Pat Ragazzo debuts for The Game Day with his report on 2021 MLB Breakout Players: 5 Bets To Make For Early-Season Stars, including Corbin Burnes bets and Yermin Mercedes bets.
Major League Baseball’s 2021 regular season is back in full swing as the league attempts to regain some form of normalcy with its first 162-game schedule in two years amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
While the usual household names continue to produce at a high level, there are some budding stars and breakout players, who have gotten off to hot starts out of the gate.
Here are a few names around MLB to keep an eye on as breakout candidates this season, brought to you by The Game Day.
2021 MLB Breakout Players: 5 Bets To Make For Early-Season Stars
1. Yermin Mercedes, C/DH, Chicago White Sox
The first name on this list is 28-year-old rookie catcher/designated hitter Yermin Mercedes, who has been a pleasant surprise for the Chicago White Sox through the first 11 games.
Mercedes busted out of the gate this year by setting a White Sox franchise record going 8-for-8 to start the season. Mercedes is slashing .476/.522/.786 to go along with three home runs, 10 RBIs and a 1.307 OPS.
The native of the Dominican Republic also took home the AL Player of the Week award April 5 after a 9-for-14 stretch, which saw him produce a 1.643 OPS, and .643 average with six RBIs.
According to PointsBet, Mercedes has +1200 odds to take home this year’s AL Rookie of the Year Award as long as he continues to stay hot at the plate.
2. Corbin Burnes, SP, Milwaukee Brewers
Another player who is off to a historical start this season is Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Corbin Burnes.
Burnes was mostly used as a reliever and spot-starter for the Brewers up until last year. Now that he has transitioned to a full-time starter, Burnes is dominating on the rubber, putting up Cy Young-level numbers for the Brew Crew.
In his first three starts, Burnes is 1-1 with a 0.49 ERA, allowing just four hits and one run across 18 1/3 innings pitched. What’s even more impressive is that Burnes has struck out 30 batters without issuing a walk – becoming the first pitcher since 1906 to accomplish this feat.
It is must-watch television every time Burnes takes the mound, which has turned the right-hander into a potential Cy Young candidate moving forward.
Burnes is currently (+700) to win the 2021 NL Cy Young Award at PointsBet.
3. Akil Baddoo, CF, Detroit Tigers
Not even Hollywood could’ve drawn up a better script for the beginning of rookie sensation Akil Baddoo’s MLB career.
It appears that the Detroit Tigers made one of the most underrated moves of the offseason by swiping Baddoo away from their division-rival Minnesota Twins, selecting him in the third round of the 2020 MLB Rule 5 draft.
Baddoo became the first player in Tigers’ history to hit four home runs in the first 10 games of his career. The 22-year-old also became the youngest Tiger to record a walk-off hit since 1991.
The centerfielder has certainly made a name for himself early on given his red-hot offensive performance. In addition to his four homers, Baddoo has driven in 10 RBIs and slashed .323/.333/.839.
4. Joe Musgrove, SP, San Diego Padres
When looking at breakout players on the mound, it is hard to argue with what San Diego Padres pitcher Joe Musgrove has done so far. (Josh Shepardson had Musgrove as a headliner in our preseason 2021 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers list, after all.)
The Padres acquired Musgrove via trade this past offseason from the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he has been dominant in his first three starts with the Friars. Through the first 19 innings of his 2021 campaign, Musgrove has a 2-1 record and 0.47 ERA.
And while his former team may have spoiled his return to Pittsburgh on Wednesday night – Musgrove has still only allowed one run, while striking out 24 batters and issuing two walks as a Padre.
Musgrove also threw the Padres’ first no-hitter in franchise history on April 9, becoming MLB’s first pitcher to toss a no-no this season.
Musgrove has never won more than 11 games in a single year or pitched to an ERA below 3.86. However, the San Diego county native added a cutter to his arsenal and looks like a new pitcher in San Diego, where he could finally be hitting his stride in his age-28 season.
According to BetMGM, Musgrove has +4000 odds to capture the NL Cy Young Award this year.
5. Brandon Nimmo CF, New York Mets
Is there anyone hotter at the plate right now than Mets leadoff hitter Brandon Nimmo?
If your answer is anything besides the three-letter word “yes,” then you might want to check on his numbers throughout the Mets’ first eight games.
Nimmo has gotten off to a great start at the top of the Mets lineup with a .464 batting average and 1.155 OPS.
The 28-year-old has been an on-base machine — leading MLB with a .583 OBP — while walking eight times to start year and reaching base safely 21 times during this span.
Dating back to last September, Nimmo has gotten on base in 21 straight games, which trails only the face of baseball himself: Mike Trout.
As long as the Mets continue to get this type of offensive production out of Nimmo, their lineup will be scary from top-to-bottom. It’s becoming less fruitful to bet on New York to win its division; at PointsBet: Mets To Win NL East (+145).
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