Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Top 10 Breakout Performers in Baseball in 2013

by John Vittas

Many new stars emerged this season for baseball to market and fans to savor for years to come. In case you missed it, here’s the guys who made a name for themselves in 2013.

Honorable Mention: Shelby Miller, Marlon Byrd, Brandon Belt, Yu Darvish, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Travis Wood

After a promising 51 games as a teenager in 2012, Manny Machado hit the ground running in his first full Major League season. Anchoring the hot corner in Baltimore, the Miami native racked up 189 hits (including 68 for extra bases) and a league-high 51 doubles. At an age where most kids are either in A-ball or college (20), Machado is already one of the most productive players in the Majors.

Photo: baltimoresportsreport.com

The former Astros farmhand went from an afterthought to a legitimate offensive threat in the span of one season. Johnson was neck-and-neck for the batting title all season long, and finished with a .321 mark, the highest of his career by a longshot.

After three years of trying to stick in America, Iwakuma accomplished that and then some in 2013. The former Tokohu Rakuten Golden Eagles star blossomed into an elite pitcher, earning the All Star title in his first full season in an MLB rotation. Both his 14 wins and 2.44 ERA exceed his superstar teammate, Felix Hernandez.

Photo: sportsillustrated.cnn.com

Domonic Brown had never batted above .242 in three Major League seasons, before dropping 27 bombs and raising his average 37 points in 2013. In a year marked by an aging Phillies team, it’s Brown that’s headed in the other direction.

At just 23 years old, the Dominican shortstop racked up 173 hits in his first full Major League season. He was one stolen base away from leading the league and made the All Star team as a rookie. Segura will be a fixture on the Brewers infield for years to come, following a long line of Dominican shortstops.

Probably the most shocking of any name on this list, the former Auburn Tiger finished top-10 in the A.L. in RBIs, SLG, OBP and OPS in 2013. Prior to 2013, Donaldson had struggled in his brief Major League stints and batted just .248 in two seasons of Triple-A.

Speaking of a lot of hits in his first full MLB season, Matt Carpenter stroked 199 for St. Louis. After moving to second base in honor of David Freese, the former blue-chip prospect batted .318 in 2013, leading the Majors in hits.

Photo: usatoday.com

Talk about the path less traveled, Jose Fernandez never threw a pitch in Double or Triple-A, but was still tabbed as the ace of the Miami staff heading into 2013. He did not disappoint. The Cuban fireballer gave up 111 hits and 172 innings (yeah, seriously) and as you would expect, finished with a WHIP below one. That 5.8 H/9 pace was the best in baseball. It’s safe to say he has NL Rookie of the Year on lock.

Photo: bleacherreport.com

Overshadowed by his recent Tommy John surgery, Matt Harvey’s 2013 was marked by stardom. Having allowed just three runs over his first four starts, Harvey and was off and running. He sustained his dominance throughout the summer, earning the All Star Game start on his home mound. Harvey would have been top-3 in strikeouts if not for the injury and still wound up third in the Majors in ERA.

When the Dodgers signed Yasiel Puig to a seven-year, 42 million dollar deal in 2012, Baseball America called the deal “puzzling.” Well, now we all know why they did it.

Whether it’s his shocking speed or infuriating flair, Yasiel Puig will make you watch. And for 6 million per season? Whose puzzled now?

Photo: sports.yahoo.com

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