Cover Photo: Getty Images
The Mike Trouts and Bryce Harpers of the world are usually sure bets to take you to the playoffs in fantasy baseball, but there are always a few breakout players every season that can make-or-break a championship run. Here are five breakout candidates for the 2019 fantasy baseball season.
MLB Fantasy Baseball Breakout Players
Amed Rosario, SS, New York Mets
Rosario didn't have the breakout sophomore campaign many expected, but his final stat line doesn't show the full picture. The third-year shortstop really turned it on down the stretch last season, slashing .284/.318/.413 with five dingers and 15 stolen bases from August 1 on. The Mets' completely revamped lineup will offer Rosario some considerable protection.
Here are Amed Rosario's running splits and ranks (among SS, min. 10 opportunites) for 30 ft, 60 ft, and 90 ft from 2018:— Mathew Brownstein (@MBrownstein89) February 4, 2019
30 ft: 1.76 (T-11th)
60 ft: 2.86 (8th)
90 ft: 3.87 (T-6th)#Mets #LGM @Mets @MetsMerized @Amed_Rosario pic.twitter.com/QUKc5qCxNG
Jose Leclerc, RP, Texas Rangers
His team may be a mess, but Leclerc could be the best late-round reliever you can draft for the 2019 fantasy season. The 25-year-old righty thrived after earning the Rangers' closer job in August, recording a 0.00 ERA with 29 strikeouts across 18 innings pitched and 12 saves in as many opportunities. Leclerc has lights-out stuff and is projected to resume closer duties for the 2019 season. The save opportunities may not come often based on the state of the Rangers, but his save success rate and strikeout rate definitely points to a breakout season.
Willians Astudillo, C, Minnesota Twins
Astudillo was a career minor leaguer heading into 2018, but he showed the baseball world he's capable of holding his own in the MLB once he was called up. The 26-year-old backstop slashed .355/.371/.516 with three homers and 21 RBI across 97 plate appearances last season. That's above-average production for the position when projected across a 162-game slate. What's most telling is his impressive plate discipline. Astudillo struck out just three times across 93 at-bats in the bigs and owns a career 3 percent strikeout rate for his minor league career (81 Ks in 2461 plate appearances).
Adalberto Mondesi, SS, Kansas City Royals
Mondesi was in danger of being labeled a bust thanks to a sub-par first two seasons in the MLB, but a post-August 1 hot stretch indicates the young shortstop could live up to the hype he garnered when the Royals signed him. Mondesi slashed a .280/.316/.533 line with 11 homers, 26 RBI and 24 swiped bags in 28 tries in the final 48 games of the 2018 season. Mondesi's 26.4 whiff rate last season is cause for concern, but his newfound ability to leg out extra-base hits and his stolen base potential should outweigh any drawbacks his plate discipline may bring to the table.
Since this offseason has been characterized by frustration and things not happening, let's take a moment to remember something that was not frustrating, and that did happen.— Patrick Nolan (@SoxMach_pnoles) January 10, 2019
Reynaldo Lopez last 7 starts of 2018:
45.2 IP, 48 K, 14 BB, 2 HR, 1.38 ERA, .173/.242/.247 allowed
Reynaldo Lopez, SP, Chicago White Sox
A 10-loss pitcher on one of the worst teams in baseball is a pretty risky pick, but the way he's trending could indicate a huge breakout in 2019. The four-year veteran has improved significantly every season since he debuted in 2016 and set career bests in wins (7), ERA (3.91), WHIP (1.27) and strikeouts (151) in 188.2 innings pitched last year. Granted, they're not exactly the best numbers, but his final stretch of the season indicates that a monster year may be in the works. Over his last seven starts, Lopez recorded a 1.38 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 45.2 innings.
Join FanDuel Sportsbook Today New users get a risk-free bet up to $500. Join Now.
Mike Esposito is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Mike Esposito also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username espo6891. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.