Top 3 AL Breakout Hitters For 2023

Who's poised to take that next step to stardom in 2023? 2022 was the Year of the Rookie Breakout, with players like Julio Rodriguez and Michael Harris exploding onto the scene. But this exercise is for those players who've only scratched the surface of what they can do in the big leagues. 2023 could be their big breakout. 

Let's have a look at three hitters in the American League who could break through into all-out stardom this season. 

Harrison Bader, New York Yankees

The 28-year-old has certainly had some success in his 6-year career, spent mainly with the St. Louis Cardinals. He even has a Gold Glove award from 2021. But if his postseason performance in the Bronx was any indication, Bader could be in for a real breakthrough in Pinstripes. He blasted five home runs in just nine playoff games with the Yankees, hitting .333 with a 1.260 OPS.

With Aaron Judge hitting behind him all season, you can bet he'll see some good pitches to hit in 2023. And more generally, hitting in Yankee Stadium has definitely never hurt anyone's numbers. 

Riley Greene, Detroit Tigers

He was the game's No. 1 overall prospect as recently as last June. The No. 5 pick in the 2019 Draft demolished Triple-A pitching in 2021, with a .301 average, a .387 on-base, .534 slugging and a .921 OPS.

The 22-year-old had a middling first season in the big leagues, finishing with a league-average batting line with an OPS+ of 99. But his hard-hit rate and exit velocities were among the better ones in the game. Now with over half a season under his belt, he could be ready to live up to that top prospect billing.

Andrew Vaughn, Chicago White Sox

The 24-year-old spent his first two seasons in the bigs playing mostly out of position, in the outfield. It's hard to say how much of a toll that took on the youngster, but he's finally inheriting the first base job—his natural position—now that Jose Abreu has moved on. 

Vaughn didn't fare too poorly his first two seasons, he even led the White Sox with 17 home runs and 76 RBIs last year while batting .271 with a .750 OPS. But his pedigree as the 3rd overall pick in the 2019 June Draft portends much more to come from Vaughn. That could come this season. 

Note: Orioles star catcher Adley Rutschman didn't qualify for this list, as he's already among the best players in the game, finishing 2nd in Rookie of the Year balloting, and 12th in MVP voting, while posting a supreme OPS+ of 128 in his first season.

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