This post isn’t for breakout players. It’s for players who have a chance to break out in a particular category.
The word breakout might be overplayed as well; perhaps ‘boost’ fits better. Think of Matt Carpenter last year, who truly did break out to score 121 runs. As a result, he was the darling of fantasy baseball.
But as you’ll see below, Jason Heyward is listed as a possibility to see a boost in runs. He’s not coming out of nowheresville like Matt Carpenter, but to jump from his career high 93 runs to 113? 20 extra runs could mean 2-3 roto points and a fantasy championship.
The point is that it’s the little edges that matter, so below are some guys who could give you an unexpected edge in a single roto category.
Jason Heyward, ATL, OF
Word is that Heyward is still set to lead off. That would put him in front of Justin Upton and Freddie Freeman, so there will be plenty of opportunity for a man with a .352 career OBP to pile up the runs.
With a little more BABIP luck and a healthy season, the 24-year-old Heyward could very easily amass 110+ runs, which would make him 2014’s Matt Carpenter in that category.
Billy Hamilton, OF, CIN
Everyone talks about what Hamilton can’t do. But as I’ve pointed out before, he can be 2014’s league worst hitter and still be standing on second base more than 100 times. If he gets on base at even a .300 clip, he has Joey Votto behind him and the fastest legs that baseball has ever seen under him. That could easily be 100+ runs.
Will Middlebrooks, BOS, 3B
I’m no fan of Middlebrooks, but despite all the trouble he has with breaking balls, he has proven without a shadow of doubt that he can absolutely punish a ball when he gets it. He had 17 homers in just 374 PA one season after mashing 15 in 286 PA the year before. If he gets enough plate appearances 30+ homers are well within his reach.
Jose Abreu, CWS, 1B
When asked about how he is adjusting from Cuban baseball to MLB, Abreu basically said, “Eh. I thought it would be harder.” I’m personally in camp Abreu and did a full profile here. 30+ homers are definitely a possibility for Jose Dariel Abreu.
Adrian Gonzalez, LAD, 1B
Adrian Goonzalez is pretty much an after thought when people think about the Los Angeles Dodgers. But fantasy owners would do well to remember that Gonzalez will again hit in the clean-up spot in one of the National League’s best offensive teams. A full seasons of Puig and Hanley in front of him should create oodles of opportunity for the man to drive in runs. He could easily lead the National League in the category.
Alex Gordon, KC, OF
No one thinks RBI when they think of Alex Gordon, but that’s only because he’s spent more than half his career in the leadoff position. Now he’s hitting 5th for a Kansas City Royals team with excellent OBP Norichi Aoki, Omar Infante, Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler in front of him. Expect 40 more RBI from Gordon this season.
Adrian Beltre, TEX, 3B
Batting average is trickier. Beltre is already being drafted for his steadily high average, but we still forget how good he’s been over the past 4 seasons, hitting for a .314 average. His line-drive, ground-ball and fly-ball percentages suggest he’ll be just as good in the future. Sure, he’s entering his age-35 season so a decline may be coming soon, but with a little BABAIP luck there may be a .325 season left in the tank before that happens.
Manny Machado, BAL, 3B
Let’s not forget that during the 1st half of 2013 Machado was hitting .321 with a billion doubles. Once he does get on the field after knee surgery let’s remember that Machado was striking out less than 16% as a 20-year-old. He’s a guy who can hit .320.
Dee Gordon, LAD, 2B
Dee Gordon will hit himself out of a job and he’s merely keeping 2B warm for Alexander Guerrero. But he can steal bases in bunches and could have 20 by the time he hands over the job.
Ben Revere, PHI, OF
Revere is being overlooked in drafts. In fact, I even noticed that he was dropped to the waiver wire in a league I play in. But he makes an excellent 4th fantasy outfielder. Not only should he help in average, but he’s likely to have 40 steals on the season after only logging 20 last year because of injury. A 20 steal boost could mean 2-3 roto points.