Halfway and then some into the 2012 season, several star players are serving notice that they're all the way back to their normal high form after a year or more off-track. More often than not, their teams are benefiting from those players' return to their standards of excellence.

The AL Central-leading White Sox, for instance, had a pair of All-Stars in Kansas City who are back to doing what became expected of them in years past, with Jake Peavy twirling ace stuff after a unique surgical procedure and Adam Dunn whacking homers again after his debut season on the South Side that was such a whiff. Throw in Alex Rios and his own rebound season, and the Sox have a trio of guys back on the beam.

Of course, the White Sox stars are not alone in turning things around. The Mets, holding on tight to stay in the postseason race, have David Wright back at Most Valuable Player-caliber levels after a 2011 that was the nadir of his career, and former Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana firing the Mets' first no-hitter after missing last year because of shoulder surgery.

And how about Joe Mauer being much more recognizable as a force on the field for the Twins, as opposed to being a guy with great hair?

For Dunn, the return to bashing baseballs -- and, yes, whiffing on them a lot -- meant a return to the All-Star Game after an 11-year hiatus, joining Wright, Peavy and Mauer as prominent Midsummer Classic returnees. Last year, Dunn had an unimaginably rough season, his first on a four-year, $56 million contract with the White Sox.