Tigers outfielder Riley Greene is one of Detroit’s key pieces of the future. The 22-year-old yielded mixed results in his MLB season, but how much value does Greene — who’s had a good spring thus far — have in 2023? Well, it may ultimately depend on a few factors.
A Look at Greene
While Greene did electrify with his glove in the outfield, the 2019 first-round pick didn’t blow fantasy players away the plate. Greene hit a modest .253/.321/.362 slash line in 2022. But, the young outfielder only hit five home runs and 27 extra base hits altogether over 418 plate appearances. In fact, Greene’s 1.2 HR% rate ranked as the ninth-lowest in baseball (min. 300 PA) from June 18 — Greene’s MLB debut — onward. His 6.5% XBH% ranked as the 17th-worst out of 133 qualified batters.
Greene did, however, hit four triples with the Tigers last season. From his aforementioned debut date to the end of the 2022 season, that figure tied for the fifth-best in all of MLB, alongside Charlie Blackmon, Oneil Cruz, Javier Baez, and Marcus Semien.
From an offensive standpoint, 2022 wasn’t a breakout campaign for Greene. Still, he does have the tools to be an impact player both in the Majors and in fantasy. And, he’s shown some of those thus far in Spring Training. Through his first seven games of Grapefruit Action, Greene has hit .389/.389/.833 with two home runs and seven RBIs.
2023 Fantasy Outlook
In most leagues, Greene should be available in latter half of fantasy drafts. Yahoo! leagues have Greene at the back end of the top 200, while ESPN ranks him outside of the top 200. Both are relatively fair ratings, and here’s why.
It’s tough to gauge Greene’s overall, for a few reasons. One, how many runs and how many run opportunities will the young outfielder have in 2023? While Greene did show a nice penchant for making good contact and getting on base last year, it’s hard to say the same for much of the Tigers roster last year. That includes former top prospect Spencer Torkelson, who struggled badly last year but still has the tools to be a strong everyday player in Detroit.
Outside of Torkelson and Javier Baez, the latter of whom will look for a stronger 2023 after an abysmal campaign last year, it’s hard to like the protection around the outfielder and project high RBI and R totals for Greene. However, an adjustment to the Comerica Park fences could help the power output. While the 22-year-old did only hit five home runs, Baseball Savant projects that Greene could have hit the double digit marker in bombs had he played in 12 other MLB ballparks.
While that doesn’t tell that whole story, it does somewhat indicate how much of a role the pitcher-friendly confines in Detroit hurt him to a certain extent. Greene does own solid power, and his 24 home run campaign in the Minors in 2021 is proof of that. Could an adjustment of the fences help Greene in 2023? Absolutely.
Yes, Greene does have breakout potential in 2023. While Greene could be a nice find in later rounds, don’t overdraft him. But if he’s available in the 150-175 range and an outfielder is needed, he’s not a bad option.