Five potential breakout players for 2016
In part of a collaborative effort by the staff of FanRag Sports‘ Today’s Knuckleball to rank potential breakout players for 2016, we were each assigned five players to write a short summary of – on why they could be breakout candidates this season. Mine ended up being slightly longer than what was asked for (100 words each) and I’m assuming they’ll be edited a bit. So here are my five assigned potential breakout players for the 2016 season. Once the full article is up and live on Today’s Knuckleball I will add the link to the finished product at the end of this post! Thanks for reading!
Corey Seager – Los Angeles Dodgers
On September 3 of last year, 21-year-old Los Angeles Dodgers’ prospect Corey Seager burst onto the baseball scene with a bang, going 2-4 with a double and two RBI. The next day he went 2-5 adding another double and RBI to his short big league resume. In 27 games with the Dodgers in 2015 Seager finished off the regular season batting .337/.425/.561 including 13 extra-base hits and 17 RBI. He added three more hits during the Dodgers short stint in the postseason.
Going into 2016, he’s already the favorite to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award, despite missing most of spring training with a slight knee sprain. He returned to the big league lineup Thursday in the Dodger’s Freeway Series against the Los Angeles Angels. Seager played five-innings at shortstop and went 2-2 with a run scored. He accomplished all that after missing the majority of spring training with a sprained knee? Seager’s already living up to all the hype. He just needs to keep playing like he played last night and last season, and he’ll be the big breakout star of 2016 that everyone is expecting.
Billy Burns – Oakland Athletics
2015 could be considered Billy Burns breakout season with the Athletics. Afterall, he became the A’s leadoff man and starting centerfielder in the absence of the injured Coco Crisp. The speedy, then 25-year-old finished fifth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting but in many other years the numbers he put up in 2015 would have been good enough to win it. Burns played in more games than any other rookie who received a vote. Had the third highest WAR of the group (2.8) and the highest batting average (.294) of the group as well.
Still, he was on a team that finished in the cellar of the AL West and many of his accomplishments were overshadowed by the A’s 68-94 record. It seems Burns has already had his “breakout season,” however, his team improved over the offseason and if he plays like he did last season he should get more notice. Already this spring Burns was named the game’s fastest player by MLB.com and Statcast. He stole 26 bases in 2015 but has been working with the game’s greatest base stealer Rickey Henderson and already has five stolen bases this spring. Add that to a .375/.404/.500 spring slashline and it appears that there is no sign of Burns’ slowing down anytime soon. 2016 could be the year that more people take notice of the kid making waves in Oakland.
Wil Myers – San Diego Padres
Wil Myers won the AL Rookie of the Year Award with the Tampa Bay Rays back in 2013. The slugger played in 88 games, hitting .293 with 13 home runs and 53 RBI while posting a 1.9 WAR to take home the award. However, his next two big league seasons didn’t go as planned. Myers missed half of the 2014 season with a broken wrist. Playing in 87 games Myers hit just .222 with 35 RBI and hit half the number of home runs than in the previous season. After 2014 Myers ended up with the San Diego Padres in three-team trade.
A change of scenery didn’t help Myers in 2015 who went on the disabled list for the second time by just June, this time needing wrist surgery. The wrist plagued him even after surgery and he was limited to just 60 games all season, although his overall numbers were up from 2014. If his wrist has finally fully healed this could be the year that Wil Myers makes his comeback and really breaks out with the power bat he had as the 2012 Minor League Player of the Year and the 2013 AL ROY.
George Springer – Houston Astros
George Springer had quite a rookie season back in 2014 in which he hit 20 homers in just 78 games with the Houston Astros. Still he only hit .231/.336/.448 and finished eighth in the AL ROY voting. In 2015, Springer played in 125 games for Houston, spending time on the disabled list with a fractured wrist he suffered in July, after hitting .321 and six home runs in the month of June
The wrist injury kept Springer out of the Astros lineup until September and he hit just three more home runs ending the seasons with just 16. However, overall the rest of Springer’s numbers were up, most specifically his batting average went up from .231 to .274 and his on-base percentage moved up 30 points to .367. If Springer can put it all together bringing back the power added to the considerably higher batting average and OBP he will have a breakout season like we haven’t seen in a long time, making the already menacing Astros even more threatening.
Rougned Odor – Texas Rangers
Rougned Odor is really in line for a breakout season for the Texas Rangers in 2016 as long as he stays healthy. He’s already had a slight oblique strain this spring but has bounced back well. The speedy second baseman took over for the injured Jurickson Profar in 2014 and 2015 and has solidified a spot at the position. Rumor has it that the Rangers already tried to sign him (unsuccessfully) to a long term deal over the offseason.
In 2015 Odor hit 111 hits that included 21 doubles, nine triples and 16 home runs which were only slightly higher numbers than he put up in 2014. He’s got speed and power, a rare combination for a middle infielder. If his ISO continues to rise and he can add a little more plate discipline to raise his on-base percentage, which was only .316 in 2015, he’ll be an unstoppable force for the Rangers. It will be impossible for people not to notice him and the huge breakout season he could be in for in 2016.