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Breakout Seasons and Spring Training Slugging
Nate Springfield | Friday March 25th, 2011
Jose Bautista's 2010 breakout started in spring training. (Icon SMI)
Jose Bautista's 2010 breakout started in spring training. (Icon SMI)
In early February, I wrote an article discussing how some spring training stats can mean something and may give an advantage heading into fantasy baseball drafts.  This weekend is one of the busiest and last fantasy baseball draft weekends of the season, so it's a good time to take a look at one aspect from that article and present potential breakout players, according to Jon 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 group of players fit perfectly into the criteria as of the end of play on Wednesday March 23rd.

Name ST at-bats ST Slug% Career Slug% Difference
Jake Fox - Orioles 61
.836 .423 413
Michael Morse - Washington
55
.727 .456 271
Mitch Moreland - Rangers 52
.673 .469 204
Brandon Wood - Angels
52
.538
.260
278
Aubrey Huff - Giants
50
.740
.476
264
Matt Kemp - Dodgers
50
.720
.472
248
Starlin Castro - Cubs 49
.673 .408 265
Ian Kinsler - Rangers 49 .816 .466 350
Alex Gordon - Royals 48
.646 .405 241
Alex Rios - White Sox
48
.688
.446
242
George Kottaras - Brewers 47
.745 .394 351
Russell Branyan - Diamondbacks
46
.783
.490
293
Travis Buck - Indians
46
.783
.424
359
Marlon Byrd - Cubs
46
.630
.423
207
Coco Crisp - Athletics 46
.783 .410 373
Kila Ka'aihue - Royals 46
.804 .398 406
Jason Michaels - Astros
46
.674
.415
259
Chris Davis - Rangers 45
.822 .459 363
Rajai Davis - Blue Jays 45
.711 .383 328
Carlos Gomez - Brewers
45
.667
.349
318
Willie Harris - Mets
44
.614
.352
262
Alcides Escobar - Royals
43
.651
.335
316
Chris Heisey - Reds
43
.674
.433
241
Josh Thole - Mets
43
.628
.373
255
Alex Rodriguez - Yankees 42
.952 .571 381
Ryan Roberts - Diamondbacks
41
.659
.389
270
Asdrubal Cabrera - Indians
40
.700
.394
306
Ryan Langerhans - Mariners
40
.675
.374
301
Aaron Miles - Dodgers
40
.600
.354
246
Lyle Overbay - Pirates
40
.700
.447
253

This method has successfully predicted breakout seasons for hitters at a 60 percent rate over the past six seasons.  A 60 percent rate may not sound too special, but many other methods for projecting the outcome of player performance at season's end usually sit closer to 30 percent.  It's worth noting 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.