By: Noah Wright
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Each season, players find ways onto The MLB roster, and sometimes they can be the biggest cogs in their line-up. But they may not even enter the season with expectations. These breakout players could even impact the team’s future plans. With that being said, let's look at some of The 2018 season’s biggest breakout players. I tried to make this list based on their past performances, and the amount of playing time before this season.
1.) Mike Foltynewicz
Mike Foltynewicz was a prospect The Braves had acquired in exchange for Evan Gattis and James Hoyt. Since coming to The Braves, Folty never really looked like an ace. His first 364 innings in Atlanta resulted in a 4.85 ERA, 4.47 FIP, and 1.453 WHIP. But this season has been a nice surprise for The Braves. The now 26 year old has pitched in 145 innings, and has a 2.67 ERA, 3.30 FIP, 1.131 FIP and 1.131 WHIP, which are all career lows. Folty has also had career bests in K’s/9 (10.5), and homeruns/9 (.9).
2.) Eugenio Suarez
Reds’ third baseman Eugenio Suarez had some productive seasons before this year, but nothing close to this season. Between 2015 and 2017 (not including the 2014 season where he saw 277 PA’s with The Detroit Tigers), Suarez batted .260/.336/.438 in 1657 plate appearances, and averaged about 22 home runs, and 79 RBI’s too. This season however has been one of the best seasons by all players this year. Suarez is batting .293/.373/.554 with 29 homeruns, and 93 RBI’s. Plus sabermetrics have put him at 144 wRC+, and .389 wOBA. His wRC+ is higher than Nolan Arenado's who sits at 142. Defensively, he’s been just about average with 1 DRS, -3.3 UZR, and worth .3 defensive WAR.
3.) Blake Treinen
Treinen entered the season as The A’s closer, and has slowly became one of the best in the league. After the 2017 season, Treinen had a good 3.21 ERA, 3.43 FIP, and 1.345 WHIP in 65 innings, but this season has been nothing but excellent. The all-star closer has an ERA below 1 (.97) a 1.77 FIP and .954 WHIP. To add on to his success, Treinen has reached a 12.2 K/9 rate, and 2.8 walks/9 rate.
4.) Trevor Bauer
Throughout his major league career, Bauer has shown the potential to be an ace but never showed it consistently. Between 2014 and 2017, Bauer had a 4.30 ERA, 4.06 FIP, and 1.340 WHIP, and had times when he would do really good one half of the season, but then do bad in the other half. This season however, it seems that he’s gotten it all together. The right hander currently has a 2.22 ERA, 2.38 FIP, and 1.090 WHIP in 166 innings. He’s also just given up 8 home runs this season, and has a career high 11.6 K’s/9 rate.
5.) Jesus Aguilar
The Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar has been one of the best breakout stories of the season. Aguilar originally started out as the third string first baseman with Eric Thames and Ryan Braun ahead of him on the depth chart, but injuries happened, and that’s when Aguilar came into play. He’s cooled off a bit since The ASG Break, but he’s still been really good. Aguilar currently has a .276/.359/.555 batting line in 446 plate appearances. He’s hit the ball out of the park 29 times, and driven in 91 RBI’s. Aguilar has also been posted a 139 wRC+, and .382 wOBA. While Aguilar may not be a Paul Goldschmidt with the glove, he’s been pretty above average. He currently has 6 DRS, 1.7 UZR, and worth 0 defensive WAR at first base.
6.) Max Muncy
Muncy had no expectations entering the 2018 season, but here we are looking at an MLB All Star. Muncy has a .259/.382/.594 line with 30 home runs and 59 RBI’s in 387 plate appearances. Plus he has a wRC+ of 160, which is higher than Paul Goldschmidt (152), and has a .406 wOBA. Muncy has also played first base, third base, second base, and a bit in left field, and has overall provided -.7 defensive WAR.
7.) Javier Baez
Baez seems kind of a weird name to place on this list, but he’s never been this good. He always showed the power speed he could reach, but he has a chance for a 30/30 season. Between 2016 and 2017, Baez had a .273/.315/.453 line with 37 home runs and 134 RBI’s in 958 plate appearances. This season: Baez has a .296/.328/.575, 29 home runs, 21 stolen bases, and leads the league in 97 RBI’s. Along with good base numbers, sabermetrics pegs him at 134 wRC+, and .374 wOBA. Baez has seen time at shortstop, third base and second base and has been worth 1.3 defensive WAR. but his defense has always been good, so that isn’t some breakout surprise.
8.) Aaron Nola
The former top prospect has finally become the ace The Phillies were hoping for. Between 2015 and 2017, Nola had a 3.94 ERA, 3.38 FIP, and 1.236 WHIP. Aaron looks like a Cy Young winner this season with a 2.13 ERA 2.66 FIP, and .970 WHIP. Nola has only given up 8 home runs this season, 10 less than last season, and has a 9 K’s/9 rate, and 2.4 BB/9 rate. His breakout season makes him quite possibly a top 3 NL Pitcher, and top 10 in all of The MLB.