Everyone knew to draft Mike Trout, Christian Yelich, Justin Verlander and Stephen Strasburg in their Major League Baseball fantasy drafts last spring. It’s the players no one expected to be among the league leaders that turn so-so fantasy teams into the contenders.
The same is true in real life, as these players’ breakout campaigns have their teams in position for postseason spots and looking like serious World Series contenders.
Alvarez has only played in 79 games for the Astros, but the 22-year-old outfielder is tied for 30th in the league in RBIs and a .318 batting average, good for a fifth-place tie among players with at least 200 at-bats. Look for the rookie to be more involved in the future for Houston.
Tampa Bay Rays
The rookie outfielder has been one of the biggest contributors for the surprising Rays, who went into Thursday’s action in the second wild card spot. Meadows, 24, is second on the team in hits with 144, and his .289 average is 18th-best in baseball. The centerfielder’s OBP is sixth and his WAR rating is a 3.7, tied for 23rd. He’s definitely someone fantasy owners will target next year in the earlier to middle rounds.
St. Louis Cardinals
The right-handed starter has excelled in his rookie season for the Cardinals. He leads the team in wins with 16, tied for sixth in the league and had a six-game winning streak that included four games in which he didn’t allow an earned run. Without the 25-year-old, it’s doubtful the Cardinals would be leading the NL Central.
In his third year in the league, the 26-year-old righthander has 11 wins in 119 innings pitched so far this season. He’s had 140 strikeouts averaging 1.18 strikeouts per inning. Woodruff is 9-0 at home and will be a critical component for the Brewers if they can catch the Chicago Cubs for the last wild card spot. He’ll be a good piece for fantasy owners wanting a deep rotation on their team for next year.
New York Mets
The first baseman put himself on the radar of every baseball fan winning the home run derby at the All-Star Game in July, but opposing pitchers knew all about hime long before then. The 24-year-old has been the biggest newcomer of this MLB season, hitting a league-high 49 home runs, the most ever for a rookie. Alonso is seventh in slugging percentage and RBIs, and fantasy owners will be salivating to have this guy on their team next year.