There are breakouts every year in fantasy baseball. Some can be seen coming, while others seemingly pop up out of nowhere. The key to a breakout player, however, is figuring out which ones are here to stay and which are simply putting forward a career year without any followups.
Listed here are five fantasy baseball breakout players from 2016, who are poised for continued success as he head into the new 2017 season.
These are your 2016 breakouts who will continue to shine.Editor's note: Get 50% off any MLB Premium Pass. Draft guide, cheat sheets, 200 days of DFS access, and over 20 premium tools. Dominate your leagues all year long! Sign Up Now!
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After two promising seasons to begin his career, Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts put it all together in a sensational third professional season. The 24-year-old played in a career-high 158 games, hitting a career best .318 with 214 hits, 31 HR and 113 RBI, all personal records. Betts would finish second in the MVP voting and cemented his status as one of the best players in the sport. Looking forward, the Red Sox will be minus the powerful bat of David Ortiz, but Betts will take over as the centerpiece bat in this lineup.
Clearly possessing the ability to hit for 30 home runs, the All-Star can now turn to stolen bases. Falling four steals short of a 30/30 season in 2016, this feat is clearly within his grasp this season. Betts should be one of the top five picks taken in drafts this season, perhaps even a top three choice. With power, speed and the ability to hit for average, Betts is arguably the most complete fantasy player in the game.
Rougned Odor was widely viewed as a sleeper heading into last season and those who reached for him were handsomely rewarded. The 23-year-old’s third season in the majors saw him play in a career-high 150 games, posting career bests in hits, runs, AVG, and stolen bases. His 33 home runs and 88 RBI were also career highs, as he eventually found his lineup position as the fifth hitter. Looking forward, Odor’s second half drop in strikeouts could further make him a deadly hitter heading into 2017. While his 33 home runs seem awfully difficult to replicate, his power should remain among the very best at his position. Odor should once again threaten to crack 30 home runs for the season, while his RBI total should once again be in the 80-90 range.
The ability to hit for power, drive in runs and steal double digit bases per season already makes him one of the very best options at second base. The one aspect of his game which, if improved, will potentially raise him to a top five option at his position is BB. Should Odor’s patience increase at the plate, his walks and OBP will reach career highs. Expect another superb season from Odor as he leads another contending Texas Rangers squad.
After three seasons with the Houston Astros, Dominican infielder Jonathan Villar enjoyed a breakout season in 2016 as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers. With the ability to play shortstop, second base and third base, his playing time skyrocketed to a career-high 156 games. As a result, he posted career highs in runs (92), hits (168), HR (19), RBI (63) and in all three categories of his slash line (.285/.369/.457). While his pop and overall hitting were solid, it was the 25-year-old’s base-running that catapulted him to one of the breakouts of the year. While he led the league in caught stealing, his 62 stolen bases led all of baseball.
Primarily a shortstop last year, Villar will be moving over to second base on a full-time basis in 2017, making him a three-position fantasy player. Unlike Rougned Odor, Villar is already coming off a successful season in the walks department, meaning he simply has to duplicate his performance last year to remain a polished hitter. As a leadoff hitter, base stealing should remain an integral aspect of his game. If his numbers do drop slightly, his ability to fulfill three infield spots should keep him a strong draft choice who should go rather early.
Arriving in the United States after a lengthy career in South Korea and Japan, veteran reliever Seung-Hwan quickly became one of the revelations of the year with the St. Louis Cardinals. The 34-year-old was initially just another reliever in the staff, but by July he was already piling up saves, cementing his status as team closer. His 32.9 percent strikeout rate was solid, and he led NL relievers in strikeouts early on in the season. Oh wrapped up the season with a 1.92 ERA, six victories and 19 saves. Although his age may worry some prospective owners, Oh should begin the season as the undisputed team closer. This should set him up for a terrific season, and he should be one of the first 10 closers selected in drafts this spring. In Oh, you’ll have a closer who strikes out plenty of batters, keeps his walks down and possesses plenty of experience.
After years of spot starts and indecision over a clear role, Danny Duffy established himself as a full-fledged starter last season with the Kansas City Royals. Inserted into the starting rotation out of necessity due to injuries, the 28-year-old made 26 starts, going an outstanding 12-3 with a 3.56 ERA. In August, he went 5-1 with a 2.51 ERA, striking out 16 batters in one game. Now, with the departure of Edinson Volquez and the tragic death of Yordano Ventura, Duffy suddenly finds himself as the ace of the Kansas City rotation. While his decline in September of last season may worry some, the ceasing of his undefined role will surely help Duffy’s mindset. Now a starter moving forward, Duffy is a prime candidate for second starter on fantasy teams and should be drafted as such. Decreasing the number of home runs surrendered and keeping his strikeouts up will be the keys to his continued success.