Breakout Candidates for 2017
Now that there’s less than 30 full days until the start of the regular season, there’s Spring Training buzz about up and coming talent. However, sometimes the players who end up impacting their team the most are not overly hyped leading into the regular season. With each season comes new breakout players who completely out-perform their expectations for that particular season.
Here are a few candidates who could breakout in 2017.
C.J. Cron, 1B, LAA
Cron looks like a player on the rise based on a quick glance at his basic counting stats. He hasn’t joined the league in the recent massive home run surge, but maybe 2017 is his year to do that. His back to back career high 16 homers is nothing to call home about, but there is reason for encouragement with someone like Cron. Between 2015 and 2016 he cut his ground ball percentage (-3.3%), while increasing his line drive percentage (+1.2%) and hard contact percentage (+4.9%). It’s subtle changes like this that, if they continue to trend upward, lead to breakout power seasons. He’s entering his age 27 season and honestly, would anybody be that surprised if the 6’4″, 235 lb. first baseman doubled his homers total? I can’t say I would be.
Eduardo Rodriguez, SP, BOS
Boston may need E-Rod this year more than they expected if the recent drama with David Price amounts to anything. Rodriguez has been somewhat of an anomaly since his beginning with the Red Sox. He flashes brilliance, but hasn’t quite put it together…yet. If he manages to stay healthy, the soon to be 24 year old lefty could finally make it all work in 2017. He struggled with knee issues at the start of 2016, and it showed in his performance. A 8.29 ERA and a .315 BAA in 6 starts/appearances before the All-Star break paint a less than illustrious image. However, after the All-Star festivities, Rodriguez managed a 3.24 ERA with a .210 BAA in more than double the amount of starts he had in the first half, and will look to carry this mojo into 2017. His teammate Jackie Bradley Jr. had a pretty good second half in 2015 and was able to carry it well into 2016. Who’s to say it’s not Rodriguez’s turn now?
Clint Frazier, OF, NYY
It is becoming increasingly likely that Frazier joins the Yankees in the Bronx at some point in 2017. This one is probably not as under the radar as Cron and E-Rod, but Frazier isn’t listed on the Yankees current depth chart, so I feel comfortable at least calling him a breakout candidate. The tools are there and are almost refined. He has befriended Reggie Jackson, and the Yankees organization loves him. He is a big part of their future plans, and don’t be astounded if they give him a shot out of Spring Training. He has put together a decent line so far, and it’s not impossible for him to edge out Aaron Hicks or Mason Williams. The right field competition may be eventually narrowed between Frazier and Aaron Judge (also putting together a great spring). Even if Frazier loses out this time, expect him in the Bronx before September call-ups.
So, there you have it. Something I noticed was my decreasing reliability on statistics as I wrote through this. This was unintentional, but it’s interesting that sometimes these types of things just break down to gut feeling. That might not be a ringing endorsement for these picks, although I feel good about them for breakout candidates heading into the 2017 MLB season.
Stats taken from FanGraphs and Baseball Reference.
Photo taken from Flickr Creative Commons. Lianna Holub’s photo can be seen here.