When we start looking for breakouts, we know those drafts are vastly approaching. We are past the preliminary rankings, the early season mocks, and we have now reached that pivotal time of year. With breakout catchers and first basemen released over the last couple days, we have reached the list of breakout second basemen. In last year’s breakouts, our Buck Davidson predicted Kolten Wong, Rougned Odor and Brett Lawrie to breakout at second base in 2015.
Although Davidson obviously didn’t have this take in mind, he did a nice job and allows for a smooth transition into 2016. The biggest thing to note about breakout predictions, is not that we necessarily suspect the player will become a first round talent, but instead that he could show significant improvement.
Despite a brutal beginning, Odor broke out in the second half last year for 12 home runs, and is widely speculated to become a potential Top 5 second baseman by next season. Wong, meanwhile, on the surface may appear to have declined, but his peripheral stats including RBIs, Runs, AVG and OBP each improved greatly while finally securing an everyday role.
As for Brett Lawrie, he perhaps drives the point home the best. Despite what seems like constant criticism of Lawrie, he finally remained heathy in 2015 while greatly improving his numbers across the board. In what will likely be a very under-hyped year for Lawrie, he’s not a bad grab at the end of drafts.
Nevertheless, this is about 2016 breakout second basemen, and those we feel could take that next step. Before getting to the list, it is most important to understand that a breakout doesn’t necessarily mean early round production. Just as a bust does not necessarily mean we predict a player to provide waiver wire production. Instead, the following players are merely options that could provide fairly decent value on draft day.
Breakout Second Basemen
Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs
Russell is a highly touted prospect, so perhaps this is an “easy” way out. However, I’ve hear concerns that he will once again hit near the bottom of the order, which I can’t really see lasting. I feel most are looking more at Russell’s batting average than the Chicago Cubs current roster. Who’s going to bat leadoff?
Unless they trade Jorge Soler and sign Dexter Fowler, their leadoff man from last season, the Cubs do not have a clear leadoff hitter. I suppose Jason Heyward or Ben Zobrist have a “shot,” but that seems like a stretch.
So, if Russell can bat his way to the top of the order, his run totals should sky rocket, and his steals should get a nice spike too. He receives a bad rep for his plate discipline and high strikeout total, but that was never really an issue for him in the minors, but the opposite. He batted over .300 and only struck out 229 times in over 1,000 at-bats.
While Russell is an obvious breakout second basemen, my reasoning puts him even higher on my list than most. While a lot predict he could potentially go 15-10 or even 15-15 this season, his greatest improvement will come in batting average.
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