The first two months of the MLB season are in the books. What's ahead as the season enters June? Our experts predict this month's breakout candidates in Friday's Triple Play.
1. The team that is going to break out in June is the _______ .
Jim Caple (@jimcaple), ESPN.com
San Francisco Giants. Pablo Sandoval will come off the disabled list; Tim Lincecum will find his control; Melky Cabrera will continue his MVP season; and San Francisco will renew the best, most even rivalry in baseball outside of the McCourts.
Justin Havens (@jayhaykid), ESPN Stats & Info
Arizona Diamondbacks. Mostly two factors are in play here: First, the team has some very cushy matchups in June, with the Padres, Rockies, Athletics, Mariners, Cubs and Brewers making up just over 65 percent of their schedule. Secondly, Justin Upton is starting to play much better of late. After hitting .221/.317/.328 through May 16, he's hit .319/.431/.511 since, while the team will also presumably receive much more playing time from Chris Young than it did in May. There's also the possibility we will see Trevor Bauer and/or Tyler Skaggs in Phoenix at some point during the month, and they'd likely add value in whatever role needed.
Jason Wojciechowski (@jlwoj), Beaneball
The Diamondbacks. Twelve games against the A's, Padres, Mariners, and Cubs will help, Daniel Hudson is finally back, and I wouldn't bet on Upton slugging .379 forever. They're already 9½ games behind the Dodgers, but with L.A. losing Matt Kemp again, that lead could shrink quickly.
2. The player we will be talking about on June 30 is _______ .
Caple: Bryce Harper. Not because he will have had a dramatic June, but because the East Coast media cannot go two minutes without providing us an update on the rookie. Bryce Harper, still hitting a not-too-shabby, all-things-considered .252, went 0-for-4 but is currently trending higher than Justin Bieber!
Havens: Eric Hosmer. While Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton are the young players of the moment, there's going to come a point this season when we'll be talking about Hosmer in those terms. He looked too good last season, and his production fit the scouting reports. Hosmer remains exceedingly talented, and while small sample-size caveats apply, he's hit .343/.395/.514 over the last nine games. Eventually he's going to hit, and it might as well be in June.
Wojciechowski: Anthony Rizzo. If the young first baseman gets called up to the majors, we'll be asking why he's struggling or whether he can keep up his torrid pace. If he is still in Triple-A, we'll ask how long the Cubs can keep down a 22-year-old who's going to hit 40 homers in the minors. Either way, we'll be talking.
3. The current "hot" player who will be forgotten about by June 30 is _______ .
Caple: I'm not sure if Matt Kemp qualifies as hot anymore, but we definitely will not be talking about the outfielder who went from leading National League MVP candidate to two stints on the disabled list faster than you can say "Sports Illustrated cover jinx."
Havens: Josh Reddick. It's not that I don't think he'll remain useful, but he's not going to continue on his way toward his current pace of 44 home runs. He'd hit .248/.290/.416 in 403 plate appearances entering this season, and his current HR-to-fly ball rate of 17.3 percent is substantially higher than his previous high-water mark of 7.4 percent in 2009. He had four home runs in his final nine games of May, and I believe he will get no more than that in June.
Wojciechowski: Melky Cabrera had a .757 OPS on May 1. Thirty days later, it is .967. In his breakout year in Kansas City last season, Cabrera finished at .809. He probably won't tumble all the way back down in just one month, but to paraphrase a notable fantasy television show, regression is coming.