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Fantasy Baseball: 2009 Breakout Hitters-NL Central

Continuing in the series of 2009 breakout hitters, here are the NL Central breakout hitters.

Reds-Jonny Gomes-four years ago, as a rookie on the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Gome went 21-54-9-.282-.372-.534-.906 in 348 ABs. His 2005 season lead to high expectations, which Gomes could not follow through with. Over the next 3 seasons, he played himself off the Rays team. His 2008 season was the nail in the coffin, where Gomes went 8-21-8-.182-.282-.383-.666, resulting in him being waived. The Reds took a flyer on him this season, and he has returned to his 2005 form going 20-51-3-.268-.340-.543-.883 in 276 ABs. I am not sure if he will start for the Reds in 2010, but he can provide some nice pop for a 4th -5th outfielder on fantasy teams.

Astros-Michael Bourn-Back in 2008, the Phillies traded Bourn to the Astros for a much needed closer-Brad Lidge. Lidge went on to have a perfect season in the save department, and oh by the way, won a World Series ring. Bourn, however, languished in Houston going 5-29-41-.229-.288-.300-.588, making Astros fans think they were robbed leaving them with the second coming of Willy Taveras. But 2009 was the year Bourn proved everyone wrong. He has gone 3-39-60-.290-.360-.388-.748. The 60 SBs are a welcome sight roto owners, but how many expected the .290 AVG?

Brewers-Casey McGehee-it took him 6 minor league seasons to make it to the majors, but Casey McGehee has made many fantasy owners smile in 2009, his rookie season. His 15 HRs, 65 RBI and .303-.364-.500-.864 line puts him in line to receive some ROY votes. McGehee was called up when second baseman Rickie Weeks went down with a wrist injury, and was probably one of the reasons why the Brewers dealt 3B/OF Bill Hall this year. McGehee should be the starting 3B for the Brewers in 2010, even though their top prospect Mat Gamel is also a 3B. There is thought that the Brewers may maximize their return by dealing 1B Prince Fielder this offseason after his monster 2009 season. Should that happen, Gamel would slide over to 1B where his defense, or lack thereof, won't hurt them as much.

Pirates-Garrett Jones-it took Jones 11 minor league season to make it to the majors, but like Casey McGehee, he will make the NL ROY voting very interesting this season. In the minors, Jones displayed pretty good power, but his career .312 OBP and .450 SLG lead many to believe that 2009 is an aberration, and he won't duplicate his 2009 production in 2010 and beyond. But Jones numbers are quite impressive. In 296 ABs, he has gone 21-44-10-.301-.375-.588-.963. Over a full season, that works out to 40+HRs and 20 SBs.

Pirates-Andrew McCutchen-since the Cubs and Cardinals didn't have any breakout hitters, I had to throw in one of my favorite rookies Andrew McCutchen. Sure, I traded him in the UBA league for Lance Berkman, and I am wishing I never pulled the trigger on that deal after the season McCutchen has put up. In 417 ABs, he has gone 12-54-17-.283-.355-.468-.823 with a 77/47 K/BB ratio. I have already stated that I think McCutchen will be better than the guy he replaced in CF for the Pirates, Nate McLouth, and I think he could be a top 10 OFer in NL leagues in 2010.