2014 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Breakthrough Players — Right Fielders

markakis land
Source: Brian Blanco/Getty Images North America

We finally reach the conclusion of the position player portion of our breakthrough series. It’s always nice to get all the way through one of these series. Right field might be the most competitive of all of the positions. However, we see a similar situation as center field in terms of potential breakthroughs. Most of the players on top of the list were highly thought of coming into the draft.

Of course, the top of the right field draft doesn’t match the top of the center field draft. Ironically, none of them were rated as first round players, but I imagine that will change before the 2015 draft. Mike Trout has been the fantasy darling two years running, but Giancarlo Stanton has successfully claimed that mantle this season. If he doesn’t win the NL MVP Award, there is something terribly wrong with the BBWAA. Then again, they never cease to amaze us during awards season.

This brings us back to the purpose of this series. While Stanton has been amazing this season, he hardly qualifies as a breakthrough player. If you weren’t aware of his potential coming into the season then a pox on your house. Five of the six top finishers were picked among the top 100 players back in March. So, pickings are slim, but we will go through the exercise anyway. Remember, we are using wRC (runs created) as the defining stat for ranking. We’ll include the standard five fantasy statistics along with runs produced (Runs + RBI – HR).

PRE

AVG

HR

Runs

RBI

RP

RC

SB

Giancarlo Stanton

26

.291

36

87

104

155

111

8

Jose Bautista

28

.288

31

84

89

142

104

5

Hunter Pence

56

.295

19

101

67

149

92

13

Yasiel Puig

30

.293

13

73

59

119

89

8

Jayson Werth

97

.285

16

74

77

135

86

9

Nick Markakis

228

.278

12

70

44

102

76

4

There are three third round picks on this list. It’s interesting to see how players were valued at the beginning of the season. Ryan Braun was highly valued coming into the season, but I guess we can see what he’s capable now that he is off the juice. He’s still a starting quality outfielder, but he isn’t the fantasy stud that he was before. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t finish in the top six, so he is not part of our consideration.

Breakout Player of the Year: Nick Markakis– Baltimore Orioles

Again, we are talking about a misnomer here. Markakis’ numbers are hardly the kind of numbers that scream breakout, but he really is the only guy that qualifies as a surprise. In these cases it is more about others taking a step back. Guys like Jay Bruce and Braun didn’t produce the numbers they usually do. The same could be said for players like Carlos Beltran. This is more about him maintaining his level of play while those around him collapse. It would be akin to a stock car racer finishing in the top five because only five cars finished.

If you picked up Markakis in the middle of the season you probably are particularly happy. He seems to have gotten better as the season has gone on. It’s going to be a tough decision on whether to pick up that option on his contract. Markakis is not an all-star level performer, but he will be a solid regular somewhere if it isn’t Baltimore.

Runner Up: Jayson Werth– Washington Nationals

The Nationals were widely ridiculed when they signed Werth to that monster contract, but this has been two seasons in a row that he has finished among the top five among right fielders in runs created. He is only three years into that monster contract, but so far it looks like he has been worth the money. Like in Philadelphia, the key has always been staying on the field and things aren’t any different in Washington. If he didn’t have all of those bumps and bruises he might be producing numbers similar to the top three guys.

The problem with a player like Werth is that his five by five numbers don’t reflect the kind of production he is giving offensively. If you are in a walks or on base percentage leagu,e then you are reaping the full benefits of his expertise. We have to remember that offense is down league wide, so sometimes we have to adjust our expectations.

Honorable Mention: Hunter Pence– San Francisco Giants

It has been nearly a decade since Pence made his debut. Pence is many things to many different people. For some he is an unsung hero who is constantly underappreciated. For others he is about the most overrated player in the game. Even still, he continually hits between .280 and .300 with around 25 home runs and close to 20 steals. This year has seen an uptick in runs scored because he has been in the leadoff spot for a good portion of the season. When all is said and done he will be where he has always been.

Sooner or later you stop complaining about what a player isn’t able to accomplish or appear to be surprised by what he does accomplish and simply accept it as who he is. Hunter Pence is a guy that will hit .280 or better and hit between 20 and 25 home runs when healthy. That might not blow your skirt up, but when you look back after fifteen years you see quite a career.

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