MLB 2021: Sleepers and players set to break out this season
Fantasy baseball managers are always on the lookout for the next wave of breakouts and sleepers, so we're doing some digging through the rosters of all 30 MLB teams to find the best candidates at each position for the 2021 season.
Sometimes they may not have had much fanfare entering spring training, but are able to take the playing time they're given and make the most of it.
There are also players who have plenty of raw talent, but haven't quite figured out how to channel it in the proper direction – at least, not yet.
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Last year, we had Will Smith, Kyle Lewis and Zac Gallen on our list. Here are our favorite sleeper and breakout candidates for this season:
A's catcher Sean Murphy suffered a collapsed lung that required surgery, but is expected to be fully recovered by opening day. (Photo: Tony Gutierrez, AP)
Breakout: Sean Murphy, Athletics – Should be able to make a run at 20 home runs with plenty of RBI batting in the middle of the Oakland order.
Sleeper: Francisco Mejia, Rays –The 25-year-old gets a change of scenery and could earn himself some playing time in Tampa.
Breakout: Jared Walsh, Angels – After years raking in the minors, Walsh broke through with a .971 OPS and 26 RBI in 32 games last season.
Sleeper: Josh Bell, Nationals – Washington bought low with Bell coming off a rough 2020, but just a year removed from being an All-Star in 2019, he could post big numbers again.
Breakout: Nick Madrigal, White Sox – Madrigal batted .340 with 35 hits in 29 games last season. And there’s speed too; he stole 35 bases in the minors in 2019.
Sleeper: Ty France, Mariners – In Class AAA in 2019, France hit .399 with 27 homers and 89 RBI. Thanks to last year's trade, he should have a chance to play every day in Seattle.
Breakout: Carlos Correa, Astros – Still just 26, Correa is entering his contract year coming off a huge postseason (1.221 OPS, 6 HR, 17 RBI in 13 games).
Sleeper: Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Rangers – Playing every day at short, the versatile 25-year-old should reach double digits in both homers and steals.
Breakout: Alec Bohm, Phillies – Runner-up for NL Rookie of the Year in 2020, Bohm is primed to make himself known to the masses this year on a Philadelphia team with postseason hopes.
Sleeper: Carter Kieboom, Nationals – A top prospect just a few years ago, Kieboom should get the full-time chance to impress in 2021. He’s capable of hitting 20 homers and LASIK surgery this winter could be the solution to his contact issues.
White Sox outfielder Luis Robert got off to a sizzling start in his rookie season, but faded in September. Could he put it all together in 2021? (Photo: Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports)
Breakout: Luis Robert, White Sox – Showed his talent as a rookie (11 HR, 9 SB in 56 games), but could take his game to the next level in 2021.
Sleeper: Andrew McCutchen, Phillies – His first two years in Philly haven’t gone quite according to plan, but he could have a nice bounce-back season atop the powerful lineup.
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Breakout: Jesus Luzardo, Athletics – Wasn’t consistently dominant in the stop-and-start 2020 campaign, but the 23-year-old has the stuff to make a huge impact this year.
Sleeper: Sandy Alcantara, Marlins – Limited to seven starts as part of Miami’s COVID-19 outbreak, the 2019 All-Star struck out 39 in 42 innings.
Breakout: Amir Garrett, Reds – Cincinnati will rotate in the ninth inning, but Garrett is expected to get significant opportunities with Raisel Iglesias gone.
Sleeper: Hunter Harvey, Orioles – Didn’t get the chance to shine last year, but enters spring training as Baltimore’s presumed closer.
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