Its almost every season you have that player that come out of nowhere to surprise the critics and put up those outstanding numbers. In pro football, it was last years draft that some of the critics were questioning the pickup of Randy Moss and what he would mean to the Patriots. Well,picking the breakout players can be a guessing game at times.
What we can do is take a look at who was very unlucky using a metric devised by J.C. Bradbury, the author of The Baseball Economist. In the stat known as Predicted OPS (prOPS), it looks at types of batted balls players were hitting. It makes a call on how "good" players are actually playing by looking at this data. In other words, it says who were the players who were hitting the ball well, and do not have the numbers to back it up. Similarly, those with the huge numbers, its says how much of that was luck. Thus, this leads to say in the upcoming year that the players that were unlucky might be in store for a breakout season in the upcoming year.
If you look at the Actual OPS and subtract the predicted OPS, that will give you an idea of who overperformed. As expected, Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, Aki, Delmon Young show up on the list of performers. However, what is interesting to me is seeing that Carlos Pena shows up on the under performing list. Meaning, even with his monster year, he was a little unlucky. Same thing applies to Gomes, Navarro and Baldelli. So, keep these guys on the radar as possible breakouts for 2008. Though, Baldelli had a small sample size.
If you are interested in projections, some of them already out. Marcel (the monkey) the most basic forecasting system you can have, that uses as little intelligence as possible is out. [Marcel 08 Batting] [Marcel 08 Pitching]
As well, Chone Smith 's projections are out as well: [Chone 08] . Chone performed very well last year so you can take a look at last years projections[Chone 07 (fangraphs)].