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2020 NL Central Breakout Candidates

2020 NL Central

(Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

2020 NL Central
Keston Hiura is a star in the making. Who else makes the list for 2020 NL Central breakout candidates? We pick two players for each team in the division. (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

We have two more divisions to go with this series. Up next, we take a look at some 2020 NL Central breakout candidates. This might be the most competitive division during the upcoming season. It feels like anybody’s to take. One or two players taking the leap could be the difference. We pick two players from each team that could take the next step. Who are the top 2020 NL Central breakout candidates?

Chicago Cubs

Adbert Alzolay

This one is more of a requirement rather than a prediction. The Cubs don’t have a ton of predictability out of the rotation. It’s Kyle Hendricks, an old Jon Lester, and a lot of ifs. That’s not going to cut it. Adbert Alzolay has to take the bull by the horns and become a productive starter. In limited big league action, Alzolay was not good. 7.30 ERA and the Cubs are counting on him.

Ian Happ

Happ is the new Ben Zobrist in Chicago. He plays everywhere. Now the question is whether Happ can be as productive? This is the time for him to take that next step. In 140 AB’s, Happ had an OPS+ of 126. Certainly not a bad number. This is the year Happ gets 500 AB’s and takes a step forward. No Zobrist in his way.

Cincinnati Reds

Amir Garrett

Amir Garrett, I believe, has one more notch to get to. If he learns how to control the strike zone, look out. Garrett had an ERA of 3.21 despite a BB rate of 5.6 per 9. He keeps the ball in the ball park and strikes out a lot of hitters. Control the zone and Garrett is one of the best in the business.

Jesse Winker

It’s starting to become a crowded lineup in Cincinnati. I’m still a believer that the human side of things matters. Nicholas Castellanos is a very smart hitter. He’s the type of guy that you get in a room with and he makes a difference. There is no reason why Winker doesn’t hit 30 homers a year. He hit 16 last year. Don’t be shocked if that number doubles.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Kyle Crick

This is more of a bounceback candidate. Relievers fluctuate year to year. Crick went from 2.96 ERA in 2018 to 4.96 ERA in 2019. He’s either a symptom of relievers fluctuating or hitters have figured him out. In fairness, Crick is really a two pitch guy so it could be the latter.

Colin Moran

It’s been .277 two years in a row for Moran with limited power. Now is the time to take the jump. Moran should theoretically be in the middle of his prime. If it doesn’t happen this year, it’s just not happening. You would like to think the Pirates something more than what Moran has provided when they traded Gerrit Cole for him.

Milwaukee Brewers

Corbin Burnes

This is another bounceback guy. What the hell happened to Corbin Burnes last year? Forget about taking a step back, this guy just stinks! 8.82 ERA in 32 outings. He was unplayable bad. Is it mental? Was mixing him between the rotation and bullpen hurting him? Is it mechanical? Something has to give because the guy who went 7-0 in 2018 was nowhere to be found.

Keston Hiura

As a rookie, Hiura’s bat to ball skills were noticeable. This is the type of guy that will hit over .300 for the rest of career as long as he wants to play. What was really surprising was his instant power. 19 bombs in 84 games?!? Hiura is a star waiting to burst.

St. Louis Cardinals

Alex Reyes

Talent isn’t an issue here, it’s health. Well, now Reyes has had time to recover. 2019 was a lost year but that’s ok. Now we hopefully get to see the guy that was unhittable in 2016. Unless he totally lost it somehow and gets hurt again, I don’t see how Reyes doesn’t make a big impact this year.

Harrison Bader

Harrison Bader needs to figure out a way to hit his way out of a paper bag. .205 is unacceptable. Bader has what it takes defensively, it’s time for him to hit. This is now year 4, it’s go time.


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