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Breakout Hitters for Fantasy Baseball - MLB Batters Rising for Week 18

Darick Hall fantasy baseball rankings draft sleepers waiver wire pickups

Welcome back to another edition of my "Breakout Hitters To Watch" series. What we're doing here is taking a good, close look at the hitting data each week to see which hitters are standing out the most.

At times this year, I have gone away from the "breakout" term to just highlight hitters that have been seeing boosts in their production in recent weeks. We have highlighted some established stud hitters, and that can certainly be strange to see in a "breakout hitters" piece. So I'll try to stick to the true "breakout" candidates this week as we find some interesting hitters to buy in on for the stretch run.

Before we get to the names this week, I've included a brief intro and also a recap of all the names we've talked about throughout the year in this weekly piece.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received five total writing awards and 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, tops in the industry! Congrats to all the award winners and nominees including Best MLB Series, NFL Series, NBA Writer, PGA Writer and Player Notes writer of the year. Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!


Fantasy Baseball Breakouts Recap

Here are all of the names I've recommended so far.

Week # Breakout Picks
Week 1 Julio Rodriguez, Steven Kwan, Kevin Smith, Bryson Stott
Week 2 Steven Kwan, Gavin Lux, Andrew Vaughn, Jesus Sanchez, Austin Nola
Week 3 Seiya Suzuki, Jeremy Pena, Alex Verdugo, Ke'Bryan Hayes, Rowdy Tellez
Week 4 Alec Bohm, Santiago Espinal, Taylor Ward, Cristian Pache
Week 5 Rowdy Tellez, Ha-Seong Kim, Max Kepler, Christian Walker, Pavin Smith
Week 6 Manuel Margot, Brandon Drury, Josh Naylor, Daulton Varsho, Gleyber Torres
Week 7 Brendan Rodgers, Yonathan Daza, Brandon Nimmo, Tommy Edman, Ryan Jeffers
Week 8 MJ Melendez, Kyle Isbel, Patrick Wisdom, Julio Rodriguez, Mike Yastrzemski
Week 9 Alejandro Kirk, Nolan Gorman, Christopher Morel, Joc Pederson, Garrett Cooper, Emmanuel Rivera
Week 10 Andres Gimenez, Jazz Chisholm, Santiago Espinal, Harold Castro, Brendan Donovan, Ramon Urias
Week 11 Matt Chapman, Luis Garcia, Christian Bethancourt, Oscar Gonzalez, Luis Arraez
Week 12 Juan Yepez, Andrew Vaughn, Bobby Witt Jr., Michael Harris II, Gavin Lux
Week 13 Alex Kirilloff, Adley Rutschman, Isaac Paredes, Josh H. Smith, Matt Vierling, Victor Caratini
Week 14 Ryan Mountcastle, Cavan Biggio, Nick Gordon, Daniel Vogelbach, Rob Refsnyder,
Week 15 Vinnie Pasquantino, Kris Bryant, Yermin Mercedes, Yadiel Hernandez
Week 16 Josh Rojas, Carlos Santana, DJ LeMaheiu, Ezequiel Duran
Week 17 Jose Miranda, Nelson Velasquez, Matt Carpenter, Anthony Santander, Lars Nootbaar, Carson Kelly


Breakout Picks for the Week 18

Darick Hall, Philadelphia Phillies

The left-handed first baseman began the year in the minor leagues and pounded 20 homers in his first 315 plate appearances. That earned him the call-up, and he made his Major League debut on June 29th. He has actually posted even better numbers in the Majors than minors this season:

AAA 315 .269 .346 .548 20
MLB 106 .290 .330 .630 8

Really impressive stuff, and he's given fantasy managers who bought in early a big boost.

Barrel Rate Leaders since July 1

Player PA Brl%
Aaron Judge 144 30.5%
Yordan Alvarez 109 27.7%
Matt Chapman 129 22.9%
Austin Riley 148 22.6%
Kyle Schwarber 135 21.8%
Max Muncy 119 20.3%
Darick Hall 100 19.7%
Nolan Gorman 101 19.3%
Luke Voit 125 18.3%
J.T. Realmuto 100 17.3%

We typically find high strikeout rates alongside young hitters with high barrel rates, which is the case with Hall as well – but he's kept things somewhat reasonable at 28%. That mark makes his .287 batting average a bit hard to buy into, but he's really hitting the ball hard when he does hit it – which helps the BABIP.

Hall's seamless transition to the bigs has been really impressive to see, and there's no reason to think he won't continue to put up strong power numbers this season and beyond.


Seth Brown, Oakland Athletics

I really thought that this was going to be a big year for Brown, who was finally getting a crack at a full-time job in the Majors. He has been a prolific home run hitter for most of his professional career, having hit 130 homers in his 3,243 plate appearances in the Athletics organization. That's a home run rate of 24.9 PA/HR – a very strong number.

He's actually put up a better PA/HR in the Majors at 20.3 (37 homers in 751 PA's). That's where he's at in 2022, with 17 homers in 356 plate appearances. He's also stolen eight bases – but the batting average has been low (as expected) at .238.

Brown has hit seven of his 17 homers since the All-Star Break and has slashed .378/.451/.889 in that time. His seven dingers are second-most in the league in that time and his .468 xwOBA is fourth, only bested by Aaron Judge, Byron Buxton, and Nelson Velazquez. Everything has been bolstered by a completely uncharacteristic 17.6% K% over these last 51 plate appearances.

Hitters with K% under 20% and Brl% over 20% since ASG

Player Brl% K%
Eloy Jimenez 22.0% 17.1%
Seth Brown 22.2% 17.6%
Nelson Velazquez 26.1% 16.9%

I wouldn't expect that to continue, and the batting average is probably going to start falling again in short order, but we know that this guy can hit homers at a high rate – and he should be fully expected to do so for the rest of the year. And who knows, maybe the improved strikeout rate will stick for a while longer.


Tyler Naquin, New York Mets

I thought the trade away from Great American Ballpark was a death knell for Naquin's fantasy value given the park shift and the fact that he probably wouldn't be an everyday player for the Mets, but so far he's been great with his new team. He has homered three times in his first 30 plate appearances with a batting average above .350. His strikeout rate with New York is below 10% and he's found himself hitting in the #6 hole for that stacked lineup.

He has always been an above-average hitter with a career slash line of .271/.324/.457, and he has a very nice power/speed combo (max exit velocity of 112.7 this year, max sprint speed of 28.0 ft/sec).

The ballpark change definitely hurts, but the really good Mets lineup around him just might make up for it. He's not as much a "breakout hitter" as much an "undervalued good hitter", and he'll probably sit against lefties – but I think he's someone who can help a deeper-league fantasy team down the stretch.


Nick Gordon, Minnesota Twins

We talked about Gordon about a month ago, but things have gotten really interesting for him lately as he takes over an everyday role as Alex Kirilloff's season ended due to wrist surgery.

I've been privy to Gordon since I managed the Twins in Out of the Park Baseball 2020 when we were all in COVID hell. I viewed him as a potential great base stealer in the Majors given his constant double-digit steals marks in the minors. This season, however, he's shown us that he has really added some pop. In 262 plate appearances, he has an 11.7% Brl% and a solid 24% K%. He's homered just five times, which is a surprisingly low number given that barrel rate and his 48% hard-hit rate. He's stolen five bases and been caught three more times, showing that he has some steals upside still as well.

I think Gordon could be a 20 homer, 15-steal pace hitter down the stretch, and that's very much useful, especially from a 26-year-old who seems to be improving before our eyes.


Elehuris Montero, Colorado Rockies

He's currently filling in for Kris Bryant, so he may not be long for Major League at-bats, but the guy deserves a look. In 358 plate appearances between AAA and MLB, he has hit .305/.377./521 with a .392 wOBA, 16 HR, and four steals. The 24% K% is good, but that mark is much higher at 35% in his 62 PAs with the big league team.

If he can bring the K% down into the twenties, we could really have something here from a kid with a good amount of pop, a little bit of speed, and a great home ballpark for hitting. Keep an eye on Montero!


And that's it for this week's breakout picks, hope this helps. Good luck this week, RotoBallers!

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