2022 Fantasy Baseball Breakout Players

by Dennis Sosic
2022 Fantasy Baseball Breakout Players

Welcome Fantasy friends and foes to the 2022 Fantasy Baseball Breakout Players.

Now that The Super Bowl is over, many Fantasy managers will turn their focus to Fantasy Baseball.

Here is hoping that we get to see baseball on time or at all this season!

One of the most enjoyable ways to win in Fantasy sports is to pick the next breakout player(s). Find that player who had success but reaches another level based upon an increased role or simply substantially increases their Fantasy production. See Salvador Perez.

I went around the diamond and selected promising players primed to take the next step in the 2022 Fantasy Baseball Breakout Players.

2022 Fantasy Baseball Breakout Players

Looking for a Fantasy advantage? Get the ultimate in-season edge with customized Fantasy Baseball advice for your team using My Playbook from FantasyPros.

Tyler Stephenson, C, Cincinnati Reds

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As a player on the rise, Tyler Stephenson is one of the catchers I highlighted in my Catcher Preview. Despite being in a platoon with Tucker Barnhart, he was the top rookie catcher. Stephenson hit .286/.366/.431 with ten homers and 21 doubles, and a 110 wRC+. In addition, he was trusted enough by Reds' manager David Bell to hit cleanup in 25 games, which he slotted the most in the Reds lineup last season.

With the departure of Tucker Barnhart to the Detroit Tigers, Stephenson takes over as the Reds' full-time catcher. The Reds will rely on Stephenson to improve on his impressive rookie season. I would be happy to select Stephenson as he enjoys his breakout season in his first full season as a starter.

Frank Schwindel, 1B, Chicago Cubs

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The Chicago Cubs unearthed a gem in Frank Schwindel, who joined the team off waivers from the Oakland A's two weeks before the trade deadline. Schwindel took over as the starting first baseman after the Cubs traded Anthony Rizzo. He was something special and finished with a solid final couple of months last season.

Schwindel hit .344/.394/.635 with six homers and 18 RBI in August (26 games), followed up with an even better September/October. He slashed .344/.388/.600 with seven home runs and 22 RBI in 29 games. Those performances led Schwindel to be named National League Rookie of the Month in August and September.

Schwindel deserves more of a look and builds upon the momentum of last season. Look for the Cubs to stick with Schwindel,  leading the first baseman to show his late-season production was no fluke as he breaks out in 2022.

Brendan Rodgers, 2B, Colorado Rockies

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It seems that we have been hearing about Brendan Rodgers for several seasons. Rodgers was drafted No.3 overall in the 2015 MLB draft, and there have been high expectations for Rodgers to be an impactful player with the Colorado Rockies.

Rodgers finally lived up to the hype last season. He finished with a .284/.328/.470 slash line with 15 homers and 51 RBI over 102 games. He has locked up second base for the Rockies after finishing the season strong. In his last 28 games, Rodgers hit .299/.320/.504 with a .824 OPS along with five homers and 16 RBI.

The arrow is pointing up for Rodgers, who will springboard his new confidence to continue to rise to expectations. As a result, Rodgers will be a breakout selection at second base for fantasy managers.

Bobby Witt, Jr., SS, Kansas City Royals

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Bobby Witt Jr. is MLB Pipeline's No. 3 overall prospect, a five-tool player projected as a 20+/20+ player in the big leagues. He was outstanding against minor-league pitching between Double-A and Triple-A, hitting .290 with 33 home runs, 97 RBI with 29 stolen bases.

With Adalberto Mondesi moving to third base, Witt Jr. steps in as the Opening Day shortstop and begins his breakout in his rookie season.

Luis Urias, 3B, Milwaukee Brewers

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Luis Arias started the 2021 season as the Milwaukee Brewers' Opening Day shortstop as a hyped-up prospect. However, he struggled defensively and offensively to the tune of hitting only .208 through May 21. The struggles prompted the Brewers to go and acquire Willy Adames to take over at shortstop, while Urias became a super-utility player.

His up and down season started to improve, with Urias settling at third base. Urias finished last season with a .249 batting average, a .789 OPS, 23 home runs, 75 RBIs, and 77 runs. He came on in the second half of last season, slashing .266/.367/.483 along with a .850 OPS and 11 home runs with 33 RBI.

Urias will be in the Brewers' everyday lineup in 2022. His power provides enough promise to lead to a slugging third baseman worthy of a successful breakout 2022 season.

Akil Baddoo, OF, Detroit Tigers

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Akil Baddoo has gone from Tommy John surgery in 2019 to being taken by the Detroit Tigers in the  Rule 5 draft despite never appearing above High-A during his time in the Minnesota Twins system.

Baddoo burst onto the MLB scene in dramatic fashion, striking gold on his first major league pitch with a home run. The rookie winded up logging 124 games before an injury shut him down. The left-handed-hitting outfielder finished with a .259/.330/.436 slash line with 13 home runs and 55 RBI. He was also successful on 18 of his 22 steal attempts.

Baddoo had his ups and downs at the plate, but he made an impact with his power and speed. Additionally, he possesses an above-average 9.8 BB% and .335 BABIP, making him a reliable bat and the best option to start in left field for the Detriot Tigers.

I see Baddoo avoiding the dreaded sophomore slump and making the most of his opportunity by going 20+/20+ in 2022.

Jarred Kelenic, OF, Seattle Mariners

The 21-year-old Jarred Kelenic hype train did not go so well in his first taste of the majors last season. He struggled to the tune of a .181/.265/.350 line and a 73 wRC+.

Kelenic starred in Spring Training but started at Triple-A Tacoma before being called up on May 13. He made an initial strong debut; however, he then went on a brutal 0-42 hitless streak, leading Kelenic to be sent back to Tacoma.

He regained his confidence, was promoted, and showed improvement during the summer months. Kelenic finally started making strides in September.

 In September, he hit .248/.331/.524 with a .854 OPS and a 135 wRC+ and was a difference-maker for the Mariners during the playoff hunt.

The increase in his comfort level and maturity gained in his successful September will catapult the second-year outfielder to live up to the lofty expectations and be a breakout outfielder for fantasy managers.


Alex Kirilloff, OF, Minnesota Twins

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Alex Kirilloff, who is a lifetime .318/.366/.503 hitter in the minors was on many breakout lists heading into the 2021 season. The Minnesota Twins non-tendering Eddie Rosario opened the door for the rookie to be the starting left fielder on Opening Day.

Unfortunately, Kirilloff struggled, and his 4-for-31 performance led to a ticket to minor league camp. Due to injuries and positive COVID-19 tests, the Twins promoted Kirilloff, and subsequently, he went hitless in his first 17 at-bats.

It then appeared that the breakout was happening with four homers in a seven-game stretch in late April. Sadly, he then suffered a significant wrist injury. Kirilloff tried to play through the injury and hit .260 in his final 47 games. However, his power was depleted, slugging just .387 with four homers. He elected to have season-ending surgery on July 19.

My breakout projection is predicated on his prospect pedigree and a deeper dive in his stats from last season. He finished with a .251/.423/.722 slash line with eight dingers in 59 games. Overall, those stats don't scream breakout, but there are some promising numbers.

His 91 mph average exit velocity is encouraging, along with his splendid 12.8 percent barrel rate, which would have tied for the MLB lead with Fernando Tatis Jr. if he had qualified. His power is evident and bodes well for his success in the big leagues.

Kirilloff is projected to be starting in the Twins outfield in 2022, and his wrist injury hindered his rise to breaking out last season. However, the former first-rounder will arrive healthy and ready to shine in Minnesota this season.

Sandy Alcantara, SP, Miami Marlins

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Sandy Alcantara had the best season of his career last season. He finished with a 3.19 ERA while striking out 201 hitters in 205.2 innings in 33 starts, which tied for the National League lead (Kevin Gausman).In addition, he has increased his strikeout rate and decreased his walk rate across the last three seasons.

Alcantara was one of only four pitchers to log over 200 innings pitched last season. He allowed just 0.9 HR/9 and walked 2.2 per nine innings last season while limiting hitters to hit .223 against the right-hander.

The belief for Alcantara this season is to continue to build on his impressive 2021 stats as his career surge rises even higher in 2022.

Aaron Ashby, SP, Milwaukee Brewers

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Aaron Ashby is gearing toward following similar paths to fellow Milwaukee Brewers rotation studs Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta. His value has probably never been higher after his success out of the bullpen last season.

Across his 31.2 innings of work, he struck out 29.3 % of hitters. The southpaw also limited hitters to a .210 BAA while inducing ground balls at an outstanding 61.3% clip. After his ugly MLB debut, he rebounded to produce a 1.78 ERA in 30.1 innings with 38 strikeouts.

The 23-year-old left-hander is expected to crack the starting rotation out of spring training. Look for another surprise Brewers starter to have a breakout season with Ashby succeeding his outstanding rotation pals.

Dylan Cease, SP, Chicago White Sox

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Dylan Cease has always exhibited the potential to be a top-level starting pitcher in the big leagues. In the 2021 season, we witnessed the start of his ascension to the next level.

The new Chicago White Sox coaching staff, explicitly pitching coach Ethan Katz has worked with Cease to become more a pitcher than a thrower. I believe last season showed that the coaching has been working.

Cease improved in 2021, finishing with career-lows in 3.91 ERA and 1.249 WHIP. He led the White Sox in strikeouts with 226 and finished first in the American League with 12.278 strikeouts per nine innings.

Cease finished with a 13-7 record and led the AL with 32 games started. He is on track to take the next step to make strides in being the White Sox ace in 2022.

Shane Baz, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

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Shane Baz was a highly-touted prospect who compiled a 2.06 ERA and 0.801 WHIP while striking out 113 hitters and only walking 13 batters across two levels in the minors last season before being promoted in September.

In September, Baz made his MLB Debut against the Toronto Blue Jays and didn't disappoint. He threw five innings and gave up two hits while striking out five. He made a total of three starts last season, finishing with a 2-0 record with a 2.03 ERA while striking out 18 and walking just three hitters across 13.1 innings.

Baz possesses an elite pitching arsenal and will compete in the Rays' rotation. His career trajectory continues upward, with Baz competing for the Rays' fifth Rookie of the Year since 2008

Logan Webb, SP, San Francisco Giants

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Fantasy managers might believe that the 2021 season was the breakout season for right-hander Logan Webb, who had a nondescript start to his MLB career by producing an ERA over 5.00 during each of the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

Last season, Webb became the ace of the San Francisco Giants by finishing 11-3 with a 3.03 ERA. Across 26 starts, Webb produced a 2.72 FIP and 1.11 WHIP with a .234 BAA while striking out 158 batters in 148.1 innings.

The 24-year-old right-hander was dominant in the playoff series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. In his postseason debut, he finished with a 0.61 ERA and a 1.06 FIP while striking out 17 batters across 14.2 innings in the NLDS.

In the postseason, Webb culminated his outstanding 2021 regular season by establishing himself as a big-game pitcher. The postseason dominance will carry over to the 2022 season, and he continues to raise his stature as a bonafide ace.

David Bednar, RP, Pittsburgh Pirates

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David Bednar is a reliever selected as my Player on the Horizon in my 2022 Fantasy Baseball Relief Pitcher Preview. The 27-year-old right-hander stepped up last season for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He has staked his claim as the likely closer in 2022.

In 60.2 innings, Bednar produced a minuscule 2.23 ERA and 0.973 WHIP, along with 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.8 BB/9. He surrendered only five home runs all season.

Bednar averaged 97 mph on his fastball, and the arrival of the curveball as his out pitch resulted in batters hitting only .128 with a 46.8 whiff rate against his breaking ball.

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His emergence as the closer for a full season in Pittsburgh will continue his breakout in 2022. Bednar is a sneaky source of saves and strikeouts for fantasy managers.


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