Every season gives us plenty of fantasy breakouts and busts. This week and next, we’ll take a closer look at players who have surprised or disappointed fantasy owners, and determine their outlooks for the remainder of 2017. Today, our focus is on the guys who have exceeded expectations.
Ryan Zimmerman, 1B, Washington Nationals
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It would have been impossible for Zimmerman to maintain the pace he set during his insane April, but he hasn’t regressed enough to stop being valuable. After posting a gaudy 1.345 OPS and 11 home runs in the opening month, the veteran has hit .313/.359/.556 with eight homers since. He remains an anchor in the middle of a fearsome Nationals lineup, and has avoided the health issues that torpedoed his last couple of seasons. In a year full of surprising surges from 30 or older first basemen (Yonder Alonso, Justin Smoak, Mark Reynolds), Zimmerman’s performance might be the most shocking. Hold.
Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees
There was never any question about Judge’s power or his status as a physical specimen. His success or failure in MLB was always going to come down to whether he could make enough contact. Judge looked overmatched in a September cameo last year, striking out in nearly half of his at-bats. While there’s still plenty of swing-and-miss in his game, it hasn’t stopped him from absolutely destroying the league this year. Judge is hitting an astounding .335/.444/.704 with 23 homers, 60 runs, 52 RBI, and six stolen bases. He’s two points of batting average and one RBI off a Triple Crown pace, as a rookie. Judge currently has a .430 BABIP and 41.8 HR/FB%, neither of which is likely to persist over a full season (both would be records in the modern era). What’s clear, though, is that he’s a star. Hold.
Alex Wood, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Coming into the season, it looked like Wood might have trouble cracking the Dodgers’ rotation. Thanks to a combination of injuries and ineffectiveness from some of his teammates, Wood has instead been arguably their best starter. Yes, even better than Clayton Kershaw. That’s unlikely to last, but Wood’s breakout certainly appears legitimate. He’s added a couple of ticks to his fastball and flashed improved command, which have helped him limit hard contact and homers at career-best rates. He’s also inducing a ton of ground balls, trailing only Dallas Keuchel among MLB starters in that category. The lone black mark against Wood is that he doesn’t pitch deep into games. He’s only pitched past the sixth inning twice. Given that this is a feature of the Dodgers’ approach, rather than a bug, Wood’s upside in wins or quality starts will be limited. Still, he’s been dominant enough that owners probably don’t care. Hold.
Kyle Bishop is a lead MLB columnist at RotoBaller.com. His articlesare your secret weapon for winning fantasy leagues.