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Tuesday, July 5, 2022
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These players can take a step forward in the coming season


At the moment we do not know if we will be able to enjoy an MLB season in 2022. Negotiations between the league and the Players’ Association have picked up, and there is some hope that matches will not be lost.

Meanwhile, we will use some 2021 numbers and trends to try and identify five potential breakaway candidates for the upcoming season.

A single outing in June (four earned runs in two-thirds of an innings while making his big league debut) ruined Aaron Ashby’s ERA for the season, which ended at 4.55. But we need to look deeper to realize he was quite a weapon for the Brew Crew.

Ashby was used as a multi-turn reliever. From the bullpen, he had a 4.50 ERA, but he kept hitting a .183 / .272 / .324 line and hitting 30 enemies in 20 frames.

There’s a chance he’s making the Brewers’ rotation, but it can be a difficult task given how big and deep the unit is. Ashby can hit the high 90s, has a phenomenal slider bar, and is good enough to excel as an appetizer or as a multi-turn reliever.

Some young players need more patience and innings than others to reach their full potential and develop fully. Dalbec, who hit .240 / .298 / .494 with 25 homers and a 107 wRC +, was a disaster in the first half, with a .219 / .264 / .409 line, a 76 wRC + and ‘ n 36.8 K%. Manager Alex Cora, however, assisted him, and he was fantastic after halftime.

During the second half, Dalbec had .269 / .344 / .611 with a 149 wRC + and a 31.3 K%. His true talent level is probably somewhere in between but much closer to his second half himself. He should have a role in Boston, but will have to strike to eventually hold back Triston Casas. He can also be swapped, but he seems to have taken a turn.

Last season was a rollercoaster for Kelenic. When he was in the minors, he was on top: he hit .320 / .392 / .624 with a 143 wRC + in 143 Triple-A plate appearances, with nine homers and six steals. His end-of-season numbers in the majors were weak: .181 / .265 / .350 with a 28.1 K% and an awful 73 wRC +.

However, some statistics may indicate an outbreak in 2022. For example, its .216 BABIP is obviously low. Although he manufactured his accident to some extent, he still sampled .310 xwOBA. It’s a little below average, but he earned better than he got.

More encouraging was his 135 September wRC +: yes, his bat finally showed up in the last month of the season. In September, Kelenic hit .248 / .331 / .524 with a .854 OPS and seven back and forth. He is Seattle’s best hope until Julio Rodríguez arrives, and Kelenic is likely to reward their patience in 2022.

Lux has been touted as a no-miss prospect for years. Last season, he hit .242 / .328 / .364 with just a 91 wRC +: uninspiring, to say the least.

However, he hacked .284 / .385 / .388 in the second half with a .773 OPS and a 112 wRC +. The average and on-base percentage has finally turned up, and his minor league performance suggests that some power should come as well. A .270 / .350 / .440 season with 20 home runs and 15 stolen bases looks well within reach.

Triston McKenzie, P, Cleveland Guardians

Triston McKenzie had an ERA of 3.24 in 2020, but we would not consider it a full outbreak, as he recorded only 33.1 overs at the time. Last season, he finished with an ugly ERA of 4.95, but there is potential for much more in 2022.

He looked lost in the first few months of 2021 and could not throw strikes. He gave 7.30 (!) Hikes per nine frames and had to go to the minors to get it right. After halftime, his BB / 9 dropped to 2.29 in 70.2 overs.

For a while between August 10 and September 14, McKenzie threw 39 overs with a 1.38 ERA, a 1.71 FIP, 10.15 K / 9 and 1.15 BB / 9. That’s how dominant he can be.


Andrés Chávez loves the game of baseball and writes about it at Beyond the Box Score, Pinstripe Alley and other websites. He is on Twitter as @ andres_chavez13



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