Every year, MLB players have breakout seasons after starting their careers with underwhelming stats. This season is no exception. Some of these standout players aren’t even in the playoff race. So, watching them may be the only thing fans can look forward to. Keep an eye on the following MLB pros.
1. Josh Bell, 1B, Pittsburgh Pirates
This season, Josh Bell has shown an impressive display of power for the Pirates, including hitting a couple of balls into the Allegheny River. One of the hardest sluggers in baseball, Bell is hitting .315 — 40 points better than his career best — and his 20 home runs put him just seven short of setting a new career high.
2. Lucas Giolito, SP, Chicago White Sox
Drafted out of high school in 2012, Lucas Giolito was a top pitching prospect. However, he struggled in his first full MLB season last year, posting a 6.13 ERA with a 10-13 record. This season, Giolito is already at 10 wins with just two losses. His ERA is less than half of what it was in 2018, sitting on a 2.74 ERA with 104 strikeouts in 85.1 innings. The pitcher has already thrown two complete games this season — a rarity in the current era — including a shutout.
3. Tommy La Stella, 2B, Los Angeles Angels
Prior to this season, Tommy La Stella never hit more than five home runs per season. In 68 games this year, he’s already tripled that career best with 15 home runs. La Stella’s .295 average is also on pace for a new career high in his first season with the Angels, who are giving him regular playing time, which largely eluded him earlier in his career. La Stella played in 123 games last season, which is the only time he has appeared in more than 100 games in his first five MLB seasons.
4. Derek Dietrich, 2B, Cincinnati Reds
Derek Dietrich has already set a new career high in home runs with 18 through 67 games this season. But the second baseman is hitting just .230 in his first year with the Reds. The former Marlin now plays in Great American Ballpark, which is more hitter-friendly than Marlins Park. He is not, however, hitting for contact, which isn’t helping the young Reds team as they sit near the bottom of the NL Central.
5. Austin Meadows, DH, Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays acquired Austin Meadows when they traded Chris Archer to the Pirates at the deadline last July. So far, the designated hitter is showing Tampa that they made the right choice. Meadows has battled injuries that have limited his playing time this season, but he performs well when he plays. In 56 games, he’s hitting .308 with 12 home runs — double the six homers he smashed in 59 games last season.
6. Zach Davies, SP, Milwaukee Brewers
In his first four MLB seasons, Zach Davies’ career-best is a 3.71 ERA. This season, he’s at a 3.06 ERA with a 7-1 record in 15 starts. Davies isn’t striking out many batters, though, with just 53 strikeouts in 82.1 innings. Low strikeout totals have plagued him throughout his career. But if Davies can limit the runs he gives up, as he has in the first half of the season, he’ll remain an ace on a Brewers team looking to return to the postseason.