With pitchers and catchers already reporting across Major League Baseball and spring training games soon to begin, it is a great time to look some of the top second-year hitters who could break out in fantasy baseball this season.
In last season’s 60-game sprint, we saw multiple rookie pitchers emerge as either standout relievers or potential quality starters in their teams’ starting rotation. In the National League, we saw relief pitcher Devin Williams win Rookie of the Year. He posted a ridiculous 0.33 ERA, to go along with a record of 4-1, and recorded 53 strikeouts in 27 innings pitched.
Below we will take a look some second-year players, who should be on your respective draft board and deserve the attention this season in fantasy baseball.
Nate Pearson, Pitcher, Toronto Blue Jays
With the Toronto not bringing back Taijuan Walker and Chase Anderson this offseason, it opens up the door for Pearson to have a prominent role in the starting rotation. The 23-year-old had a record of 1-0 with an ERA of 6.00 in five games last season. While his ERA wasn’t great, Pearson recorded 16 strikeouts in only 18 innings pitched.
The Blue Jays’ No. 1 prospect has an electrifying fastball along with deceptive off speed pitches that could make fantasy baseball managers jump at the idea of drafting him in the later rounds. Baseball Reference projects Pearson to have a 5-4 record and 4.68 ERA, while also producing 79 strikeouts in 77 innings pitched.
Jesus Luzardo, Pitcher, Oakland Athletics
Despite only pitching in six games in 2019, last season was actually considered Luzardo’s rookie campaign. In 2020, the 23-year-old had a record of 3-2 with an ERA of 4.12. He also produced 59 strikeouts in 59 innings pitched, and had a K/9 of 9.0. Even though Luzardo finished eighth in the American League Rookie of the Year vote, there is a lot for him to build on this upcoming season.
As MLB.com points out, Luzardo has a pretty good whiff rate on both his curveball and change up at 45 percent. Baseball Reference projects a solid year for the 23-year-old with a record of 7-6 and ERA of 4.10. They also think he will rack up 133 strikeouts in 125 innings pitched.
Devin Williams, Reliever, Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers are hoping that the National League Rookie of the Year award winner can be a stalwart at the backend of the bullpen with Josh Hader this season. Last season, Williams had an excellent ERA of 0.33 in 22 appearances. He also produced 53 strikeouts in only 27 innings pitched and had a K/9 of 17.7.
With those types of stats, Williams sets him up as one of the premier relievers not only in the National League, but also in baseball. This season, Baseball Reference projects Williams’ ERA to balloon to 3.57, but for him to still record 77 strikeouts in 63 innings pitched.