Fantasy Baseball

2018 Fantasy Baseball Breakout Candidates: Next Up


Breakout players are those who are in a position to take the “next step”. These are the players who have the potential to make massive strides in their games and produce a lot for the owners who draft them.

Who doesn’t love a good breakout candidate? Don’t you want to be the owner who makes the late round pick that changes the dynamic of the league? Owners who do their research can find the next Trea Turner or Cody Bellinger, putting them at a huge advantage all season long.

In preparation for your drafts, I’ve made a list of five players who have the skill and opportunity to make the leap to the next level. As I write this, each of these players is going well past pick 100, leaving plenty of room for profit.

2018 Fantasy Baseball Breakout Candidates

Ozzie Albies, 2B, Atlanta Braves

Ronald Acuna is getting all of the attention, but another top prospect is ready to break down the door in Atlanta. Albies has had a steady rise through the Braves’ minor league system. In particular, his power stroke has developed in a big way. Last season, Albies hit 15 home runs between Triple-A and the Majors. Prior to 2017, his career high over a full season was six. After his call-up to the majors, Albies slashed .286/.354/.456, all of which were improvements on his minor league marks.

Albies is expected to bat second in the Braves’ lineup this season, behind Ender Inciarte and in-front of Freddie Freeman. If he can maintain an OBP around .340, Albies will have plenty of run-scoring opportunities. ZiPS is expecting Albies to have a .309 BABIP. I think that’s a little low considering his 20+ steal speed and minor league track record.

Albies has the plate discipline (0.58 BB/K) to maintain a safe floor. His batted ball profile also shows that he makes solid contact with the ball (14.7% soft hit rate). With a FantasyPros ADP of 149, Albies is a great option for owners looking for a upside in the later rounds.

Manuel Margot, OF, San Diego Padres

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When people talk about finding cheap speed on the wire, they’re talking about players like Margot. He was the No. 2 prospect in the Padres system two years running and has a solid hold on the leadoff spot going into the season. In his first full year, Margot stole 17 bases and hit a surprising 13 HR.

Margot made huge strides in the second half that could mean huge things for his 2018. In particular, his launch angle jumped from 4.5 to 14.3 resulting in a nine percent increase in his FB%. The extra pop off Margot’s bat resulted in eight second-half home runs and a .161 ISO. If Margot can maintain some of these power gains for a full season, he has a chance to hit around 15 home runs.

Margot’s speed the most consistent part of his game. Running around with 70-grade speed, he has been a consistent base stealing threat throughout his minor league career. If he plays a full season, Margot could steal anywhere from 25-30 bases to go along with his 13-15 home runs. Not bad for someone being drafted past pick 150.

Willie Calhoun, OF, Texas Rangers

The centerpiece of the Yu Darvish trade last summer, Calhoun is the favorite to be the starting left fielder in Texas this season. If you’re not familiar with Calhoun, you might be surprised that the 5’8, 187 lb outfielder is a bonafide slugger.

In 128 games in Triple-A last season, Calhoun hit 31 HR and 93 RBI, an improvement on the 27 HR and 88 RBI from 2016. The most encouraging part of Calhoun’s power is the discipline that comes with it. Last season Calhoun slashed .300/.355/.572 with a 0.69 BB/K. For someone with his power, Calhoun’s 11% K-rate between Double and Triple-A is very impressive.

Calhoun will also have the benefit of playing at Globe Life Park, which is very friendly to lefty power hitters. With a clear path to at-bats and a solid lineup around him, Calhoun looks like a good bet to make an impact in his first full year in the majors.

Zack Godley, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks

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Godley was called up at early last season and was an excellent rotation piece for the Diamondbacks. He finished the season with a 3.37 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. Godley improved on his difficult 2016 season by increasing the use of his curveball (35%) which is by far his best pitch, with a weighted pitch value of 20.8.

Due to his pitching style, Godley isn’t the type of pitcher to get blown up often. He causes a lot of swinging strikes (13.3%) and generates a lot of groundballs (55.3%). In 25 games, Godley posted 14 quality starts. With a full season worth of starts, Godley should push Patrick Corbin and Zack Greinke for the team lead. With the humidor coming to Chase Field, Godley’s 14.7% HR/FB should decline as well.

The one concern with Godley is his habit of walking batters. His 8.5% BB rate is not the worst, but it does put him put him behind batters more often than you would like to see. If he improves his walk rate, there’s a chance for him to jump into the top 15 starting pitchers.

Archie Bradley, RP, Arizona Diamondbacks

As a starter, Bradley had a high ceiling and horribly low floor. He had huge strikeout potential but his walk rate consistently held him back. Bradley was used as a starter in 2016, posting a 5.02 ERA in 26 starts. To help utilize his skill set, the D’Backs moved him to the bullpen to help in middle relief.

After a spectacular April (1.13 ERA, 32.3 K%) Arizona moved Bradley to the late innings, setting up then closer Fernando Rodney. For the rest of the season, Bradley was easily the best and most consistent member of the Diamondback’s bullpen. He finished the season with a 1.73 ERA. More importantly, he limited his BB% to under 10% for the first time in four years.

This spring, Bradley will be competing with Yoshihisa Hirano and former Rays closer Brad Boxberger for the ninth inning. Boxberger has struggled with injury and consistency since his 41 save 2015 season. In fact, he hasn’t recorded a save since that season. Hirano is a 33-year-old going into his first major league season, so we’re not sure what to expect.

If Bradley impresses early on, he has the potential to be a top 10 closer. His ADP is down due to the uncertainty of the pecking order, but he will be worth the risk.

2018 Fantasy Baseball Position Previews
CatcherFirst BaseSecond BaseThird BaseShortstopOutfieldStarting PitcherRelief PItcher

Check out the rest of our great Fantasy Baseball content as the 2018 season approaches.

About Jonathan Chan

Winning fantasy leagues since 2004. Losing them for much longer. Follow Jonathan on twitter @jchan_811 and he'll be ready for all your questions!

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