With three months to go until Opening Day I finally bit the bullet and bought an annual publication, The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2007. It's chock full of goodness. I'm sure Laptop Guy already knows this, but it's really fun to be able to take THT into the bathroom.
Already in full fantasy-prep mode I turned immediately to David Gassko's article Who Will Break Out Next Year? If you're really interested I'll expand on his methodolgy, suffice to say he used wOBA to define a breakout season as one in which a player improved by more than 6%, adjusting for variables such as handedness, age, power/speed, weight, performance, etc...
He came up with a list of 10 2007 batting breakout candidates. Coming in at #6 with a 32% chance was our own Dave Ross.
I was pleasantly surprised, as I've been harboring a fear that Ross won't repeat his '06 numbers. One problem with Gassko's list is that it's littered with players who sucked last year (it's a lot easier for them to improve percentage-wise on their bad '06 numbers). Number one on the list was Clint Barmes, number ten was Le Cowboy.
So Gassko filtered it to only players who were above average last year. The result? Dave Ross is the most likely batter to breakout in 2007. I feel the hope-springs bubbling up inside me.
Also appearing on the above-average breakout list were Prince Fielder, Austin Kearns and Carl Crawford. Said Gassko, "Fielder, Kearns, and Crawford are three guys I expected to be on this list--a sign that the system is working."
Also of note: Wily Mo Pena has a 37% chance of breakout, topping the list of under-26 candidates. It's possible he'll still make us regret the Arroyo deal. Then again, for that to happen JD Drew would have to miss time to injury and what are the odds of that happening?