With Fantasy Baseball draft season in full swing it’s time to separate the studs from the duds and uncover who will be the breakout players of 2015.
It’s widely believed that a player’s potential is met when he reaches the age of 27.
For that reason, we have put together a list of players who will be 27 years old for the 2015 season.
Last year, we saw Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes, Charlie Blackmon, Josh Harrison, Tyson Ross, Collin McHugh and Brian Dozier all break out at the golden age of 27.
This year’s list of age 27 breakouts will undoubtedly produce a few stars for the upcoming season.
Age 27 Breakouts for 2015
Our list will consist of some familiar and some lesser-known players, but all of whom have an excellent chance of becoming Fantasy relevant.
Chase Anderson, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
After dominating Double-A last season – an ERA of 0.69 over 39 innings pitched – the Diamondbacks called up Anderson in early May and he did not disappoint. Anderson pitched to a 4.01 ERA on the season, but had a solid 8.27 K/9.
Anderson has a four-pitch arsenal, and is reportedly working on a fifth pitch – a two-seam fastball. His changeup is his best pitch and is borderline elite. His 91-MPH fastball is considered average, but his sinker is effective and his curveball is a devastating ground-ball inducing nightmare. With four major-league pitches, Anderson can keep hitters guessing. Last year his biggest challenge was keeping balls in the yard. Anderson gave up 16 home runs over 114 innings –- 10 of which were given up at Chase Field –- which ranked second to only Coors Field for hitter-friendly parks in 2014.
Of his four pitches, his fastball is his least effective and one that is prone to the home-run ball. Anderson is reportedly going to rely less on his fastball and more on his sinker this season. If this happens he could see an improvement in numbers across the board.
While Anderson isn’t a lock for the Diamondbacks’ rotation, he’s certainly one of the leading candidates. If he can win a rotation spot this spring, Anderson has the potential to breakout and could be one of 2015’s best sleepers.
Alex Cobb, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Cobb flashes dominance every single year. The problem over his four-year career has been injuries. In 2013 Cobb missed a month after being hit in the head with a line drive. Last season Cobb missed more than a month with an oblique strain in early April – which could explain his slow start to the season. After the All-Star break, however, Cobb posted a 1.79 ERA (4.14 ERA pre All-Star break) and improved his WHIP from 1.25 to 1.04, all while maintaining an 8.1 K/9 the entire season.
In four seasons, Cobb has never pitched more than 166 innings. With a clean bill of health heading into 2015, Cobb’s numbers extrapolated over a 200-inning season would give him 12-15 wins, a 2.88 ERA, 180 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.13 WHIP. And that’s not factoring in any improvement on skills. A breakout season is coming. He just needs to stay healthy. If you miss out on the upper-echelon pitching, Cobb is an excellent target to lead your Fantasy rotation.
Wilson Ramos, C, Washington Nationals
Ramos is another player that just needs to stay healthy. A broken hamate bone and nagging hamstring injuries have limited Ramos to just 166 games over the past two seasons. When healthy, Ramos is a power-hitting catcher that has the ability to hit for average and plays in a very strong Nationals’ offense.
If Ramos can stay healthy and manage 450 at-bats for the first time in his career, he could easily put together a campaign of 20 home runs, 70 RBI and a solid .270 average. Those are great numbers for a player that is currently being drafted as the 15th catcher off the board and with an ADP of 212. Ramos offers big upside with minimal investment.
Khris Davis, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
For the first time in his young career Davis saw regular playing time and managed 501 at-bats, swatting 22 home runs and crushing 37 doubles. While the power numbers are impressive, he struggles to make contact against righties -– striking out 89 times in 377 at-bats –- resulting in a .244 average. There is hope, however, as Davis’ BABIP was .275, suggesting that an improvement in batting average is on the horizon.
With only Gerardo Parra to cut into his playing time, Davis should get plenty of opportunities to build on last year’s numbers and put together a breakout campaign. If he can register another 500 at-bats, a 30-homer season is not out of the question.
Dustin Ackley, OF, Seattle Mariners
Ackley, the second-overall pick in the 2009 draft, has struggled to live up to his draft status. After four seasons, Ackley sports a career batting average of .245 and leaves little to be desired in the counting categories. On the surface it looks like 2014 was just another subpar year, however, his post-All-Star break numbers tell a different story. Ackley seemed to figure things out during the second half of the season, increasing his batting average from .225 to .269, his OBP from .282 to .307 and improving his slugging percentage from .335 to .467. Once considered to be the best pure hitter in the 2009 draft, Ackley’s 2014 second half indicates he could be figuring things out. If Ackley continues to make progress, a line of .270, 15 homers, 60 runs, 70 RBI and 10 stolen bases could be his floor in 2015.
Brandon Belt, 1B, San Francisco Giants
Belt started the 2014 season with a bang, blasting nine home runs over the first 38 games, asserting himself as an elite fantasy first baseman. Then in early April, Belt broke his hand on a hit-by-pitch –- causing him to miss close to three months. Then again later in the season, missed more time with a concussion –- limiting him to just 61 games in 2014. A potential massive campaign squashed by fluke injuries.
Belt, who was considered to be an elite prospect, is now 27 years old and on the verge of a breakout campaign. He will bat in the heart of the Giants’ lineup and – health permitting – will be a run-producing machine. If there is a player on this list that will undoubtedly breakout out, it’s Belt. The market has completely mispriced Belt who has a current ADP is 198. A mere lock for 20-25 homers, a solid average and a handful of stolen bases, Belt should be on your list of Draft Day targets.
Josh Phegley, C, Chicago White Sox
Acquired by Oakland in the Jeff Samardzija trade, Phegley gets thrust into a potential starting role after the departure of Derek Norris. The 2009 first-round draft pick has shown 20-plus home-run power in the minors while posting a solid batting average. With only 30-year-old Stephen Vogt to challenge him at catcher, Phegley is in a prime position to handle a ton of work behind the plate and record 350-plus at-bats in 2015. Breakouts normally occur when talent meets opportunity and Phegley will almost certainly get his shot. With an ADP of 521 you won’t need to worry about drafting Phegley in a fantasy draft, however, he should be a guy to keep your eye on as the season progresses.
Grant Green, 2B, Los Angeles Angels
Green, the 13th overall selection in the 2009 draft, never got going in Oakland and was traded to the Angels in 2013. Now with a renewed opportunity, Green finds himself in the mix to be the everyday second baseman and hit in a lineup with Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and potentially Josh Hamilton (suspension). Known for his bat more than his glove, Green hit for average in the minors and flashed a little pop. What could potentially hold him back from winning the starting job is his defense.
Josh Rutledge, who was the favorite to win the job at the start of camp, is known more for his glove than his bat, but has just four hits so far this spring. Green, on the other hand, is batting .429 – and if he can get better defensively – should easily win the starting gig over Rutledge and Johnny Giavotella. If Green can secure the second-base job and record 400-plus at-bats, he could become a fantasy-relevant player in 2015.
A.J. Pollock, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Pollock seemed destined for a breakout year in 2014 before a broken hand caused him to miss three months of the season. Through just 75 games, Pollock hit .302, swatted 10 homers and stole 14 bags. While you shouldn’t rely on his power numbers, Pollock’s stolen base and average numbers are legit.
He projects to leadoff for the Diamondbacks in 2015 – and if Pollock can improve his walk rate and build off his 2014 numbers he could be a fantasy monster in runs scored. His injury-shortened season likely delayed his breakout, keeping his fantasy stock way down and providing a fantastic buy-low opportunity in 2015. Invest in this guy.
Let us know if there are some age 27 breakouts for 2015 that we might not have mentioned!
Brandon Belt Photo Credit: Dirk Hansen
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