Every year, a few weeks before the autumn leaves, the collective mindset of fantasy baseball managers begins to change. And the boys of summer cede the spotlight to the gladiators of the gridiron.

But that doesn’t mean we can just forget about our fantasy baseball teams. As my fellow LABR and Tout Wars competitor (and Xperts Fantasy League partner) Ian Kahn always says, football season is the best time to gain an edge over next season’s baseball opponents.

With that in mind, it’s time to unveil our All-Breakthrough team. These are players who may have been afterthoughts back in March, but whose performances have elevated their values substantially for next season.

 

Catcher

Sean Murphy, Oakland A’s. First of all, the Orioles’ Adley Rutschman looks like a budding star, but he already had sky-high expectations before he even made his MLB debut. Murphy, 27, was the No. 15 catcher in NFBC drafts this season, yet he ranks among the top six at the position in homers, RBI and runs scored.

Runner-up: William Contreras, Atlanta Braves.

 

First base

C.J. Cron, Colorado Rockies. Power has never been an issue for Cron. (Witness the 504-foot home run he hit last week, the second-longest in the Statcast era.)

Skeptics wondered about his ability to play the field, especially after having major knee surgery two years ago. But with two healthy seasons in Colorado under his belt, career-high totals in runs (73), RBI (95) and quite possibly homers (28) – plus the adoption of the universal DH – Cron’s status with the Rockies is solid, even at age 32.

Runner-up: Nathaniel Lowe, Texas Rangers.