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Five Outfield Hitters Who Can Breakout In 2023 Fantasy Baseball OBP Leagues

MJ Melendez - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, MLB Injury News

Here at RotoBaller, we’re all about doing the deep digging so you don’t have to. Recent digging has led to another breakout post for on-base percentage leagues. This time, we’re going to look at outfielders who are set to break out in 2023.  

Some of these players will be of more help in OBP leagues than in average leagues, some will help in both leagues. When looking at the walk rates and OBP of these players along with other factors, the following list has been put together to find out five outfielders who will have a coming-out party this season. 

Most of this list includes younger guys, as it’s harder to predict a breakout for someone that has been consistently average in their career and has no metrics to say otherwise. These players have shown they’re capable of holding their own in the majors and are ready to take the next step. 

Be sure to check all of our preseason fantasy baseball rankings for Roto, Points, H2H, dynasty, best ball, prospects and more:

 

Jake McCarthy - Arizona Diamondbacks

The speedster had a heck of a year in 2022 but played just 99 games in the majors. While he was good at just about everything, it was the 23 stolen bases that stood out. His 98-percentile speed is a real threat when he gets on, and he got on quite a lot last year. His .342 OBP from 2022 is a good number for a rookie, or just about most hitters. 

Not everything was roses for McCarthy upon his callup, however. He doesn’t hit the ball hard or far and he didn’t walk a ton – a high average drove his OBP. But his expected batting average was in the 53 percentile and his strikeout and chase rates were 46 and 47, respectively. His base-on-balls percentage of 6.5% came in at the 22 percentile.  

That 6.5% should be taken with a grain of salt, however. Since the beginning of 2021, McCarthy has put up walk rates above 9%, topping out at 11.5% in AAA last season. With his speed, he should be able to put up above-average BABIP numbers, which will in turn raise his average and then OBP.  

The 25-year-old has some things to work on, but over a full year, he’s bound to break out in multiple categories. I don’t think 80 runs, 35 steals, and a .335 OBP are out of the question. That OBP number won’t carry you, but it will help. Most projection systems have 10-15 homers as well, so he’s not useless there. I think his current ADP of 102.7 looks good, but he could break out for a better return by end of the season.  

 

MJ Melendez - Kansas City Royals

A 12.4% walk rate is why Melendez is on this list. That’s something you want to see in your OBP leagues. He was in the 92-percentile last season. The man can take a base. He doesn’t chase much either, coming in the 78-percentile. The former second-round pick won’t have the highest OBP, however, because he doesn’t hit for much average. His expected batting average was .237 last season.  

Even with a good season under his belt, he still has more left for a true breakout, and that should come in 2023. His batted ball profile portends a low BABIP, which will lower his average and OBP, but the walks helped him obtain an OBP almost 100 points higher than his average.  

Being that he has dual eligibility as a catcher, it just makes his value even more, which we are seeing now as his ADP has crept up to 71.7. I wouldn’t call him a steal at that spot, but he should be able to produce enough to warrant that pick, even more so in OBP leagues. If he can connect for 23 homers with a handful of steals and a .335 OBP, it will be a nice breakout for the Kansas City Royal. 

 

Seiya Suzuki - Chicago Cubs

Suzuki had a hot start to his debut MLB season. During 21 games in April, he was getting on base at a .405 clip, while hitting .279 with four home runs. He looked like he not only belonged but that he was an All-Star. It didn’t take long for him to come back down to earth, however. In May, the Japanese-born player hit just .211/279/.338. He ended the season as a better-than-league average hitter, producing a 116 OPS+, and looks to breakout in 2023.  

The 28-year-old was in the 63-percentile of exit velocity and the 65-percentile of expected slugging percentage. His chase rate was in the 90-percentile and his walk rate was in the 66-percentile. All this is to say Suzuki more than held his own in his first season stateside. With a full year under his belt, expect him to produce better-counting numbers than he did in 2022. 

His current ADP is 128.7 and RotoBaller has him ranked 102 in rotisserie leagues, so he’s not going for a premium and could outperform his ADP. I believe he will and will break out somewhere closer to his projections for this season. Most systems are giving him an average in the .260s with an OBP in the .350s along with 20+ homers. If he can hit .265/.355/.475 with 25 home runs, 75 RBI, and 75 runs, he’ll have produced a good season for fantasy owners in OBP leagues at his current ADP.

 

Andrew Vaughn - Chicago White Sox

Vaughn finished last year as the 142nd-ranked player on Razzball’s player rater and currently has an ADP of 143.7. That’s someone who I want to draft at that position just knowing he will produce better numbers this season while having breakout potential. He had an overall better second season than he did during his rookie year in 2021 and he could take a big leap in his third full year in the bigs.  

The soon-to-be 25-year-old will most likely only have outfield eligibility for this season, as he’s moving to his natural position of first base, but that’s okay, this write-up is just for this year anyway. But the move back to his more natural position should also help his offense, as learning a defensive position sometimes hinders offensive growth. 

The former No. 3 overall pick did have a down year in terms of walk rate in 2022, but projection systems think he should bounce back near 8% this season. ZiPSDC has a projection of .267/.336/.482 with 29/84/67/0 and I can see a similar stat line, leading to a full breakout for Vaughn. 

 

Joey Meneses - Washington Nationals

Let me first say, I’m more bullish than most projection systems when it comes to Meneses' average and on-base percentage for 2023. If you go by what most projection systems say, he’s not a huge OBP guy this season, as most have him in the low .300s. But I reason that Meneses is someone who sprays the ball around the field, and those types of hitters can get away with higher BABIPs, leading to higher averages and OBPs.  

The 30-year-old had a .371 BABIP in 2022, so I agree that is unsustainable, but I think he should be able to keep it above the .290-.300 league average for BABIP. Meneses had a 91.4 average exit velocity and 47.1% hard-hit rate, so he’s not just a slap hitter.  

He should play multiple positions in 2023, so that’ll raise his value. ATC projects a .308 OBP, but as I said, I see him hitting on more of his balls in play, leading to an OBP around .328-.330. Combine that with 25 homers, 73 RBI, and 70 runs, and we’re looking at a late-career breakout. 

 



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