Fantasy owners everywhere want to pick the player who will explode onto the scene and either vault to new heights or come out of nowhere to become a fantasy commodity.
If you picked Geovany Soto, Jose Lopez, Alexei Ramirez or Josh Hamilton last year you know what I’m talking about.
Who’s going to be the next Cole Hamels or Joakim Soria? Who’s going to pull a Cliff Lee and vault into the elite after mixed success?
Players are going to bust out, you just need to know which ones. Following is a starting lineup of players poised to strike in 2009:
|Chris Iannetta, C Rockies||He’ll be the full-time catcher out of the gate this year, meaning he’ll see an uptick in homers, runs and RBIs. He’s also batting sixth in Colorado.|
|Joey Votto, 1B, Reds||A highly-touted prospect, he’ll vault into the 1B elite after his performance this year. I’m calling out a .300 average, 30 homers 115 RBIs, 80 runs.|
|Aaron Hill, 2B, Blue Jays||This guy’s so ninja this year. Let’s go back to 2007, before Hill’s injury plagued 2008 campaign. Hill hit .291, with 17 homers 78 RBIs and 87 runs scored. He’ll be a Tier-2-Tier-3 2B in 2010.|
|Alex Gordon, 3B, Royals||He was picked second overall in 2005 and has not lived up to expectations. He’s an 18-homer, 10 steal guy who hasn’t been able to push his average above the .260s. The Royals are taking a new approach under GM Dayton Moore and Manager Trey Hillman. They’re poised to surprise, Gordon will follow suit.|
|Elvis Andrus, SS, Rangers||They moved Michael Young to 3B to make room for Andrus, a rookie. If you want an idea what he might bring to the table, check out the youngster’s minor league numbers. He stole 54 bases last year, 40 the year before and hit .295 in AA ball last year. He’s also got a slick glove so it’s going to take a lot to get him out of the lineup. With all the bats in that lineup, he’ll score plenty.|
|Ryan Spilborghs, OF, Rockies||He’s not part-time anymore and he’s leading off for the vaunted Rockies lineup. Even without Holliday in there this team’s going to score runs. Given a full season Spilborghs has 18-20 potential, a .300 average, .800+ OPS and 160 runs+RBIs. Considering he’s not even getting drafted in a lot of leagues, he’s money.|
|Cameron Maybin, OF, Marlins||Unlike Spilborghs, Maybin probably has a lot of fans already. He’s the Marlins top prospect and is an expected 30-30 player. I say he’s more like an 18-30 type player, but he’ll score runs for Florida and his average won’t kill you. He’ll be valued at least as high as Arizona’s Chris Young in your 2010 draft.|
|Nelson Cruz, OF, Rangers||He’s had a couple lumpy appearances in the majors until last season. He hit .330 with seven homers and thee steals in just 115 at-bats. The average was almost 100 points above his previous high, but Cruz is 30 homers, 120 RBIs and a souped-up OPS waiting to happen in that Texas lineup.|
|John Danks, SP, White Sox||Danks is only 23 and had an excellent year last year. I expect all his numbers to rise from last year, except for his tiny ERA and WHIP. You won’t be able to get him around pick 200 next year.|
|Jair Jurrjens, SP, Braves||Another pitcher I’ve been stealing away late in my drafts this year. Jurrjens’ ERA will rise some from last year’s 3.68, and his WHIP will go down some from 1.37, but his K’s will rise too. He’ll jump into the top three tiers next year.|
|Manny Parra, SP, Brewers||A simple formula: The Brewers will score runs, Parra will keep his ERA around 4.00, he’ll get wins. He’s also a little less than a strikeout an inning guy. His 1.54 WHIP last year was a little discouraging, but he’s 26 and on the brink of that magical baseball age.|
|Brett Anderson, SP, Athletics||One of several top pitching prospects in the Athletics organization. He’ll be 21 this season. In the minors his WHIP was consistently in the 1.10s and he was a K per inning pitcher. He’s penciled in as the No. 5 starter. JZ has him pegged as a rookie who will rock.|
|Max Scherzer, SP, Diamondbacks||In my mind, Scherzer and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw will be forever linked. They’re both potential big-time strikeout pitchers who have shown they can handle big-league hitting and broke in last year. Scherzer’s K rate, ERA and WHIP were a little more eye-popping, that’s why he’ll join Danks in his ascension to the top of 2010 starting pitcher lists.|
|Jason Motte, RP, Cardinals||The Cardinals closer situation was only recently cleaned up, but Motte’s got outstanding stuff and he barely got scratched in 11 innings last year. He struck out 16 and had an 0.82 ERA and an 0.73 WHIP. Motte should have a more secure job than even some of the guys you pick half a draft before him.|
|Joel Hanrahan, RP, Nationals||Hanrahan could save every Nationals win this year. A starter for years in the minors, he finally started to bring his ERA and WHIP down in 2006 and 2007, so his 2008 numbers: 3.95 ERA and 1.36 WHIP may continue to decline. After years of having to save his arm for six or seven innings, he’s found a new role, throwing hard for one inning. The second coming of Soria: He’ll finish with 40 SVs and a K per inning.|
So, what do you think, is this list totally off base? Should there be someone else on there? Which of these guys is most likely to live up to the prediction? Let us know in the comments.