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2017 Early Fantasy Baseball Breakout Candidates

Fantasy Baseball season ended in September for many people, but that shouldn’t stop you from gearing up for the 2017 season. Last season was filled to the brim with some breakout players, such as Jonathan Villar with his 62 stolen bases, or Mike Napoli with his resurgent 30+ hr/ 100+ rbi season. Let’s take a look at a few guys who can be league winners for you in 2017.

Steven Matz

In his rookie year with the Mets, Matz pitched 132 innings in line with a 3.4 era, while posting an 8.77 K/9 and a 17.9% K-B%. He was able to post these numbers while carrying a .313 BABIP. Both Steamer and Depth charts are projecting Matz’s BABIP to drop to nearly .300 or below. Matz’s season stats were also affected due to his willingness to pitch through a bone spur that was discovered in late June, putting a slight damper on his rookie season.  If you really want to get excited, Matz opened his 2016 season 7-1 with a 2.36 era, showing what he is capable off. Matz looks like he could be a solid contributor in all pitching categories heading into 2017.

Ender Inciarte

Inciarte may not put up the gaudy power numbers that many fantasy players look for but his second half in 2016 seems to be getting overlooked, he slashed 341/396/440/836. While scoring 59 runs which was 2nd in the league in the second half. He sported a high BABIP at 380 meaning some regression is due. However, not as much as many would think due to Inciarte’s typically high BABIP. He has posted a 329 BABIP in both 2015 and 2016. His second half is encouraging and something you should keep an eye on, depending on how his value and Adp shakes out before the season.

Aaron Nola

Nola was the talk of fantasy baseball in the first few months of the 2016 season. In April/May he gave up just 23 earned runs in his first 72 innings, but then he managed to give up 22 earned runs in his next 19 innings. So which is the real Aaron Nola? Some numbers that jump out at you from his break down, his walk rate nearly doubled from 4% to 8%,  his BABIP went from around .250 all the way to nearly .350. One thing that really jumps out was his Babip increase with runners on base. In 2016, with no one on base his BABIP was .298 which is around league average but when someone got on base it jumped all the way up to .382, and with runners in scoring position it was .360. Nola is due for some regression upwards, his LOB% of 60.6 was second worse of all pitchers with over 100 innings, despite in the minors and his 2015 season having a LOB% consistently above 70.  Nola may not contribute in wins with this Phillies team but most leagues have been shifting towards quality starts category over wins. Nola looks to be a bargain, he should bring a high k/9, a low whip, and a solid mid 3 era based off of steamer and depth charts projections.

Nick Castellanos

In 2016, Castellanos was having a career year until he broke his hand in early August.  The 24 year old was only able to play in 110 games in 2016, but he still surpassed his totals from 2105 in home runs, and runs while maintaining a higher triple slash across the board, posting .285/.331/.496. Hopefully in 2017, Castellanos will be able to stay healthy and rack up the important counting stats that are crucial in fantasy baseball. Castellanos is looking to make the jump to the upper echelon group of third baseman heading into the 2017 season, and will come at a discounted rate in comparison.

Lance McCullers

McCullers just turned 23 in October and the young gun has one of the best curveballs in baseball. When you first look at McCullers the first thing that jumps out at you is his 11.78 K/9 in 81 innings in 2016. He sported a 3.22 ERA and a 3.00 FIP, in his brief year. He was hampered by injuries with an right shoulder injury to start his 2016 season, and then an elbow injury which ended his season. One thing that can be worrying regarding McCullers was his high walk rate, at 5 BB/9. His high walk rate can be worrisome regarding the whip category, but he was still able to produce solid numbers in his short career, with an elite K rate. Depth Charts is predicting McCullers to drop his walk rate down while keeping his over 10 K/9. McCullers should be a solid contributor in every pitching category with the stuff to jump into the elite categories of pitchers in 2017.

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