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2013 Breakout Seasons and Spring Training Slugging
Nate Springfield | Tuesday March 19th, 2013
Domonic Brown's SLG% indicates he could have a big year. (US Presswire)
Domonic Brown's SLG% indicates he could have a big year. (US Presswire)
A couple weeks ago, I wrote an article discussing how spring training stats can mean something and may give you an advantage heading into fantasy baseball drafts. The next few days are probably one of the busiest draft weeks of the season, so it's a good time to take a look at potential breakout players, according to John Dewan's Spring Training Slugging Percentage Indicator.

As outlined in the mentioned article, the criteria for finding these players is rather simple. Given 40 or more spring training at-bats, if a player with at least 200 career major league at-bats posts a slugging percentage at least 200 points higher than his career slugging percentage, he is poised for a breakout year.

This year's list may be a little skewed because of the World Baseball Classic. Many players lost Spring Training at-bats to the tournament, but without any data to support adding those at-bats to a player's Spring Training, I did not try to.

This group of players fit perfectly into the criteria as of the end of play on Monday March 18th.

Name ST at-bats ST Slug% Career Slug% Difference
Domonic Brown - Phillies
60
.683
.388
295
Brandon Belt - Giants
47
.766
.418
348
Juan Francisco - Braves
51
.686
.440
246
Bryce Harper - Nationals
47
.681
.477
204
Kyle Blanks - Padres
46
.630
.421
389
Mike Moustakas - Royals
44
.659
.395
264
Alex Gordon - Royals
42
.786
.439
347
Justin Smoak - Mariners
41
.732
.377
355
 
The players below are a few names that will most likely be added to this list before Spring Training concludes, but have yet to reach 40 at-bats, or just missed the 200 point differential at this time.

Name ST at-bats ST Slug% Career Slug% Difference
Howie Kendrick - Angels
39
.923
.428
495
Paul Konerko - White Sox 39
.795
.499
296
Peter Bourjos - Angels 37
.676
402 274
Jeff Baker - Texas 45
.622
.428 194
Nate Schierholtz - Cubs
37
.676
.409
267
Mitch Moreland - Texas 38 .684 .441 243
Nick Hundley - Padres
35 .829
.390
439
Lonnie Chisenhall - Indians
36 .750
.421
329
Conor Jackson - Orioles
37 .703
.458
245

Finally, there are always a few players that may or may not break camp with their teams that do well in their 40-plus at-bats this spring, but have yet to collect 200 career major league at-bats. Conor Gillaspie (White Sox), with a plus-218 slugging percentage this spring, is the only player that fits into this category right now that is projected to make a 25-man roster according to MLB Depth Charts.

This method has successfully predicted breakout seasons for hitters at a 55-percent rate over the past seven seasons.  A 55-percent rate may not sound too high, but many other methods for projecting the outcome of player performance at season's end usually sit closer to 30-percent. Last season the predictor rate did not do well, as can be seen here by the list from last year, but hopefully this year picking up some of these guys will pay off come October. 

It's worth remembering the above names if you are looking to take a flier at the end of the draft, or simply want a reason to go an extra dollar on a guy when the bidding stalls in an auction draft.
Nate SpringfieldNate Springfield joined the Baseball Press crew for the 2010 season and hosts the site's podcast. His love for the game has grown thanks to fantasy baseball, with a specialty in NL-only auction leagues. You can contact him at nate@baseballpress.com or follow him on Twitter @NateSpringfield.