Sometimes all the fantasy baseball draft preparation in the world can't beat good luck. I mean, nobody saw the following five fantasy baseball breakout players coming in 2012. And if you were lucky enough to draft or pick one of them up off waivers, you probably had a good season.
RP Jim Johnson, Baltimore Orioles -- Before the season started, how many saves would you have predicted for Johnson, 10 or 20, if that many? Instead, the O's closer led the Major Leagues in saves (51) and recorded the first 50-save season since 2003, when Mariano Rivera shut down 53 games for the New York Yankees.
3B Chase Headley, San Diego Padres -- Be honest, did you give Headley a second thought prior to your draft this year? Entering this season, he had 36 career home runs. Well, the switch-hitter blasted 31 long balls this season. Furthermore, he batted .286 with an N.L.-leading 115 RBIs and 17 stolen bases, ranking him among the top players at a thin position.
3B Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays -- Admit it, you didn't see it coming. Encarnacion had a career season for the Blue Jays in 2012. He blasted 42 home runs and had 110 RBIs, twice as many as he had last year; both ranked in the top four in the A.L. In fact, Encarnacion never had more than 26 home runs or 76 RBIs in any of his previous eight seasons.
SP R.A. Dickey, New York Mets -- Dickey most likely went undrafted in your fantasy baseball league, but he ended the season as the leading candidate for the Cy Young Award. The knuckle-balling ace won 20 games and ranked near or at the top of the league in every key pitching category. Fantasy owners who were lucky enough to pick him up off waivers basically received an extra first-round pick.
OF Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels -- We knew he'd be good, but not this good -- and not this fast!Trout had a rookie season for the ages, showing a combination of power and speed rare in fantasy baseball. He led the league in runs scored and stolen bases, plus he batted .326, the second-highest clip in the A.L. He's pure gold in keeper leagues and arguably a top three overall pick next season.
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer who roots for the New York Mets (and any team that is playing the New York Yankees ). A dedicated fantasy baseball player since 1998, his games of choice growing up were Strat-O-Matic and MicroLeague Baseball.
- Sports & Recreation
- fantasy baseball
- Edwin Encarnacion
- New York Mets