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Breakout Hitters Watch for Fantasy Baseball - Leody Taveras, Riley Greene, Seiya Suzuki

Leody Taveras - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Waiver Wire Pickups, Draft Sleepers

It's Wednesday, so we have a handful more fantasy baseball breakout hitter picks for you. This post has been a lot of fun for me to write every week, and I hope some people out there are enjoying it!

If you're new here, every week I give 4-6 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 four names we're picking for this week.

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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 Picks

Leody Taveras, Texas Rangers

As if the Rangers needed any more offensive help, they're getting breakout campaigns from a couple of formerly promising young hitters. Ezequiel Duran was mentioned on this post weeks ago and he continues to hit well with a .301/.340/.515 slash line.

Joining the party recently has been Taveras, who was a hyped-up prospect a few seasons ago but so far has struggled to a .244/.299/.364 slash line in his big league career (221 games).

In 2023, however, he is slashing .321/.381/.450 with two homers and five steals across 156 PAs. He has never been thought of as a guy with real raw power, so we aren't focused much on getting dingers and RBI from him -- that does lower the ceiling a bit.

However, Taveras has had big improvements this year in the categories we really like to see improvements:

Stat 2021 2022 2023
K% 32% 26% 20%
BB% 5% 6% 9%
xBA .194 .218 .270
EV 85 87 89
GB% 55% 45% 48%

Way fewer strikeouts, hitting the ball harder, and managing the ground ball. This guy has wheels, so any line drive can turn into extra bases easily, and he's hitting a good amount of line drives this year. All of that plus the Rangers' elite offense has bolstered him to scoring 25 runs and driving in 20 already, good for a full-season pace of 100 runs and 80 RBI.

He's also attempted steals at a high rate of 17%, showcasing the fact that more steals will be on their way once he finds more opportunities. Taveras can be a sneaky good fantasy option, and he's widely available right now.

Riley Greene, Detroit Tigers

Things may have clicked for Greene in late April. He has been one of the best hitters in baseball during the month of May, putting up a .368/.439/.579 slash line with three homers and a great 11.6% Brl%.

The things Greene needed to improve on coming into 2023 were pretty clear -- strike out less and elevate the ball more.

Early on, it didn't look like he had made any improvement from 2022 in these areas. On April 24, he sat there with a 36% K% and a 58% GB% -- completely debilitating numbers for your fantasy value. Since that day, however, he's gone for a 23% K% and a 48% GB% -- huge improvements in both areas.

Those improvements have helped him put many more balls into play, and they're going in the air at a higher rate as well.

May Hard Hit Rate Leaders with K% Under 25%

Player PA HH% K%
Bryan Reynolds 104 61.3% 18.3%
Matt Olson 120 60.6% 24.2%
Juan Soto 103 60.3% 17.5%
Yordan Alvarez 105 60.0% 18.1%
J.D. Davis 101 59.7% 24.8%
Salvador Perez 97 58.6% 24.7%
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 99 56.5% 24.2%
Riley Greene 107 55.1% 24.3%
Freddie Freeman 118 55.1% 16.1%
Andrew Vaughn 108 55.0% 19.4%

It's possible that these last few weeks have been flukey and he'll eventually go back to his old ways. But it's more than early enough in this guy's career to believe there was an on-switch to find and that he found it this year. Either way, Greene should be added and started in almost all league types right now as he's been among the game's best hitters for several weeks now.

Seiya Suzuki

We saw Suzuki flirt with greatness early last year when he debuted in the majors. He came out strong, limiting strikeouts and racking up a ton of barrels. That didn't last very long, however, as the league adjusted to him a bit and injuries really hampered his rookie campaign.

It didn't help that he had a late start to the 2023 campaign as well with a spring injury that cost him a few weeks, and he started off quite slow after his debut.

However, Suzuki is healthy, in the lineup everyday, and hitting the ball extremely well. Only 11 hitters can say they meet this criterion this year:

  • 150+ PA
  • Hard-Hit Rate above 50%
  • Strikeout Rate below 25%
  • Barrel Rate above 9%

Those names, in order of their PA count:

  1. Juan Soto
  2. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
  3. Yandy Diaz
  4. Bryan Reynolds
  5. Paul Goldschmidt
  6. Yordan Alvarez
  7. Ronald Acuna Jr.
  8. Adolis Garcia
  9. Rafael Devers
  10. Randy Arozarena
  11. Seiya Suzuki

If we were redrafting today, Suzuki would probably go several rounds behind the rest of those names. But he's been rightfully in the conversation with those names.

In May, Suzuki slashed .298/.400/.548 with a 24% K% and a 15% BB% with five homers and a steal. His 90th percentile exit velocity is way up there at 107.2 miles per hour, and he's lived quite nicely in the 10-30 degree range in terms of launch angle.

Suzuki looks like one of the game's better power hitters (although that could err on the doubles side slightly more than homers), and he can give us at least a decent batting average with a few steals in there as well -- a very solid player with tons of upside.

I'm cutting it short at three names this week. There aren't too many other hitters I feel confident about right now that we haven't already talked about. But I like these three guys a lot and I think you should go get your hands on them if possible. Thanks for reading, we'll be back next week with more!

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