Although many details have yet to be ironed out, there's growing optimism we'll have Major League Baseball back at some point this summer.
Assuming the players and owners can reach a compromise off the field, one of the most likely changes on the field for this season is the use of the designated hitter in every game. There’s simply no reason for any pitcher to set foot in a batter’s box in 2020.
An extra hitter in every National League team's lineup can potentially ease some playing-time crunches -- and open the door to breakout performances.
Here are eight post-hype NL sleepers, all 26 or younger, who are poised to take their games to the next level in an abbreviated season.
OF Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs. Happ hit 24 homers in 2017, but his power dropped off the following season and he spent most of last year at Class AAA. A switch-hitter with a bit more pop from the right side, Happ, 25, showed signs of a rebound when he returned to Chicago with an outstanding .300 isolated slugging percentage in 140 at-bats.
SS Carter Kieboom, Washington Nationals. The defensive struggles he had while replacing injured shortstop Trea Turner during last year's two-week cameo almost certainly impacted Kieboom on offense. But the 2016 first-rounder has always been able to hit. With Turner healthy, Kieboom, 22, will get his chance playing third base.