One player from each team poised to break out in ’23

Detroit Tigers

As we near the end of the calendar year, it’s a pertinent time to ask a very important question: Which player from each team is the most likely to have a breakout season in 2023?

We asked writers just that, and here’s what they had to say:

Blue Jays: OF Daulton Varsho
Varsho lands in Toronto already an incredibly valuable player, fresh off a season where he posted a 4.6 FanGraphs WAR and led all MLB outfielders with 18 Outs Above Average. With the Blue Jays, Varsho could take that next step offensively. The 26-year-old hit .235 with 27 home runs and a .745 OPS last season, but hitting at Rogers Centre and in the AL East’s friendly stadiums should help those numbers. Add in another year of development, some seriously improved lineup protection and a potential shift away from catching duties, and there are plenty of arrows pointing up for Varsho the hitter. — Keegan Matheson

Orioles: RHP Félix Bautista
After climbing his way through Baltimore’s farm system from 2016-21, Bautista burst onto the big league scene in impressive fashion in ’22, posting a 2.19 ERA in 65 appearances and becoming a strong late-inning option out of the bullpen. The 27-year-old thrived as the closer after Jorge López was dealt to the Twins at the Aug. 2 Trade Deadline, converting 12 of 13 save opportunities after that point. With a four-seam fastball that averages 99.2 mph, Bautista has the type of overpowering stuff that could lead to him being a breakout All-Star in 2023. — Jake Rill

Rays: CF Jose Siri
Siri might never match the offensive potential he showed when he hit .290/.344/.523 in Triple-A. But the 27-year-old took some steps forward at the plate after joining the Rays at last year’s Trade Deadline and, more importantly, lived up to the nearly impossible task of replacing Kevin Kiermaier’s defense in center field. Despite only playing 104 games, Siri ranked seventh among all qualified players with 15 Outs Above Average. He also displayed game-changing speed on the basepaths, which could benefit him further under the new rule changes. Even batting at the bottom of the order, Siri’s speed and defense could shine through as the Rays’ everyday center fielder in 2023. — Adam Berry

Red Sox: UTIL Christian Arroyo
In 2022, Arroyo notched career highs in average (.286), RBIs (36) and games played (87). After missing much of June and July due to a bout with COVID-19 and a left groin strain, Arroyo went on to hit .329 with an .806 OPS in the second half. Arroyo, who has played 28 games at shortstop in the Majors, is a candidate to fill the vacancy left by Xander Bogaerts. Though it’s more likely the 27-year-old utilityman will continue to roam the infield, Arroyo could get more reps at short in 2023. The consistent playing time and a clean bill of health could be all Arroyo needs to have his breakout season. — Molly Burkhardt

Yankees: CF Harrison Bader
There were plenty of raised eyebrows when the Yankees traded for Bader this past August, especially because he was wearing a walking boot at the time and came at the price of popular lefty Jordan Montgomery. Bader showed that he was worth the wait by shining brightly on a big stage, enjoying a terrific postseason in which he batted .333 (10-for-30) with five homers and six RBIs. Already a Gold Glove Award winner in 2021 with the Cardinals, the Yankees envision Bader saving many runs with his top-flight defense in center field. — Bryan Hoch

Guardians: OF Steven Kwan 
It’s hard to call anything a “breakout” year after Kwan had a stellar rookie season that placed him third in the AL Rookie of the Year Award voting, but there could still be more in the tank. Despite having no Major League experience, Kwan impressed with his patience at the plate and dazzled with his glove in the outfield. However, as hitting coach Chris Valaika has hinted, there’s some untapped power there. With the first-year jitters out of the way (not that he seemed to have any) and better understanding of how to be a big leaguer, Kwan could take his game to the next level in ‘23. — Mandy Bell

Royals: 1B/DH Vinnie Pasquantino
Pasquantino had an excellent rookie year, posting an .832 OPS, 137 wRC+ and a 1.5 Baseball Reference WAR across 298 plate appearances. He established himself as the Royals’ No. 4 hitter and a core piece of the future. That has him poised for a breakout 2023 in which he plays a full season in the big leagues and truly lives up to his nickname as the “Italian Nightmare” for opposing pitchers._ — Anne Rogers_

Tigers: CF Riley Greene
Greene made his long-anticipated MLB debut on June 18, and his impact was immediate and obvious: He was named Tiger of the Year after slashing .253/.321/.683 across 93 games. Those numbers show room for growth, and his hard-hit rate (45.2 percent) and average exit velocity (89.5 mph) not only ranked among the top 100 in baseball, they hint that the best is yet to come for the speedy outfielder, who is still just 22 years old. — Dawn Klemish

Twins: LF Trevor Larnach
Larnach had a huge month of May last season, hitting .333/.431/.646 with six doubles and three home runs before slumping in June and having his season cut short due to injury. The prior season, he had an .806 OPS through his first 50 MLB games before struggling and being optioned to Triple-A. It was later discovered he was playing through a hand injury. Although we’ve only seen a small sample size, it suggests there might be a breakout coming if Larnach can stay healthy. — Manny Randhawa

White Sox: 1B Andrew Vaughn
The 24-year-old already has turned in two solid big league seasons, while leading the White Sox with 17 home runs and 76 RBIs last season, behind only 254 previous Minor League plate appearances. But the departure of franchise icon José Abreu to Houston via free agency and Vaughn’s move from the outfield to his natural position of first base should only help his comfort level in 2023. Vaughn has had slow finishes in each of the last two seasons, but part of those struggles could be attributed to the wear and tear of outfield action. — Scott Merkin

Angels: LHP Reid Detmers
Detmers, 23, was solid as a rookie, posting a 3.77 ERA with 122 strikeouts in 129 innings and memorably throwing a no-hitter against the Rays on May 10. But he also scuffled for a bit and was sent down to the Minors in late June for one start at Triple-A, where he worked to fix his slider. Detmers went on to post a 3.36 ERA in 11 starts in the second half and is poised for a breakout year in 2023. — Rhett Bollinger

Astros: RHP Hunter Brown
Houston may have lost Justin Verlander, but its rotation is well-positioned to dominate again in 2023. Brown, the organization’s No. 1 prospect when he made his MLB debut last season, could be a big reason why with his triple-digit fastball and devastating slider. After posting a 0.89 ERA over 20 1/3 innings in 2022, the right-hander is poised to help the Astros in their quest to repeat as World Series champions. — Manny Randhawa

Athletics: C Shea Langeliers
Part of the A’s willingness to trade away Sean Murphy this offseason is their confidence in Langeliers’ readiness to assume the everyday catching role. The 25-year-old backstop graduated from his status as Oakland’s No. 1 prospect in 2022 by splitting time behind the plate with Murphy, collecting 17 extra-base hits over 40 Major League games. Displaying premium tools both behind the plate and with the bat, the A’s believe Langeliers can evolve into a well-rounded catcher similar to Murphy. — Martín Gallegos

Mariners: RHP George Kirby
It might be a stretch to call him a breakout candidate after such a solid rookie season, but Kirby showed flashes of elite potential — blanking the Astros for seven shutout innings in the AL Division Series stands out most — to where it’s clear that he belongs in this league. He was worth 3.0 wins above replacement, per FanGraphs, seventh-highest among rookies, while compiling a 3.39 ERA and 109 ERA+ over 25 starts. — Daniel Kramer

Rangers: 3B Josh Jung
The Rangers’ top prospect per MLB Pipeline, Jung got a cup of coffee in the big leagues last season after making his debut on Sept. 9. He hit a home run in his very first at-bat, but went on to slash just .204/.235/.416 with a .653 OPS in 26 games. Jung’s start to the Minor League season has been delayed by separate injuries two years in a row, but he’s produced every time he’s been on the field. A fully healthy Jung with a normal offseason and Spring Training is perfectly poised for a breakout campaign and potential Rookie of the Year run. — Kennedi Landry

Braves: RHP Ian Anderson
Anderson shined during both the 2020 and ’21 postseasons, but he spent the final two months of ’22 at the Triple-A level. Like Kyle Wright this past season, Anderson could come back next year and display the benefits of getting the chance to right himself in the Minors. The 24-year-old hurler struggled with command of both his fastball and curveball, which too often proved flat, as he posted a 5.00 ERA over 22 starts this year. His ability to better command these pitches should enhance the effectiveness of what remains a good changeup. — Mark Bowman

Marlins: RHP Edward Cabrera
Despite a bevy of injuries in 2022, Cabrera tossed a career-high 71 2/3 innings in the Majors and finished the season 6-4 (14 starts) with a 3.01 ERA. Boasting a 96 mph changeup, the former Top 100 prospect showed promise that led pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. to liken Cabrera’s mentality to that of NL Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara. Cabrera’s final outing of 2022 ended early due to a right ankle sprain, but before exiting he pitched three perfect innings vs. the Brewers. Once Cabrera nails down his command, there’s a good chance he’ll be just what the Marlins need to help round out their rotation. — Paige Leckie

Mets: LHP David Peterson
There’s a real chance Peterson won’t even make the Mets’ Opening Day rotation, considering the team’s crowded pitching mix. But make no mistake: Peterson will play a key role over the course of the summer, much as he did in starting 19 games for the team last season. The former first-round pick hit 99 mph on the radar gun late in the year, and his underlying numbers have improved significantly since he broke into the Majors in 2020. — Anthony DiComo

Nationals: OF Lane Thomas
Thomas embraced his first season of everyday playing time, leading to career-high numbers. He paced the Nationals with 17 homers (more than double his 2021 total). Thomas, 27, is coming off a fourth Major League season that included a three-home-run game and a 44-game stretch during which he ranked 10th in the NL in batting average (.311). Having played all outfield positions in ’22, Thomas impressed in right field toward the end of the season, which could help him thrive with an even more consistent role. — Jessica Camerato

Phillies: 2B Bryson Stott
Stott started the season slowly, struggling to the point that he got optioned to Triple-A. But once he started to play, he played so well that the Phillies DFA’d Didi Gregorius in early August. Stott slashed .278/.328/.427 with 15 doubles, two triples, six home runs and 27 RBIs from July 10 through the end of the regular season. Everybody from manager Rob Thomson to Stott’s veteran teammates were impressed with the quality of his plate appearances and production in big spots. The Phillies believe he will be even better in 2023 as he moves to second base to make room for Trea Turner. — Todd Zolecki

Brewers: 1B Rowdy Tellez
On one hand, last year was a breakout of sorts for Tellez, who led the Brewers with 35 home runs. But despite that he was worth just 0.8 FanGraphs WAR, meaning there is room for much more production. Next year’s rule changes could help; no Brewers player is happier to see the end of extreme infield shifts than Tellez, the left-handed slugger who was shifted against 78.4 percent of the time last season, according to Statcast, and batted .215 on balls in play. Of the 225 hitters who put at least 250 balls in play last year, only five of them had a greater deficit between his expected batting average and his actual batting average (Tellez’s xBA was .252 and his actual average was .219). — Adam McCalvy

Cardinals: CF Dylan Carlson
The Cardinals believe so strongly in Carlson that they refused to include him in any potential deals for Juan Soto or Sean Murphy in 2022. Those beliefs came even as the 24-year-old Carlson slumped with a .236 average, just eight home runs and 42 RBIs. The Cards’ brass feels Carlson — whose defensive skill in center field led to the trade of Gold Glover Harrison Bader — can bounce back and even improve on the 18 home runs and 65 RBIs that he had in ’21. To reach his full potential in ’23, Carlson must perform better against right-handed pitching. The switch-hitter had a .633 OPS from the left side last season. From the right side, he had an impressive .846 OPS. — John Denton

Cubs: OF Seiya Suzuki
Suzuki lived up to the international hype in April of his rookie season in 2022, posting a .934 OPS out of the chute. Over the next few months, the outfielder’s first taste of the Majors hit a snag as pitchers adjusted to his approach and he tried to adjust accordingly, while also acclimating to his new surroundings and encountering injury setbacks. The good news is that Suzuki heads into ’23 knowing what to expect, and his strong finish could be a sign of things to come. He carried a .241/.315/.402 slash line into Aug. 21, but then hit .315/.392/.514 the rest of the way. In that late-season span, Suzuki’s 155 wRC+ ranked eighth in the NL (min. 120 plate appearances). — Jordan Bastian

Pirates: SS Oneil Cruz
Cruz is the obvious pick, but he’s the obvious pick for a good reason. In his rookie season, Cruz hit 17 home runs and stole 10 bases in 87 games. Over a full season, that amounts to 32 home runs and 19 steals. Aside from the raw counting stats, Cruz settled in as the season went along, an improvement that’s evident when you split his season in half. In his first 43 games, Cruz hit .209/.254/.424 with nine homers and an 85 wRC+. In his next 44 games, he hit .254/.328/.474 with eight homers and a 124 wRC+. If Cruz, 24, can take a step forward in 2023, a 30-homer, 20-steal season is well within the realm of possibility. — Justice delos Santos

Reds: C Tyler Stephenson
Stephenson missed 107 games last season with injuries, including the entire second half because of a broken right clavicle. When he was healthy, he was Cincinnati’s best hitter in 2022 (.854 OPS in 50 games). He can provide power from the right side and was often a clutch hitter as a rookie in ’21. Now that the club has signed two free agent catchers to back him up (Curt Casali and Luke Maile), Stephenson can be fresher and still be in the lineup every day. On days he doesn’t catch, he could be the DH or play first base. If Stephenson can avoid injuries, the opportunity to have a breakout year is there. — Mark Sheldon

D-backs: OF Corbin Carroll
Carroll was ranked as the No. 3 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline when the D-backs promoted him to the big leagues last year at the end of August. In 103 at-bats for Arizona, Carroll hit .260/.330/.500, displayed elite-level speed, played excellent defense and recorded a 1.2 Baseball Reference WAR. The D-backs believe Carroll will be a top candidate for NL Rookie of the Year in 2023, and if the way he played in his debut campaign is any indication, that is a real possibility. — Steve Gilbert

Dodgers: INF Miguel Vargas
Vargas didn’t have a lot of success in his first taste at the big league level, but he didn’t have many opportunities to really show what he could do. Well, in 2023, Vargas will get plenty of chances. As things stand, he will be a regular in the Dodgers’ lineup and the organization believes their No. 3 prospect is ready for the challenge. Vargas’ defense is still a work in progress, but as he loves to say, his best position is inside the batter’s box. — Juan Toribio

Giants: RHP Camilo Doval
Doval emerged as one of the best young closers in the league in 2022, logging a 2.53 ERA while converting 27 saves for the Giants. Known for his triple-digit fastball and nasty slider, Doval decided to add a sinker to his repertoire in July, making him even tougher on opposing hitters in the second half. Despite shouldering the heaviest workload of his career, the 25-year-old Doval finished strong, with his fastball topping out at an eye-popping 104 mph in September. Given his calm demeanor and electric stuff, Doval has the potential to lock down the ninth inning for years to come. — Maria Guardado

Padres: Robert Suarez
A surprise star of the Padres’ postseason run, Suarez established himself as a lockdown set-up weapon and potentially future closer material. That’s why the Padres signed the hard-throwing right-hander to a five-year deal this offseason. Suarez’s journey is a fascinating one — from the Mexican League to Japan, before making his MLB debut last year at age 31. But there’s no denying his elite stuff, a sinker/changeup/curveball mix that seems impossible to square up. “Big-game Bob” also made it clear he has the demeanor to thrive in high-leverage spots, and he played a crucial role in the Padres’ NLDS victory over the Dodgers. — AJ Cassavell

Rockies: Brendan Rodgers
Breakout performer? Didn’t Rodgers win the NL Gold Glove Award and the MLB Fielding Bible Award at second base for 2022? Of course, but there is so much more on the table. After as slow a start as imaginable — .078 in April — Rodgers hit .286 with all 13 of his homers the rest of the way. But after showing signs of thunder by hitting 15 homers and compiling a .470 slugging percentage in ’21, his first year as a regular, he dropped to 13 homers and a .408 slugging percentage in 137 games in ’22. A full and consistent year of slugging and run production, coupled with defense that improved by the month in ’22, could make him a high-profile player at his position. — Thomas Harding

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