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Breakout Hitters Watch for Fantasy Baseball - Sean Murphy, Edouard Julien, Will Brennan

Edouard Julien - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, MLB Prospects, Draft Sleepers

Welcome RotoBallers to our fantasy baseball breakout hitters article for Week 17. As always, we are here to bring you a few MLB hitters whose advanced metrics are popping out.

My name is Joshua Costello, and I will be giving you 3-5 hitter names that seem to have sustainable improved production this season. Most of these names will be young hitters because that is the nature of a breakout. There will be exceptions from time-to-time as well as I give you more well-known and well-established names that seem to have made a change to their profile this year.

For full transparency, I also track the picks every week, so you can go back and see who I picked. There will be some misses, but hopefully, we'll have enough hits to make this a worthwhile endeavor. I'll give you the tracker first, and then we'll get into the three names we're picking for this week.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:

 

2023 Breakout Picks Tracker

Week Date Breakout Picks
Week 3 4/12 Logan O'Hoppe, Miguel Vargas, Nolan Gorman, Josh Lowe, Brandon Marsh
Week 4 4/19 Jarred Kelenic, Ian Happ, Luis Garcia, Kerry Carpenter, Brent Rooker
Week 5 4/26 Jack Suwinski, James Outman, Nico Hoerner, LaMonte Wade Jr., Cody Bellinger
Week 6 5/2 Masataka Yoshida, Jarren Duran, Jonah Heim, Edward Olivares, Jorge Mateo
Week 7 5/9 Ezequiel Duran, Triston Casas, Joey Gallo, Zach McKinstry, Ke'Bryan Hayes
Week 8 5/16 Alex Kirilloff, Matt McLain, Zach Neto, Taylor Walls
Week 9 5/23 Josh Jung, Brett Baty, Ryan Noda, Esteury Ruiz
Week 10 5/30 Riley Greene, Leody Taveras, Seiya Suzuki
Week 11 6/8 Luke Raley, Keibert Ruiz, Lane Thomas, Jake Burger
Week 12 6/15 Evan Longoria, Tommy Pham, Anthony Rendon, Miguel Rojas
Week 13 6/22 Max Kepler, Gunnar Henderson, Jeimer Candelario, Andy Ibanez
Week 14 6/29 Jordan Walker, Patrick Bailey, Mike Tauchman
Week 15 7/6 Bobby Witt Jr., Jesus Sanchez, David Peralta, Yainer Diaz

Let's get to the picks for Week 17!

 

Sean Murphy, Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves catcher Sean Murphy has been the best catcher in baseball this season, and it has not been close. Since joining the Braves, Murphy has improved in nearly every batting stat. Through 71 games this year, Murphy has slashed .289/.384/.566 with 17 home runs and 57 RBI. The 28-year-old catcher will easily surpass his career-highs of 18 home runs and 66 RBI from last season. Murphy has also never finished a season with a batting average over .250, and he likely will this year.

Sean Murphy

Some of the most significant differences in Murphy's numbers are the quality of contact metrics. The Braves catcher is impacting the ball harder than ever, improving his average exit velocity by over four mph from last season and maintaining a HardHit% of 49.7%. Murphy is also barreling up balls at an incredible rate, owning a barrel rate of 19.2%. Impacting the ball harder and maintaining a nearly 40% fly ball rate has led to a 23.6% HR/FB%, more than double Murphy's rate from last season.

In 2023, the Braves catcher has also increased his walk rate from where it had been for the past two years, increasing to over 10% for the first time since 2020. Murphy also has the highest Sweet Spot% of his career, owning a rate of 40.1%. The 28-year-old has a strikeout rate higher than last season but lower than every other year of his career. Utilizing the DH position has also been beneficial for preserving Murphy's health. I see no reason why Murphy cannot continue this production for years to come.

Edouard Julien, Minnesota Twins

Minnesota Twins second baseman Edouard Julien made his MLB debut earlier this season before being sent back down, but the youngster is here to stay now. Julien's batting average has steadily climbed throughout the season, and his walk rate has risen and stabilized above 10%. The young slugger still has a high strikeout rate of 31%, but throughout his minor league career, his strikeout rate hovered closer to 25%.

Edouard Julien

The Twins' second baseman has been displaying his power, racking up nine home runs and 11 doubles in 48 games this season. Julien also has a HardHit% of 45.9% while making decent contact, 70.6% Contact% on the season. Julien has been on a hot streak since the beginning of June, which has raised his batting average to over .300. Julien owns an extremely high BABIP of .432, and his high strikeout rate may turn some people away, but his results are undeniable.

Fantasy managers should keep an eye on the Twins' second baseman, who is widely available in leagues, because he has the potential to continue to break out in the summer months.

Will Brennan, Cleveland Guardians

Cleveland Guardians outfielder Will Brennan has displayed the ability to hit for average throughout his professional career but appears to be getting unlucky this season. Brennan slashed .316/.367/.471 in 93 games in Triple-A last year before being called up to the majors. The 25-year-old slashed .357/.400/.500 with one home run, eight RBI, and two stolen bases in 11 games with the Guardians last season.

Brennan's slash line this season sits at .261/.293/.377 with five home runs and 26 RBI, but his BABIP sits at a lowly .288, and his xBA sits at .281, which ranks in the 88th percentile. As the season continues, Brennan should see his batting average rise and more balls in play turn into hits. The young outfielder possesses excellent bat-to-ball skills, which allow him to avoid striking out.

Brennan's strikeout rate currently sits at 14.1%, which is in the 90th percentile of the league. The young hitter also owns a Contact% of 82.3% and a Z-Contact% of 89.7%. Despite his excellent contact skills, Brennan has been significantly better against right-handed pitching in his career, batting .302 compared to .158 against left-handed pitching. Fantasy managers in deeper points and OBP leagues should add Brennan since he should produce in the games he starts, and he should start often.



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