is averaging an eye-popping 15.4 strikeouts per nine innings. While he is still having some issues with his control (17 walks), Frieri appears to be the second coming of Frankie Rodriguez in Anaheim: A closer who puts runners on base but will finish the game with strikeouts.
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