MLB breakout picks for 2017

Shortstop Addison Russell has already been a key piece for the Cubs' title run, but he might be ready to deliver more at the plate. Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Every March, I post a list of players who I think are primed for significant upticks in their performances for the coming season. These are players who already have lost their rookie status but either haven't performed at all in the majors or perhaps just haven't lived up to expectations.

Last year's list had several players who did indeed break out, including Jake Lamb, Wil Myers, Robbie Ray and Jonathan Schoop.

This year's list has eight players on it, ranging in age from 22 to 33 (the oldest player I’ve ever included on such a list), including a couple of former top prospects looking for their first real tastes of big league success.

Law's past breakout candidates: 2016 | 2015

Charlie Morton, RHP, Houston Astros

Morton looked like a different pitcher for the Phillies in four starts last April before tearing his hamstring and missing the remainder of the season. So far this March, he has looked as good if not better for the Astros, with his fastball sitting at 94-96 mph, occasionally touching 98, complemented with an upper-80s slider and low-80s curveball.

He has been a great ground ball guy for the past six years anyway, but now he’s going to miss more bats than ever before. Morton has never been a 2.0-plus WAR pitcher by any measure, but I think he’ll destroy that mark this year even if he pitches only 160 or so innings.