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Projecting the All-Star hitters for the second half

Aaron Judge has been a revelation this season, but should fantasy owners trust him the rest of the way? AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File

It’s a bit mind-boggling to think about how far the starting first basemen for the 2017 All-Star game in Miami have come. Sure, there are surprises every season, but Justin Smoak hit .217 for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2016, and most laughed at the thought he’d be able to replace the lost production when Edwin Encarnacion signed with Cleveland. Well, laugh on! Smoak, 30, is having the superior season, finally reaching the potential so many saw for him years ago in Seattle and surpassing it, with 23 home runs and a .935 OPS in 87 games.

Then there’s longtime Washington Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman. He hit a mere .218 last year! He’s 32. Can’t play third base anymore. Can’t stay healthy. Frankly, the Adam Lind signing over the winter made it seem like the Nationals were wisely planning ahead for more first-base disappointment. Zimmerman, like Smoak, was mostly forgotten in ESPN average live drafts, and for good reason. Today he’s hitting .330 with 19 home runs and 63 runs batted in, bidding to return to 100 RBIs for the first season since 2009.

As we hit the All-Star break, it’s a natural intermission for fantasy owners to take stock of the first three months of the 2017 campaign, while also planning ahead. Numbers will change, of course. Some first-half stars will improve and others will not. So we decided an All-Star edition of the Stock Watch – hitters today, then pitchers separately – made sense. For Smoak and Zimmerman, further inspection of their numbers shows