Gamers who are reading this article and still tuned into the 2019 season are likely putting the finishing touches on a successful fantasy campaign. And to get to the top, winning gamers almost certainly found some diamonds in the rough along the way.
With that in mind, here is the All-Breakout fantasy team for 2019.
(Note: rookies were ineligible to be classified as breakouts)
Christian Vazquez, C, Boston Red Sox
Gamers entered 2019 with minimal expectations for Vazquez, who had previously shown himself to lack the requisite power for mixed-league membership. But the 29 year old proved to be a late-bloomer, joining the power revolution by hitting more homers to this point in 2019 (21) than in his previous four career seasons combined (10). He may not sustain all of his 15.4 percent HR/FB rate next season, but Vazquez should stick around as a fantasy contributor.
Josh Bell, 1B, Pittsburgh Pirates
Bell was so good in the first half (27 HR, 84 RBI, .302 BA) that he qualifies for this list despite an abysmal second-half performance (10 HR, 32 RBI, .233 BA). His batted-ball luck has fallen off dramatically since the All-Star break, but he also aided his own demise by producing hard contact at a 10% diminished rate. The summer decline will push Bell out of the initial rounds of 2020 drafts.
Ketel Marte, 2B, Arizona D-backs
Marte has been among the most consistent players on this list. He has compiled at least 13 RBI and 14 runs scored in each completed month, and he has hit over .300 in each of the past four completed months. His rates of hard contact, line drives, and fly balls have all spiked, making this a breakout we can believe in.
Yuli Gurriel, 3B, Houston Astros
Gurriel was sputtering along as an unexciting, powerless corner infielder when he suddenly used a retooled swing to hit .408 with 12 homers and 31 RBI in July and .344 with seven homers and 29 RBI in August. Wise gamers will have some skepticism about a mid-30’s power surge (see Matt Carpenter, 2018) but Gurriel has definitely earned a spot in the middle rounds of 2020 drafts.
Eduardo Escobar, SS, Arizona D-backs
Escobar has been both good and lucky this season. He has earned his homer total (35) by producing excellent marks in hard contact (41.8%) and fly balls (45.5%). But he has also been extremely lucky to compile 114 RBI in 148 games. I am excited about Escobar for 2020, as long as we scale back his RBI projection to something in the 90 range.
Max Kepler, OF, Minnesota Twins
Kepler’s breakout was easy to see coming, as he was hamstrung by bad luck last season. The 26 year old’s fortune completely changed this year, and he rewarded wise drafters by ranking among the American League leaders in long balls (36). Kepler might reach the century mark in both RBI and runs scored, but another year with an unremarkable batting average will keep him out of the initial 3-4 rounds of 2020 drafts.
Trey Mancini, OF, Baltimore Orioles
Mancini is a great example of how fantasy gamers can extract value from the weakest teams. Despite plying his trade for an abysmal Orioles squad, the slugger will finish the season with career-best marks in homers, RBI and runs scored. He is also showing some improvements in plate discipline and owns a respectable lifetime .271 average. Most gamers will prefer Kepler to Mancini, but Mancini may be the better 2020 value pick.
Jorge Soler, OF, Kansas City Royals
Soler has been a massive surprise in the power categories (45 HR, 109 RBI), but he has had a good share of luck as well. After all, his 28.0% HR/FB rate ranks seventh in baseball and is hardly the kind of mark we would expect from someone who plays half their games in Kauffman Stadium. I’m expecting a decent amount of regression next year, but Soler should still make a shallow-league impact.
Lucas Giolito, SP, Chicago White Sox
After a couple early career stumbles, Giolito delivered on his prospect pedigree this season. The right-hander ranks seventh in the Majors with 228 whiffs, 20th in ERA (3.41) and 12th in WHIP (1.06). He is handcuffing hitters (32.0% hard-contact rate) and dominating the strike zone (4.0 K:BB ratio). Lots to like here.
Domingo German, SP, New York Yankees
In German, we have a case of fool’s gold. The right-hander is fortunate to have an 18-4 record, and he is also fortunate to have a .261 BABIP. His 4.09 ERA isn’t special, and his 4.77 FIP is a concerning mark. While I like German’s control skills (2.4 BB/9 rate), I am expecting a major step back next season.
Liam Hendriks, RP, Oakland A’s
Hendriks definitely didn’t back his way into the closer’s role, as his 1.68 ERA and 0.98 WHIP are eye-popping marks. He has excelled at keeping the ball in the yard, and his 116 whiffs are the second-highest total of any pitcher with at least three saves. Blake Treinen could reclaim the closer’s role next season, but my money is on Hendriks.
Brandon Workman, RP, Boston Red Sox
Workman has been fortunate to win nine games, but he has earned his 14 saves by being the most consistent reliever in Boston’s bullpen (2.04 ERA, 1.03 WHIP). The Red Sox will may look for an experienced stopper in the offseason, but Workman has given them a reason to save their money for other needs.