All-Breakout Team

Also see: Dream Team | All-Bust Team | All-Rookie Team | Top 10 Bounce-Backs

By this time next spring, many of the players on our All-Breakout Team will be household names and big-ticket items. Let's relish the chance to get some of these guys cheaply, at least one last time. When a stat-grabbing stud makes a splash on the big stage, the marketplace reacts quickly.

SS –> Dee Gordon: The setup couldn't possibly be better for the baby-faced shortstop: he's got the pedigree (his father, Tom Gordon, was a star pitcher in the majors), the green light (manager Don Mattingly lets his kids play) and the right man teaching him (first-base coach Davey Lopes is considered the top running guru in the majors). The talent was flashing if you were paying attention last September – Gordon hit .372 in the final month, with 21 runs scored and 12 steals. It won't be a shock if he leads the majors in stolen bases this time around.
RF –> Brennan Boesch: A second-half slump ruined his rookie year in 2010, and a late thumb injury collapsed his stats last year. If Boesch can simply stay on the field for all of 2012, the environment will push him to stardom. He's a patient No. 2 hitter who crushes fastballs, and you can be sure Boesch will see plenty of heaters given that Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder are next in the Detroit order. Look for 90 or more runs, 20-plus homers and maybe even 10 steals, along with a favorable average.
1B –> Ike Davis: The breakout story was being written in the first quarter of 2011, when Davis slugged seven homers and hit .302 over the first 36 games. But a busted ankle ruined the rest of his sophomore season and a bout with Valley Fever crushed his fantasy buzz earlier this month. Davis is healed up now and the Citi Field bleachers are calling to him – the Mets moved in the fences this year. Don't be surprised when he's New York's representative at the All-Star Game.
3B –> Mike Moustakas: Unlike his teammate Eric Hosmer, Moustakas didn't hit the ground running immediately after his 2011 recall to Kansas City. Mouse had a puny .228 average at the All-Star break, with just one home run in 25 games. But things were clicking with the powerful lefty by the final month of the year, when he posted a .352 average, four homers and even a couple of steals. Follow the Moose tracks and you'll find a steal for your portfolio – Moustakas is being drafted in the 17th round, on average, in Yahoo! leagues this spring. Moustakas was the second overall pick in the 2007 MLB draft, so big things have been expected all along.
DH –> Dayan Viciedo: Viciedo has moved around during his brief time in Chicago (first base, third base, outfield, DH), but he's with the club for his bat first and foremost. With that in mind, he makes sense as our DH and RBI man in the No. 5 slot. Viciedo showed impressive power during a brief 2010 trial (five homers in 104 at-bats), and his batting eye took a step forward last year (nine walks over 102 at-bats). Now that he finally has a lineup slot to call his own in the Second City, he might turn into Carlos Quentin 2.0. Yes, South Siders, that's a good thing.
C –> Wilson Ramos: Most of the Beltway backstop talk is centered around Baltimore's Matt Wieters, but Ramos might give Wieters a run for his money in 2012. The players had nearly identical returns in the percentage stats last year (average, on-base percentage, slugging), but Ramos had to make do with 111 less at-bats because he was sharing time with veteran Ivan Rodriguez. The Nats have since jettisoned Pudge, so they're ready to ride with Ramos full-time. You can land the Washington catcher after Pick 200 in most drafts.
2B –> Jason Kipnis: Our second-base spot almost went to Dustin Ackley, Seattle's young stud, but Kipnis offers a similar profile with a much cheaper price tag (you can land Kipnis about five rounds later in Yahoo! drafts). Nothing makes us drool in fantasy quite like a power-speed combination, and Kipnis showed that type of ability in his 36-game debut last year (seven round-trippers, five steals in five attempts).
LF –> Nolan Reimold: Reimold was a rated prospect back in 2006 and 2008 – no one has been signing his praises lately. But the growth pattern is different for all players, and Reimold, at 28, seems ready to step back into the fantasy consciousness. Baltimore handed him a job for the final two months of 2011 and Reimold took advantage, especially during September's action (.281 average, five home runs, 17 RBIs, six steals). Four of the five ballparks in the AL East are favorable for offense, including Reimold's home stadium.
CF –> Cameron Maybin: You could argue that Maybin's breakout year came last season, but considering that he turns 25 shortly after opening day, we see another level for him to climb. He swiped 28 bases and scored 44 runs in the second half last year, covering 63 games. If you project that binge over a full season, you'd get 72 swipes and 113 plate touches, superstar numbers. It's a shame he has to play half of his games in expansive Petco Park, because Maybin showed some pop on the road last year (seven homers, .457 slugging percentage)
SP –> Jordan Zimmermann: It's not easy for a young player to get attention on the Nationals, considering the never-ending buzz tied to Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. Zimmermann is also shielded by last year's 8-11 record, a stone-cold fluke. Look deeper and you'll come across his 3.18 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. To put those ratios in perspective, consider that both stats were lower than what Madison Bumgarner posted in San Francisco. Zimmermann comes four rounds cheaper than Bumgarner on draft day; the nation hasn't digested the Zimmermann note yet.
RP –> Rafael Betancourt: The breakout tag is usually reserved for the young up-and-coming players, but we'll make an exception for Betancourt, who's finally settling into a closing role as he approaches his 37th birthday. He showed he could handle the ninth inning late in 2011, recording five saves in five chances after August 27. Betancourt struck out nine men for every one batter he walked last season, the type of profile that equals success in crunch time.

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