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Roto Roundup: Some Breakout Players, Matt Kemp, Evan Longoria, and Others

Jul 5, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus (28) bats against the Kansas City Royals at the Rogers Centre. The Royals beat the Blue Jays 9-6. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE
Jul 5, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus (28) bats against the Kansas City Royals at the Rogers Centre. The Royals beat the Blue Jays 9-6. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

No, there weren't any games last night, but there is some player news to talk about. I actually don't mind the break from games. We are just a few weeks from the July 31st trade deadline, so make sure you check out SB Nations trade rumor and breaking news site-MLB Daily DIsh-for all the up to the minute trade rumors involving your favorite team and players on some of your fantasy squads.

I was trading emails with my brother and a few friends and I posed this question: who are the top 5 players in MLB right now? My list:

Matt Kemp

Ryan Braun

Josh Hamilton

Joey Votto

Mike Trout

Yes, I included Trout. He has been a game changer so far in 2012. One could argue that players like Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Carlos Gonzalez, Robinson Cano and others should be included, but, right now, these are my top 5.

Speaking of Kemp, he should be activated from the DL on Friday when the Dodgers open the second half of the season vs the Padres. Teammate Andre Ethier played in a rehab game last night, and will play in one tonight as well, and COULD be activated on Friday as well. The Dodgers lineup, and fantasy owners, welcome them back.

More Roto Roundup after the jump:

Rays third baseman Evan Longoria is still on the DL after a setback in rehabbing his hamstring, and according to ESPN's Buster Olney, there is serious concern amongst the Rays front office about whether he will actually contribute this season. What? That sounds like he could be out for the rest of the season. Stay tuned.

Phillies ace Roy Halladay will make his first rehab start for Single A Clearwater tonight, and if all goes well, he will start next Tuesday vs the Dodgers. Halladay has been out since late May with a lat strain, and all indications are that his bullpen sessions to date have gone well.

The Diamondbacks are taking calls on outfielder Justin Upton and apparently there is "huge" interest in him. Well, yeah, why wouldn't there be? He has had a tough first half, and there is talk about a chronic shoulder issue, but that didn't stop Olney from speculating that Upton may be a solid fit for the Texas Rangers. To me, he is a fit ONLY if they decide not to re-sign Josh Hamilton. If for some reason the Rangers do trade for him, Hamilton is as good as gone and will get the biggest contract in the offseason with teams like the Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers in need of another outfielder.

The Rangers, actually, should focus their efforts on trading for a starter, and every indication is that they will be in on Phillies ace Cole Hamels and Brewers ace Zack Greinke, assuming both are put on the block.

In my AL-only keeper league, I recently traded a $5 Ryan Cook for a $12 Colby Rasmus, as I am buying Rasmus' first half power surge. He is hitting .259-.328-.494 with 17 HRs, 46 runs, 53 RBI and 4 stolen bases, and is on pace for a 32 home run, 100 RBI season. How he performs in the second half will tell us if his first half performance was real or a fluke. His OBP and SLG has improved each month this season, so maybe he has finally figured things out at the plate.

Prior to dealing for Rasmus, I was targeting Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas, but the owner, currently in first place, wasn't willing to deal him for Cook, even though adding him would guarantee him at least two points in the standings. Moustakas is having a solid season, hitting .268-.327-.490 with 15 HRs, 41 runs and 47 RBI, and looks like he will be a future 30+ HR hitter for years to come.

Did anyone see this breakout from Ian Desmond this season? Before the season started, there was talk that the Nationals may deal him, move Danny Espinosa to shortstop to make room for Steve Lombardozzi. It appears that was all the motivation Desmond needed, as he is hitting .285-.316-.515 with 17 HRs, 46 runs, 51 RBI and 11 stolen bases. He still doesn't walk much, but he is experiencing some kind of power surge, with his ISO sitting at .230 at the break. To put that into perspective, his ISO is higher than the ISO for Prince Fielder, Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols, among others. Impressive.

Another guy having a breakout season is Blue Jays DH Edwin Encarnacion. Encarnacion is having a career year in his walk year. Shocking right? I think I wrote before that if the Rangers allow Josh Hamilton to walk, he would be a good fit in Texas as their DH. He is hitting .295-.382-.565 with 23 HRs, 55 runs, 58 RBI and 9 stolen bases. He is 4th in the AL in home runs and 7th in RBI, and is on pace for 40+ HRs this season. I didn't see that coming at all. He is just 3 home runs and 10 RBI from career highs in both categories.