Poised for a Major Breakout
Baseball is back! Last year we saw some really talented players rise up and become stars. Michael Harris, Julio Rodriguez, and Zac Gallen are just a few of the names of guys who made major impacts for their clubs. Heading into 2023, here are a few that I think will have breakout years and be key players for their clubs.
I’m really high on a huge season from Varsho. He boasts solid speed with good power and him heading from the pitcher friendly NL West to the lefty hitting paradises in New York, Boston, and Toronto bodes well for him. Baseball Savant shows that he would have hit 30+ HRs playing a full year in Toronto and I think he is on the trajectory to have a 30-30 season and maybe even better in a line-up with a ton of power and protection.
Yoshida is an interesting player heading into 2023 due to him coming over from the NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball League). Looking at his tools, I think he is poised to be the next great Japanese player in the league. Yoshida not only boasts elite contact skills, but he has outstanding plate vision, drawing 427 BB to only 307 strikeouts over 781 games at Japan’s highest level. With the shift being banned, (which favors contact hitters) look for Yoshida to lead a Red Sox lineup needing consistency after a disappointing 2022 season.
Look, I know he’s a popular breakout pick, but much like Varsho, Cruz has all the tools to be a 30-30 threat. Questions remain about his defensive ability, but he has the speed and the arm to be a plus defender, though he needs to cut down his strikeout percentage if he’s to take the next step. He struck out 126 times in 87 games while walking a paltry 28 times. Despite his poor contact skills, when he makes contact he is among the best hitters around, meaning even if he shows a small improvement to that K% he will achieve the superstar hype around him.
I know Javier “arrived” with six no-hit innings in the world series, but this guy has potential to be Houston’s best pitcher this year. The last couple of years have been back and forth from the bullpen to the rotation, but he put up good numbers, having a 2.54 ERA with 194 K in 148.2 innings of work. Also, he had a WHIP of .948, only issuing 52 walks. With the departure of Verlander, it’s time for the 25 year old to become the ace of the staff.
Another pitcher poised for a big season is former Seattle top prospect Logan Gilbert who really started to put it together last season, sporting a 3.20 ERA in 185.2 innings over 32 starts. Gilbert showed improvement with his ground ball rate and also gave up less homers per nine innings. Look for Gilbert to continue improving this year behind Luis Castillo and Robbie Ray on a good Mariners ball club.
Submitted by Jackson Westfall @topfanstatsguy