Ah, the offseason. You are fresh off your football wins (hopefully) and ready to get back into the best fantasy sport in the world, baseball. Missed a guy like Tommy Pham last season? Bad luck. Didn’t believe in Chris Taylor? That’s too bad. Here are five guys that could breakout for you come 2018!
Blake Snell-ADP 224.56: There is no coincidence that Blake Snell also made my sleeper list this year. Though breakouts and sleepers are definitely two different terms, they can sometimes meld together. We have that here in Blake Snell. With Snell, it is all about the 2nd Half numbers. The First Half was pretty ugly, a 4.89 ERA with a horrifying 5.88 BB/9. Let’s erase that from our memories for a second and take a look at the positive. In the 2nd Half, Blake Snell sang to the tune of a 3.49 ERA and drastically reduced his walk rate to a mere 2.91. His K rate also went from the 7’s to the 8’s per 9 innings in the Second Half. Maybe it was a lucky second half, but I am willing to bet this once shiny prospect might finally be figuring out the Major Leagues for the first time in his career. He will certainly be a popular sleeper just from all the articles I’ve seen written about him, but they are written for a reason.
Luke Weaver-ADP 118.79: This is one player who is definitely not a sleeper. Going just past the top 100s in most drafts I’ve seen. People are buying into Luke Weaver this off-season. Why are they? Let’s dive into his numbers and find out.His 2016 debut was nothing to write home about with a 5.70 ERA, but that did come with 11.1 K’s per 9. Good strikeouts, terrible ratios. Then comes his pre-breakout warm up in 2017. He went 7 and 2 with a 3.88 ERA and 10.7 K’s per 9. That in itself paints a pretty good picture of improvement, but before his last 2 games of the season, he had an ERA well under 3. Just take a listen to his August stats. 21 innings, 1.71 ERA, 12.43 K’s per 9, 2.57 BB/9. Those are some eye-popping numbers and while obviously, he isn’t that good. He could be this years Robbie Ray with the strikeout potential.
Greg Bird-ADP 160.71:: Injuries derail many careers. Greg Bird has been on the receiving end of the injury bug so far into his very young career. If he stays healthy though, imagine him being in a lineup with Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge. That alone should whet your appetite, but in the Second Half, he played in 29 games. In those 29 games, he batted .253 with 8 home runs. That is some big league pop. If Bird stays healthy and granted that is a big if. He could be in for a monster 2018 campaign with the lineup that surrounds him. Plus he comes with injury discount on draft day! 1st Base is deep this year, but don’t sleep on the Bird man in 2018.
Gregory Polanco-ADP 159.18: Got burned by Polanco in 2017? Get in line pal. After a 22 HR/17 steal 2016, people were expecting big things from Polanco in 2017. He didn’t deliver, to the tune of a .251 average and 11 bombs in 108 games. Sounds bleak, but this kid is only going to be 26 in 2018. Plus, he was injured for a majority of the year in 2017. Maybe that breakout we were looking for just needed one more year to develop. When people get burned on a popular pick as they did with Polanco in 2017, they tend to not want to draft him next year. That is great news for you, as Polanco comes with a huge discount on draft day.
Maikel Franco-ADP 257.08: The Phillies rebuild is finally coming together. The question is, will Maikel Franco be a part of it? His overall season stat line was a dismal .230/.281/.409 with 24 bombs. The home runs were a step in the right direction, but overall little else was. Alas, there is hope for the Phillies supposed third baseman of the future. In the 1st half, he was hitting a lot of ground balls, to the tune of a 1.51 GB/FB ratio. He also only had a hard contact rate of 27.7%. Look at his Second half numbers and you’ll see the improvement. He only had a 0.93 GB/FB ratio and had a hard contact rate of 35.5%. This upcoming year will be his age 25 season. It might possibly be a make or break for him if he wants to be a part of an emerging Phillies team. I think he has the talent to do so and will show it in 2017.