Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

I’m going to assume that whoever is still reading fantasy baseball articles at this point in the year is a dedicated fantasy baseball player. That’s fair, right? So I wanted to use this article to get your thoughts on some of the best breakout players for 2014 while I still have your attention. On some level, I’m looking for who might be the next Chris Davis. This is kind of ironic because, before Mr. Davis, you would have called this the next Jose Bautista. And so on. So who are some of the players you’re expecting to take the next step in 2014?

Remember when Bautista started crushing and everybody called it a fluke? The same thing happened to Chris (yeah, we’re on a first name basis). To me, it’s interesting because it brings up the question of when it is the right time to start trusting a new performance that contradicts a previous track record. Some people like to point to a strong September as evidence of a potential breakout the following year, but I think one month is too small a sample and, with September call ups, it could be due to the player facing lesser talent. On the other hand, there are some players who have a strong first half or a strong second half, but fail to live up to their performance in the other half of the season. It may be compelling to believe in a strong three months to finish a season, but is that really much more predictive than the player performing well every other month of the season? I’m not so sure.

The other interesting thing is the case of Mike Trout, who I’ve discussed at length. He brings up the question of when you can begin to trust that a player’s performance is repeatable, despite a limited major league track record. Many people thought it was unlikely that he would repeat his performance, but I saw him as being so talented that he could repeat his slash lines. Well, he did that, and even exceeded them. I’ll admit that I’m generally skeptical of young players repeating or exceeding their rookie performance, but I’m willing to view elite talents differently. It doesn’t make sense to apply a general rule to elite talent, who are the outliers.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this rant. I’m trying to think aloud in order to prepare for next year and I hope this got you doing the same. Feel free to suggest any potential breakouts or simply players who you find interesting. With the offseason beginning soon, I think this is the perfect time to get a jump on “sleeper” candidates, so I appreciate any and all of your ideas.

Tom Jacks is sporadically on Twitter @votetomjacks

  1. attgig says:
    (link)

    As a Mets fan, I’m going to throw out Ike Davis (if he’s somewhere else) or Lucas Duda will be can be Chris Davis of 2012 in 2014 (Davis’ 2012 wasn’t half bad either…)

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @attgig: I can’t argue with those. I liked Ike going into this year and he disappointed, but I still believe that the potential is still there. He is actually fairly comparable to Chris Davis (rough career with glimpses of greatness).

  2. Shawnuel says:
    (link)

    I think Wilson Ramos has the potential and youth to be considered a break-out power candidate next season.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @Shawnuel: I really like that one. I think he has the potential to be close to what McCann used to be.

    • JashFath

      JashFath says:
      (link)

      @Shawnuel: This is a good one, especially considering his prorated HR total this season!

  3. Whatever says:
    (link)

    Will Venable

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @Whatever: He’s one that I’m definitely going to be looking at more in the offseason. I’m very torn on what to expect from him going forward.

    • Tony says:
      (link)

      @Whatever: i see venable as more of the “carlos gomez” TYPE…

      • Tom Jacks

        Tom Jacks says:
        (link)

        @Tony: He’s been close to that this year.

    • Goose says:
      (link)

      @Whatever: Venable’s already 30 – this may be his breakout year…

      • Tom Jacks

        Tom Jacks says:
        (link)

        @Goose: Good point.

  4. gbaked says:
    (link)

    Smoak?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @gbaked: Well, he would fit the definition of a post-hype guy. I’ll likely be looking at him if I need a first baseman late.

  5. Chris says:
    (link)

    Cody Asche

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @Chris: That’s a good value pick. I’m sure he’ll be forgotten on draft day and there seems to be nice potential.

  6. FMFBL says:
    (link)

    Rasmus, if he can ever stay healthy.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @FMFBL: Oh, Rasmus. He’s another good comparison to Chris Davis in the sense that he was hyped and then continually disappointed to the point where if he ever has a big year people still won’t trust him.

  7. JashFath

    JashFath says:
    (link)

    My guess would be Mike Carp. He has an ISO rating of .244 in 218 AB this year. Not sure what his contract status is (thanks for removing that from your player pages, ESPN), but if he gets regular at-bats with the Red Sox, or whatever team he is on next year, he could be a potential +35 HR guy.

    • RandomItalicizedVoice says:
      (link)

      @JashFath: Doubtful. He doesn’t start every day and doesn’t start against lefties at all (his 2013 OPS vs lefties is only .724 compared to .948 vs righties). If he were to start every day, he would, IMO, be exposed. Right now, he’s one of those under the radar guys to opposing pitchers precisely because he doesn’t play every day. I think pitchers would pay more attention to him and prepare better for him if he were an everyday guy. With a K:BB ratio already over 3 with hardly any ABs versus lefties (11 Ks in 24 ABs and only 2 BBs vs. lefties this year), I don’t ever see this guy hitting “35+ HRs”.

      • JashFath

        JashFath says:
        (link)

        @RandomItalicizedVoice: Just like Chris Davis had a 6:1 K:BB ratio and couldn’t hit lefties before 2012? Carp would obviously have a lower BA if he saw regular playing time, but there is no denying his power. No guarantee that he would hit +35 HR, but he has the potential to, which is the whole point of this blog piece, speculation.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @JashFath: I could see him being similar to Brandon Moss.

      • JashFath

        JashFath says:
        (link)

        @Tom Jacks: Haha exactly, that is the first player that came to mind when I thought of Carp.

        • Tom Jacks

          Tom Jacks says:
          (link)

          @JashFath: Haha good times.

  8. shibboleth says:
    (link)

    The Bautista parallel is great. I myself said he was one time flash in the pan.

    I’ll say Wilson Ramos. Though likely just super hot right now, he’s also forcing himself into consideration as a keeper on my team. So, Wilson Ramos!

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @shibboleth: Thanks! You’re the second person to say Ramos, and I agree that he could be a top catcher next year.

  9. VegasJSS says:
    (link)

    Mark Trumbo or even Yasiel Puig. If the Dodgers can convince him to work with a coach who can work with him on how to play the game intelligently, he could improve in every category. Perhaps Shawn Green who was a 4.5 tooler himself and was hitting and outfield instructor at Dodgers spring training camp in 2013.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @VegasJSS: I am skeptical of Puig, but yeah, if he could improve his approach he could be scary good. I wouldn’t be surprised if Trumbo hit 45 homers with a really low batting average one of these years. The next Adam Dunn (the good, old version of Dunn)?

  10. J says:
    (link)

    Which pitcher do you like better for this week-

    Tanner Roark (vs. Braves & Marlins

    Joe Kelly (vs. Rockies & brewers)

    Or Carlos Torres (vs. Philly)

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @J: I’d go with Roark. I really don’t like testing Kelly at Coors.

      • Jake says:
        (link)

        @Tom Jacks:

        Is Roark still a “two start” pitcher? This week with the news that the nationals postponed tonight’s game to tomowrow – yes it’ll be a double header just didnt know if it’ll affect Roark.

        • Tom Jacks

          Tom Jacks says:
          (link)

          @Jake: Good question – I don’t know yet. I’m keeping my fingers crossed…

          • goodfold2 says:
            (link)

            @Tom Jacks: roark’s going today and sunday.

            • Tom Jacks

              Tom Jacks says:
              (link)

              @goodfold2: Thanks for the info!

  11. neogonzo_mourning says:
    (link)

    Wil Myers looks like the real deal. I’m hoping he gets a little underranked, because 35 hrs next year seems very reachable.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @neogonzo_mourning: Yeah, I could see him having a monster year in 2014. I worry that his price will skyrocket like Harper’s did this year though.

  12. Colonel Kustard says:
    (link)

    Matt Adams

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @Colonel Kustard: That’s a great one. I don’t know how I didn’t think of that, but it almost seems obvious after you mentioned him.

    • Serch says:
      (link)

      @Colonel Kustard: That’s my pick too….the power and batting avg. kinda reminds me of C. Davis…he struggled for ABs this year though, will next year be different?

      • Tom Jacks

        Tom Jacks says:
        (link)

        @Serch: Next year could be different. I believe Beltran is a free agent, so Craig could play OF and Adams 1B…

  13. Tom, final championship week! Garza has struggled recently with a 5.16 ERA, 1.32 WHIP since Aug. 1. Would you still start him against the Tampa Bay Rays, who have a .196 BA and 18 runs over their past seven home games? Also worried about C.J. Wilson (LAA) @OAK (Parker). We have an 8 SP weekly limit. I’m leaning toward playing Garza, but not CJ Wilson. What is your opinion of those match-ups? Thanks.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @madden_curser: I agree to play Garza, but not Wilson. Good luck and congrats on being in the championship!

  14. Chaz says:
    (link)

    Anthony Rizzo’s first two seasons resemble Chris Davis’ — though it obviously took Davis a few more years of nothingness to get here… Rizzo is a post-hype 40 HR guy IMO, but it’s a little too early to consider him a sneaky pick. Still has some young shininess to him.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @Chaz: That’s a really good one, especially since I’m a Cubs fan… It’s actually fitting because Bill James’ projections loved Chris Davis years before he broke out and those projections loved Rizzo this year…

    • Adam says:
      (link)

      @Chaz:

      Good pick, I could see that one too.

    • Moose Out Front says:
      (link)

      @Chaz: Rizzo is who I had in mind. You’ll be able to get him about where Davis got drafted this season, next year. Though I tend to agree that he needs another bad season to really be primed to break out, Davis style.

      • Nicky Numbnuts says:
        (link)

        I th@Moose Out Front: I think Rizzo is a really good choice too.

  15. Nate says:
    (link)

    Chase Headley?

    Also, not to the degree of Chris Davis, but I do think Salvador Perez has to really breakout one of these days.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @Nate: Hmm I could easily see a bounceback from Headley. I still like Perez too, but a breakout may be a couple years away. Catchers seem to take forever to realize their potential.

  16. Adam says:
    (link)

    I’d probably put Encarnacion in there with Davis and Bautista as another recent year breakout. Got hot in late 2011 and was just awesome in 2012.

    Most obvious new candidate to me would seem to be Dom Brown. Seemed like he was on pace for a very similar line to 2012 Chris Davis, and that he may have figured things out. I could definitely see him hitting 40+ HRs next year if he stays healthy.

    Pedro Alvarez is also a decent candidate. Not sure if he can manage to put together a great all around line though (.260+ AVG, 40+ HR).

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @Adam: Agree on Encarnacion. And Dom Brown was actually one of the first guys who came to me while writing this post.

      I love Pedro. I could see him reaching that line next year, with a little luck. Seems like he’s already had a mini-breakout this year.

  17. Chicken Dinner says:
    (link)

    Ruf, Blanks, Tyler Moore, Pill, Wallace, Joyce…..I’m good at this.

    • Chicken Dinner says:
      (link)

      @Chicken Dinner: Oooo, Viciedo.

      • Chicken Dinner says:
        (link)

        @Chicken Dinner: Wait……Moustakas. Perfect.
        Juan Francisco. I like this game.

        • Tom Jacks

          Tom Jacks says:
          (link)

          @Chicken Dinner: Haha keep ‘em coming! I’m loving all of these intriguing picks.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @Chicken Dinner: Nice list. I’d bet one of those guys surges in the rankings for 2015.

      • Chicken Dinner says:
        (link)

        @Tom Jacks: Mous has to be the guy.

        • Tom Jacks

          Tom Jacks says:
          (link)

          @Chicken Dinner: Yeah, I could see that, especially after his down year.

  18. Boy Wonder says:
    (link)

    I have 8 SP’s this week, maybe 9 if Sonny Gray goes again. The other guy looks like he’ll have 10 (10 is our max limit, 5 is the min). The cats are K’s, QS, Saves, ERA, WHIP, K/9.

    -I have Darvish, Verlander, Iwakuma, Samardzija, Liriano, Colon, Sonny Gray, Straily. Chris Perez, Rex Brothers, Puts-DL

    -He has Scherzer, Greinke, Burnett, Wily Peralta, Kris Medlen, Corbin, Ivan Nova. Chapman, Kimbrel, Farquhar.

    My biggest problem is that… I have 1 move left. And Jason Castro is my catcher.. I had a bye week last week.

    Can I win pitching?? Please advise. Thank you!

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @Boy Wonder: It’s hard to say. What else would you use that last move for? I’d rather have another start, if possible.

      • Boy Wonder says:
        (link)

        @Tom Jacks: That would be it. Either a catcher, (Sal Perez and Carlos Ruiz are available) or one last start. I’m really caught between a rock and a hard place…

        This is what I get for picking up FA busts.. I picked up Chris Carter for $7, Dayan Viciedo for $7, John Jay for $5, Rutledge for $5… All just to drop them after a few days. Should have manage my budget better, but I’m in the semi-final now…

        I just need Jason Castro to finally play again… The rest of my offense: Goldschmidt, Hill, R. Zimmerman, Jed Lowrie, Puig, Cespedes, Ruf, Seager, Marlon Byrd (I had to drop Craig today to pick up Byrd…)

        I guess I hold onto Castro and save the last move for an SP. If I can somehow make it to the championship round, I’ll have 2 starts from Darvish, Verlander, Liriano, Colon, Iwakuma. Wish me luck….

        • Tom Jacks

          Tom Jacks says:
          (link)

          @Boy Wonder: Yeah, good luck. I do like Ruiz’s matchups this week, but I guess it depends on how your offense compares to the other guy’s. Also, it depends whether there’s any good spot starts available on waivers.

  19. Mike says:
    (link)

    At OF start Span or Dom Brown? I’m worried about brown’s Achilles acting up again.

    Utility- need to choose one our of these: Matt Adams, Brandon Belt or Span (only if I start Brown at OF)

    Thanks! Great posts, I’m in the ‘ship!

    • Mike says:
      (link)

      @Mike:

      Rest of my lineup:

      Carlos Santana

      Goldschmidnt

      Ben zobrist

      Ian Desmond

      Prado

      Mike Napoli (IF)

      Giancarlo Stanton

      Alex Rios

      Puig

      Span

      DH- David Ortiz

      Utility?

      Pitchers: price, Grenike, Cole Hamels, Craig kimbrel & Zach wheeler.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @Mike: Congrats on the championship match! I’d go with Span in OF and Adams at Utility.

  20. SwaggerJackers says:
    (link)

    Yelich!

  21. Ian Schneider says:
    (link)

    I’d say Brandon Belt – he’s finally showing consistently at the plate these last 2 months of the season. He won’t hit 50 HR, but a 2014 line of .290/.375/.500 with 25 HR and 85 RBI is a reasonable expectation in his age 26 season. that would probably make him a top-10 fantasy 1B.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @Ian Schneider: Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see that line next year and do like what he’s been showing us the past couple months, as you said.

  22. Ryan says:
    (link)

    Pedro Alvarez.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @Ryan: Yup, he certainly fits the bill for power.

  23. tgk says:
    (link)

    Cespedes.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @tgk: At the very least, he should have a better year than 2013.

  24. TobiasFunkeAnalRapist says:
    (link)

    Dom Brown? BTW I started Cashner tonight, great start to my championship h2h matchup.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @TobiasFunkeAnalRapist: Nice on Cashner! And I could easily see a breakout from Brown next year.

  25. costaricanchata says:
    (link)

    @ Tom :

    i’ve got one word for you .
    plastics !
    oops … (wrong movie) .
    middlebrooks .

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @costaricanchata: Ha! There’s a great future in plastics…

      Middlebrooks could hit 30+ homers next year. Or is it “should” instead of “could”?

  26. toeknee says:
    (link)

    Viciedo. He was primed for a breakout this year, but injuries have gotten in the way. He has the potential to hit 30-40 bombs.

    • TobiasFunkeAnalRapist says:
      (link)

      @toeknee: I like this one, still young and plays in a hitters park.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @toeknee: He’d almost get that just by rebounding to his 2012 performance. With a step forward and/or a little luck, 30+ homers would be attainable. Good point about the injuries.

  27. Larry says:
    (link)

    In dynasty, and competing for first, crazy to free streaming spot — quintana tomorrow — and drop kuroda?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @Larry: Yes, that seems fine to me. Good luck! I’ll be streaming Quintana too…

  28. Gore says:
    (link)

    Depending on how under the radar you want to go here, I feel strong cases could be made for Eric Hosmer, Pablo Sandoval, Dexter Fowler, and Fred Freeman. If you want to get really sneaky I’d say Trevor Plouffe.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @Gore: Yeah, all of those guys have nice potential. I feel like Freeman may get a boost in drafts next year, but the others will be great value picks.

  29. Matthew says:
    (link)

    Nolan Arenado
    Christian Yelich
    Anthony Rendon
    Nick Franklin
    Brad Miller
    Mike Olt
    Xander Bogearts
    Yonder Alonso
    Yasmani Grandal
    Billy Hamilton
    Colin Morgan
    Oscar Tavares

    Didn’t name any pitchers haha. Just a list off the top.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @Matthew: Thanks for the list! That’s a good list of top prospects who either have not realized their potential during their brief time in the majors or should be up early next year. I like it. Could easily see a few of them shooting up the rankings for 2015. Maybe even a couple of them get hyped for next year…

  30. Hoog says:
    (link)

    I’m in the Semi-finals of my 12 team h2h league. Should I drop Lucroy for Ramos? Lucroy is ice cold and ramos is killing it, but Lucroy could wake up at any minute.

    Thoughts?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @Hoog: I just dropped Lucroy for Ramos in a league for a finals match, so yes, I’d recommend it. I’ll be crossing my fingers…

  31. English says:
    (link)

    I’m still waiting for Kyle Blanks to put it all together. Surely he will one year?

    Also, the guy who said Adams basically wins. Given regular playing time he could have a monster year.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @English: I think Blanks could, but I don’t know how long it will take. Maybe 2015?

      Agree on Adams. When playing time is the only thing holding a guy back, usually that works itself out.

  32. s_t_w says:
    (link)

    How about Eric Hosmer? Was disappointing last year and on May 18 of this season was hitting .244 with 1 HR. Now he’s up to .302 with 16HR 76 RBI and 11 steals. Could be poised for a monster year with the improving Royals giving him more opportunities for added runs and RBI.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @s_t_w: Yeah, I could definitely see that. Seems like he actually had a problem and fixed it. If he can be consistent for a full year, he could be a top first baseman (maybe not in homers, but average and steals help his case).

  33. P Swayz on a Horse says:
    (link)

    Todd Frazier
    Chris Johnson
    Chris Carter

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @P Swayz on a Horse: Nice. Maybe 2014 Todd Frazier = 2013 Pedro Alvarez?

      • P Swayz on a Horse says:
        (link)

        @Tom Jacks:
        I had high hopes for Frazier this year after keeping him on the cheap. Still, seems like there’s some good potential for value next year…I cut bait on him this year, due to a couple of guys named Machado and E5.

        • Tom Jacks

          Tom Jacks says:
          (link)

          @P Swayz on a Horse: Yeah, having those guys makes it completely reasonable to cut him.

  34. silk says:
    (link)

    Logan Morrison.

    Maybe not in 2014 but shortly after he gets outta Miami.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
      (link)

      @silk: That’s an interesting one. He’s pretty much been forgotten, so he’ll come cheap.

Comments are closed.