2019 Fantasy Baseball: Top Potential Breakout Candidates

Shawn Childs

2019 Top Breakout Players

The goal each Fantasy baseball season is to find the best players at each position. In most years, the top options don’t always come in the first round. Here are five players that I believe should be must own in 2019 while being drafted after round two in just about every league:

Cody Bellinger (1B, LAD): After returning for the NL LABR, the Fantasy world sees how bullish I’m on Bellinger in 2019. I wanted to roster him as the third player on Fantasy teams based on his explosive power and added value in speed. Last year Cody was only the 45th ranked player in SFSscore rankings after finished 26th in his rookie season. Even with a step back in production in 2018 (.260 with 84 runs, 25 HRs, 76 RBI, and 14 SBs) despite a 16 percent increase in at-bats, Bellinger did lower his K rate (23.9). At age 23, his bat should have further growth in his approach leading to explosiveness in power an exceptional speed for his position. This season I expect growth in batting average with a run at 40+ HRs and a chance at 20+ steals. He’s the highest projected first baseman at ScoutFantasySports in 2019 with a favorable price point (ADP – 45). I would not try to finesse him in drafts as his upside in four categories is too explosive.

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Rougned Odor (2B, TEX): The player I received the most negative criticism on my AL LABR team was Odor. Many Fantasy owners like his talent and skill set, but they aren’t willing to pay his price point. Rougned battled a hamstring injury last year leading to a step back in production (76/18/63/12) with regression his success rate (50) on the base paths. He did overcome the black hole in batting average In 2017 (.204) while still underperforming his early resume (18.8 percent) in his K rate (23.7). A Fantasy owner won’t find many 25-year-old major league hitters with almost 2,500 at-bats on their resume. Odor already has two seasons with 30 or more HRs and 41 combined steals off the last three years. He looks poised to move up in the batting order with Adrian Beltre no longer on the roster. Excellent value (ADP of 126) while offering a 30/15 skill set, which works well for the second baseball position.

Carlos Correa (SS, HOU): The shortstop position looks extremely deep in 2019, which makes avoiding Correa in drafts an easy task. Carlos is one of the top players in the game after being drafted first overall by the Astros in 2012. After his rookie season (.279 with 22 HRs, 68 RBI, and 14 SBs over 387 at-bats), Fantasy owners pinned him as one of the top Fantasy hitters in the game in the 2016 draft season. Over the last two seasons, Correa missed about one-third of his potential playing time to injuries. His 2016 stats projected over 550 at-bats would deliver 107 runs, 31 HRs, and 109 RBI with strength in his batting average (.315). A back injury crushed his value after the All-Star break (.180 with two HRs and 16 RBI) in 2018 leaving Fantasy owners with minimal interest to takes another failed season. There is no question about his talent when healthy. Carlos has an impact middle of the order bat, but a Fantasy owner now can’t trust his value in speed. My conservative projected him down to hit .293 with 102 runs, 29 HRs, 107 RBI, and ten SBs. With an ADP of 49 in the high-stakes market, a Fantasy owner will be extremely happy with his value this year. All I ask is that you don’t sleep at the wheel with his possible upside.

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Anderson (SS, CHI): Over the last two seasons, Fantasy owners have seen Anderson have growth in his power swing (37 HRs over 1,154 at-bats), but he continues to regress in batting average (.283 in 2015, .257 in 2016, and .240 in 2018). Last year his K rate (24.6) was a career low, but Tim didn’t see the results in his success on the field. In his minor league career, Anderson offered a high CTBA (between .392 and .401 over four different seasons). He flashed that same talent in his rookie season (CTBA – .396) helping him to a respectable batting average (.283). Last year his CTBA (.325) was well below his expected value. I expect a big correction in this area in 2019. Tim does lack a top of the order skill set due to his low but improving walk rate (5.0). His success rate (82.2) in steals in the majors does point to a greener light in the base paths. Buy the notion of 20+ HRs and 30+ SBs while knowing his batting has a chance to surprise. Love his foundation skill set when building a Fantasy team if Anderson can hit .270 or better. His HR/FB rate (14.2) is respectable while improving his swing path in 2018 (career high fly ball rate – 33.5). Complete steal based on his ADP (136 in the high-stakes market).

Vladimir Guerrero (3B) – Over the winter, I’ve talked to another respected Fantasy owner about Guerrero. He likes his upside while fearing his AAA time and the value of the Blue Jays supporting cast around him. This Fantasy owner believes his value is already taken out of Vlad based on his ADP (41). My early projections have him missing 20 games either by injury or being in the minors. Even so, his bat is going to come fast with an edge expected early in batting average. Guerrero will hit the ball hard while still looking to add more loft to his swing (low 30s fly ball rate in the minors). His dad played great in his first full season in the majors at age 23 (.324 with 38 HRs, 109 RBI, and 11 SBs) with success in his previous year (.302 with 11 HRs and 40 RBI over 325 at-bats) that was cut short by an injury. Guerrero is going to be a beast out of the gate. He’s tough to strikeout with the ability to drive the ball with ease. There is something to be said for gaining an edge in batting average while understanding his massive upside in power. If the shoe fits, ride it with no fear of failure.

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