You know you're a fantasy baseball addict if you're irked by the only three-day break in a six-month season.
It's the equivalent of a long weekend, but every year, roto geeks grouse about the All-Star break. They don't care about the midsummer classic. Those stats are meaningless. Where will they get their fantasy fix?
Admit it: As a fantasy owner, you weren't much interested in who was leading fan voting for the All-Star game. An outfield of Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Bonds might be a nice story for some, but you were more interested in Brian Fuentes losing his closer job in Colorado.
Take a deep breath and enjoy the break. Go out on an actual date with your significant other. Take a walk with your kids. Maybe even watch the game Tuesday night, and enjoy the lack of flutter in your chest when one of your pitchers gives up a three-run homer.
Relax. For once it doesn't matter.
And if you're such a die-hard that you can't bear not thinking about fantasy baseball for a few days, here are our picks for a fantasy All-Star squad. The winners at each position aren't the best players, but the most valuable based on how much they've outperformed their predicted worth at the start of the season:
John Buck, Royals
After three similarly unspectacular seasons, Buck was an afterthought in fantasy drafts. He should have been; the arrival of Jason LaRue certainly meant fewer chances for Buck. So it's been a very pleasant surprise to watch the young Buck battle Victor Martinez for the most home runs among catchers in the first half. Buck (.243-14-28 in 181 at-bats) already has a career high in home runs, not bad for a guy who went undrafted in most leagues. He's unlikely to get more than 400 at-bats because of LaRue, but owners will enjoy his power all season long.
First Base
Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox
With apologies to Tampa Bay's Carlos Pena (.283-19-47), who certainly wasn't drafted by fantasy owners in March since he wasn't expected to make the team, Youkilis (.329-9-44) has been among the best fantasy success stories this year. His home run total isn't stellar, but he's among the batting average leaders and for leagues that use on-base percentage, Youkilis (.420) is indeed something of a fantasy god.
Second Base
B.J. Upton, Devil Rays
Everyone knew Upton was a good hitter, but all fantasy eyes were on Delmon Young rather than Upton to start the season. All the better for those smart enough to give Upton (.320-9-31, 13 SBs) a try. A quadriceps injury put things on hold, but Upton should be back to spraying line drives in the second half. His 68 strikeouts in 200 at-bats is a concern, but for now, there is no one at 2B who has been more valuable.
Third Base
Mike Lowell, Red Sox
With all the power-hitting third basemen out there, who would have guessed that Lowell would be among the leaders in RBIs? Lowell (.291-12-55) doesn't have anything on A-Rod or Miguel Cabrera, but no other 3B player has more RBIs. The 33-year-old was considered a backup at best for standard mixed leagues, but is currently paying huge dividends for those owners who chose to draft stars at other positions.
J.J. Hardy, Brewers
Has he slowed down since his insane start? Sure. But he still has more home runs than any other shortstop, and that's pretty great for a guy who was mostly forgotten in March fantasy drafts. Smart drafters knew Hardy (.283-18-52) was a nice sleeper, a guy who was considered a future star before an injury ended his season early last year. I'm not sure anyone, however, saw this coming.
Magglio Ordonez, Tigers; Eric Byrnes, Diamondbacks, and Ken Griffey Jr., Reds
Only Alex Rodriguez has been a more valuable fantasy stud than Ordonez (.369-13-68) in the first half, and Ordonez was available well into the later rounds in most drafts. Byrnes (.314-13-46, 15 SBs) quietly was a 20-20 man last year and this year may flirt with 30-30, yet he slipped through most drafts because owners thought he couldn't repeat what was seen as a career year. Junior was avoided in drafts and with good reason; always an injury risk, he was injured to start the year and no one expected much. Instead, Griffey (.291-22-53) is on pace for his first 40-homer, 100-RBI season since 2000. If he stays healthy. If.
Starting Pitcher
Brad Penny, Dodgers
All reports were that Penny was looking strong going into the season, but who could have guessed how strong? Penny (10-1, 2.00) has been unstoppable for the Dodgers, and owners who took a chance on him know that only four times in 17 starts has he allowed more than a run in a game. His secret? He's allowed just two home runs, both in the same game, June 3 at Pittsburgh.
Relief Pitcher
Francisco Cordero, Brewers
After converting 16-of-16 save opportunities last season once he was traded to Milwaukee, fantasy owners had some interest in Cordero (27 saves, 2.91 ERA) during drafts. But he was certainly not a top-tier choice, and all he's done in the first half is lead baseball in saves. His 47 strikeouts are third among closers, behind Francisco Rodriguez of the Angels and Billy Wagner of the Mets. That's as top tier as it gets.

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