Gregory Bull/Associated Press
Nothing excites the fantasy baseball world more than a breakout star.
Draft the right one, and it could be a league-winning move. If you got in early on Rafael Devers, Ketel Marte or Marcus Semien last season, you might still be creating space for all of your fantasy trophies.
After laying out our top 50 rotisserie rankings for the 2020 season, we’ll spotlight three breakout hitters worth rostering any place that you can.
Top 50 Roto Ranks
1. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
2. Christian Yelich, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
3. Ronald Acuna Jr., OF, Atlanta Braves
4. Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
5. Mookie Betts, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
6. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
7. Juan Soto, OF, Washington Nationals
8. Trea Turner, SS, Washington Nationals
9. Gerrit Cole, SP, New York Yankees
10. Alex Bregman, 3B/SS, Houston Astros
11. Trevor Story, SS, Colorado Rockies
12. Jacob deGrom, SP, New York Mets
13. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies
14. Rafael Devers, 3B, Boston Red Sox
15. Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves
16. Anthony Rendon, 3B, Los Angeles Angels
17. Bryce Harper, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
18. J.D. Martinez, OF, Boston Red Sox
19. Jose Ramirez, 3B, Cleveland Indians
20. Justin Verlander, SP, Houston Astros
21. Max Scherzer, SP, Washington Nationals
22. Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros
23. Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs
24. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, San Diego Padres
25. Starling Marte, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
26. Walker Buehler, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
27. Charlie Blackmon, OF, Colorado Rockies
28. Stephen Strasburg, SP, Washington Nationals
29. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox
30. Jack Flaherty, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
31. George Springer, OF, Houston Astros
32. Pete Alonso, 1B, New York Mets
33. Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
34. Gleyber Torres, SS/2B, New York Yankees
35. Manny Machado, 3B/SS, San Diego Padres
36. Shane Bieber, SP, Cleveland Indians
37. Austin Meadows, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
38. Bo Bichette, SS, Toronto Blue Jays
39. Nelson Cruz, DH, Minnesota Twins
40. Luis Castillo, SP, Cincinnati Reds
41. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs
42. Ozzie Albies, 2B, Atlanta Braves
43. Yordan Alvarez, DH, Houston Astros
44. Ketel Marte, OF/2B, Arizona Diamondbacks
45. Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, Chicago Cubs
46. Patrick Corbin, SP, Washington Nationals
47. Jonathan Villar, 2B/SS, Miami Marlins
48. Max Muncy, 2B/1B/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers
49. Eddie Rosario, OF, Minnesota Twins
50. Eugenio Suarez, 3B, Cincinnati Reds
Breakout Hitters To Target
Keston Hiura, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers
Depending on the activity and focus level of your fantasy league, the cat might already be out of the bag with Keston Hiura. But maybe your leaguemates didn’t take notice of his 2019 performance or have since miscalculated what it could mean for his 2020 potential.
The Brewers brought him up in mid-May last year, but he couldn’t make it through a full month at the MLB level. He had a decent batting average (.281) and flashed some pop (five homers in 17 games), but he couldn’t make consistent enough contact to stick (23 strikeouts in 64 at-bats).
Hiura spent most of June in the minors, and that was apparently all the time he needed to right the ship. He returned to Milwaukee before the month was up, and from that point forward, he batted .308 with a .376 on-base percentage, 14 homers and eight stolen bases.
For those paying attention, the 23-year-old had more or less established himself as a fantasy elite. His 162-game average featured 37 home runs, 17 stolen bases and 193 combined runs and RBI.
Hiura already looks like a star, and soon he’ll have the price tag to match. Get him while he’s still available at a discounted rate.
Franmil Reyes, OF, Cleveland Indians
There’s a monster power source hiding in plain sight, and he goes by the name of Franmil Reyes.
By advanced or traditional metrics, the 24-year-old is a flat-out masher. If counting categories are more your thing, he slugged 37 homers and drove in 81 runs in fewer than 500 at-bats last season. If you’re more inclined to follow analytical advice, he had last season’s fifth-highest hard hit percentage (51.0) and 14th best barrell rate (9.3 percent).
While Reyes has struggled with hitting too many balls on the ground, he made strides last season and could make a massive leap if he keeps improving.
“From 2018 to 2019, Reyes lowered his ground-ball rate five percent and raised his average launch angle 2.7 degrees,” CBS Sports’ Frank Stampfl wrote. “If that trend continues with how hard Reyes hits the ball, we could see a HR/PA rate that ranks among the elite in baseball.”
The Indians should plant Reyes right in the heart of their batting order. If that was ever in doubt, he made the loudest possible argument for it with an incredible display at spring training. Prior to its suspension, he was hitting .444 with nine extra-base hits, five home runs and 11 RBI in 10 games.
Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros
The only remaining unchecked box on Kyle Tucker’s fantasy scorecard is opportunity. Granted, that’s a big one, since it means he’s unproven at the big-league level (131 career at-bats) and isn’t necessarily locked into an everyday role.
But the 23-year-old has all the tools to emerge as a fantasy juggernaut, and Houston should be itching to hand him the keys.
Before even factoring in the possibility of expanded rosters, the Astros need more certainty in the outfield with Michael Brantley, George Springer and Josh Reddick all ticketed for free agency next offseason. This is the perfect time to clear the runway for Tucker and see if he can take flight.
“I really think that this is going to be his breakout year,” Astros second baseman Jose Altuve told reporters in February. “We’ve been contenders multiple years now, but this year I think he’s going to be a big, big part of our team and he’s going to have an All-Star-caliber season.”
While Tucker has yet to tear the cover off the baseball in the big leagues, no one should form any conclusions over such a small sample size. He could be a five-category contributor, and even that’s underselling his potential. Bobby Sylvester of FantasyPros doesn’t think a 40-homer, 25-stolen-base season is out of the question “within the next few years.”
That guarantees nothing for 2020, of course, but the stars seem to be aligning for Tucker to take off.