Chris Iannetta - C, LAA
As a strong offensive contributor at a defense-oriented position, Iannetta can offer a lot from a fantasy perspective. The main thing that has been suppressing his value (and keeping him unowned in most leagues) is a lack of regular playing time. But perhaps we'll see that change in the second half.
Although Iannetta has drawn the lion's share of reps behind the plate for the Angels, he still only started 50 of his team's 94 games leading up to the break. Hank Conger has gotten the other 44, and he has the advantage of being younger and a switch-hitter.
However, Conger hasn't been nearly as good with the bat. His .238/.315/.364 first-half hitting line pales in comparison to Iannetta's .278/.392/.432, and career track records show a similar disparity in offensive ability.
The Angels like Conger, but as a result of their desire to maintain an even timeshare, they are depriving Iannetta -- who ranks third on the team in OPS behind Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun -- of too many opportunities. That's a little tough to stomach for a second-place team with a very real shot at the postseason, and you wonder how much longer they'll be able to stick with that plan.
For his part, Iannetta is making a strong case with his continued production. Although he hasn't homered since banging out five jacks in the first two months, he's hitting .317 with a .408 on-base percentage since the beginning of June. It stands to reason that the power will return in the second half; the veteran backstop has launched nine or more homers every year since 2008 and has reached double-digits in four of the last six seasons.
There's really no question that Iannetta can hit. The only question is whether the Halos will let him do it as often as they should. I suspect we'll see a steady increase in his playing time as the Angels go all-out for the playoffs and try to maximize their run-scoring in the final months.
Chris Coghlan - OF, ATL
Since bursting onto the scene with a tremendous debut in 2009 that earned him the NL Rookie of the Year Award and a few MVP votes, Coghlan went straight into the tank. In four seasons since that campaign, the outfielder has hit just .242/.307/.352. In the last two years he's totaled just two homers and 20 RBI.
The 29-year-old received a much-needed change of scenery during the offseason when he signed a minor-league deal with the Cubs. He spent the first month in Triple-A before being called up in early May, and after a slow start he's recently been demonstrating that there's still something in the tank.
Coghlan had a very forgettable first month back in the majors, collecting just five singles in 37 May plate appearances. Since the beginning of June, however, the outfielder has a .313/.398/.574 slash line. His five homers during that span match his best season total since his rookie year. And heading into the All-Star break, he was only getting hotter.
He's been on an insane tear in July, where he's batting .435 with multiple hits in six of 13 games. He's flashing huge power, with eight doubles and three homers over 56 plate appearances, and he's also showing very good discipline with an even 7-to-7 K/BB ratio. All the signs are very, very promising right now.
Of course, it's worth remembering that Coghlan has mostly been a terrible hitter over the past four seasons, but he was very good in the minors before initially dominating in the majors so we know the ability is there.
His red-hot bat and his long-term track record certainly make him worthy of a long look for deep-league owners.