It is the first week of December. In any normal MLB offseason there is not a lot of moves made until late December early January. So a good topic I wanted to talk about was 3 hitters who had breakout seasons in 2020 that will continue on that path. If no major news breaks between now and next Tuesday I will do the pitchers.
The first hitter I want to talk about was probably the most talked about breakout star. Most baseball fans that knew about Marcell Ozuna knew he could hit. But, not many thought he could be one of the best hitters in all of baseball. He does have a Sliver Slugger and 2 All-Star appearances before 2020. Besides 2017 his OPS was no higher than .800 and did not top 30 homeruns or 100 RBIs. 2017 was also a good year for Ozuna, but his only big year before 2020.
In 2020 Ozuna lead the National League with 18 homeruns and 56 RBIs. His 1.067 OPS would be a career high in a full season. I do believe Ozuna will be able to repeat these numbers. He just turned 30 years old in November. This is probably the second half of his peak, but it will be another 3-4 years we can see Ozuna getting great numbers.
I can see Ozuna hitting between 30-35 homeruns with a low .300 batting average and a mid .800 to low .900 OPS. He will not be one of the best hitters in the league, but he will be a great middle of the order bat for whoever signs him. Want to know where he will land? Check out my other article on MLB free agents.
I guess you can say this answer is cheating, but Juan Soto had a monster 2020. He should have been in the final 3 for National League MVP. Soto did miss some time at the beginning of 2020 because of COVID. For most fans Soto’s breakout was in the 2019 MLB Playoffs, helping the Nationals win the World Series. But, to see him do it over 47 regular season games was what really opened my eyes.
In 2020 Soto lead the National League with a .351 batting average, .490 OBP, .695 slugging, and 1.185 OPS. If those numbers were over a full 162 that is MVP numbers. Going along with 13 homeruns and 37 RBIs Soto is going to have a great career. If Soto can keep these numbers he will be giving a speech in Cooperstown in 20-25 years. To think Soto just turned 22 in October. We have not see the best from him, not even close.
I think him hitting 40-45 homeruns over a few seasons with over a .900 OPS is not out of this world. I do believe Soto will put up amazing numbers. Soto already has a feel for the strike zone and finds his pitch to drive. There are not many young hitters like him. Be prepared to watch Soto put up monster numbers for years to come.
The first two players are both big name guys, for the last one I went with someone who might not jump out at you. Byron Buxton but up some of the best numbers of his young career so far. In 2020 his 13 homers are the second most in any season. His .844 OPS would have been his best in any full 162 game season.
Buxton will be turning 27 in a few days. I think we are starting to see what kind of player he will be. Buxton has the ability to be a 30 steal 20 homerun player. His pop is just starting to show and in his only full season he had 29 stolen bases.
Over the next couple season watch out for Buxton to have those 20-30 numbers. He will be a guy who’s OPS is around .700, so not an elite hitter. But Buxton will be a valuable top of the order guy for the Twins for years to come.
Ozuna, Soto, and Buxton are my 3 breakout hitters who will continue their success. As I said earlier I will do the pitchers next week. If any major transactions go down I will write about them. If one of the major free agents signs I will try to have an article up that day. Until then catch me on Legends Lingo!
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-Tom “Powder” Cadmus (@powder42308)