Fantasy Baseball Rankings 2012: Breakout Stars to Target in Middle Rounds

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistMarch 1, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 18:  Colby Rasmus #28 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates after scoring on a Brett Lawrie single in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum on August 18, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Finding breakout players is one of the biggest keys to fantasy baseball. Getting production from players drafted in the latter part of the draft is often the difference between a championship contender and a team that fails to make the league playoffs.

Here are three names to keep in mind when you sit down at the draft table.

 

Dustin Ackley

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 24: Dustin Ackley #13 of the Seattle Mariners bats against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on September 24, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Wade/Getty Images)
Brandon Wade/Getty Images

Ackley had a pretty solid rookie campaign even though he was limited to just 90 games. He posted a .348 on-base percentage while showing the potential to become a really solid hitter at a weak fantasy position.

His power should begin to develop in his second season as he becomes more comfortable with major league pitching. One he reaches his peak, his fantasy value is going skyrocket and you won't get him cheap in drafts again.

That means owners should be willing to take a chance on him at second base this season and hope they are ahead of the curve on the Seattle Mariners future star.

 

Mike Moustakas

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 23:  Salvador Perez #13 of the Kansas City Royals is greeted at home plate by teammate Mike Moustakas #8 after hitting a three-run home run during the fourth inning against the Chicago White Sox at U. S. Cellular Field on September
Brian Kersey/Getty Images

Like Ackley, Moustakas was able to get his first taste of major league pitching last season, which should help his development heading into 2012. He hit 36 home runs a few years ago in the minors, so the pop is there; owners are just waiting for it to arrive.

Once again, when it comes to breakout stars, it's important to buy low while you still can. The third base position has several stars, so Moustakas is sliding quite a bit in drafts, but that won't be the case for much longer.

He should near 20 long balls this season. He provides more upside than veterans like Scott Rolen and Chipper Jones, who are being drafted in the same range.

 

Colby Rasmus

TORONTO, CANADA - JULY 28:  Newly-acquired Colby Rasmus #28 of the Toronto Blue Jays bats during MLB game action against the Baltimore Orioles July 28, 2011 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Brad White/Getty Images)
Brad White/Getty Images

Rasmus struggled mightily after being traded to the Blue Jays last season. After having an offseason to settle in, he should be ready for a strong bounce-back campaign. His first two years (39 HR) provided a good-enough glimpse into his game to know he's not as bad as he looked with Toronto.

The Rogers Centre is a perfect park for a young slugger to play in. His batting averaging will likely always be a liability due to his lack of patience, but his other stats should provide enough help to make him worth starting on a weekly basis.

Players like Rasmus tend to slide in drafts because disgruntled former owners aren't willing to overlook his rough stretch. Snag him late and hope Jose Bautista teaches him a couple tricks. He'll be well worth the investment.