Yesterday, I published my All Breakout team for NL-only leagues, and today, I publish my AL-only All Breakout team.
Breakouts are not easy to predict, but some come as a result of increased playing time, players with another year of experience, or players outperforming their ADP (average draft position). You will hear all kinds of positive stories about players returning from injury, adding a new pitch, or changing their swing come spring training, and some may lead to breakout seasons. For example, last spring we heard that Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown tinkered with his swing with the Phillies hitting coach Wally Joyner, and that resulted in a breakout season for him in 2013.
With that said, here is my take on the 2014 All Breakout team for AL-only leagues:
Catcher: Yan Gomes, CLE
The Indians used catcher Carlos Santana at first base and DH last season, and this offseason he is playing some third base in the Dominican Winter League. So the Indians either don't like Santana behind the plate, or want to make room for Gomes. Or both. Gomes won't hit .294 again, but could hit 15-20 home runs with 65-70 RBI in 2014.
First Base: Eric Hosmer, KC
Well, it looks like he turned things around for good last season, as he hit .300 or better in each of the last four months of the season. A precursor to a breakout season? I think so. We could see 25 HRs, 90 RBI, .300 BA and double digit steals from him next season. But, he will have to improve upon the 25% fly ball rate though.
Second Base: Jurickson Profar, TEX
The Rangers finally made room in the infield for Profar by trading away second baseman Ian Kinsler this offseason. Now, it's time for Profar to show us the tools he had on display in the minor leagues and made him the #1 prospect heading into the 2013 season. He should be an above average hitter, think .265-.270, with double digit power and stolen bases in 2014.
Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts, BOS
I am ranking Bogaerts at shortstop for now, even though there is a chance the Red Sox re-sIgn Stephen Drew this offseason. Bogaerts showed us in a small sample size in the playoffs that he is ready to play every day at the big league level, and owns the plate discipline to continue to outperform expectations. Bogaerts should hit for a high average and show above average power for a shortstop.
Third Base: Brett Lawrie, TOR
Lawrie is the poster child for the post-post-post hype breakout prospect. Could 2014 be the year he finally breaks out? His plate discipline and power, as measured by ISO, improved slightly last season, but he will have to finally stay healthy to reach the potential he showed us when he was a prospect several years ago. He hits in a pretty good lineup, one that ranked ninth in runs scored last season, so he could put up some decent counting stats in the runs and RBI categories if he can stay in the lineup.
Outfield: Oswaldo Arcia, MIN
Arcia has some pretty big power and he showed some of that last season, hitting 14 home runs in 97 games. He will be playing every day in the Twins outfield in 2014, so he could approach 25 home runs with 80+ RBI. His strikeout rate might be a bit of hindrance, but I see that improving with more experience, especially when you consider he didn't strike out that much in the upper minors.
Outfield: Desmond Jennings, TB
Jennings did not run as much last season, stealing just 20 bases, but he did get on base more, as his walk rate, strikeout rate and power improved. As a minor leaguer, he never stole fewer than 32 bases in any one season, so he has the skills to steal 30+ bases again. HIs home run totals have improved in each of the last two seasons, from 10 to 13 to 14 last season, so there is a slim chance he creeps up to the 20 home run level as well.
Outfield: Wil Myers, TB
Myers has big time power, enough power to eventually lead the American League in home runs at his peak. I don't see him hitting .293 again, as he benefitted from a .362 BABIP last season, but he did hit 27 home runs between AAA and the big leagues, so he could put up that total in a full season in 2014. He will have to avoid the sophomore slump to do so.
Starting Pitcher: Rick Porcello, DET
Porcello made improvements across the board last season, boosting his strikeout rate by almost two strikeouts per nine, lowering his walk rate slightly, and improving his ground ball tendencies for the third straight season. His 4.32 ERA was almost a run higher than his 3.53 FIP, so he pitched better than ERA indicated. With the defensive improvements made this offseason ( Jose Iglesias at shortstop, Ian Kinsler at second base, and moving Miguel Cabrera away from third base) we should see more improvement from Porcello in 2014.
If you are looking for fantasy baseball articles and rankings for 2014, make sure you check out Fantasy Rundown, as they provide a one stop spot on the internet for all of your fantasy baseball needs.
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- The 2014 All Breakout Team: NL-Only leagues
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- Deep League Drafting: Outfield
- Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Top 100 Starting Pitchers for 2014
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