5 Players Most Likely to have Breakout Seasons in 2021


Every season we always have a few surprise breakouts, and every year we have a few disappointing performances from the guys we expect to breakout. Who will be this years surprise players to outperform expectations? It's anyone's guess, and that's why I'm here to give you my predictions, including a little gem on one of the guys below. Here's my list of players I expect to have a breakout season in 2021!


ADALBERTO MONDESI Kansas City Royals

Mondesi has been in the big leagues for a few years now, since making his appearance in the 2015 World Series, where he struck out in his only appearance. It's been quite an interesting few years in the bigs for Mondesi where he has performed above average defensively, however he has been streaky at best at the plate. He also just happened to be the worst hitter in baseball in 2017. Since then he has improved, peaking over the final 20 games of the season last year, hitting .376 with a 1.130 OPS. He tallied 6 doubles, 2 triples, 6 homeruns, and 19 RBIs. Add to that he swiped 16 bases. As mentioned his defensive prowess was on full show. If he can put it all together for a whole season look for Mondesi to finally have that breakout season the Royals have been hoping for since he made the World Series roster in 2015.


JO ADELL Los Angeles Angels

This may be some low hanging fruit, but Adell came into his rookie season in 2020 touted as the “best prospect since Mike Trout”. High praise, and no pressure for the young outfielder to live up to those high expectations. It's possible Adell starts the season in Salt Lake before being called up in May. However that wouldn't be the worst thing to get him confident again after his struggles from the 2020 campaign. He's a 5 tool player who can torture pitchers at the plate or on base. His biggest issue is making barrel contact at the big league level, and not chasing the sliders away. Manager Joe Maddon has lots of praise for him, however he does believe that Adell can have a great career, he just needs to get that confidence back that made him the top prospect. Once he gets that confidence back, look out for the young man to tear it up on his return to the big leagues.


SEAN MURPHY Oakland Athletics

What can you say about a hitting catcher who can throw out nearly every runner in the MLB in the Bay Area? Well it's not Buster Posey, but Sean Murphy. Over 63 games from the 2019 and 2020 seasons Murphy put together Rookie of the Year worthy stats. A .846 OPS, 11 homeruns, and a 17% walk rate for the youngster show that not only can he frame the pitches while behind the plate, but his eye extends to the batters box where he makes pitchers work to get the calls against him. Unfortunately heading into Spring Training it was discovered that he suffered a collapsed lung and needed two surgeries to get it repaired. One week into light work back and Murphy is looking to be on track to return before the end of April. As long as he doesn't have an extended absence to delay his season start, expect Murphy to begin life as the next great catcher in the Bay Area.


CASEY MIZE Detroit Tigers

Mize had a poor showing in 2020, starting 7 games, earning 3 losses, and posting a miserable 6.99 ERA. It wasn't like it was unfortunate timing either, his placement was poor and he was deservedly knocked around. However, the top 3 pitching prospect isn't going to go away quietly into the night. His stuff is absolutely disgusting on his best days. Eventually his quality will show through, and he will take his rightful place on top of the Tigers rotation. How dirty is his stuff? His Splitter was ranked the best specialty pitch in the top 100, with elite movement, Mize's splitter gets about 5.3 inches of vertical movement, which is the second-most drop in all of MLB. Given he underused the pitch last season, it's no surprise hitters hit .313 off it, it's what happens when you only throw it 15% of the time. Expect the Tigers pitching coach, Chris Fetter, to take a page out of Tanaka's playbook, and increase Mize's usage of the splitter to around 25% or more, and get more early groundouts and possibly strikeouts this season.


JAZZ CHISHOLM Miami Marlins

So fun fact about Jazz Chisholm, he was originally drafted to the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, and spent a season with the Missoula Osprey, at the time I was working at a Champs Sports, and every Saturday, like clockwork, Jazz or his host family (on weekends he had away games) would be in my store bright and early for every Jordan release. Back then the young 18 year old Jazz constantly expressed his desires to make it to the big leagues, and if you heard him discuss it, you believed he'd make it. That's why I have him on this list. In 2020, Chisholm finally got his first taste of the big leagues in 21 games. Unfortunately, it wasn't the best showing for the young middle infielder, posting a .161 batting average with a .563 OPS in 62 plate appearances. However, nearing the postseason is where you got to see the potential for Jazz going forward. He will likely spend this season in a utility role, splitting time between second, short-stop, and center field. However, as long as he gets his chances, expect to see the power and speed that will look to torture pitchers for years to come.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Joe Ross, Nationals- Likely will challenge for the 5th rotation spot, and given his 4-2 record with a 3.02 ERA in 9 starts and 18 relief appearances, last season he has a good chance to make the grade this year.


Dylan Carlson, Cardinals- In the Cards wild card series last season he posted a 1.016 OPS in 14 appearances as a cleanup hitter, and given his defensive abilities, manager Mike Shildt will assuredly try and keep him in the lineup constantly.


Zac Gallen, D-backs- Gallen became the first pitcher to begin his career with 23 consecutive starts where he gave up 3 runs or fewer. In 2019, he posted a 2.89 ERA. Improving on that, he finished 2020 with a 2.75 ERA (taking out his two worst innings, his ERA would stand at an astounding 1.77) This is just the beginning from Gallen, however he might get overlooked considering the firepower in the NL West.

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