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When we start looking for breakouts, we know those drafts are vastly approaching. We are past the preliminary rankings, the early season mocks, and we have now reached that pivotal time of year. With breakout catchers and first basemen released over the last couple days, we have reached the list of breakout second basemen. In last year’s breakouts, our Buck Davidson predicted Kolten Wong, Rougned Odor and Brett Lawrie to breakout at second base in 2015.

Although Davidson obviously didn’t have this take in mind, he did a nice job and allows for a smooth transition into 2016. The biggest thing to note about breakout predictions, is not that we necessarily suspect the player will become a first round talent, but instead that he could show significant improvement.

Despite a brutal beginning, Odor broke out in the second half last year for 12 home runs, and is widely speculated to become a potential Top 5 second baseman by next season. Wong, meanwhile, on the surface may appear to have declined, but his peripheral stats including RBIs, Runs, AVG and OBP each improved greatly while finally securing an everyday role.

As for Brett Lawrie, he perhaps drives the point home the best. Despite what seems like constant criticism of Lawrie, he finally remained heathy in 2015 while greatly improving his numbers across the board. In what will likely be a very under-hyped year for Lawrie, he’s not a bad grab at the end of drafts.

Nevertheless, this is about 2016 breakout second basemen, and those we feel could take that next step. Before getting to the list, it is most important to understand that a breakout doesn’t necessarily mean early round production. Just as a bust does not necessarily mean we predict a player to provide waiver wire production. Instead, the following players are merely options that could provide fairly decent value on draft day.

Breakout Second Basemen

Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs

Russell is a highly touted prospect, so perhaps this is an “easy” way out. However, I’ve hear concerns that he will once again hit near the bottom of the order, which I can’t really see lasting. I feel most are looking more at Russell’s batting average than the Chicago Cubs current roster. Who’s going to bat leadoff?

Unless they trade Jorge Soler and sign Dexter Fowler, their leadoff man from last season, the Cubs do not have a clear leadoff hitter. I suppose Jason Heyward or Ben Zobrist have a “shot,” but that seems like a stretch.

So, if Russell can bat his way to the top of the order, his run totals should sky rocket, and his steals should get a nice spike too. He receives a bad rep for his plate discipline and high strikeout total, but that was never really an issue for him in the minors, but the opposite. He batted over .300 and only struck out 229 times in over 1,000 at-bats.

While Russell is an obvious breakout second basemen, my reasoning puts him even higher on my list than most. While a lot predict he could potentially go 15-10 or even 15-15 this season, his greatest improvement will come in batting average.

Jose Peraza, Cincinnati Reds

Let’s try this one more time. I feel like I have been on the Peraza bandwagon far too long, but there’s something different this year. While I thought the Atlanta Braves liked him, I was clearly mistaken. The Reds, meanwhile, were willing to accept him as one of the centerpieces in a deal for Todd Frazier.

The playing time is a concern, but I don’t think it’s as cut and dry as some suspect. Most believe his only path to playing time is through a Brandon Phillips trade, but that might be ignoring just how brutal this team is currently.

While Phillips is an obvious trade chip, Peraza has also played some shortstop in the minor leagues, should the Reds move on from Zack Cozart. This, of course, does not even take into account Billy Hamilton’s inability to steal first base.

It will all come down whether or not Peraza shows he can hit this spring. If he does show something though, the Reds will do their best to find him some at-bats at the Major League level.

Cesar Hernandez, Philadelphia Phillies

Most people are probably looking for Corey Spangenberg in this spot on breakout second baseman, but quite honestly, I’ve seen his name way too many times to not include him.

Yes, Spangenberg could go 10/20 and have a really solid year, but with all the hype he has been receiving, the value is going to slowly disappear in drafts. Meanwhile, I’ve heard nothing about Hernandez, a guy playing for a team with nothing to lose and a very good opportunity to bat high in the order.

Many focus far too much on prospect rankings and not enough on actual numbers. Hernandez always hit in the minors, always had speed and always had a decent eye at the plate. His efficiency stealing bases is another story, but the Phillies don’t really have a reason to worry about that. Hernandez’s minor league success has transitioned to the Major League level well, and he can still draw a walk on occasion and has limited his strikeouts. In a full season, he could post similar numbers to that of Ben Revere at a significantly lesser price (and by no means do I feel Revere is being overrated).

The lone concern with Hernandez is he’s likely battling Freddy Galvis for playing time come June (when J.P. Crawford comes up). I trust Hernandez has no issues securing the job at second base by then, leaving Galvis as the odd man out. However, that is certainly a concern if Hernandez struggles in April and May.

Notable Mention

Rougned Odor, Texas Rangers

I touched on him earlier, but he is still worth a mention. Odor could very easily provide early round production if he takes that next step so many suspect. A 25/80/80 campaign in 2016 is very reasonable for him to accomplish, and if he can continue to improve on the batting average, it’s not out of the question to project similar value to that of Robinson Cano or Ian Kinsler.

Be sure to keep following along with the So-Called Fantasy Experts throughout the week as we release our 2016 breakouts.

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