Connect with us

Fantasy Sports

Breakout “slash” Bounce Back Players for the 2023 MLB season

PAUL MONEY PHOTO - A rainy day early in 2022 season when Civale pitched against Clevinger at The Jake.

***Just Under The Radar – Breakout “slash” Bounce Back Players for the 2023 MLB season.

Whether you’re in dynasty, keeper or re-draft league these are all targets sure to have terrible seasons due to my predictions. No, really these players and predictions probably won’t pan out. You’ve been warned. But, what fun is fantasy sports without lists, predictions and projections?  And occasionally you hit one of these and look like a baseball genius.

There were plenty of players during the 2022 MLB campaign that just didn’t quite reach their projections or potential. And some that completely plummeted off the radar. Can any of these guys bounce back? Aroldis Chapman literally disappeared from New York. Spencer Torkelson was being touted as the next Ty ‘Flipping’ Cobb for the Tigers and that comparison was put on hold quickly and included a mid-season trip to the minors for Tork.  Staying in Detroit, Javier Baez rode the struggle bus all season. Shall I go on? How about Elieser Hernandez and his massive ERA for the Marlins in 2022 after having a superb 2021? Partick Corbin made it two years in a row he has been a launch pad in Washington with his 60-million-dollar contract. Okay, that’s enough. You get it. Surely these guys can’t be that bad again in 2023?

Then there’s the guys prone to break out this upcoming MLB season.  Geez, sure feels like Harrison Bader’s name should be at the top of that list. Great postseason and Bader is staying in a masher lineup. How about Nolan Gorman of the Cardinals? Gorman is in a fantastic organization where he has hit close .280 the entire way up to the show, got meaningful ABs in 2022 and is just oozing with breakout potential.  Andrew Vaughn of the White Sox is a sexy pick as his numbers continue to rise. Aaron Civale of our own Cleveland Guardians? He was cringe-worthy at times, but his peripherals were pretty respectable.

Okay, that’s it, let’s get to the Top 5 Breakout or Bounce backs for this mediocre fantasy baseball owner.

Lars Nootbar – OF – St. Louis Cardinals – (age 26) – Breakout

With a name that sounds like you are a Jedi Knight, you’re almost drawn into the way Lars wields his light-saber, I mean baseball bat. As a padawan Nootbaar ripped through the minors on his way to the Cardinals’ lineup which is a tell that the organization loves him, and he is going to get every opportunity to be cemented in the St. Louis outfield.

Nootbaar wasn’t a power guy in the minors, but guess what? In his first full season with the Cards in 2022 Nootbaar hit 14 out of the galaxy. Here is where you insert a loft angle stat. Let’s go with Line-Drive-Percentage (LD%) instead. Nootbaar raised is LD% from 16.9% in 2021 to 23.7% in 2022.  To put that in a little bit of prospective, New York Mets’ infielder Jeff McNeil improved his LD% seven percentage from 2021 to 2022 and he led all of baseball with a .326 batting average.

A couple other factors that might send Nootbaar to light speed this upcoming season would include his Average Exit Velocity (EV) and Base-on-Balls percentage (BB%).  Nootbaar was in the top 10% of baseball in EV coming in with a 91.7% in 2022. Again, for prospective Aaron Judge’s EV was 95.9 last season. Even better Nootbaar was in the top 2% of baseball with a 14.7% walk rate.  He sees the ball well, has improving power, is loved by the organization and has a Jedi Master name. And best of all is Nootbaar’s ADP (average draft position) or auction value may be cheap.

  • Amed Rosario – INF – Cleveland Guardians  (age 26) – Breakout  

Another to the add to the breakout list is Guardians’ infielder Amed Rosario. What a trade the Guards pulled off getting All-Star second basemen Andrew Gimenez and Rosario (plus more) for Frankie Lindor! And it’s only going to get better.

Did you know this? Rosario led the majors in singles in 2022. Did you know this? Rosario led the majors in triples with nine last season.  Did you know this? Rosario is just 27 years old. That’s what most owners consider prime hitters age. So, while it feels he’s been around the league for a while, he’s played just six seasons and I believe his seventh will be his best yet.

Rosario was running again in 2022 as well. Bumping is stolen base total up to 18 steals which is his best since 2018 when he swiped 24 for the Mets.

Hey guys, there’s these things called spray charts, and they can be resourceful when predicting success. Look at Rosario’s chart below. He’s spraying balls over of the park.

We’re looking for deals during the draft, right? Rosario, like Nootbaar, is someone to highly consider in your late rounds. Or heck, just go get him early if you want, it’s your world.

  • Trent Grisham – OF – San Diego Padres (age 26) – Bounce Back

Remember, we are looking for deals. In dynasty, keeper and auction leagues I can’t imagine (depending on contract price) that any owner is going to keep San Diego’s Trent Grisham after the filthy season he posted in 2022. That means he’s going to be available and the only way to go is up for Grisham.

Okay, defense doesn’t matter in fantasy. I get it. But, Grisham had just two errors last season while starting 124 games and appearing in 148 games. In other words, he’s the starting center fielder for a good team. He will get at-bats.

Grisham hit .184 last season and plummeted nearly 40 points in Expected Batting Average (xBA) from .241 in 2022 to .204. He also went up, which is not good, in whiff rate. Yikes. But, his Barrel Percentage was up three points and there’s one other kicker.

No, not defense again. Well, kind of. Grisham saw the defense set up in the shift 46% of his 2022 at-bats.  Against the shift Grisham’s batting average was .299 compared to when not shifted against Grisham hit .338. And in 2023 the shift is banned. Again, only way to go is up for Grisham.  

  • Jose Siri – OF – Tampa Bay Rays (age 27 ) – Breakout

Back to the breakouts with Jose Siri of the Rays. Isn’t it so easy to root for the Rays? Small market and get the most out of their players. For this reason Tampa was a good spot for Siri to land even though he missed out on winning the World Series with the Astros. That had to stink a little.

Do you see a pattern on this list?


That’s the answer.


And Siri is right there at age 27 and geared to breakout. Oh, and in your drafts, he could be a bargain.

In his last year in the minors, Siri hit .318 (390 PA) with 16 dongs, 72 RBIs and swiped 24 bases for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the PCL.  Great combination of power and speed. A combo package. (The Skeeters have since changed their name to Space Cowboys.)

Plate appearances are going to go up. Siri’s BB% is already rising from last year so he’s going to be on base more often. So more stolen bases for Siri. Bonus! Tampa was 7th in stolen bases attempted in 2022 and in manager Kevin Cash’s toolbox for a full season Siri could be dangerous on the base paths.

If he gets over the fact, he didn’t get to play in the World Series. There’s that.

  • Jose Berrios – P – Toronto Blue Jays (age 28) – Bounce Back

Last one. And he’s a bounce back candidate in 2023. 28 years old. The elder of the list.

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Jose Berrios.

I call him the “Little Bull” because Berrios has been in the top 5 in games started each of the last five season. A gamer, Berrios was unfortunately in the top 5 in hits against, runs yielded, earned runs and home runs allowed in 2022. Not good.

Like Grisham, there’s only one way to go for Berrios. Up.

Not long ago Berrios appeared in back-to-back All-Star games while with the Twins. And despite his astronomical ERA of 5.23 in 2022 he won 12 games. With that ERA? That’s right. He’s a gamer. There is no way he has near the bad season he had in 2022.

The optimism is brewing from one number for Berrios. 93.9. That was his Fastball Velocity in 2016, his first season in the show. In 2022, his Fastball Velocity was 93.9. Identical numbers.

Give him a look late in drafts and auctions. He’ll be around and not likely kept in keeper leagues. Oh yeah, he’s on a good offensive team. He had 12 wins with a 5.23 ERA for crying out loud.

There you go. Bold predictions destine for disaster. Possible bargains that are all in their prime MLB years. And one is a Jedi Master.

**Honorable Mention

David Peterson – P – New York Mets (age 26) – Breakout

Has good stuff. While the Mets were going through some injuries in their rotation Peterson was a great stop gap. It’s probably going to be tough to break into the Mets’ starting rotation. Peterson could be a guy that is traded at the deadline and has a great fall for you late in the season.