MLB Breakout Players 2017

Making the jump

Trea Turner

With pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training this week, I think it’s safe to say we can move on from football and finally start talking about baseball. We all know about the Mike Trouts and the Bryce Harpers of the MLB but not enough attention is paid to the players who are right on the cusp of breaking out but haven’t quite done it yet. Players breaking out is always one of the best parts of any MLB season, so let’s take a look at some of the guys that I believe will hit their stride this season:

Christian Yelich (Miami Marlins) Outfield

2016 Stats: .298 AVG, 21 HR, 98 RBI, 172 Hits, 9 SB

Christian Yelich (Getty Images)

Christain Yelich played very well last year but I’m confident that he can still improve. Giancarlo Stanton wasn’t the leader of the team last season, Yelich was. He led the Marlins with 98 RBI’s and a 79–82 record with a very injured roster. Yelich broke all of his season high’s last year. At only 25, expect his stats to increase. In 2017 he will make his first All-Star game and win his second Gold Glove award.

Predictions: .305 AVG, 24 HR, 105 RBI, 190 Hits, 15 SB

Edwin Díaz (Seattle Mariners) Closer

2016 Stats: 2.79 ERA, 18 SV, 13 HLD, 88 SO, 15 BB, 1.16 WHIP

Edwin Diaz

When Steve Cishek blew his 7th save of the season, the Mariners promoted the set-up pitcher: Edwin Díaz. Once he got the closer job, Díaz never looked back. He dominated batters with 88 strikeouts in 51 innings (That’s 1.7 strikeouts per game!). He got his 50th strikeout in only 25 and a third innings, the first pitcher to do so in 123 years! With all that said, I would be surprised if he didn’t make the All-star Game in his second season.

Predictions: 3.00 ERA, 34 SV, 95 SO, 30 BB, 1.35 WHIP

Andrew Benintendi (Boston Red Sox) Outfield

2016 Stats: .295 AVG, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 31 Hits, 1 SB

Andrew Benintendi (Getty Images)

Andrew Benintendi was the first player from the 2015 MLB draft to be promoted and he did not disappoint. He came straight from Double-A and made his debut on August 2nd, only 412 days after being drafted. While playing, Benintendi dominated- racking up 31 hits in 34 games but he unfortunately got injured and was held out until September 15th. In his first at bat in the playoffs he hit a home run off Trevor Bauer. He will definitely get better and will be another scary batter in the already amazing Red Sox lineup. Since he only played 34 games last season, he is still counted as a rookie and is the favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award.

Predictions: .300 AVG, 15 HR, 68 RBI, 110 Hits, 7 SB

Kelvin Herrera (Kansas City Royals) Closer

2016 Stats: 2.75 ERA, 12 SV, 26 HLD, 86 SO, 12 BB, 0.96 WHIP

Kelvin Herrera (Getty Images)

When Wade Davis got injured last year, Kelvin Herrera took over the closing job and to say he capitalized on the opportunity would be a major understatement. While closing he secured 12 saves and only blew 3. Even when he wasn’t the official closer he had 26 holds. With Davis being traded to the Chicago Cubs, Herrera now has the closing job for good. With a full year at the position he could make his 3rd All-Star Game and his first as a closer and not as a set-up man.

Predictions: 2.50 ERA, 37 SV, 90 SO, 15 BB, 0.90 WHIP

Trea Turner (Washington Nationals) Shortstop

2016 Stats: .342 AVG, 13 HR, 40 RBI, 105 Hits, 33 SB

Trea Turner (Getty Images)

Trea Turner was an absolute monster when he was called up. HE couldn’t be stopped, just look at his stats! In 73 games he hit .342 and had 33 stolen bases!! He did all this while mostly playing outfield, which, FYI, isn’t his main position. They traded Danny Espinoza to the Los Angeles Angles so they can put this dynamic player at shortstop, his natural spot. He won’t be counted as a rookie anymore but he can make the All-Star Game and could be the first guy since Ricky Henderson to steal 100 bases.

Predictions: .315 AVG, 15 HR, 68 RBI, 200 Hits, 77 SB

James Paxton (Seattle Mariners) Starting Pitcher

2016 Stats: 6–7, 3.79 ERA, 117 SO, 24 BB, 1.31 WHIP

James Paxton (Getty Images)

In 2013 James Paxton was called up by the Mariners and was great, going 3–0 with a 1.50 ERA in his first 4 starts. In 2016 he was injured (the same back problems that have been plaguing him since 2014) but was able to start in 20 games, albeit shakily. There is one thing he has been able to do throughout his career: strike out batters. If he can manage to stay healthy, he has the potential to be an amazing number 2 starter behind Felix Hernandez.

Predictions: 13–7, 3.20 ERA, 220 SO, 45 BB, 1.29 WHIP

David Dahl (Colorado Rockies) Outfield

2016 Stats: .315 AVG, 7 HR, 24 RBI, 70 Hits, 5 SB

David Dahl (Getty Images)

David Dahl was called up from the minors to play in an already stacked lineup, but somehow he managed to improve them! The Rockies have always had great batting because they play in Coors Field but have never been able to get anywhere because of their pitching. Last year was the first year they had a solid starting 5 but were still not able to win until Dahl was added to the lineup. He had a 17 game hit streak in his first 17 games! He was the first player to do that since Chuck Aleno did it in 1941. His skill set is obviously there and hitting in Coors Field will just give him more opportunities to hit home runs.

Prediction: .305 AVG, 23 HR, 70 RBI, 150 Hits, 15 SB

Robby Ray (Arizona Diamondbacks) Starting Pitcher

2016 Stats: 8–15, 4.90 ERA, 218 SO, 71 BB, 1.47 WHIP

Robby Ray (Getty Images)

In his first full season with the Arizona Diamondbacks Robby Ray was very inconsistent. His 2016 ERA was extremely high, he walked 71 batters, and lost 15 games, but there is one thing that shows promise: his 218 strikeouts. He was tied with Noah Syndergaard for 9th in the MLB in total strikeouts. With an improved rotation and healthy batting, Ray can increase his win total IF he can get his command in control.

Predictions: 12–10, 3.50 ERA, 235 SO, 50 BB, 1.43 WHIP

Blake Snell (Tamp Bay Rays) Starting Pitcher

2016 Stats: 6–8, 3.54 ERA, 98 SO, 51 BB, 1.62 WHIP

Blake Snell (Getty Images)

Blake Snell played pretty well compared to other rookie pitchers like Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo López, and Tyler Glasnow. Many of his classmates struggled to make the adjustment to playing at the top level while Snell was, for the most part, able to keep his composure. His main problems last year, the ones that led to his high ERA and 8 losses were his 51 walks. He walked way too many batters, which in turn led to a lot of baserunners which, inevitably, led to a high era. If he gets his pitch command down this kid has a very bright future and could break out this season.

Predictions: 11–7, 3.30 ERA, 175 SO, 55 BB, 1.50 WHIP