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

Riley Greene - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, MLB News

The term "breakout" carries a lot of weight in my life. In addition to it being one the more notable song titles for my favorite band, the Foo Fighters, it's a buzzy and exciting word in our fantasy baseball world as well. Everyone loves a good breakout.

Today, I'll be discussing a quintet of American League outfielders that I'm expecting to break out offensively this season and provide a nice return on investment at their current ADPs. It's never advised to draft a ton of these types, but sprinkling in a breakout name here and there in your draft can certainly help you this season if they do break out.

Check back here in the next couple of days as well for the National League version of this article. There were so many intriguing breakout candidates at this position that we had to split it up into two articles!

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

 

Fantasy Baseball Outfield Breakouts - AL

Evan Carter, Texas Rangers

Right off the bat this spring training, the report came out that Evan Carter added 19 pounds of muscle this offseason. Color me intrigued. Carter already brought plenty of intrigue as it was, but possibly adding more power could be the icing on the cake for this potential fantasy stud.

If you combined Carter's minor league and major league production from 2023, he finished with 94 runs, 18 home runs, 79 RBI, and 29 steals in 588 plate appearances while slashing .288/.413/.450 in the minors and .307/.413/.645 with the Texas Rangers down the stretch.

With Texas, Carter posted a 10.3% barrel rate, 46.2% hard-hit rate, 16% walk rate, and a minuscule 9% chase rate. However, Carter also struck out 32% of the time with a 76.7% zone contact rate and 70.4% overall contact rate.

Carter still has areas of his game to work on, but all the pieces are there for a massive breakout season in 2024, especially if this added bulk leads to more game power. He has the power and speed to exceed 20 home runs annually and showed better contact skills and approach in the minor leagues.

If he's able get those contact rates back up to his minor league levels while continuing to improve his power output, get ready for a massive breakout season from Carter and a top-40 ADP in 2025 drafts.

Jarren Duran, Boston Red Sox

As a Red Sox fan and fantasy analyst, I'm incredibly excited to see what Jarren Duran does over a full season in 2024. In 362 plate appearances last season, Duran slashed .295/.346/.482 with eight home runs and 24 steals for a 650-PA pace of 14 homers and 43 steals. He was also one of just eight players to have a hard-hit rate above 45% and a sprint speed in the 90th percentile or better.

Over a full season of plate appearances, Duran could easily flirt with a 15/40 season and flirting with 100 runs scored isn't out of the question either. Red Sox manager Alex Cora recently said that Duran will be his primary leadoff hitter this season, which means that Duran will have Rafael Devers and Triston Casas hitting directly behind him.

On top of all that, I'm expecting a solid average in the .270 range from Duran as well given his solid zone contact rate (85.7%) and overall contact rate (75.7%). If Duran meets these expectations, he's a borderline top-50 overall player. And even if he performs at 80-90% of this, Duran will return a hefty ROI this season. He's an absolute steal near pick 175 in drafts.

Riley Greene, Detroit Tigers

After being a little lower than most on Riley Greene back during his days as a top prospect, I've become more of a Greene supporter this spring, both for redraft and dynasty purposes. Getting Greene around pick 175 is incredible value when you consider what he's capable of doing offensively.

In 416 plate appearances with Detroit last season, Greene slashed .288/.349/.447 with 11 home runs and seven steals. Those numbers don't jump off the page and smack you in the face, but Greene's metrics under the hood have me intrigued.

Greene posted an 11.3% barrel rate, 91.6 mph AVG EV, and 47.3% hard-hit rate along with a solid 71st percentile sprint speed. His 79.6% zone contact rate and 71.8% overall contact rate are both below average, but certainly not terrible. Over a full season of more than 600 plate appearances, Greene has the upside to exceed 20 home runs with close to double-digit steals to go along with a decent AVG and OBP as well.

However, I wouldn't be painting the full picture without pulling a Rob Ross and painting a happy little bush in the corner. But in this case, that bush is Greene's injury history. Greene suffered a right foot fracture in April 2022, stress reaction in his left fibula in May 2023, and an elbow strain in September 2023. Three injuries in the last two seasons does bring some elevated risk, but that's more than baked into his draft cost this season.

Parker Meadows, Detroit Tigers

Without question, one of my highest rostered players this season is going to be Parker Meadows. So if you find yourself in a league with me, back off! He's mine! But seriously, I do already have several shares of Meadows as the ADP close to pick 300 is too good to pass up.

Throughout his time in the minor leagues, Meadows displayed an above-average power speed blend, going 20/17 in 127 games back in 2022 and then 19/19 in 113 games last season before his promotion to Detroit.

Even with Detroit, Meadows added three home runs and eight steals in 37 games with an 11.7% walk rate, 9.0% barrel rate, and 90th percentile sprint speed. And while he only hit .232, Meadows' 84.8% zone contact rate and 76% contact rate were solid marks and he's never been one to chase (23%) or whiff (24%) that often.

Meadows appears locked into Detroit's leadoff spot to open the 2024 season and will get to hit in front of Riley Greene, Spencer Torkelson, and Kerry Carpenter. If he's able to put up an OBP north of .350, Meadows could easily score over 80 runs this season while flirting with or exceeding 20 home runs and 20 steals. Getting that level of production past pick 250 would be phenomenal.

Ceddanne Rafaela, Boston Red Sox

Yes, I'm putting another Red Sox outfielder in this article. The moment I saw Rafaela live in Double-A back in 2022, I knew he was going to be a perfect fit in Fenway Park. And I saw a TON of Rafaela live during his time at the Double-A level.

Is he aggressive? Yes. But Rafaela has the contact skills to make it work and should get a chance to prove that over an extended period of time in 2024. Rafaela hit .280 in 424 minor league games and kept his strikeout rate in check at 19.7%. He also averaged 21 home runs and 40 steals per 650 plate appearances in the minors before adding a pair of home runs and a trio of steals in 89 plate appearances with Boston.

With his plus or better speed, Rafaela could easily settle in as a member of the 30-steal club annually and there's enough pull-side pop to get to 15 home runs annually as well. Rafaela is also an impact defender, which only helps his case to get into Boston's lineup full-time early in 2024.

Getting more than 500 plate appearances from Rafaela in 2024 could lead to a sizeable ROI at his current ADP in the 375-400 range. I've been scooping him up in as many deeper drafts as I can and he's a highly recommended late-round upside flier in 12-team drafts as well.

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



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