The top 40 breakout players of 2019

December 22nd, 2019

They may be Hall of Famers one day. They may help their teams to glory in October. Or they might be players who just had their year in the sun.They're players who broke out in 2019, and they range from highly anticipated prospects bursting onto the Major League stage to players whose careers seemed stuck in a rut before a huge season got them back on track.

Here's a look at the top 40 breakout players of 2019.

1. , Mets

Alonso had a rookie year that dreams are made of. The 25-year-old first baseman launched an MLB rookie-record 53 home runs on the season, posting a .941 OPS and winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award, not to mention being named an All-Star and finishing seventh in NL MVP Award voting. And he not only participated in the Home Run Derby at Progressive Field, he won it by belting 57 over the wall.

2. , D-backs

Marte's 2019 campaign was the definition of a breakout season. The 26-year-old middle infielder/center fielder showed glimpses of his potential in '18, but he put it all together last year by slashing .329/.389/.592 with 32 homers. He was named an All-Star for the first time and finished fourth in NL MVP Award voting, enhancing his value with his ability to play both on the infield and in the outfield for Arizona.

3. , Athletics

Semien did it all for the A's in 2019, becoming one of baseball's biggest surprise performers by posting an .892 OPS with 33 home runs in an MLB-best 747 plate appearances, while playing stellar defense at shortstop. Truly a late bloomer, the 29-year-old finished third in American League MVP Award voting behind Mike Trout and Alex Bregman.

4. , Red Sox

Devers has had "star" written all over him since he made his Major League debut in 2017, but last season, he became an extra-base hit machine en route to a breakout campaign announcing his arrival as one of the best hitters in the game. He produced an AL-leading 54 doubles and ended up with 90 extra-base hits, including 32 home runs, and a .916 OPS. Still only 23 years old, he's just getting started at the plate while he works on improving defensively at third base.

5. , Astros

Alvarez burst onto the scene with Houston by smashing 27 homers in just 313 at-bats in his first taste of the Majors. He posted a 1.067 OPS and put his talents on display in the postseason for the Astros -- he hit .316 with three doubles in the AL Division Series against the Rays, and though he went just 1-for-22 (.045) against the Yankees in the AL Championship Series, he bounced back to bat .412 (7-for-17) with a homer in the World Series against the Nationals.

6. , Mets

McNeil's power came late in his Minor League career, but once it arrived, it was here to stay. After making his big league debut in 2018, he played in 133 games last season and put together strong numbers at the plate, slashing .318/.384/.531 with 23 homers.

7. , Pirates

You knew it was only a matter of time before the 6-foot-4, 240-pound Bell was going to start putting up monster numbers. That time came in 2019, when he finished with a .936 OPS and 37 homers.

8. , Padres

Tatis' MLB debut was long anticipated, and he didn't disappoint, slugging .590 with 22 homers over 84 games before his season was cut short due to a back injury. Those 22 homers are the most ever by a player before his 21st birthday.

9. , Cardinals

Flaherty had a second half for the ages, pitching to a microscopic 0.91 ERA and 0.72 WHIP over 15 starts while striking out 26 percent of the batters he faced.

10. , Royals

When he was a prospect coming up through the Cubs' system, big things were predicted for Soler. But after that didn't materialize in Chicago, he finally had his big year, setting a Royals single-season home run record with 48, also the most homers in the AL.

11. , Reds

Aquino started his Major League career so hot, we could barely catch our breath between homers -- he became the fastest player in history to eight home runs (12 games), and then fastest to nine, 10, 11, 12 and 13 before his 14th set a rookie record for a single month (August).

12. , Indians

Perez was a revelation in 2019, particularly behind the plate, where he led the Majors with 29 Defensive Runs Saved, threw out an MLB-best 41 percent of runners trying to steal and won his first Gold Glove Award.

13. , Braves

Soroka became the first rookie pitcher to lead the NL in fewest home runs per nine innings (0.7) since the Cardinals' Joe Magrane in 1987 (0.5). Soroka was also named an All-Star and finished second in NL Rookie of the Year Award voting.

14. , White Sox

We'll always remember the bat flip, but don't forget the batting title (.335), 18 homers or 17 steals he had in 123 games.

15. , Indians

Bieber was center stage at the Midsummer Classic in his home ballpark, and he garnered All-Star Game MVP honors before completing a tremendous season on the mound for the Tribe. He posted a 3.28 ERA over 214 1/3 innings and led the Majors in complete games (3), shutouts (2) and walks per nine innings (1.7).

16. , Padres

His competitive fire was on display every time he took the mound, and Paddack backed it up with a 3.33 ERA and 0.98 WHIP during his rookie year, which bodes well for a young Padres team looking to the near future.

17. , Twins

In his fifth Major League season, Kepler finally broke out, setting career highs in OPS (.855), hits (132), home runs (36), RBIs (90) and total bases (272).

18. , Pirates

Reynolds raised eyebrows while hanging in the race for the NL batting average title late into the season. In the end, the rookie outfielder hit .314/.377/.503 with 16 homers in 134 games.

19. , Yankees

Urshela came out of nowhere to put together a career year, and it couldn't have come at a better time for the Yankees, who set a Major League record with 30 players on the injured list in 2019. Urshela hit .314/.355/.534 with 21 homers in 132 games.

20. , Twins

Polanco was one of a number of Twins players to break out in 2019, helping Minnesota win the AL Central by slashing .295/.356/.485 with 22 homers and earning his first All-Star selection.

21. , Rays

Injuries had plagued the touted Pirates prospect until he was traded to Tampa Bay in 2018. But last season, Meadows was finally able to stay on the field consistently and showed what he could do, posting a .922 OPS with 33 homers in 138 games along with an All-Star selection.

22. , Twins

The 22-year-old rookie played a key role for the AL Central champs, slashing .334/.399/.439 over 92 games while playing all over the infield and in left, finishing sixth in AL Rookie of the Year Award voting.

23. , Athletics

The A's seem to always find a way to surprise, and 2019 was no exception, as Oakland reached the AL Wild Card Game for the second straight year. A big part of the club's success was Hendriks, who at age 30 and in his ninth MLB season, turned in a 1.80 ERA and 37.4 percent strikeout rate over 75 appearances.

24. , White Sox

Giolito went from highly touted prospect to a disappointing first full season in the Majors to AL Comeback Player of the Year Award finalist all in a four-year span. The right-hander gave up more earned runs than anyone else in the Majors (118) while walking an AL-high 90 batters in 2018, and then in an All-Star '19 campaign had a 3.41 ERA with an MLB-best three complete games and two shutouts.

25. , Twins

Garver hit seven home runs in 335 plate appearance in 2018. His power broke out last season, when in 359 plate appearances, he launched 31 dingers to win the AL Silver Slugger Award for catchers.

26. , Red Sox

The Red Sox had been waiting for Rodriguez to have a full season on the mound, and they saw that in 2019, when he broke the 200-inning barrier for the first time in his career and posted a 3.81 ERA over 34 starts.

27. , White Sox

Moncada was one of the top prospects in a burgeoning White Sox farm system, but he struggled at the plate over his first three Major League seasons. He led the Majors with 217 strikeouts in 2018, only to come back with a vengeance last season, smashing 25 homers with a .915 OPS.

28. , Orioles

In an otherwise forgettable season while Baltimore continues its rebuild, Means was the bright spot for the Orioles, finishing as the runner-up in AL Rookie of the Year Award voting after posting a 3.60 ERA and 1.14 WHIP over 155 innings.

29. , Rays

Though injuries have plagued him early in his professional career, Lowe made a big impression over 82 games in 2019, posting an .850 OPS with 17 home runs and earning his first All-Star selection.

30. , Athletics

Laureano had already wowed us with his defense in center field, particularly with the cannon he calls his right arm, but he went beyond that in 2019, hitting .288/.340/.521 with 24 homers in 123 games.

31. , White Sox

Another highly anticipated White Sox prospect, Jiménez didn't disappoint in his rookie season, slugging .513 with 31 homers to finish fourth in AL Rookie of the Year Award voting.

32. , Red Sox

Vázquez took a huge leap forward at the plate in 2019, upping his OPS from the prior year by 258 points and belting 23 homers in 138 games after never having hit more than five in a season before that.

33. , Royals

Injuries had derailed Dozier entering 2019, but he was finally able to stay on the field consistently and show what he could do, posting an .870 OPS with an MLB-leading 10 triples to go along with 26 homers in 139 games.

34. , Cardinals

Harrison Bader was the Cardinals' sensational rookie in 2018, and when he slumped offensively last season, Edman was there to fill the void, slashing .304/.350/.500 with 11 homers and 15 steals in 92 games.

35. , Angels

Following three seasons with the Cubs in which his OPS+ was above 100, La Stella regressed in 2018, posting a career-low 81 OPS+ over 123 games. In his first year with the Angels, though, he had a career year, belting 16 homers with an OPS of .832 in 80 games.

36. , Mets

Acquired in a trade with the Astros, Davis broke out in his first full Major League season, hitting .307.369/.527 with 22 homers in 140 games for New York.

37. , Cardinals

Hudson formed a strong duo with Jack Flaherty in St. Louis, making 32 starts (33 appearances) with a 3.35 ERA in his rookie campaign. He'll have to improve on his walk rate -- he led MLB with 86 free passes issued -- and bring down the FIP (4.93).

38. , Padres

Yates had shown this type of potential prior to 2019, but last season was nevertheless a breakout performance for the right-handed reliever. He was absolutely dominant for San Diego, posting a 1.19 ERA over 60 appearances, leading the Majors with 41 saves.

39. , D-backs

With the trade of star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to the Cardinals prior to the season, it was unclear what the D-backs would get in the way of offensive production from the position. Walker answered that question emphatically, hitting 29 homers and posting an .825 OPS in his first full MLB season.

40. , Rays

Anderson thrived in his first taste of the Majors, particularly after a July 31 trade from Miami to Tampa Bay, after which he had a 2.11 ERA in 23 appearances. He was a strikeout machine all year, fanning 41.7 percent of the batters he faced.