Mets pitcher Matt Harvey
Every season there are younger players who breakout and have big years. Last year, there were promising young players like Ian Desmond, Aroldis Chapman, Chris Sale, Chase Headley, and Edwin Encarnacion break out. In this blog entry, I made a list of players who I think will break out and have big years in 2013.
Catcher: Salvador Perez, Royals
The Royals signed Perez to a contract extension right after his rookie year in 2011. He's one of the big reasons why I think the Royals are on the way up. Perez is a good defensive catcher who also has a good bat. About to turn 23 years old, he could be Kansas City's catcher for the next decade.
First Baseman: Allen Craig, Cardinals
This was a tough choice, I could of went with the Diamondbacks Paul Goldschmidt or the Orioles Chris Davis. Instead, I went with the hometown choice. Craig has yet to play a full season in the big leagues, but is poised to this year. Considering that Craig only played in 119 games last year and still had 92 RBIs, he could put up monster numbers if he played a full year. Craig also finished 19th in MVP voting last year. He also finished 7th in slugging pct. with .522. Craig is a RBI machine and has one of highest batting averages with runners in scoring position in the league.
Second Baseman: Daniel Murphy, Mets
I also considered the Pirates Neil Walker, but Murphy has outperformed him the last season plus. Walker does have more power than Murphy, but Murphy hits for a better average and gets on base more. Murphy is off to a hot start this year, and is the Mets second best hitter after David Wright. The Mets are in rebuilding mode, but Murphy is a player they would like to keep around for the future.
Shortstop: Alcides Escobar, Royals
This another player on the Royals who I think could break out and have an All Star campaign. Escobar was the key piece in the Zack Greinke deal a couple offseasons ago. In 2012, Escobar proved he was more than just a light hitting, slick fielding shortstop. He batted .293 and stole 35 bases. Only 25 years old, he figures to keep getting better.
Third Baseman: Manny Machado, Orioles
There are a lot of promising young third baseman in the American League, but they all seem to be off to slow starts. Wil Middlebrooks, Mike Moustakas, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Brett Lawrie have all been scuffling out the gate. Machado isn't setting the world afire, but is putting up respectable numbers so far. Machado is the youngest of the bunch at age 20, but has the most potential of any of them. He's good defensively and could be a shortstop if needed. However, he solidified third base after he was called up last year and was their starter during last year's playoffs.
Left Fielder: Bryce Harper, Nationals
Harper won the Rookie of the Year last year and is the only player on my list who has previously been a All Star. However, last year's All Star selection might of been based more off hype than performance. This year, Harper will be making the All Star team based off his performance. He is off to a hot start, batting .363 and is second in the NL to Justin Upton with 8 home runs. Harper is currently leading the NL with a 1.190 OPS this year.
Center Fielder: Austin Jackson, Tigers
Last season, Jackson made strides, cutting down on strikeouts and becoming more patient at the plate. He finished 8th in the AL in on base pct., justifying his spot in leadoff. Jackson is also a terrific defensive center fielder and has speed. He set career highs in doubles, home runs, and RBIs last year. This is Jackson's fourth season in Detroit, after coming over in the Curtis Granderson deal. That deal worked out well for Detroit since they also received Max Scherzer and Phil Coke in that deal.
Right Fielder: Shin Soo Choo, Reds
I cheated on this one because Choo is playing center field with the Reds this year. Choo is miscast as a center fielder, and had been a right fielder in Cleveland. Also, there isn't many good candidates for breakout years in right field this year. Choo is a major upgrade in the leadoff spot for the Reds, who had Drew Stubbs and Zack Cozart at leadoff last year(both had sub-.300 OBPs). So far, Choo leads the NL with a .505 OBP. Choo had some pretty good years in Cleveland, but this is a contract year for Choo and I think he will have his best offensive season yet.
Utilityman: Matt Carpenter, Cardinals
So far, Carpenter has started 12 games at second and 8 games at third. He can also play first base and the corner outfield spots. Carpenter was the Cards top bench player last season, but Mike Matheny is planning on playing him on a regular basis this year. Carpenter has recently been hitting leadoff due to a slow start by Jon Jay. Carpenter gets on base frequently and has some pop in his bat. Currently, he is leading the NL with 20 runs scored. He reminds me of former Cardinals player and current hitting coach John Mabry due to his stance, being a left handed hitter, and not wearing batting gloves. Carpenter looks like he might develop into a better player, though.
Right Handed Starter: Matt Harvey, Mets
Harvey has been the talk of baseball, starting the season off 4-0 with a 1.54 ERA and a 0.69 WHIP. He also has 39 strikeouts in 35.1 innings pitched. He pitched very well last year after being called up in the second half. Harvey barely pitched over the innings limit last year and is not considered a rookie this year. Harvey might be the Mets best pitching prospect since Doc Gooden. David Wright has said he is very optimistic about the Mets future because of Harvey and top prospect Zack Wheeler(who was acquired in the Carlos Beltran deal).
Left Handed Starter: Madison Bumgarner, Giants
It's hard to believe that Bumgarner is only 23 years old right now. Already, he has won 2 World Series rings with San Francisco. In 2012, Bumgarner won a career high 16 games and struck out 191 batters. This season, Bumgarner could reach the next level. At the very least, I think that Bumgarner will make his first All Star team this season, and could be a darkhorse Cy Young candidate.
Relief Pitcher: Tom Wilhelmsen, Mariners
This is a pretty good story about a pitcher who gave up baseball for five years. Wilhelmsen was drafted by the Brewers in 2002, but the club suspended him a couple years later due to marijuana use. He then quit baseball in 2005 and became a bartender. In 2009, he decided to make a comeback with an independent minor league team. The Brewers then re-acquired his rights, but released him due to a blown nerve in his shoulder area. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencek once worked for the Brewers and signed him to a minor league deal in 2010. After the Brandon League trade, Wilhelmsen became the Mariners closer last year. Dan Plesac has said that Wilhelmsen's curveball is one of the best in the league and he also throws a mid-90s fastball.
Craig and Carpenter: Two Emerging Players for the Cardinals