This year’s Major League Baseball Season is only days away and is set to be a sprint to October. 2020’s shortened season can be a huge benefit to players looking for a breakout campaign. With only 60 games, players that have one hot stretch will be set to have a fantastic year.
These are six players primed for a breakout year.
1. Eloy Jimenez – OF – White Sox – Although Jimenez homered 31 times and slugged .513 in 122 games last season, there is plenty of room for improvement in the young outfielder’s game. Jimenez had a better second half of 2019 than the first as he notched a 51 percent “solid contact” rate in his post-All-Star break games.
Jimenez did struggle with his strikeout numbers last season. The young outfielder struck out 134 times compared to only drawing 30 walks. With a combination of hard-hit balls in play and decreasing his strikeout total, Jimenez could make a significant jump from year one to year two.
2. Willie Calhoun – OF – Texas Rangers – Calhoun started 2019 in the minor leagues and after getting the call to the show, the Rangers outfielder dealt with a quadriceps injury before becoming an everyday player in the second half. During his stint as the everyday leftfielder, Calhoun hit 21 home runs and had a slash line of .269/.323/.524.
Although his offensive numbers picked up during the second half of 2019, Calhoun had his struggles in the field. Going forward, he will probably be better suited as a designated hitter but, nevertheless, Calhoun is primed for a big year.
3. JD Davis – OF – New York Mets – JD Davis was acquired by the Mets in a trade with Houston in the winter of 2018. Davis had impressive numbers in the minors, but subpar major league numbers going into 2019. Last season, Davis picked it up by hitting .307 along with homering 22 times and doubling 22 times.
He really showed off his power by sending a ball into the top rung of the rotunda in leftfield at PNC Park in Pittsburgh last September. Davis appears to be primed to expand on his success and become a vital piece in the Mets dangerous lineup.
4. Dinelson Lamet – SP – San Diego Padres – Lamet began his 2019 season in July following 2018 Tommy John surgery. In 14 games, the 26-year old posted a 4.07 ERA over 73 innings and struck out 105. Lamet has the swing-and-miss stuff but needs to decrease his ERA. Lamet’s slider was responsible for 77 of his strikeouts and opponents only hit .116 against it. If Lamet is able to add some sort of fastball to his deadly slider, then he can solidify his spot at the top of the San Diego rotation.
5. Brian Anderson – INF – Miami Marlins – Brian Anderson appears to be one of the pieces Derek Jeter and the Marlins will build around for the next few years. In his rookie year in 2018, Anderson homered 11 times, hit .273, and finished fourth in Nation League Rookie of the Year voting.
In 2019, Anderson increased the number of homers from 11 to 20 and held steady with 33 doubles, 66 RBIs, and a batting average of .261. Anderson has shown improvement in the major statistical categories from year one to year two, and if he can get his batting average into the .280s, then Anderson can become one of the most consistent under-the-radar players in all of baseball.
6. Austin Riley – 3B – Atlanta Braves – There is an opening at third base in Atlanta and Riley is the quick fill option. In his first 14 career games, Riley hit seven home runs. He continued to rake totaling 12 homers and 34 RBIs in 35 games.
Unfortunately, in late June, he began to fall off his unreal pace and began to battle a right knee injury in August and September. In his final 31 games (out of 80 total), Riley hit .161, homered twice and drove in eight. The Braves are looking for Riley to find some form of consistency going forward, as he has shown glimpses of promise in the past.
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