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