2017 Fantasy Baseball: American League Breakout Hitters
In my series of looking at breakout hitters, I take a look at the breakout hitters in the American League. Be sure and check out my National League Breakout Hitters.
One major key to success in Fantasy Baseball is to correctly identify the true breakout hitters before your drafts.
Breakout hitters will surpass expectations and vault themselves into a new tier.
So who is ready to take a major step forward and become a breakout player?
Let’s take a look at the American League breakout hitters that you should highlight on your cheat sheets.
2017 American League Breakout Hitters
Chance Sisco, Baltimore Orioles
Sisco has hit .323/.402/.434 over four impressive minor league seasons. The departure of Matt Wieters could put him on the fast track to Baltimore, as the current starter (Welington Castillo) is nothing more than a stopgap. He will take over the starting job this summer and will be a Top 10 Fantasy option once he gets there.
Greg Bird, New York Yankees
With Mark Teixeria’s retirement, Bird will be given a chance to show that his 2015 stats were no fluke. He hit 11 HRs and posted a .871 OPS in 157 at-bats in a brief stint in 2015. Unfortunately, he could not follow that up because he missed all of the 2016 season with a torn labrum.
Bird has shown he hits a ton of fly balls (51.4 percent) which will fit perfectly with the short right field porch in Yankee Stadium. Greg Bird is already slated to be the Yankees starting first basemen, and he will have a true breakout season in 2017. Look for 25-30 home runs with 85-90 RBIs and you can grab him late in the drafts.
C.J. Cron, Los Angeles Angels
The biggest issue with Cron is his ability to stay healthy after breaking his hand last season, ending a potential breakout season. He showcased what he can do in a July/August run last season when he exhibited his power. He has enormous potential and will be an impact hitter this season with at least 25 home runs and 80-plus RBIs.
Dan Vogelbach, Seattle Mariners
Vogelbach is supposed to take over the playing time at first base in 2017. He hit .292 with a .923 OPS and 23 home runs at Triple-A last season before making his debut with Seattle last season. His advanced approach and power have yielded results at every step of his career. He easily could be a 20-homer, 75-RBI guy with potential for more.
Devon Travis, Toronto Blue Jays
He was limited by injuries, but if he can stay healthy, he will be an All-Star. He has proven to be a gifted contact hitter. His production has been stellar thus far in his career on a per-plate-appearance basis. Travis is the closest thing the Blue Jays have to a leadoff hitter. He excelled at the plate thanks to a .300 average and .785 OPS.
If healthy, he has the ability to rank as one of the most productive second basemen. He is a Fantasy star waiting to shine with a great power/speed combo on top of a potent Blue Jays’ lineup.
Alex Bregman, Houston Astros
In his final 39 games, Bregman hit .313 with eight homers and a .931 OPS. He proved that he can handle MLB pitching last season. His power plays well at Minute Maid Park. He has immense potential and will vault himself into the Top 10 at third base this upcoming season.
Nick Castellanos, Detroit Tigers
Nick Castellanos is extremely undervalued. He was on his way to a breakout last season until a broken hand in August ruined his season. Castellanos hit career-high marks in average (.285), homers (18), OPS .827) and runs scored (54) in just 110 games. He is just 25-years-old with tons of upside. His steady growth will result in 30 home runs this season.
Ryan Healy, Oakland A’s
Healy surfaced mid-season last year as a valuable asset at third base. In 72 games, he hit .305 with 13 HRs, 37 RBIs, and a .861 OPS in 269 at-bats with the A’s. He will bat third in the lineup. While his average might drop, his power is for real. Draft him with confidence.
Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox
Tim Anderson took over the shortstop job last season and never looked back. He had a solid .738 OPS with nine homers and 10 steals in 99 games. His power/speed combo which projects to be 15/30 should allow him to be at least your middle infield starter in deeper leagues.
Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox
Well, I know I am taking the easy way out, but this is a no-brainer. Benintendi is projected to hit second or third in the lineup. He will be sandwiched between two great hitters and he has proven on on all levels so far that he can hit. Solid big upside contributor in four categories, except for power.
Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins
Buxton finally showed his potential late last season. In his final 29 games, he posted a 1.011 OPS and nine home runs and 22 RBIs. He will hit with modest, mid-teens power and plenty of speed. Buxton will prove to be a huge upside pick and steal (pun intended) in the late rounds because of his steals and 15/40 combo stats.
Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay Rays
Unfortunately, injuries limited him to 105 games last season. He is coming off a .302 average with five homers and eight steals last September. His elite defensive skills will keep him in the Rays’ daily lineup. With his potential and more at-bats, he will become the next member of the 20/20 club and will provide you with a late-round gem.
Bradley Zimmer, Cleveland Indians
It won’t be long before Bradley Zimmer is playing his games at Progressive Field. He possesses a blend of plus speed and decent power that makes him valuable in Fantasy. While his strikeouts are a big concern (124 whiffs in 369 at-bats), he still projects to be a leadoff hitter in the majors. With the uncertainty surrounding Michael Brantley’s return, there are definitely opportunities for someone to step into the weak Indians’ outfield. Zimmer will be a late season call-up and will provide a spark to the Tribe and to your Fantasy lineups.
Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers
Let’s try this again! It seems that Gallo has been on this list for the last few seasons, but the Rangers have been patient with him. His power is unquestionable but his swing and miss ratios are staggering. His ceiling his high and this is a lotto-ticket breakout that will pay you for years to come.
Jorge Soler, Kansas City Royals
Soler was not able to secure consistent playing time with the Cubs. That will not be an issue this season as he will be the full-time DH for the Royals in 2017. Soler hit 12 home runs in 227 at-bats last season. Soler will provide the power to a breakout season of 25-plus home runs.
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