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Who's the Next Jose Bautista? Predicting 2011's Breakout Players

March 25, 2011

A few years ago, we researched the predictive significance of Spring Training statistics. For the most part, a player's spring stats aren't predictive of regular season success. For example, Ichiro Suzuki hit .257 (19 for 74) last spring but still wound up hitting .315 and leading all of baseball with 214 hits during the regular season.

However, we did find that extremely good Spring Training numbers often indicated that a breakout season was on the way. In the study, about two-thirds of hitters who had spring slugging percentages at least .200 higher than their career total went on to best their career average that season.

Last year, Jose Bautista topped our list of potential breakout players with a spring slugging percentage near .900, nearly .500 points higher than his career slugging percentage of .400. The rest, as they say, is history: Bautista went on to slug a league-leading 54 home runs in one of the most surprising performances in recent memory.

Where can we find the next Jose Bautista? Well, the following list is a good place to start. Here are the 36 players whose Spring Training slugging percentages (minimum 40 at-bats) exceed their career totals by at least 200 points:

Possible Breakout Players
Slugging Percentage 200+ points better in Spring Training
Hitter, Team Difference Spring Career
Jake Fox, Orioles .413 .836 .423
Kila Ka'aihue, Royals .406 .804 .398
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees .381 .952 .571
Coco Crisp, Athletics .373 .783 .410
Chris Davis, Rangers .363 .822 .459
Travis Buck, Indians .359 .783 .424
George Kottaras, Brewers .351 .745 .394
Ian Kinsler, Rangers .350 .816 .466
Melky Cabrera, Royals .348 .727 .379
Rajai Davis, Blue Jays .328 .711 .383
Carlos Gomez, Brewers .318 .667 .349
Alcides Escobar, Royals .316 .651 .335
Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians .306 .700 .394
Starlin Castro, Cubs .304 .712 .408
Ryan Langerhans, Mariners .301 .675 .374
Russell Branyan, Diamondbacks .293 .783 .490
Brandon Wood, Angels .278 .538 .260
Michael Morse, Nationals .271 .727 .456
Ryan Roberts, Diamondbacks .270 .659 .389
Willie Harris, Mets .262 .614 .352
Jason Michaels, Astros .259 .674 .416
Josh Thole, Mets .258 .628 .373
Andy LaRoche, Athletics .253 .591 .338
Lyle Overbay, Pirates .253 .700 .447
Pete Orr, Phillies .250 .585 .335
Aubrey Huff, Giants .249 .725 .476
Matt Kemp, Dodgers .248 .720 .472
Aaron Miles, Dodgers .246 .600 .354
Alex Rios, White Sox .242 .688 .446
Chris Heisey, Reds .241 .674 .433
Alex Gordon, Royals .241 .646 .405
Scott Hairston, Mets .239 .674 .435
Buster Posey, Giants .236 .725 .489
Jonathan Herrera, Rockies .227 .556 .329
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays .206 .659 .453
Jason Kubel, Twins .204 .667 .463

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