Every Fantasy owner knows whom to draft in the early rounds. Most of all, what makes any Fantasy team successful is scoring balance, and that means scoring some breakouts in the later rounds of your draft.
You want to be ahead of the curve when it comes to landing breakout players. However, predicting breakout players is not an exact science.
For every Mookie Betts, there is a Jason Heyward, but the only way to look like a genius at the end of the year is to take a few risks.
What I tried to do is to identify the guys who will have the most dramatic jump in their play from what they have done previously.
If these players do not carry you to a league championship, there is more than a good chance that they directly prevent you from getting there.
National League Breakout Hitters
Tom Murphy, Colorado Rockies
With the departure of veteran Nick Hundley, the Rockies’ starting catcher competition is wide open. While his defense is a work in progress (improving), his offensive production is difficult to ignore.
Tom Murphy was called up during the last two seasons, posting a .946 OPS with eight home runs and 22 RBIs in 88 plate appearances. He will use the Coors Field factor to make himself a very valuable asset in Fantasy leagues and someone to definitely target in two-catcher leagues. He will definitely swing his way into more playing time and into your lineups.
Josh Bell, Pittsburgh Pirates
Bell figures to be the Pirates’ starting first baseman entering this season. Bell is considered to possess solid power with an excellent batting eye. More impressively, he walked more times (21) than he struck out (19). The switch-hitter will likely hit second in the lineup and has the tools to hit about .275 and slug double-digit home runs.
Tommy Joseph, Philadelphia Phillies
Joseph performed well after his promotion last season when he hit 21 HRs in 315 at-bats and he will be the Phillies’ everyday first baseman. Look for Joseph to provide power numbers similar to some upper-tier guys at a much cheaper price. Look for close to 30-plus home runs and 90 RBIs with a lineup on the rise with youngsters.
Brandon Drury, Arizona Diamondbacks (Eligible at 3B and OF)
Drury is projected to be the starting second baseman this season for the Diamondbacks. He has decent pop as he hit 16 home runs with a .458 slugging percentage last season. He will provide 20-plus home runs along with the ability to hit .280 or better. His position flexibility enhances the number of at-bats which will lead to surpassing his production as a rookie last season.
Jose Peraza, Cincinnati Reds (Eligible at SS)
Peraza is slated to take over second base for the departed Brandon Phillips. He showed his strong contact skills and speed in his debut last season. He recorded a .324 average and 21 steals in 241 at-bats. Jose Peraza is a player to target in the late rounds, as he has 40-plus steal potential.
Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves
Yes, another obvious one but Swanson is the real deal. He seized the starting shortstop job upon his call-up in August last season. He hit .302 with a .803 OPS in 129 at-bats. His speed and on-base percentage will make an impact this season. He should hit for average and double-digit home runs.
Trea Turner, Washington Nationals (Eligible at 2B and OF)
I had to end with probably the most obvious breakout of this season. Turner made a gigantic impact in his rookie season. He hit.342 with 13 home runs, 33 steals, and 53 runs in 73 games. He has a rare blend of blazing speed, power, and bat quickness. Turner will be in one of the best lineups in baseball and will deliver an elite effort. His multi-position ability only enhances his value. He will be a very early round pick next season.
Jose Reyes, New York Mets (Eligible at SS)
Reyes is slated to begin the season as the Mets’ primary third baseman with David Wright (again?) not expected to return in time for opening day. He showed he could still be a productive Fantasy player last season when David Wright went out following neck surgery. He recorded a .267 average with eight home runs, nine steals and 45 runs scored in 60 games. Reyes is expected to hit leadoff for the Mets this season and will take advantage of this opportunity to the point of being a very sneaky 20/20 player this season and a player to nab in your later rounds.
Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers (Eligible at 1B)
Cody Bellinger had a breakout season in Double-A in which he hit 23 home runs in 399 at-bats. He has true plus-power and good plate discipline. He will begin the season in Triple-A and will be part of the outfielder carousel with the Dodgers this season. Bellinger will force the Dodgers to bring him up to the majors and keep him there.
Keon Broxton, Milwaukee Brewers
Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs
In the second game of the 2016 season, Schwarber suffered an ACL tear and his 2016 season was lost. The excitement for him this season is warranted. His OPS and home run power are outstanding. He is now projected to hit leadoff in the Cubs’ very formidable lineup. He will provide plenty of power and if he gains catcher eligibility, his value goes through the roof.
Mac Williamson, San Francisco Giants
Primarily due to his power, Williamson made a strong impression while filling in for the injured Hunter Pence. In only 112 at-bats, he had six home runs and 23 RBIs. Williamson is the front-runner for the starting LF position. He needs to cut down on his strikeouts as he had 35 strikeouts in those 112 at-bats (31%).
With a full season, he will get an opportunity to prove what he can do with more at-bats. Williamson is a powerful hitter who might strike out a lot but will hit 25-plus home runs. He will be a nice power source late in your drafts.
Matt Carpenter, 1B/2B/3B, St. Louis Cardinals
If you can get a hold of one or more of these hitters, you will gain a distinct advantage on the rest of your league and you can brag that you knew of them before they did.
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