8 Potential Breakout Hitters (2019 Fantasy Baseball)
Accurately predicting breakout seasons is a good way to win fantasy titles. Aaron Judge was on many title teams two seasons ago. Last season, hitters such as Eugenio Suarez and Jesus Aguilar carried owners to championships. While it’s often smooth sailing once you land one of these breakout stars, correctly identifying them is another story. For every Suarez, there are a few Byron Buxtons.
Of course, there are ways to increase your odds of landing a breakout player entering fantasy baseball drafts, including following along with our fantasy baseball content. We’ll have more on breakouts and sleepers in the coming weeks. For now, we’ve asked our writers to identify their breakout hitter for the 2019 season.
David Dahl (OF – COL)
Two things have held Dahl back from truly breaking out; his health and barriers to playing time. Cross both of those off this year, as Dahl is finally ready to take over the reins in the outfield. Dahl has 25-15 potential with a .280 average, and it doesn’t hurt his upside that he plays half of his games in Coors Field, either. Just cross your fingers for 150 games.
Michael Waterloo (@MichaelWaterloo)
Tyler O’Neill (OF – STL)
It will obviously depend on whether or not the Cardinals actually stick it out with Dexter Fowler. If the leash is short, however, and they are willing to admit he is a sunken cost, Tyler O’Neill is a sneaky breakout candidate. Throughout the minors, O’Neill has absolutely mashed, and he carried it over into the majors last season. In 194 Triple-A games, the 23-year-old has 57 homers, 158 RBI, 138 runs and a .904 OPS. That will translate to the next level if St. Louis makes room for his bat in the lineup.
Bobby Sylvester (@bobbyfantasypros)
Harrison Bader (OF – STL)
Admittedly, Bader’s glove is a bit ahead of his bat. He forced his way into St. Louis’s lineup last season with his nifty work in center field and his exhilarating style of play. Lost in all of that was the fact that he hit .264 with 12 home runs and 15 steals in limited at-bats. He will be an everyday starter for the Cardinals and could even work himself into the top half of their lineup. A 20-20 season with great RBI and run numbers could easily be in play here. Bader just might be the St. Louis version of Andrew Benintendi.
Alex Altmix (@Altmix_23)
Jesse Winker (OF – CIN)
The 25-year-old Winker has ridiculous plate discipline, walking in nearly 15 percent of his at-bats and striking out in only 14 percent. He will be a must-own in OBP leagues where he could easily put up a .400 on-base percentage. The 44 percent hard-hit rate and nine percent HR/FB rate suggest some power growth is possible. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he’ll be playing half of his games in Great American Ballpark. There’s some risk involved as Winker is coming off shoulder surgery, and he could become the better side of a platoon with Matt Kemp after posting a .690 OPS against left-handed pitching. Even with those possibilities, this is a profile I’m willing to invest in.
Shane McDonald (@coachshanemac)
Nick Martini (OF – OAK)
Martini absolutely destroyed expectations in his first year in the big leagues with Oakland. He managed to hit .296 and put up a .397 OBP with the Athletics in 55 games played which lead to him becoming an everyday player for the club in September. The biggest issue with him is his power hitting. He ended up with just one home run during the entire season. He’s fully expected to maintain his everyday role in a very solid offense. If he can come close to keeping those averages he’s a must-own player.
Kamran Hoda (@Kamran_H7)
Michael Conforto (OF – NYM)
In his first full big-league season, Conforto posted a .243/.350/.448 slash line — nothing to write home about. However, he had a 120 wRC+, an elite walk rate, and displayed above-average line-drive and hard-hit rates. If he can return to his 2017 levels of line-drive and hard-hit rates, which were near elite, Conforto could pop 30 homers and have 180 combined runs and RBI this season in a much-improved lineup.
Carmen Maiorano (@cmaiorano3)
Eloy Jimenez (OF – CWS)
Eloy Jimenez is the best offensive prospect not named Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and he has a chance to step in and immediately produce plus-power for fantasy owners while hitting in the middle of the Chicago White Sox offense. After slashing .317/.368/.556 with 10 home runs in 228 Double-A at-bats, Jimenez slashed .355/.399/.597 with 12 home runs in the same number of at-bats at the Triple-A level. The only real concern is whether or not the White Sox will keep Jimenez down in the minors for a few weeks to start the season in order to secure an extra year of team control.
Mike Maher (@mikemaher)
Danny Jansen (C – TOR)
Catcher is as ugly as it has ever been this year. A major reason for that is that MLB teams now place a premium on their backstop’s defensive ability (at the expense of their offense). Enter Danny Jansen, who is admittedly as popular of a sleeper pick as you’ll find in 2019. Jansen was recently ranked as the No. 42 prospect by Baseball America, writing “More Steady Eddie than flashy, Jansen is a potential high on-base percentage catcher who should help in Toronto soon.” The 23-year-old got a taste of the big leagues last year, posting a .347 OBP with three homers across 95 plate appearances. He also stole five bases in 88 games at Triple-A last season. The Blue Jays recently traded Russell Martin, which should open up everyday playing time for Jansen. At a thin position, he has the ability to be a star for your fantasy team, particularly in OBP leagues.
Brendan Tuma (@toomuchtuma)