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Five Breakout Outfielders For Fantasy Baseball Drafts - NL Edition (2024)

Jordan Walker - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, MLB Prospects

The term "breakout" always gets the juices flowing, so to speak, in our fantasy baseball world. Everyone loves a good breakout. So much in fact, that we decided to do two whole articles on breakout outfielders here on RotoBaller.

Today I'll be discussing five National League outfielders that I'm expecting to break out offensively this season. Finding players that can provide a positive return on investment is always crucial during draft season, and these five all have the chance to return great value at their respective ADPs.

If you missed the American League version of this article, you can check that out here. And as I mentioned last time, I wouldn't advise drafting a ton of breakout candidates in your drafts, but grabbing a name here and there is a fine strategy.

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

 

Five Breakout Outfielders in the National League for 2024

Jordan Walker, St. Louis Cardinals

When I was putting names together for this article, Jordan Walker's name was the first that popped to mind. And how could it not be? It seems that some of the air in the Walker hype balloon has been deflated after a rookie season where he was good but didn't dominate. However, I'm still as high on him now as I was last March when I saw him crank two mammoth home runs in person during a spring training game when attending Baseball HQ's First Pitch Florida event.

Overall, Walker slashed a respectable .276/.342/.445 in 465 plate appearances with 16 home runs and seven steals. But how he finished the season, along with his immense upside, should have everyone excited to see what he's going to do in 2024. Over his final 30 games, Walker slashed .339/.392/.545 with five home runs and a 19.2% strikeout rate. Overall, Walker recorded a 7.5% barrel rate, 89.4 mph AVG EV, and 42.5% hard-hit rate. While all above-average, those metrics don't stand out, but Walker is capable of increasing all three of those by a decent amount in 2024.

Getting Walker around pick 125 in drafts this spring feels like phenomenal value. The upside remains for him to be a Top 25 overall player who hits for a solid AVG and provides at least 30 homers annually.

 

Seiya Suzuki, Chicago Cubs

It seems to have flown under the radar to some degree just how good Seiya Suzuki was to close out the 2023 season. After a pinch-hit strikeout on August 7, Suzuki's season slash line sunk to .249/.327/.388. Not exactly what fantasy managers were expecting after a solid debut in 2022. However, over his final 198 plate appearances, Suzuki was a force to be reckoned with, slashing .356/.414/.672 with 30 extra-base hits and 11 home runs. He ranked in the top four over the final two months of the season in AVG, SLG, ISO, wOBA, and wRC+, and also ranked 9th in OBP.

Honestly, I'm shocked that Suzuki's ADP is outside the Top 100 right now given how he ended the season and his metrics across the board. In 2023, Suzuki recorded a 10.5% barrel rate, 91.4 mph AVG EV, and a 48% hard-hit rate with an 84.2% zone contact rate and 78.7% overall contact rate. He was one of just eight hitters to have a contact rate above 78% and a barrel rate north of 10%.

Given his blend of contact, approach, and quality of contact, I'm expecting Suzuki to have his best season yet in 2024 with a realistic shot at 100 runs, 30 home runs, 100 RBI to pair with a good AVG and OBP.

 

Jarred Kelenic, Atlanta Braves

Never thought I'd go back to this well, but including Jarred Kelenic in an article like this makes sense. While it's not an excuse for the inconsistent and often poor performance in his time with the Seattle Mariners, Kelenic seemed to be in his own head too much due to the pressure put on him as a top prospect who was supposed to save the franchise to some degree. Now in Atlanta, Kelenic gets a fresh start and a chance to start regularly in an absolutely loaded Braves lineup where even hitters in the bottom third of the order can accrue plenty of counting stats.

When you look at Kelenic's metrics from last season, there's definitely some positive to pull from in addition to a few concerns that remain. His quality of contact metrics were above average with a 9.5% barrel rate, 90.9 mph AVG EV, and 45.5% hard-hit rate, and Kelenic also had a nice 69th percentile sprint speed. But on the flip side, he also posted a 31.7% strikeout rate, 77.3% zone contact rate, and 66.2% contact rate.

The contact and strikeout concerns are probably always going to be there, so I'm not expecting Kelenic to ever hit more than .250-.260 or so. However, over a full season in Atlanta's lineup, 25 home runs and 10-15 steals are within reach with a decent amount of runs and RBI as well. If you're getting that past pick 200, you're going to be incredibly pleased with your investment.

 

Sal Frelick, Milwaukee Brewers

These last two selections are a bit further down ADP from the first three, but both are intriguing in their own way. Both are from the same outfield too. After being drafted 15th overall back in 2021, Sal Frelick quickly proved to be one of the best pure hitters in the minor leagues, hitting .329 in 35 games after the draft and followed that up with a .331 AVG in 119 games in 2022. In both seasons, Frelick added an OBP over .400 while showing plus speed as well.

That's the Frelick we should expect in the Major Leagues, not the one that hit .252 in 43 games last season before his promotion and .246 in 57 games after being called up. He was also dealing with thumb and hamstring issues last season that could've played a roll in the production slipping. What we can expect from Frelick is a high AVG and OBP, plenty of runs scored as a top of the order type of hitter, and at least 20 steals annually over a full season. The power upside isn't overly high here, but 10-15 homers annually are in play.

The profile isn't quite as sexy as the names above, but there's definitely some breakout appeal here with Frelick. The Brewers also appear to be giving him some reps in the infield and Frelick was working with former all-star second baseman Dustin Pedroia on his infield defense.

 

Garrett Mitchell, Milwaukee Brewers

When it comes to Garrett Mitchell, his profile couldn't be more different from Frelick's. At least at the plate. Both are plus runners and solid defenders, but Mitchell doesn't have the contact skills or AVG upside that Frelick does. However, Mitchell has more power/speed upside than Frelick and has shown that in his brief stints with Milwaukee over the last two seasons. In 2023, Mitchell posted a 10% barrel rate and 94th percentile sprint speed along with a 9.6% walk rate. And over his two seasons so far, his 650 plate appearance power/speed pace equates to 23 home runs and 41 stolen bases.

If everything clicks at the plate and Mitchell is able to improve his contact and strikeout rates, the upside is a player that flirts with 20/40. That's easier said than done though. Mitchell struck out 35.6% of the time in 2023 with a 67.7% zone contact rate and 60.3% overall contact rate. Those metrics simply aren't going to cut the mustard in the Major Leagues and his breakout fully depends on improvements being made in those areas. But given his ADP close to pick 400, the potential reward vastly outweighs the risk.

For more from Eric, including his prospect and dynasty rankings, check out his Toolshed Fantasy Patreon.



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