By: Noah Wright
Last year, we saw Max Muncy, Jesus Aguilar, Mitch Haniger, and Trevor Story breakout, and really help their teams. Most of them really helped a playoff run this past season. While it’s hard to pinpoint an exact breakout player, there are some that it seems they’re on the verge of that big season. Some players who have shown potential in the past, and are going to put it together in the near future. So let’s take a look at some of these players who could be on the verge of that big season that puts their career on the map.
- Nomar Mazara:
Mazara throughout his career with the bat has been, well, average. He’s never been a standout, nor has he ever been a liability. Mazara has has averaged a .258/.320/.425 line in all 3 seasons of his playing career. He has a career 92 wRC+, and has hit exactly 20 home runs all 3 years of his big league career. Defensively, he kind of sits on the border of liability. He only has -15 career OF DRS through 3 years, but just -.3 UZR. However, his career dWAR is -3.1. Mazara’s biggest weakness is his home/away splits. Mazara only has a .686 away OPS as opposed to a .806 home OPS.
- Joe Musgrove:
Musgrove, one of the pieces the Bucs received in the Gerrit Cole deal, had a nice 2018, but could flourish given a full season during 2019. In just 115 and a third innings, Musgrove’s ERA was a so-so 4.06, but his FIP of 3.59, WHIP of 1.179, and SIERA of 3.93 showed that he’s a solid upper middle-tier pitcher. Musgrove also showed a lot of improvement between 2017 and 2018. For one, he lowered his walks per 9 rate from 2.3 in ‘17 to just 1.8 in ‘18. With better control came less home runs given up, having just let up 12 long balls as opposed to 18 home runs in 2017. Unlike last year, Musgrove will enter the year fully healthy, and should be ready to roll out of the gates for 2019.
- Trea Turner:
You could consider Turner as a player who has already fully proven his worth in the MLB, but I still think this speedy National shortstop has tons more room for growth, and we’ll see a growth spurt in overall output next year. During 2018, Tuner provided the Nats with a solid, but not spectacular line of .271/.344/.416 batting line with a 105 wRC+ in 324 plate appearances. He did blast 19 home runs and stole 43 bases, giving the team an 8.4 base running runs above average, but this is all a far cry from his rookie season. During that year (2016), Turner had an impressive .342/.370/.567 batting line, and slugged 13 home runs in less than a half season (73 games, 324 PA’s). While Turner’s speed hasn’t diminished at all since 2016, nor is his middle infield defense bad (2 DRS, 3.2 UZR during 2018), he’ll only be 26 next year, just 3 years older than when he turned in that 146 wRC+ 2016 rookie year. I’d expect him to come back during 2019, and hit .300/.350/.500 with 23 home runs, 45 stolen bases, and great up the middle defense, putting him into MVP consideration.
- Scott Schebler:
Scott Schebler has shown tons of potential in his time in a Reds uniform, but has yet to put everything together. During 2017, Schebler slammed 30 bombs and had a very good .252 ISO. This year, he improved his walk rate, seeing an OBP increase from .307 to .337, and a jump in walk % from 7.3% to 9.1%, but saw his ISO drop to .184. Scheb also made less soft contact this year. If Schebler can carry over his decent OBP skills from last year, and regain his power from 2017, he could be a very fine hitter.
- Joey Lucchesi:
The Padres young left hander showed some real promise during his rookie year. He had a 10.0 K/9 rate to go with a 3.0 BB/9 rate. In 130 innings, Lucchesi turned in a 4.08 ERA and 1.292 WHIP. Though is FIP said he was a 4.31 player, his FIPX showed a much better picture (3.45). If the southpaw can lower his home run rate (1.6 per 9 last year), Lucchesi could be one of the best young pitchers in the MLB.