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In fantasy baseball, it’s important to awaken to sleepers before everyone else does and avoid busts at all costs.
But nothing increases your odds of a league title more than pouncing on a breakout star.
The leap from good to great is the most difficult in sports, but it’s also the most rewarding. That’s just as true in the fantasy realm, where the transformation of a 20-home run hitter into a 45-bomb power bat or a solid starting pitcher into a Cy Young candidate will elevate your entire output.
We’re here to steer you in the direction of some breakout bats who could prove to be league-winners.
Franmil Reyes, OF/DH, Cleveland Indians
Franmil Reyes opened the 2019 season in the unfriendly (for fantasy purposes) confines of San Diego’s Petco Park. He didn’t always have a full-time gig and had to navigate around a midseason trade to Cleveland.
The 24-year-old still blasted his way to 37 homers in just 494 at-bats. His batting average lagged (.249), and he struck out a ton (156 times to be exact), but he still helped every fantasy owner smart enough to roster him.
That could be just the beginning. The power potential here is elite. Looking beyond the long balls, Reyes had the second-highest average exit velocity. He also squared up enough to post a top-10 barrel rate. Oh, and his average has room to improve. He tallied a .280 mark across 87 games the season prior.
With a full-time role and prominent lineup spot likely awaiting him, he has the chance to get comfortable in Cleveland and skyrocket his statistics. A .260 average with a 50-homer pace is not out of the question.
Bo Bichette, SS, Toronto Blue Jays
As a 22-year-old, brand-name prospect, Bo Bichette isn’t the kind of player you can speak past your leaguemates. But if you’re a big believer in his skills, you can still find significant value even with his price tag (average draft position of 67th, per Fantasy Pros).
The son of four-time All-Star Dante Bichette, Bo naturally looked…well, like a natural during his first taste of the big leagues last season. He did everything his fantasy owners could’ve wanted and then some. He managed to pack 11 homers, four steals and 53 combined runs and RBI into only 46 games, all while batting .311 and posting a .358 on-base percentage.
The Blue Jays can’t wait to see what the 22-year-old has cooked up for an encore.
“The same way pitchers are adjusting to the hitter, the hitter has to adjust to the pitching,” hitting coach Guillermo Martinez said, per MLB.com’s Keegan Matheson. “For Bo to continue doing what he’s doing, he doesn’t have many holes in his swing, so if he continues to stay confident with what he’s been doing his entire life, he’ll be fine.”
A full season of Bichette could be spectacular. His 162-game pace last season featured 39 homers, 14 steals, 113 runs and 74 RBI. If he maintains a similar pace—all while batting atop a talented, young Toronto lineup—he could be fantasy baseball’s next superstar.
Willie Calhoun, OF, Texas Rangers
The Rangers slow-played Willie Calhoun’s rise to the big leagues, but there was no stopping him last year.
The 25-year-old was promoted in mid-May and other than a brief battle with quadriceps tightness, he became a fixture in Texas’ lineup. He totaled 83 appearances, launching 21 homers, driving in 48 runs and hitting .269 along the way. Stretch those marks over 162 games, and you’re essentially looking at 40 bombs and 100 RBI.
Not bad production for someone with an average draft position of 181st, right?
He fractured his jaw in March, which could have delayed his start, but the postponement of this season erased that concern long ago.
With Nomar Mazara shipped off to the Chicago White Sox, Calhoun should finally have stability at his position and in the batting order. Based on what we’ve seen—in 2017, he batted .300 with 31 homers and 93 RBI over 128 games in AAA—his numbers could be gargantuan.