In my mind, there are two forms of breakout hitters. There's the guy who emerges from relative anonymity and posts an All-Star-caliber season, the most commonly regarded version of a breakout. But I say there's another: The guy who was a good or even great player but takes another big step forward and performs even better than expected. This was Dee Gordon for the Marlins last year, going from a .289/.326/.378 hitter to leading the league in hitting and winning both a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger Award. Or there's Bryce Harper finally living up to -- or even exceeding -- the hype that has surrounded him since he was taken first overall in the 2010 draft. A.J. Pollock of the Diamondbacks is another such example.
So who are my "breakout" picks for 2016? Here are a few of both versions:
Yelich has one of the best left-handed swings in baseball, but his offensive production to date hasn't matched that special swing. Here are three reasons I think it will in 2016:
1. The Marlins are both lowering the fences and moving them in at Marlins Park.
2. Barry Bonds is the Marlins' new hitting coach, and if anyone could help Yelich get the most out of his sweet lefty swing, it should be Bonds. He'll work on teaching Yelich to recognize and turn on the inside fastball and drive a low-and-away pitch to left field with power.
3. At 24, Yelich is approaching the prime years of his career after using the first two and a half seasons to mature, grow as a player and gain physical strength.
Yelich already has a Gold Glove Award on his mantle (2014), but when his power arrives, we'll see him in the All-Star Game, and he'll be a legit Silver Slugger candidate.