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Position Eligibility (# of Games)
The number of games a player needs to have played during the previous season in order to qualify at a position.
ALL
Batters
Pitchers
C
1B
2B
SS
3B
OF
(OF)
G
140
AB
514
AVG
.296
HR
48
RBI
108
SB
10
R
107
Judge and the Yankees were unable to agree on a contract extension prior to the 2022 campaign, and the slugger delivered a recording-breaking season in his final year before free agency. The outfielder, who will turn 31 years old in April, set an American League record with 62 home runs and also totaled 111 walks, 131 RBI and 133 runs scored with a .311/.425/.686 slash line. He endured his share of injury issues in the past but played in a career-high 157 games and has missed only 19 contests across the past two seasons. Given the incredible numbers Judge is unlikely to deliver a repeat performance in 2023, though he should remain one of the most productive hitters in MLB regardless of whether he returns to New York or continues his career elsewhere.
Judge and the Yankees were unable to agree on a contract extension prior to the 2022 campaign, and the slugger delivered a recording-breaking season in his final year before free agency. The outfielder, who will turn 31 years old in April, set an American League record with 62 home runs and also totaled 111 walks, 131 RBI and 133 runs scored with a .311/.425/.686 slash line. He endured his share of injury issues in the past but played in a career-high 157 games and has missed only 19 contests across the past two seasons. Given the incredible numbers Judge is unlikely to deliver a repeat performance in 2023, though he should remain one of the most productive hitters in MLB regardless of whether he returns to New York or continues his career elsewhere.
CLE (3B)
OUT
G
155
AB
583
AVG
.278
HR
34
RBI
118
SB
24
R
102
Ramirez is a machine who consistently pumps out terrific fantasy seasons yet rarely goes first overall in a draft. He finished as the third best player behind Judge and Goldschmidt this year despite playing two-thirds of the season with a hand injury which required offseason surgery. Ramirez set a career high in RBIs thanks to better talent in front of him in the lineup while dropping in homers and runs scored likely due to the hand and the inconsistent talent behind him in the lineup. 2022 was the fourth consecutive season he swiped 20 or more bases in a full season as well. The only knock on him is that he is a mere human at the plate when he hits righty, but that is only because he is that terrific hitting from the other side where he spends 80% of his time in the box. He still is unlikely to go first overall in a draft, but he is money in the bank when he is in the lineup with infinitesimal risk in his profile.
Ramirez is a machine who consistently pumps out terrific fantasy seasons yet rarely goes first overall in a draft. He finished as the third best player behind Judge and Goldschmidt this year despite playing two-thirds of the season with a hand injury which required offseason surgery. Ramirez set a career high in RBIs thanks to better talent in front of him in the lineup while dropping in homers and runs scored likely due to the hand and the inconsistent talent behind him in the lineup. 2022 was the fourth consecutive season he swiped 20 or more bases in a full season as well. The only knock on him is that he is a mere human at the plate when he hits righty, but that is only because he is that terrific hitting from the other side where he spends 80% of his time in the box. He still is unlikely to go first overall in a draft, but he is money in the bank when he is in the lineup with infinitesimal risk in his profile.
PHI (SS)
G
156
AB
629
AVG
.313
HR
25
RBI
94
SB
30
R
107
Turner finished the season as the 6th best fantasy player in standard formats with another strong season as a five-category contributor. The drop in batting average was offset by a surprising surge in RBI thanks to hitting leadoff less frequently but more importantly, he avoided the injured list for just the second time in the past five full seasons. His speed buys him hits others cannot afford as his 33 infield hits helped prop up his average as he struggled with breaking balls (.247 average) throughout the season. Even as he approaches 30, he retains his elite speed and back-to-back full big volume seasons ease the health concerns that followed him in previous years. It is scary to think what Turner could accomplish in steals under the new rules as he was already one of the best thieves by success rate in the league. He landed in Philadelphia in free agency, which is close to a neutral move when factoring in the ballparks and lineups of the Phillies and Dodgers (where righty power played way up, per Statcast).
Turner finished the season as the 6th best fantasy player in standard formats with another strong season as a five-category contributor. The drop in batting average was offset by a surprising surge in RBI thanks to hitting leadoff less frequently but more importantly, he avoided the injured list for just the second time in the past five full seasons. His speed buys him hits others cannot afford as his 33 infield hits helped prop up his average as he struggled with breaking balls (.247 average) throughout the season. Even as he approaches 30, he retains his elite speed and back-to-back full big volume seasons ease the health concerns that followed him in previous years. It is scary to think what Turner could accomplish in steals under the new rules as he was already one of the best thieves by success rate in the league. He landed in Philadelphia in free agency, which is close to a neutral move when factoring in the ballparks and lineups of the Phillies and Dodgers (where righty power played way up, per Statcast).
LAD (1B)
G
160
AB
602
AVG
.319
HR
27
RBI
102
SB
10
R
121
With a 157 wRC+, Freeman was at least 50% better than average for the fifth time in his career. His homers fell, but a personal best 47 doubles helped mitigate the drop. One home run estimator indicated three of his 22 dingers were undeserved while another pegged him for four more. The underlying metrics show no difference from previous seasons, so perhaps the drop was moving to the NL West, though on paper it shouldn't have made a difference. Freeman swiped 13 bases, his most ever. Freeman only missed three games, bringing the count to just 10 absences since playing only 117 games in 2017. Excluding 2020, Freeman has collected at least 192 runs plus RBI over this span, exceeding 200 for the last three full campaigns. Freeman may not match the homers and steals of other elite hitters, but he makes up for it in the other three roto categories, and with a 12% walk rate, he's an OBP and points league monster.
With a 157 wRC+, Freeman was at least 50% better than average for the fifth time in his career. His homers fell, but a personal best 47 doubles helped mitigate the drop. One home run estimator indicated three of his 22 dingers were undeserved while another pegged him for four more. The underlying metrics show no difference from previous seasons, so perhaps the drop was moving to the NL West, though on paper it shouldn't have made a difference. Freeman swiped 13 bases, his most ever. Freeman only missed three games, bringing the count to just 10 absences since playing only 117 games in 2017. Excluding 2020, Freeman has collected at least 192 runs plus RBI over this span, exceeding 200 for the last three full campaigns. Freeman may not match the homers and steals of other elite hitters, but he makes up for it in the other three roto categories, and with a 12% walk rate, he's an OBP and points league monster.
SEA (OF)
G
149
AB
576
AVG
.286
HR
32
RBI
86
SB
29
R
95
A strong spring forced Seattle to break camp with Rodriguez as their centerfielder. He did not disappoint, capturing the AL Rookie of the Year award. Rodriguez's season could have been even better as he improved over the second half, but wrist and back issues limited him to 41 games after the break. Rodriguez's exit velocity, hard-hit rate, Barrel% and speed were all at least 90th percentile. His 25.9% strikeout rate and 7.1% walk rate could use some work, but that should come as the 22-year-old continues to develop. While it's fair to point out Rodriguez swiped 21 bags in his first 82 games but then stole only four bases in his final 52 contests, playing hurt could have slowed him down as he initially jammed his wrist sliding so, he may have just been cautious the rest of the season. Rodriguez merits top-five overall consideration, with a salient argument to be the first player off the board.
A strong spring forced Seattle to break camp with Rodriguez as their centerfielder. He did not disappoint, capturing the AL Rookie of the Year award. Rodriguez's season could have been even better as he improved over the second half, but wrist and back issues limited him to 41 games after the break. Rodriguez's exit velocity, hard-hit rate, Barrel% and speed were all at least 90th percentile. His 25.9% strikeout rate and 7.1% walk rate could use some work, but that should come as the 22-year-old continues to develop. While it's fair to point out Rodriguez swiped 21 bags in his first 82 games but then stole only four bases in his final 52 contests, playing hurt could have slowed him down as he initially jammed his wrist sliding so, he may have just been cautious the rest of the season. Rodriguez merits top-five overall consideration, with a salient argument to be the first player off the board.
SD (SS)
SUSP
G
140
AB
520
AVG
.265
HR
36
RBI
95
SB
23
R
102
Tatis Jr may possibly be the biggest fantasy wildcard of 2023. He will be coming off an 80-game suspension for PEDs that will end earlier than initially projected since the Padres went deep into the NL playoffs. Tatis Jr is now projected to be back on the active roster in late April, but he has also undergone two different surgeries this winter. He finally had that long troublesome shoulder operated on as well as his left wrist. You add in the complexity of missing the entire 2022 season with his off the field antics leading to injury, the suspension, and two surgeries and we are left with how early someone will take the risk on a top five talent in a draft. The upside remains huge, but nobody can be blamed for passing on this maelstrom of risks as we have rarely seen so many red flags at one time with a player, let alone one of his caliber. The projections will likely look conservative for his talents, but with good reason. Simply put, he is going to make or break many fantasy teams in 2023.
Tatis Jr may possibly be the biggest fantasy wildcard of 2023. He will be coming off an 80-game suspension for PEDs that will end earlier than initially projected since the Padres went deep into the NL playoffs. Tatis Jr is now projected to be back on the active roster in late April, but he has also undergone two different surgeries this winter. He finally had that long troublesome shoulder operated on as well as his left wrist. You add in the complexity of missing the entire 2022 season with his off the field antics leading to injury, the suspension, and two surgeries and we are left with how early someone will take the risk on a top five talent in a draft. The upside remains huge, but nobody can be blamed for passing on this maelstrom of risks as we have rarely seen so many red flags at one time with a player, let alone one of his caliber. The projections will likely look conservative for his talents, but with good reason. Simply put, he is going to make or break many fantasy teams in 2023.
SD (3B)
G
153
AB
578
AVG
.294
HR
33
RBI
107
SB
11
R
100
Machado delivered career-best 152 wRC+ with 37 doubles, 32 home runs, 102 RBI and 100 runs to power the Padres offense in 2022. It's the second straight season the third baseman has cracked 100 RBI, and it's the sixth time in his career he's topped 30 homers. He surprisingly produced his worst strikeout rate at 20.7 percent, but a .337 BABIP helped him to a .298 average despite a .264 xBA. Machado will turn 31 years old in July and should continue to be a major producer near the top of San Diego's lineup in 2023, though his numbers could fall a bit if he's unable to again significantly outperform his expected figures.
Machado delivered career-best 152 wRC+ with 37 doubles, 32 home runs, 102 RBI and 100 runs to power the Padres offense in 2022. It's the second straight season the third baseman has cracked 100 RBI, and it's the sixth time in his career he's topped 30 homers. He surprisingly produced his worst strikeout rate at 20.7 percent, but a .337 BABIP helped him to a .298 average despite a .264 xBA. Machado will turn 31 years old in July and should continue to be a major producer near the top of San Diego's lineup in 2023, though his numbers could fall a bit if he's unable to again significantly outperform his expected figures.
STL (1B)
G
154
AB
567
AVG
.309
HR
31
RBI
100
SB
8
R
101
Goldschmidt's underlying metrics were actually better in 2021, but last season he teamed up with Lady Luck to take home the National League MVP. The only skill-based metric Goldschmidt improved from the prior campaign was a return to a double-digit walk rate. His HR/FB ticked up four points despite a slight drop in fly ball average exit velocity. His .368 BABIP was its highest since 2015, despite the third lowest average exit velocity over that span. His .261 xBA and .482 xSLG were both his second lowest since 2015. Despite all this, everything came together, and Goldschmidt posted a 177 wRC+, the best of his career. The take home message is expect regression, likely to a level lower than his 2021 season. Goldschmidt is still a solid fantasy producer with a high batting average floor and plus power along with a handful of steals, just don't pay for his magical 2022 season.
Goldschmidt's underlying metrics were actually better in 2021, but last season he teamed up with Lady Luck to take home the National League MVP. The only skill-based metric Goldschmidt improved from the prior campaign was a return to a double-digit walk rate. His HR/FB ticked up four points despite a slight drop in fly ball average exit velocity. His .368 BABIP was its highest since 2015, despite the third lowest average exit velocity over that span. His .261 xBA and .482 xSLG were both his second lowest since 2015. Despite all this, everything came together, and Goldschmidt posted a 177 wRC+, the best of his career. The take home message is expect regression, likely to a level lower than his 2021 season. Goldschmidt is still a solid fantasy producer with a high batting average floor and plus power along with a handful of steals, just don't pay for his magical 2022 season.
HOU (OF)
G
145
AB
522
AVG
.295
HR
38
RBI
106
SB
1
R
99
Alvarez has few peers in Major League Baseball; Juan Soto is perhaps the only player on his level in terms of zone management and overall hitting skills. Alvarez's Statcast page is comical as he led MLB in average exit velocity, HardHit%, xwOBA, xBA, xSLG and Barrel%. Alvarez drew 78 walks while striking out only 106 times in 561 plate appearances during the regular season. Despite playing in only 135 games and stealing only one base, Alvarez finished as a top-10 roto hitter in 2022. We still have to worry about his knees although is absences last season weren't directly related. The 25-year-old is under contract with the Astros long term and maintains outfield eligibility in fantasy leagues entering 2023.
Alvarez has few peers in Major League Baseball; Juan Soto is perhaps the only player on his level in terms of zone management and overall hitting skills. Alvarez's Statcast page is comical as he led MLB in average exit velocity, HardHit%, xwOBA, xBA, xSLG and Barrel%. Alvarez drew 78 walks while striking out only 106 times in 561 plate appearances during the regular season. Despite playing in only 135 games and stealing only one base, Alvarez finished as a top-10 roto hitter in 2022. We still have to worry about his knees although is absences last season weren't directly related. The 25-year-old is under contract with the Astros long term and maintains outfield eligibility in fantasy leagues entering 2023.
TOR (1B)
G
161
AB
620
AVG
.284
HR
36
RBI
100
SB
6
R
101
It was expected that Guerrero Jr would drop back off his incredible 2021 season due to Toronto playing fulltime at Rogers Centre rather than the cozy environments of Dunedin and Buffalo as well as the changes to Camden Yards for road trip. Factor in the mushball and his homers dropped off to where we reastically should have expected them to be but it was surprising to see both his runs and RBIs fall back below 100 considering the talent in the lineup around him in Toronto. Whereas he hit .315 with 11 homers with runners in scoring position in 2021, those numbers fell to 5 and .267 respectively last year in nearly identical sample sizes. RISP production lacks year over year stickiness, but it was an issue last year as the league did tend to pitch around him leading to more walks (11%) in those situations than others (8%.) The 8 steals were a nice bonus considering he is not the fleetest of foot. We can call him a five-category contributor as a first baseman; he cannot quite pull off a younger Paul Goldschmidt, but who can?
It was expected that Guerrero Jr would drop back off his incredible 2021 season due to Toronto playing fulltime at Rogers Centre rather than the cozy environments of Dunedin and Buffalo as well as the changes to Camden Yards for road trip. Factor in the mushball and his homers dropped off to where we reastically should have expected them to be but it was surprising to see both his runs and RBIs fall back below 100 considering the talent in the lineup around him in Toronto. Whereas he hit .315 with 11 homers with runners in scoring position in 2021, those numbers fell to 5 and .267 respectively last year in nearly identical sample sizes. RISP production lacks year over year stickiness, but it was an issue last year as the league did tend to pitch around him leading to more walks (11%) in those situations than others (8%.) The 8 steals were a nice bonus considering he is not the fleetest of foot. We can call him a five-category contributor as a first baseman; he cannot quite pull off a younger Paul Goldschmidt, but who can?
ATL (OF)
G
140
AB
527
AVG
.268
HR
29
RBI
72
SB
31
R
104
The baseball world wondered what Acuna would look like coming off his July 2021 ACL tear. Our answer: he remains one of the most dynamic players in the game. There was no easing back into the running game as Acuna stole two bases in his return from the injured list April 28 and swiped a total of nine bags in his first 20 games of 2022. The dog days of summer were tough on Acuna and he finished the year with a .413 SLG, over 100 points below his career mark. However, he still ranked in the top eight percent of the league in all of HardHit%, xwOBA and xSLG, per Statcast. His launch angle was down close to eight points from his prior two seasons. Now that he's further removed from the knee surgery, and perhaps with a few tweaks, Acuna should be able to tap into more power and return to the elite tier of fantasy contributors.
The baseball world wondered what Acuna would look like coming off his July 2021 ACL tear. Our answer: he remains one of the most dynamic players in the game. There was no easing back into the running game as Acuna stole two bases in his return from the injured list April 28 and swiped a total of nine bags in his first 20 games of 2022. The dog days of summer were tough on Acuna and he finished the year with a .413 SLG, over 100 points below his career mark. However, he still ranked in the top eight percent of the league in all of HardHit%, xwOBA and xSLG, per Statcast. His launch angle was down close to eight points from his prior two seasons. Now that he's further removed from the knee surgery, and perhaps with a few tweaks, Acuna should be able to tap into more power and return to the elite tier of fantasy contributors.
NYM (1B)
G
156
AB
579
AVG
.263
HR
40
RBI
113
SB
4
R
88
Since 2020, only Aaron Judge has more homers than Alonso. If you go back a year, Alonso heads the list. Last season, he posted his best season since 2019, fueled by a career high .271 batting average. Alonso's 18.8% strikeout rate dropped for the third straight season. His fly ball exit velocity dropped, but a tick more fly balls and missing only two games allowed him to reach the 40-homer level for the second time on his career. Other than stolen bases, Alonso checks all boxes. Missing only 18 games in his four-year career shows durability while a wRC+ between 120 and 144 each season indicates reliability. A low strikeout rate offers a solid batting average floor for one of the top sluggers in the league. Alonso also hits in a prominent spot in a productive lineup. For pure power, it doesn't get any better.
Since 2020, only Aaron Judge has more homers than Alonso. If you go back a year, Alonso heads the list. Last season, he posted his best season since 2019, fueled by a career high .271 batting average. Alonso's 18.8% strikeout rate dropped for the third straight season. His fly ball exit velocity dropped, but a tick more fly balls and missing only two games allowed him to reach the 40-homer level for the second time on his career. Other than stolen bases, Alonso checks all boxes. Missing only 18 games in his four-year career shows durability while a wRC+ between 120 and 144 each season indicates reliability. A low strikeout rate offers a solid batting average floor for one of the top sluggers in the league. Alonso also hits in a prominent spot in a productive lineup. For pure power, it doesn't get any better.
HOU (OF)
G
148
AB
535
AVG
.271
HR
29
RBI
103
SB
21
R
78
Tucker broke out during the shortened 2020 campaign with an .837 OPS and has established himself as a key cog in the Astros' lineup over the past couple years. During 2022 he hit exactly 30 home runs for the second straight season and also stole 25 bases while being caught only four times in 150 games. He saw his batting average and ISO drop about 40 points each to .257 and .221, respectively, but he showed minor improvements in both his strikeout (15.7 percent) and walk rates (9.8 percent). Tucker's solid defense in right field further cements his spot in the everyday lineup, and his 129 wRC+ in the heart of Houston's potent order will continue to provide ample opportunities to rack up counting stats during his age-26 season in 2023.
Tucker broke out during the shortened 2020 campaign with an .837 OPS and has established himself as a key cog in the Astros' lineup over the past couple years. During 2022 he hit exactly 30 home runs for the second straight season and also stole 25 bases while being caught only four times in 150 games. He saw his batting average and ISO drop about 40 points each to .257 and .221, respectively, but he showed minor improvements in both his strikeout (15.7 percent) and walk rates (9.8 percent). Tucker's solid defense in right field further cements his spot in the everyday lineup, and his 129 wRC+ in the heart of Houston's potent order will continue to provide ample opportunities to rack up counting stats during his age-26 season in 2023.
TOR (SS)
G
146
AB
595
AVG
.294
HR
24
RBI
91
SB
17
R
94
At the All-Star break, Bichette sat with a .257 average, a .720 OPS and seven steals in 13 attempts. Water eventually finds its level. Bichette cut his strikeouts back down -- 24.3 K% in the first half, 19.2% in the second half -- and took off to the tune of a .337/.378/.543 line after the intermission. He also improved his efficiency on the basepaths in the second half, going 6-for-8 in steal attempts. In retrospect, those that jumped Bichette into the first half of the first round last spring were a little overzealous, but don't let that disappointment keep you from investing in 2023. There are no questions about Bichette's ability with the bat. If anything, the fact his sprint speed ranked only mid-pack might be of slight concern.
At the All-Star break, Bichette sat with a .257 average, a .720 OPS and seven steals in 13 attempts. Water eventually finds its level. Bichette cut his strikeouts back down -- 24.3 K% in the first half, 19.2% in the second half -- and took off to the tune of a .337/.378/.543 line after the intermission. He also improved his efficiency on the basepaths in the second half, going 6-for-8 in steal attempts. In retrospect, those that jumped Bichette into the first half of the first round last spring were a little overzealous, but don't let that disappointment keep you from investing in 2023. There are no questions about Bichette's ability with the bat. If anything, the fact his sprint speed ranked only mid-pack might be of slight concern.
LAA (OF)
G
128
AB
470
AVG
.285
HR
41
RBI
90
SB
3
R
93
Despite missing 43 games, Trout smacked an even 40 homers in 2022, tying Pete Alonso for third in baseball. The missed time was the result of a rare back condition called costovertebral dysfunction, but he returned to hit 16 of those aforementioned 40 homers in his final 40 games (.308/.370/.686 in that span). Running seems to be a thing of the past as Trout attempted just one steal last season and has a total of four stolen bases over the past three seasons, but there's no doubt the hitting skills are still elite. Eliminate running from the equation and the only variable is health; we should realistically bake in roughly a month of missed time, but Trout can do more in 130 games than most can contribute over a 150-game season. He's headed to the Hall of Fame one day and Trout is still a ways from his twilight years.
Despite missing 43 games, Trout smacked an even 40 homers in 2022, tying Pete Alonso for third in baseball. The missed time was the result of a rare back condition called costovertebral dysfunction, but he returned to hit 16 of those aforementioned 40 homers in his final 40 games (.308/.370/.686 in that span). Running seems to be a thing of the past as Trout attempted just one steal last season and has a total of four stolen bases over the past three seasons, but there's no doubt the hitting skills are still elite. Eliminate running from the equation and the only variable is health; we should realistically bake in roughly a month of missed time, but Trout can do more in 130 games than most can contribute over a 150-game season. He's headed to the Hall of Fame one day and Trout is still a ways from his twilight years.
The rest of our Fantasy Baseball Outlooks & Rankings are reserved for RotoWire subscribers.
(OF)
G
140
AB
514
AVG
.296
HR
48
RBI
108
SB
10
R
107
Judge and the Yankees were unable to agree on a contract extension prior to the 2022 campaign, and the slugger delivered a recording-breaking season in his final year before free agency. The outfielder, who will turn 31 years old in April, set an American League record with 62 home runs and also totaled 111 walks, 131 RBI and 133 runs scored with a .311/.425/.686 slash line. He endured his share of injury issues in the past but played in a career-high 157 games and has missed only 19 contests across the past two seasons. Given the incredible numbers Judge is unlikely to deliver a repeat performance in 2023, though he should remain one of the most productive hitters in MLB regardless of whether he returns to New York or continues his career elsewhere.
Judge and the Yankees were unable to agree on a contract extension prior to the 2022 campaign, and the slugger delivered a recording-breaking season in his final year before free agency. The outfielder, who will turn 31 years old in April, set an American League record with 62 home runs and also totaled 111 walks, 131 RBI and 133 runs scored with a .311/.425/.686 slash line. He endured his share of injury issues in the past but played in a career-high 157 games and has missed only 19 contests across the past two seasons. Given the incredible numbers Judge is unlikely to deliver a repeat performance in 2023, though he should remain one of the most productive hitters in MLB regardless of whether he returns to New York or continues his career elsewhere.
CLE (3B)
OUT
G
155
AB
583
AVG
.278
HR
34
RBI
118
SB
24
R
102
Ramirez is a machine who consistently pumps out terrific fantasy seasons yet rarely goes first overall in a draft. He finished as the third best player behind Judge and Goldschmidt this year despite playing two-thirds of the season with a hand injury which required offseason surgery. Ramirez set a career high in RBIs thanks to better talent in front of him in the lineup while dropping in homers and runs scored likely due to the hand and the inconsistent talent behind him in the lineup. 2022 was the fourth consecutive season he swiped 20 or more bases in a full season as well. The only knock on him is that he is a mere human at the plate when he hits righty, but that is only because he is that terrific hitting from the other side where he spends 80% of his time in the box. He still is unlikely to go first overall in a draft, but he is money in the bank when he is in the lineup with infinitesimal risk in his profile.
Ramirez is a machine who consistently pumps out terrific fantasy seasons yet rarely goes first overall in a draft. He finished as the third best player behind Judge and Goldschmidt this year despite playing two-thirds of the season with a hand injury which required offseason surgery. Ramirez set a career high in RBIs thanks to better talent in front of him in the lineup while dropping in homers and runs scored likely due to the hand and the inconsistent talent behind him in the lineup. 2022 was the fourth consecutive season he swiped 20 or more bases in a full season as well. The only knock on him is that he is a mere human at the plate when he hits righty, but that is only because he is that terrific hitting from the other side where he spends 80% of his time in the box. He still is unlikely to go first overall in a draft, but he is money in the bank when he is in the lineup with infinitesimal risk in his profile.
PHI (SS)
G
156
AB
629
AVG
.313
HR
25
RBI
94
SB
30
R
107
Turner finished the season as the 6th best fantasy player in standard formats with another strong season as a five-category contributor. The drop in batting average was offset by a surprising surge in RBI thanks to hitting leadoff less frequently but more importantly, he avoided the injured list for just the second time in the past five full seasons. His speed buys him hits others cannot afford as his 33 infield hits helped prop up his average as he struggled with breaking balls (.247 average) throughout the season. Even as he approaches 30, he retains his elite speed and back-to-back full big volume seasons ease the health concerns that followed him in previous years. It is scary to think what Turner could accomplish in steals under the new rules as he was already one of the best thieves by success rate in the league. He landed in Philadelphia in free agency, which is close to a neutral move when factoring in the ballparks and lineups of the Phillies and Dodgers (where righty power played way up, per Statcast).
Turner finished the season as the 6th best fantasy player in standard formats with another strong season as a five-category contributor. The drop in batting average was offset by a surprising surge in RBI thanks to hitting leadoff less frequently but more importantly, he avoided the injured list for just the second time in the past five full seasons. His speed buys him hits others cannot afford as his 33 infield hits helped prop up his average as he struggled with breaking balls (.247 average) throughout the season. Even as he approaches 30, he retains his elite speed and back-to-back full big volume seasons ease the health concerns that followed him in previous years. It is scary to think what Turner could accomplish in steals under the new rules as he was already one of the best thieves by success rate in the league. He landed in Philadelphia in free agency, which is close to a neutral move when factoring in the ballparks and lineups of the Phillies and Dodgers (where righty power played way up, per Statcast).
LAD (1B)
G
160
AB
602
AVG
.319
HR
27
RBI
102
SB
10
R
121
With a 157 wRC+, Freeman was at least 50% better than average for the fifth time in his career. His homers fell, but a personal best 47 doubles helped mitigate the drop. One home run estimator indicated three of his 22 dingers were undeserved while another pegged him for four more. The underlying metrics show no difference from previous seasons, so perhaps the drop was moving to the NL West, though on paper it shouldn't have made a difference. Freeman swiped 13 bases, his most ever. Freeman only missed three games, bringing the count to just 10 absences since playing only 117 games in 2017. Excluding 2020, Freeman has collected at least 192 runs plus RBI over this span, exceeding 200 for the last three full campaigns. Freeman may not match the homers and steals of other elite hitters, but he makes up for it in the other three roto categories, and with a 12% walk rate, he's an OBP and points league monster.
With a 157 wRC+, Freeman was at least 50% better than average for the fifth time in his career. His homers fell, but a personal best 47 doubles helped mitigate the drop. One home run estimator indicated three of his 22 dingers were undeserved while another pegged him for four more. The underlying metrics show no difference from previous seasons, so perhaps the drop was moving to the NL West, though on paper it shouldn't have made a difference. Freeman swiped 13 bases, his most ever. Freeman only missed three games, bringing the count to just 10 absences since playing only 117 games in 2017. Excluding 2020, Freeman has collected at least 192 runs plus RBI over this span, exceeding 200 for the last three full campaigns. Freeman may not match the homers and steals of other elite hitters, but he makes up for it in the other three roto categories, and with a 12% walk rate, he's an OBP and points league monster.
SEA (OF)
G
149
AB
576
AVG
.286
HR
32
RBI
86
SB
29
R
95
A strong spring forced Seattle to break camp with Rodriguez as their centerfielder. He did not disappoint, capturing the AL Rookie of the Year award. Rodriguez's season could have been even better as he improved over the second half, but wrist and back issues limited him to 41 games after the break. Rodriguez's exit velocity, hard-hit rate, Barrel% and speed were all at least 90th percentile. His 25.9% strikeout rate and 7.1% walk rate could use some work, but that should come as the 22-year-old continues to develop. While it's fair to point out Rodriguez swiped 21 bags in his first 82 games but then stole only four bases in his final 52 contests, playing hurt could have slowed him down as he initially jammed his wrist sliding so, he may have just been cautious the rest of the season. Rodriguez merits top-five overall consideration, with a salient argument to be the first player off the board.
A strong spring forced Seattle to break camp with Rodriguez as their centerfielder. He did not disappoint, capturing the AL Rookie of the Year award. Rodriguez's season could have been even better as he improved over the second half, but wrist and back issues limited him to 41 games after the break. Rodriguez's exit velocity, hard-hit rate, Barrel% and speed were all at least 90th percentile. His 25.9% strikeout rate and 7.1% walk rate could use some work, but that should come as the 22-year-old continues to develop. While it's fair to point out Rodriguez swiped 21 bags in his first 82 games but then stole only four bases in his final 52 contests, playing hurt could have slowed him down as he initially jammed his wrist sliding so, he may have just been cautious the rest of the season. Rodriguez merits top-five overall consideration, with a salient argument to be the first player off the board.
SD (SS)
SUSP
G
140
AB
520
AVG
.265
HR
36
RBI
95
SB
23
R
102
Tatis Jr may possibly be the biggest fantasy wildcard of 2023. He will be coming off an 80-game suspension for PEDs that will end earlier than initially projected since the Padres went deep into the NL playoffs. Tatis Jr is now projected to be back on the active roster in late April, but he has also undergone two different surgeries this winter. He finally had that long troublesome shoulder operated on as well as his left wrist. You add in the complexity of missing the entire 2022 season with his off the field antics leading to injury, the suspension, and two surgeries and we are left with how early someone will take the risk on a top five talent in a draft. The upside remains huge, but nobody can be blamed for passing on this maelstrom of risks as we have rarely seen so many red flags at one time with a player, let alone one of his caliber. The projections will likely look conservative for his talents, but with good reason. Simply put, he is going to make or break many fantasy teams in 2023.
Tatis Jr may possibly be the biggest fantasy wildcard of 2023. He will be coming off an 80-game suspension for PEDs that will end earlier than initially projected since the Padres went deep into the NL playoffs. Tatis Jr is now projected to be back on the active roster in late April, but he has also undergone two different surgeries this winter. He finally had that long troublesome shoulder operated on as well as his left wrist. You add in the complexity of missing the entire 2022 season with his off the field antics leading to injury, the suspension, and two surgeries and we are left with how early someone will take the risk on a top five talent in a draft. The upside remains huge, but nobody can be blamed for passing on this maelstrom of risks as we have rarely seen so many red flags at one time with a player, let alone one of his caliber. The projections will likely look conservative for his talents, but with good reason. Simply put, he is going to make or break many fantasy teams in 2023.
SD (3B)
G
153
AB
578
AVG
.294
HR
33
RBI
107
SB
11
R
100
Machado delivered career-best 152 wRC+ with 37 doubles, 32 home runs, 102 RBI and 100 runs to power the Padres offense in 2022. It's the second straight season the third baseman has cracked 100 RBI, and it's the sixth time in his career he's topped 30 homers. He surprisingly produced his worst strikeout rate at 20.7 percent, but a .337 BABIP helped him to a .298 average despite a .264 xBA. Machado will turn 31 years old in July and should continue to be a major producer near the top of San Diego's lineup in 2023, though his numbers could fall a bit if he's unable to again significantly outperform his expected figures.
Machado delivered career-best 152 wRC+ with 37 doubles, 32 home runs, 102 RBI and 100 runs to power the Padres offense in 2022. It's the second straight season the third baseman has cracked 100 RBI, and it's the sixth time in his career he's topped 30 homers. He surprisingly produced his worst strikeout rate at 20.7 percent, but a .337 BABIP helped him to a .298 average despite a .264 xBA. Machado will turn 31 years old in July and should continue to be a major producer near the top of San Diego's lineup in 2023, though his numbers could fall a bit if he's unable to again significantly outperform his expected figures.
STL (1B)
G
154
AB
567
AVG
.309
HR
31
RBI
100
SB
8
R
101
Goldschmidt's underlying metrics were actually better in 2021, but last season he teamed up with Lady Luck to take home the National League MVP. The only skill-based metric Goldschmidt improved from the prior campaign was a return to a double-digit walk rate. His HR/FB ticked up four points despite a slight drop in fly ball average exit velocity. His .368 BABIP was its highest since 2015, despite the third lowest average exit velocity over that span. His .261 xBA and .482 xSLG were both his second lowest since 2015. Despite all this, everything came together, and Goldschmidt posted a 177 wRC+, the best of his career. The take home message is expect regression, likely to a level lower than his 2021 season. Goldschmidt is still a solid fantasy producer with a high batting average floor and plus power along with a handful of steals, just don't pay for his magical 2022 season.
Goldschmidt's underlying metrics were actually better in 2021, but last season he teamed up with Lady Luck to take home the National League MVP. The only skill-based metric Goldschmidt improved from the prior campaign was a return to a double-digit walk rate. His HR/FB ticked up four points despite a slight drop in fly ball average exit velocity. His .368 BABIP was its highest since 2015, despite the third lowest average exit velocity over that span. His .261 xBA and .482 xSLG were both his second lowest since 2015. Despite all this, everything came together, and Goldschmidt posted a 177 wRC+, the best of his career. The take home message is expect regression, likely to a level lower than his 2021 season. Goldschmidt is still a solid fantasy producer with a high batting average floor and plus power along with a handful of steals, just don't pay for his magical 2022 season.
HOU (OF)
G
145
AB
522
AVG
.295
HR
38
RBI
106
SB
1
R
99
Alvarez has few peers in Major League Baseball; Juan Soto is perhaps the only player on his level in terms of zone management and overall hitting skills. Alvarez's Statcast page is comical as he led MLB in average exit velocity, HardHit%, xwOBA, xBA, xSLG and Barrel%. Alvarez drew 78 walks while striking out only 106 times in 561 plate appearances during the regular season. Despite playing in only 135 games and stealing only one base, Alvarez finished as a top-10 roto hitter in 2022. We still have to worry about his knees although is absences last season weren't directly related. The 25-year-old is under contract with the Astros long term and maintains outfield eligibility in fantasy leagues entering 2023.
Alvarez has few peers in Major League Baseball; Juan Soto is perhaps the only player on his level in terms of zone management and overall hitting skills. Alvarez's Statcast page is comical as he led MLB in average exit velocity, HardHit%, xwOBA, xBA, xSLG and Barrel%. Alvarez drew 78 walks while striking out only 106 times in 561 plate appearances during the regular season. Despite playing in only 135 games and stealing only one base, Alvarez finished as a top-10 roto hitter in 2022. We still have to worry about his knees although is absences last season weren't directly related. The 25-year-old is under contract with the Astros long term and maintains outfield eligibility in fantasy leagues entering 2023.
TOR (1B)
G
161
AB
620
AVG
.284
HR
36
RBI
100
SB
6
R
101
It was expected that Guerrero Jr would drop back off his incredible 2021 season due to Toronto playing fulltime at Rogers Centre rather than the cozy environments of Dunedin and Buffalo as well as the changes to Camden Yards for road trip. Factor in the mushball and his homers dropped off to where we reastically should have expected them to be but it was surprising to see both his runs and RBIs fall back below 100 considering the talent in the lineup around him in Toronto. Whereas he hit .315 with 11 homers with runners in scoring position in 2021, those numbers fell to 5 and .267 respectively last year in nearly identical sample sizes. RISP production lacks year over year stickiness, but it was an issue last year as the league did tend to pitch around him leading to more walks (11%) in those situations than others (8%.) The 8 steals were a nice bonus considering he is not the fleetest of foot. We can call him a five-category contributor as a first baseman; he cannot quite pull off a younger Paul Goldschmidt, but who can?
It was expected that Guerrero Jr would drop back off his incredible 2021 season due to Toronto playing fulltime at Rogers Centre rather than the cozy environments of Dunedin and Buffalo as well as the changes to Camden Yards for road trip. Factor in the mushball and his homers dropped off to where we reastically should have expected them to be but it was surprising to see both his runs and RBIs fall back below 100 considering the talent in the lineup around him in Toronto. Whereas he hit .315 with 11 homers with runners in scoring position in 2021, those numbers fell to 5 and .267 respectively last year in nearly identical sample sizes. RISP production lacks year over year stickiness, but it was an issue last year as the league did tend to pitch around him leading to more walks (11%) in those situations than others (8%.) The 8 steals were a nice bonus considering he is not the fleetest of foot. We can call him a five-category contributor as a first baseman; he cannot quite pull off a younger Paul Goldschmidt, but who can?
ATL (OF)
G
140
AB
527
AVG
.268
HR
29
RBI
72
SB
31
R
104
The baseball world wondered what Acuna would look like coming off his July 2021 ACL tear. Our answer: he remains one of the most dynamic players in the game. There was no easing back into the running game as Acuna stole two bases in his return from the injured list April 28 and swiped a total of nine bags in his first 20 games of 2022. The dog days of summer were tough on Acuna and he finished the year with a .413 SLG, over 100 points below his career mark. However, he still ranked in the top eight percent of the league in all of HardHit%, xwOBA and xSLG, per Statcast. His launch angle was down close to eight points from his prior two seasons. Now that he's further removed from the knee surgery, and perhaps with a few tweaks, Acuna should be able to tap into more power and return to the elite tier of fantasy contributors.
The baseball world wondered what Acuna would look like coming off his July 2021 ACL tear. Our answer: he remains one of the most dynamic players in the game. There was no easing back into the running game as Acuna stole two bases in his return from the injured list April 28 and swiped a total of nine bags in his first 20 games of 2022. The dog days of summer were tough on Acuna and he finished the year with a .413 SLG, over 100 points below his career mark. However, he still ranked in the top eight percent of the league in all of HardHit%, xwOBA and xSLG, per Statcast. His launch angle was down close to eight points from his prior two seasons. Now that he's further removed from the knee surgery, and perhaps with a few tweaks, Acuna should be able to tap into more power and return to the elite tier of fantasy contributors.
NYM (1B)
G
156
AB
579
AVG
.263
HR
40
RBI
113
SB
4
R
88
Since 2020, only Aaron Judge has more homers than Alonso. If you go back a year, Alonso heads the list. Last season, he posted his best season since 2019, fueled by a career high .271 batting average. Alonso's 18.8% strikeout rate dropped for the third straight season. His fly ball exit velocity dropped, but a tick more fly balls and missing only two games allowed him to reach the 40-homer level for the second time on his career. Other than stolen bases, Alonso checks all boxes. Missing only 18 games in his four-year career shows durability while a wRC+ between 120 and 144 each season indicates reliability. A low strikeout rate offers a solid batting average floor for one of the top sluggers in the league. Alonso also hits in a prominent spot in a productive lineup. For pure power, it doesn't get any better.
Since 2020, only Aaron Judge has more homers than Alonso. If you go back a year, Alonso heads the list. Last season, he posted his best season since 2019, fueled by a career high .271 batting average. Alonso's 18.8% strikeout rate dropped for the third straight season. His fly ball exit velocity dropped, but a tick more fly balls and missing only two games allowed him to reach the 40-homer level for the second time on his career. Other than stolen bases, Alonso checks all boxes. Missing only 18 games in his four-year career shows durability while a wRC+ between 120 and 144 each season indicates reliability. A low strikeout rate offers a solid batting average floor for one of the top sluggers in the league. Alonso also hits in a prominent spot in a productive lineup. For pure power, it doesn't get any better.
HOU (OF)
G
148
AB
535
AVG
.271
HR
29
RBI
103
SB
21
R
78
Tucker broke out during the shortened 2020 campaign with an .837 OPS and has established himself as a key cog in the Astros' lineup over the past couple years. During 2022 he hit exactly 30 home runs for the second straight season and also stole 25 bases while being caught only four times in 150 games. He saw his batting average and ISO drop about 40 points each to .257 and .221, respectively, but he showed minor improvements in both his strikeout (15.7 percent) and walk rates (9.8 percent). Tucker's solid defense in right field further cements his spot in the everyday lineup, and his 129 wRC+ in the heart of Houston's potent order will continue to provide ample opportunities to rack up counting stats during his age-26 season in 2023.
Tucker broke out during the shortened 2020 campaign with an .837 OPS and has established himself as a key cog in the Astros' lineup over the past couple years. During 2022 he hit exactly 30 home runs for the second straight season and also stole 25 bases while being caught only four times in 150 games. He saw his batting average and ISO drop about 40 points each to .257 and .221, respectively, but he showed minor improvements in both his strikeout (15.7 percent) and walk rates (9.8 percent). Tucker's solid defense in right field further cements his spot in the everyday lineup, and his 129 wRC+ in the heart of Houston's potent order will continue to provide ample opportunities to rack up counting stats during his age-26 season in 2023.
TOR (SS)
G
146
AB
595
AVG
.294
HR
24
RBI
91
SB
17
R
94
At the All-Star break, Bichette sat with a .257 average, a .720 OPS and seven steals in 13 attempts. Water eventually finds its level. Bichette cut his strikeouts back down -- 24.3 K% in the first half, 19.2% in the second half -- and took off to the tune of a .337/.378/.543 line after the intermission. He also improved his efficiency on the basepaths in the second half, going 6-for-8 in steal attempts. In retrospect, those that jumped Bichette into the first half of the first round last spring were a little overzealous, but don't let that disappointment keep you from investing in 2023. There are no questions about Bichette's ability with the bat. If anything, the fact his sprint speed ranked only mid-pack might be of slight concern.
At the All-Star break, Bichette sat with a .257 average, a .720 OPS and seven steals in 13 attempts. Water eventually finds its level. Bichette cut his strikeouts back down -- 24.3 K% in the first half, 19.2% in the second half -- and took off to the tune of a .337/.378/.543 line after the intermission. He also improved his efficiency on the basepaths in the second half, going 6-for-8 in steal attempts. In retrospect, those that jumped Bichette into the first half of the first round last spring were a little overzealous, but don't let that disappointment keep you from investing in 2023. There are no questions about Bichette's ability with the bat. If anything, the fact his sprint speed ranked only mid-pack might be of slight concern.
LAA (OF)
G
128
AB
470
AVG
.285
HR
41
RBI
90
SB
3
R
93
Despite missing 43 games, Trout smacked an even 40 homers in 2022, tying Pete Alonso for third in baseball. The missed time was the result of a rare back condition called costovertebral dysfunction, but he returned to hit 16 of those aforementioned 40 homers in his final 40 games (.308/.370/.686 in that span). Running seems to be a thing of the past as Trout attempted just one steal last season and has a total of four stolen bases over the past three seasons, but there's no doubt the hitting skills are still elite. Eliminate running from the equation and the only variable is health; we should realistically bake in roughly a month of missed time, but Trout can do more in 130 games than most can contribute over a 150-game season. He's headed to the Hall of Fame one day and Trout is still a ways from his twilight years.
Despite missing 43 games, Trout smacked an even 40 homers in 2022, tying Pete Alonso for third in baseball. The missed time was the result of a rare back condition called costovertebral dysfunction, but he returned to hit 16 of those aforementioned 40 homers in his final 40 games (.308/.370/.686 in that span). Running seems to be a thing of the past as Trout attempted just one steal last season and has a total of four stolen bases over the past three seasons, but there's no doubt the hitting skills are still elite. Eliminate running from the equation and the only variable is health; we should realistically bake in roughly a month of missed time, but Trout can do more in 130 games than most can contribute over a 150-game season. He's headed to the Hall of Fame one day and Trout is still a ways from his twilight years.
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MIL (P)
GS
30
IP
184.0
W
11
SV
0
K
239
ERA
2.64
WHIP
0.967
Burnes followed up his NL Cy Young season in impressive fashion. While he didn't bring home the hardware in the National League again, the right-hander was right up there among the best pitchers in the game no matter how you slice it. At 27 years old, Burnes fanned 243 batters -- second in baseball behind only Gerrit Cole -- and surpassed 200 innings for the first time, adding 35 frames to his 2021 total. There is little to nitpick in the underlying numbers, though Burnes hit some bumps in the road in the second half, with his ERA finishing at 3.97 after the All-Star break. A corresponding dip in strikeout rate after the break (to 27.9%) perhaps gives reason for pause heading into 2023, but the overall body of work was stellar. Burnes should still be treated as one of MLB's elite aces, even if he won't get to pick on the NL Central quite as much with the balanced schedule.
Burnes followed up his NL Cy Young season in impressive fashion. While he didn't bring home the hardware in the National League again, the right-hander was right up there among the best pitchers in the game no matter how you slice it. At 27 years old, Burnes fanned 243 batters -- second in baseball behind only Gerrit Cole -- and surpassed 200 innings for the first time, adding 35 frames to his 2021 total. There is little to nitpick in the underlying numbers, though Burnes hit some bumps in the road in the second half, with his ERA finishing at 3.97 after the All-Star break. A corresponding dip in strikeout rate after the break (to 27.9%) perhaps gives reason for pause heading into 2023, but the overall body of work was stellar. Burnes should still be treated as one of MLB's elite aces, even if he won't get to pick on the NL Central quite as much with the balanced schedule.
NYY (P)
GS
32
IP
194.0
W
15
SV
0
K
252
ERA
3.29
WHIP
1.015
There were some surprising lows for Cole in 2022, including a five-homer blowup outing in Minnesota in June. He finished with his highest ERA (3.50) since his final season in Pittsburgh, continuing a trend of steady increase in recent years. The fact of the matter is he still led MLB in strikeouts with 257. He continues to bring the heat at 97-98 mph and leaned on that pitch more than half the time last season while dialing back his curveball and changeup usage. The four-seamer does a lot of great things for him, but Cole has also given up 29 homers on that pitch over the past two seasons, so it can be touched up when he isn't locating. A two-time Cy Young runner up, Cole wasn't a finalist in 2022, but the Yankees' ace could very well be back in that conversation after this season.
There were some surprising lows for Cole in 2022, including a five-homer blowup outing in Minnesota in June. He finished with his highest ERA (3.50) since his final season in Pittsburgh, continuing a trend of steady increase in recent years. The fact of the matter is he still led MLB in strikeouts with 257. He continues to bring the heat at 97-98 mph and leaned on that pitch more than half the time last season while dialing back his curveball and changeup usage. The four-seamer does a lot of great things for him, but Cole has also given up 29 homers on that pitch over the past two seasons, so it can be touched up when he isn't locating. A two-time Cy Young runner up, Cole wasn't a finalist in 2022, but the Yankees' ace could very well be back in that conversation after this season.
LAD (P)
GS
31
IP
174.0
W
17
SV
0
K
168
ERA
2.59
WHIP
1.006
By ERA, it appears Urias improved on 2021's fine campaign. However, Urias' skills took a small step back, best shown by an 18.1% K-BB% mark, down from the 21.1% posted the prior season. Urias also yielded more homers last season, but a .229 BABIP and 86.6% LOB mark rescued his surface stats, pushing his actual 2.16 ERA well below his 3.71 FIP, 3.81 xFIP and 3.66 SIERA. The Dodgers' defense was no doubt a factor, but Urias also benefited from Lady Luck. Urias' pitch mix again featured a four-seam fastball used a little less than half the time along with a curveball, changeup and occasional sinker. His secondary pitches were just a little less effective than 2021, but the difference can be attributed to variance. Urias deserves points for durability, reliability, and team context. Just beware of paying ace prices as his formulaic projections will peg his ERA closer to last season's estimators than actual.
By ERA, it appears Urias improved on 2021's fine campaign. However, Urias' skills took a small step back, best shown by an 18.1% K-BB% mark, down from the 21.1% posted the prior season. Urias also yielded more homers last season, but a .229 BABIP and 86.6% LOB mark rescued his surface stats, pushing his actual 2.16 ERA well below his 3.71 FIP, 3.81 xFIP and 3.66 SIERA. The Dodgers' defense was no doubt a factor, but Urias also benefited from Lady Luck. Urias' pitch mix again featured a four-seam fastball used a little less than half the time along with a curveball, changeup and occasional sinker. His secondary pitches were just a little less effective than 2021, but the difference can be attributed to variance. Urias deserves points for durability, reliability, and team context. Just beware of paying ace prices as his formulaic projections will peg his ERA closer to last season's estimators than actual.
NYM (P)
GS
27
IP
163.0
W
13
SV
0
K
207
ERA
2.60
WHIP
0.975
A pair of oblique issues limited Scherzer to only 23 starts in his inaugural season with the Mets. The veteran right-hander spent almost seven weeks on the IL in the first half, then lost two more weeks in September. His strikeout rate dipped a tad to a still dominant 30.6% while his 4.2% walk rate was its lowest since 2015. Scherzer took advantage of pitching in cavernous Citi Field to drop his homers to .81 HR/9, the lowest since 2014. Scherzer's four-seam velocity continued a slightly downward trend, but it's not enough to be concerned about. Scherzer enjoyed another outstanding season, where his 2.46 ERA marked the eighth time in the last 10 years his ERA was sub-3.00. Even so, Scherzer will be remembered most for struggling in his last two starts, one to end the regular season and the other in the wild card round. This may drop his price to the point the durability risk is worth the reliability reward.
A pair of oblique issues limited Scherzer to only 23 starts in his inaugural season with the Mets. The veteran right-hander spent almost seven weeks on the IL in the first half, then lost two more weeks in September. His strikeout rate dipped a tad to a still dominant 30.6% while his 4.2% walk rate was its lowest since 2015. Scherzer took advantage of pitching in cavernous Citi Field to drop his homers to .81 HR/9, the lowest since 2014. Scherzer's four-seam velocity continued a slightly downward trend, but it's not enough to be concerned about. Scherzer enjoyed another outstanding season, where his 2.46 ERA marked the eighth time in the last 10 years his ERA was sub-3.00. Even so, Scherzer will be remembered most for struggling in his last two starts, one to end the regular season and the other in the wild card round. This may drop his price to the point the durability risk is worth the reliability reward.
SD (P)
GS
30
IP
187.0
W
14
SV
0
K
207
ERA
3.22
WHIP
0.995
Darvish struggled with back and hip injuries during the second half of 2021 but rebounded last season with a 3.10 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 197:37 K:BB across 194.2 innings. The sub-1.00 WHIP represents the lowest mark of his MLB career, and it's the most innings he pitched since he exceeded 200 back in 2013. The right-hander remained steady with his fastball velocity and averaged 95 mph, which is an encouraging sign with his 37th birthday coming up in August. There's always risk when banking on the continued success of pitchers this late in their career, but Darvish looked as strong as ever last year and should again be a key cog in San Diego's starting rotation in 2023.
Darvish struggled with back and hip injuries during the second half of 2021 but rebounded last season with a 3.10 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 197:37 K:BB across 194.2 innings. The sub-1.00 WHIP represents the lowest mark of his MLB career, and it's the most innings he pitched since he exceeded 200 back in 2013. The right-hander remained steady with his fastball velocity and averaged 95 mph, which is an encouraging sign with his 37th birthday coming up in August. There's always risk when banking on the continued success of pitchers this late in their career, but Darvish looked as strong as ever last year and should again be a key cog in San Diego's starting rotation in 2023.
NYM (P)
GS
28
IP
172.0
W
13
SV
0
K
182
ERA
3.14
WHIP
0.901
After undergoing Tommy John surgery in October of 2020, Verlander missed all of 2021. Most tempered expectations, citing no one this late in his career has come back from the procedure to immediately regain previous form. A few suggested if anyone could do it, it was Verlander. They were right. At 39, Verlander captured his third Cy Young award, posting a 1.75 ERA over 175 frames. He benefited from a .240 BABIP and 80.5% LOB mark, but Verlander's 23.4 K-BB% ranked eighth among qualified pitchers and a 2.49 FIP, 3.23 xFIP and 3.09 SIERA are representative of an outstanding campaign. However, they also portend an ERA correction. It's hard not to give Verlander SP1 status. It's also fair to be leery of a repeat. The early market comes with an injury discount, but it still boils down to your risk aversion and willingness to invest in a 40-year-old as your staff anchor. His team context remains strong after he agreed to a two-year pact with the Mets this winter.
After undergoing Tommy John surgery in October of 2020, Verlander missed all of 2021. Most tempered expectations, citing no one this late in his career has come back from the procedure to immediately regain previous form. A few suggested if anyone could do it, it was Verlander. They were right. At 39, Verlander captured his third Cy Young award, posting a 1.75 ERA over 175 frames. He benefited from a .240 BABIP and 80.5% LOB mark, but Verlander's 23.4 K-BB% ranked eighth among qualified pitchers and a 2.49 FIP, 3.23 xFIP and 3.09 SIERA are representative of an outstanding campaign. However, they also portend an ERA correction. It's hard not to give Verlander SP1 status. It's also fair to be leery of a repeat. The early market comes with an injury discount, but it still boils down to your risk aversion and willingness to invest in a 40-year-old as your staff anchor. His team context remains strong after he agreed to a two-year pact with the Mets this winter.
MIA (P)
GS
30
IP
202.0
W
11
SV
0
K
188
ERA
2.67
WHIP
1.030
Alcantara reached the pinnacle in 2022, winning the National League Cy Young Award while literally lapping the field with six complete games. He continued to pump the four-seam and sinker in at 97-98 mph, though it was the changeup that he threw more than any other pitch last season (34.4 Whiff%). Technically his strikeout rate was only a little above average, but when you subtract walks (K-BB%), he ranked top 20 among qualifiers. Alcantara led baseball by a sizable margin with his 228.2 innings during the regular season and he's the only pitcher in the game to clear the 200-inning threshold each of the past two seasons. A certain portion of the fantasy community will fade Alcantara on principle alone coming off a career year, and it's not crazy to be reluctant about paying the new sticker price in drafts, but Alcantara has to be considered among the safest pitchers on the board from a workload standpoint.
Alcantara reached the pinnacle in 2022, winning the National League Cy Young Award while literally lapping the field with six complete games. He continued to pump the four-seam and sinker in at 97-98 mph, though it was the changeup that he threw more than any other pitch last season (34.4 Whiff%). Technically his strikeout rate was only a little above average, but when you subtract walks (K-BB%), he ranked top 20 among qualifiers. Alcantara led baseball by a sizable margin with his 228.2 innings during the regular season and he's the only pitcher in the game to clear the 200-inning threshold each of the past two seasons. A certain portion of the fantasy community will fade Alcantara on principle alone coming off a career year, and it's not crazy to be reluctant about paying the new sticker price in drafts, but Alcantara has to be considered among the safest pitchers on the board from a workload standpoint.
ATL (P)
GS
29
IP
173.0
W
15
SV
0
K
160
ERA
2.60
WHIP
1.046
If you bought into Fried after the 2021 season, you were handsomely rewardef for your beliefs in 2022 as he matched his efforts with some slight improvements in outocomes to match his 14-7 record while shaving half a run from his ERA. Fried continues to shine as an exemplar for pitchers without elite fastball characteristics can excel in this league. Fried does an outstanding job with his fastball location to then keep hitters off balance with breaking balls and offspeed pitches generating both high volumes of soft contact as well as enough swings and misses for a better than average strikeout rate for a starting pitcher. We are often coached about the perils of building around starting pitching on fantasy rosters, but few pitchers have as high a floor as Fried does even if his ceiling is about as high as it can go in most scoring categories. Wins are truly the only variable here.
If you bought into Fried after the 2021 season, you were handsomely rewardef for your beliefs in 2022 as he matched his efforts with some slight improvements in outocomes to match his 14-7 record while shaving half a run from his ERA. Fried continues to shine as an exemplar for pitchers without elite fastball characteristics can excel in this league. Fried does an outstanding job with his fastball location to then keep hitters off balance with breaking balls and offspeed pitches generating both high volumes of soft contact as well as enough swings and misses for a better than average strikeout rate for a starting pitcher. We are often coached about the perils of building around starting pitching on fantasy rosters, but few pitchers have as high a floor as Fried does even if his ceiling is about as high as it can go in most scoring categories. Wins are truly the only variable here.
CLE (P)
GS
26
IP
167.0
W
12
SV
0
K
199
ERA
2.69
WHIP
1.036
Bieber recovered nicely from the injury-shortened 2021 season to make all of his starts and return to the 200 innings level combining the volume of 2019 and top shelf stats from his Cy Young campaign. If you removed his name from his StatCast profile page, you may not be as interested in the player as he does give up hard contact, does not throw hard and his breaking stuff isn't particularly spinny, yet he has held the league to a sub .230 batting aveage in each of the past four seasons and his strikeout rate has been at least 25% in each of those four seasons. The sum is better than the individual parts here and he is one of just eight starting pitchers with a K-BB% greater than 20% from 2019-2022. He lacks the special fastball of the rest of that octet, but you simply cannot argue with the results and just how great he is pitching with his non-fastball offerings.
Bieber recovered nicely from the injury-shortened 2021 season to make all of his starts and return to the 200 innings level combining the volume of 2019 and top shelf stats from his Cy Young campaign. If you removed his name from his StatCast profile page, you may not be as interested in the player as he does give up hard contact, does not throw hard and his breaking stuff isn't particularly spinny, yet he has held the league to a sub .230 batting aveage in each of the past four seasons and his strikeout rate has been at least 25% in each of those four seasons. The sum is better than the individual parts here and he is one of just eight starting pitchers with a K-BB% greater than 20% from 2019-2022. He lacks the special fastball of the rest of that octet, but you simply cannot argue with the results and just how great he is pitching with his non-fastball offerings.
MIL (P)
GS
29
IP
170.0
W
11
SV
0
K
206
ERA
2.86
WHIP
1.012
Woodruff put up a second consecutive season of ace level performance, but left us wanting more as fantasy managers. Woodruff had the 8th-best K-BB%, 4th best strikeout rate and 20th best WHIP amongst starting pitchers with at least 150 innings of work in 2022. Yet, he finished outside the top 20 in both ERA and wins and missed time in the summer after being diagnosed with Raynaud's syndrome, a circulatory condition which causes numbness in the extremities due to reduced blood flow. That particular issue caused him to have trouble with his grip on his breaking pitches which led to a near 50-point jump in the league-wide batting average against his spinners. It is also worth noting that Woodruff has just once pitched more than 160 innings in a season or made 30 starts over the past three full seasons. The metrics and StatCast data scream ace, but the outcomes leave us wanting a bit more.
Woodruff put up a second consecutive season of ace level performance, but left us wanting more as fantasy managers. Woodruff had the 8th-best K-BB%, 4th best strikeout rate and 20th best WHIP amongst starting pitchers with at least 150 innings of work in 2022. Yet, he finished outside the top 20 in both ERA and wins and missed time in the summer after being diagnosed with Raynaud's syndrome, a circulatory condition which causes numbness in the extremities due to reduced blood flow. That particular issue caused him to have trouble with his grip on his breaking pitches which led to a near 50-point jump in the league-wide batting average against his spinners. It is also worth noting that Woodruff has just once pitched more than 160 innings in a season or made 30 starts over the past three full seasons. The metrics and StatCast data scream ace, but the outcomes leave us wanting a bit more.
PHI (P)
GS
29
IP
180.0
W
12
SV
0
K
188
ERA
2.80
WHIP
1.050
Wheeler was barely beaten out for the National League Cy Young Award in 2021 by Corbin Burnes, and the Phillies ace responded with another impressive campaign last year. Wheeler missed a month with forearm tendinitis to take him out of the Cy Young race for 2022, but he still looked the part in 26 starts with a 2.82 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 163:34 K:BB across 153 innings. The right-hander saw a minor dip in both his strikeout and walk rates, though his K-BB% (21.3 percent) is still the second-best figure of his eight-year career. He lost a tick off his fastball after he averaged about 97 mph over the past couple seasons, but there's not much cause for concern given he still averaged nearly 96 mph in 2022. Wheeler will turn 33 years old in May, but he's established himself as an ace the past couple years and has shown no signs of slowing down.
Wheeler was barely beaten out for the National League Cy Young Award in 2021 by Corbin Burnes, and the Phillies ace responded with another impressive campaign last year. Wheeler missed a month with forearm tendinitis to take him out of the Cy Young race for 2022, but he still looked the part in 26 starts with a 2.82 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 163:34 K:BB across 153 innings. The right-hander saw a minor dip in both his strikeout and walk rates, though his K-BB% (21.3 percent) is still the second-best figure of his eight-year career. He lost a tick off his fastball after he averaged about 97 mph over the past couple seasons, but there's not much cause for concern given he still averaged nearly 96 mph in 2022. Wheeler will turn 33 years old in May, but he's established himself as an ace the past couple years and has shown no signs of slowing down.
ATL (P)
GS
29
IP
163.0
W
12
SV
0
K
198
ERA
3.04
WHIP
1.031
Strider took the baseball world by storm in the second half of 2022, going 7-2 with a 2.20 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 88:15 K:BB over his final 57.1 innings spanning 10 starts. A left oblique strain knocked him out for the final couple weeks of the regular season, but Strider returned to make a short start in the NLDS. Drafted in the fourth round by Atlanta in 2020, Strider generated a little buzz as a prospect though he didn't make the rotation initially out of spring training. He made his first career MLB start on Memorial Day and it didn't take long for him to solidify his spot among the starting five. The right-hander lights up the radar gun at 98 mph on average and his slider is a devastating swing-and-miss pitch. Strider finished as the NL Rookie of the Year runner up and earned himself a long-term deal in the process. He's already a strikeout machine at 24 years young, and if the changeup comes along, watch out.
Strider took the baseball world by storm in the second half of 2022, going 7-2 with a 2.20 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 88:15 K:BB over his final 57.1 innings spanning 10 starts. A left oblique strain knocked him out for the final couple weeks of the regular season, but Strider returned to make a short start in the NLDS. Drafted in the fourth round by Atlanta in 2020, Strider generated a little buzz as a prospect though he didn't make the rotation initially out of spring training. He made his first career MLB start on Memorial Day and it didn't take long for him to solidify his spot among the starting five. The right-hander lights up the radar gun at 98 mph on average and his slider is a devastating swing-and-miss pitch. Strider finished as the NL Rookie of the Year runner up and earned himself a long-term deal in the process. He's already a strikeout machine at 24 years young, and if the changeup comes along, watch out.
CWS (P)
GS
0
IP
64.0
W
6
SV
37
K
97
ERA
2.53
WHIP
0.859
Based on Hendriks' lofty 2022 draft cost - he was one of the top two closers off the board, often within the first few rounds - one might suggest that he had a down year. While he did not produce at the level of his 2019-2021 seasons, the veteran was still outstanding. Hendriks was third in the league with 37 saves, marking the third consecutive year he finished top 3 or better in the category. The Aussie also carried a 98th percentile strikeout rate (36.2%) and elite 18.4% swinging strike percentage. His command was worse, but still above average overall and his 29.4% K-BB% ranked sixth among qualified relievers. Hendriks missed 3 weeks last summer with a forearm strain, which is mildly concerning as he enters his age-34 season. Some additional red flags include a below average hard hit rate and recent trend of being a slow starter. However, the positives outweigh the negatives and Hendriks remains a top 5 closer for 2023.
Based on Hendriks' lofty 2022 draft cost - he was one of the top two closers off the board, often within the first few rounds - one might suggest that he had a down year. While he did not produce at the level of his 2019-2021 seasons, the veteran was still outstanding. Hendriks was third in the league with 37 saves, marking the third consecutive year he finished top 3 or better in the category. The Aussie also carried a 98th percentile strikeout rate (36.2%) and elite 18.4% swinging strike percentage. His command was worse, but still above average overall and his 29.4% K-BB% ranked sixth among qualified relievers. Hendriks missed 3 weeks last summer with a forearm strain, which is mildly concerning as he enters his age-34 season. Some additional red flags include a below average hard hit rate and recent trend of being a slow starter. However, the positives outweigh the negatives and Hendriks remains a top 5 closer for 2023.
PHI (P)
GS
32
IP
195.0
W
11
SV
0
K
235
ERA
3.69
WHIP
1.031
Last year's outlook hinted at the possibilities of a strong bounceback season for Nola, and that is indeed what came to be. Years ago, this was the type of pitcher you could get on the cheap coming off the type of season he had in 2021, but fantasy baseball managers are a smarter bunch these days and Nola had very little discount last winter and is likely to bounce right back to his previous draft status this winter. He has now posted a K-BB% greater than 20% for three consecutive seasons and four of the past five seasons and the new conditions of baseball manufacturing were a blessing to him as it pulled his HR/9 rate below 1.0 for the first time since the 2018 season. He has tweaked his pitch mix by throwing more hard stuff and dialing back on his changeup a bit as the league hit .319 off that offering this season. The only concern with Nola heading into 2023 is the fact he could have 240 innings of work by the time the postseason is over and that is unchartered waters for him as he has never pitched deep into October.
Last year's outlook hinted at the possibilities of a strong bounceback season for Nola, and that is indeed what came to be. Years ago, this was the type of pitcher you could get on the cheap coming off the type of season he had in 2021, but fantasy baseball managers are a smarter bunch these days and Nola had very little discount last winter and is likely to bounce right back to his previous draft status this winter. He has now posted a K-BB% greater than 20% for three consecutive seasons and four of the past five seasons and the new conditions of baseball manufacturing were a blessing to him as it pulled his HR/9 rate below 1.0 for the first time since the 2018 season. He has tweaked his pitch mix by throwing more hard stuff and dialing back on his changeup a bit as the league hit .319 off that offering this season. The only concern with Nola heading into 2023 is the fact he could have 240 innings of work by the time the postseason is over and that is unchartered waters for him as he has never pitched deep into October.
LAA (P)
GS
25
IP
147.0
W
12
SV
0
K
188
ERA
2.69
WHIP
1.054
Last year's player outlook said we had never seen anything like Ohtani's 2021 season. He did not quite have a repeat of his monster season at the plate in 2022, but he more than made up for that with his best season yet on the mound. Any other year, his 2022 season would be worthy of a unanimous MVP award, but Ohtani's season toiled both in the obscurity of the secondary team in the Los Angeles market while also in the large shadow of Aaron Judge's historic season. The only frustrating issue with Ohtani is if you are in a league where you must declare how you will use him each week because that format mostly renders his pitching talents null and void unless you are staring at several suboptimal matchups in a five-game week for Ohtani. The DH-only label slightly impacts his draft day value as standard format leagues must then adjust downstream for losing the in-draft flexibility of the UT spot.
Last year's player outlook said we had never seen anything like Ohtani's 2021 season. He did not quite have a repeat of his monster season at the plate in 2022, but he more than made up for that with his best season yet on the mound. Any other year, his 2022 season would be worthy of a unanimous MVP award, but Ohtani's season toiled both in the obscurity of the secondary team in the Los Angeles market while also in the large shadow of Aaron Judge's historic season. The only frustrating issue with Ohtani is if you are in a league where you must declare how you will use him each week because that format mostly renders his pitching talents null and void unless you are staring at several suboptimal matchups in a five-game week for Ohtani. The DH-only label slightly impacts his draft day value as standard format leagues must then adjust downstream for losing the in-draft flexibility of the UT spot.
The rest of our Fantasy Baseball Outlooks & Rankings are reserved for RotoWire subscribers.
PHI (C)
G
135
AB
489
AVG
.270
HR
22
RBI
81
SB
17
R
74
Is a 20-20 season from your catcher something you'd be interested in? Those that signed up last year had to be ecstatic about their return as Realmuto slashed .276/.342/.478 with 22 homers, 21 steals and nearly 160 runs-plus-RBI, putting him in a different stratosphere from every other fantasy catcher. Realmuto was caught stealing just once and had his best season to date by wRC+. It's impossible to project another 20-steal season from a catcher entering his age-32 season, but don't write off the possibility completely with Realmuto. He's a great athlete and the three-time All-Star will have to shoulder more of the load for the Phillies offensively over the first few months while Bryce Harper recovers from Tommy John surgery.
Is a 20-20 season from your catcher something you'd be interested in? Those that signed up last year had to be ecstatic about their return as Realmuto slashed .276/.342/.478 with 22 homers, 21 steals and nearly 160 runs-plus-RBI, putting him in a different stratosphere from every other fantasy catcher. Realmuto was caught stealing just once and had his best season to date by wRC+. It's impossible to project another 20-steal season from a catcher entering his age-32 season, but don't write off the possibility completely with Realmuto. He's a great athlete and the three-time All-Star will have to shoulder more of the load for the Phillies offensively over the first few months while Bryce Harper recovers from Tommy John surgery.
KC (C)
G
127
AB
497
AVG
.272
HR
32
RBI
93
SB
1
R
63
Perez hurt his thumb in May, sending him to the IL for 10 days. After aggravating it a few weeks later, Perez had surgery on the UCL in his left thumb, costing him a little more than a month. He also lost a few games after taking a pitch off his wrist. The various hand injuries cost Perez some power as his fly ball exit velocity dropped a couple of ticks. His BABIP also suffered, but Perez was still one of the most productive catchers, fantasy and otherwise. Embarking on his age-33 season, Perez's status as the first catcher off the board last one year, but he's still in the chat for those looking for a top backstop. He'll continue to play more than most at the position with significant time at designated hitter, but Perez's days of leading catchers in plate appearances is likely history. His power is apt to subsist for a few years, but he's likely to revert to being a batting average liability.
Perez hurt his thumb in May, sending him to the IL for 10 days. After aggravating it a few weeks later, Perez had surgery on the UCL in his left thumb, costing him a little more than a month. He also lost a few games after taking a pitch off his wrist. The various hand injuries cost Perez some power as his fly ball exit velocity dropped a couple of ticks. His BABIP also suffered, but Perez was still one of the most productive catchers, fantasy and otherwise. Embarking on his age-33 season, Perez's status as the first catcher off the board last one year, but he's still in the chat for those looking for a top backstop. He'll continue to play more than most at the position with significant time at designated hitter, but Perez's days of leading catchers in plate appearances is likely history. His power is apt to subsist for a few years, but he's likely to revert to being a batting average liability.
LAD (C)
G
128
AB
443
AVG
.262
HR
24
RBI
80
SB
2
R
68
Perhaps no player in baseball is in a more favorable position than Smith. He was the primary cleanup hitter for a 111-win Dodgers team last season, batting behind the likes of Mookie Betts, Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman. Smith held up his end of the bargain with 24 homers and 87 RBI across 578 total plate appearances. He shaved nearly four points off his strikeout rate from his first full season in the majors and the bat is arguably worthy of more DH starts in the years to come (24 starts as the designated hitter in 2022). The rigors of catching make it tough for any backstop to stay healthy over the entire season, year-in and year-out, but Smith has now cleared 500 plate appearances in back-to-back campaigns. The batted-ball metrics, while not elite, largely support his outstanding results.
Perhaps no player in baseball is in a more favorable position than Smith. He was the primary cleanup hitter for a 111-win Dodgers team last season, batting behind the likes of Mookie Betts, Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman. Smith held up his end of the bargain with 24 homers and 87 RBI across 578 total plate appearances. He shaved nearly four points off his strikeout rate from his first full season in the majors and the bat is arguably worthy of more DH starts in the years to come (24 starts as the designated hitter in 2022). The rigors of catching make it tough for any backstop to stay healthy over the entire season, year-in and year-out, but Smith has now cleared 500 plate appearances in back-to-back campaigns. The batted-ball metrics, while not elite, largely support his outstanding results.
ATL (C)
G
122
AB
407
AVG
.268
HR
23
RBI
56
SB
2
R
58
Known primarily as "Willson's little brother" prior to last season, the younger Contreras is now making a name for himself. The two brothers met in the 2022 All-Star Game, both as starters, becoming the fifth set of siblings to play together in the Midsummer Classic. William was selected via player vote after he hit .260/.345/.533 with 11 homers in the first half. In the end, he reached an even 20 long balls despite making just 376 plate appearances for Atlanta. The batted-ball metrics were impressive, especially for a 24-year-old, though we should expect his BABIP to find a happy medium between his 2021 and 2022 marks (.265, .344). While Contreras is technically not atop the depth chart anywhere heading into spring training, he should play enough between catcher, outfield and DH to be viable even in one-catcher leagues.
Known primarily as "Willson's little brother" prior to last season, the younger Contreras is now making a name for himself. The two brothers met in the 2022 All-Star Game, both as starters, becoming the fifth set of siblings to play together in the Midsummer Classic. William was selected via player vote after he hit .260/.345/.533 with 11 homers in the first half. In the end, he reached an even 20 long balls despite making just 376 plate appearances for Atlanta. The batted-ball metrics were impressive, especially for a 24-year-old, though we should expect his BABIP to find a happy medium between his 2021 and 2022 marks (.265, .344). While Contreras is technically not atop the depth chart anywhere heading into spring training, he should play enough between catcher, outfield and DH to be viable even in one-catcher leagues.
G
125
AB
431
AVG
.241
HR
21
RBI
58
SB
4
R
69
Contreras posted a career high 132 wRC+ which could have been even better, except he had to deal with a multitude of injuries, most notably recurring hamstring and ankle woes. Even so, Contreras managed 487 plate appearances, the third most of his career. Serving as the designated hitter 39 times helped keep Contreras' bat in the lineup when he was hurt. Fueling the career year was a personal best 21.1% strikeout rate and a career-high 48.6% hard hit rate. Contreras 21.2% HR/FB was typically high, but a 33% fly ball rate limits Contreras' power. Many expected Contreras to be dealt at the trade deadline, but he finished the season with the Cubs before declining their qualifying offer. It's hard to imagine Contreras not playing a lot wherever he lands. The top end of the catcher pool is improving, but Contreras still warrants upper tier status.
Contreras posted a career high 132 wRC+ which could have been even better, except he had to deal with a multitude of injuries, most notably recurring hamstring and ankle woes. Even so, Contreras managed 487 plate appearances, the third most of his career. Serving as the designated hitter 39 times helped keep Contreras' bat in the lineup when he was hurt. Fueling the career year was a personal best 21.1% strikeout rate and a career-high 48.6% hard hit rate. Contreras 21.2% HR/FB was typically high, but a 33% fly ball rate limits Contreras' power. Many expected Contreras to be dealt at the trade deadline, but he finished the season with the Cubs before declining their qualifying offer. It's hard to imagine Contreras not playing a lot wherever he lands. The top end of the catcher pool is improving, but Contreras still warrants upper tier status.
BAL (C)
G
128
AB
458
AVG
.264
HR
16
RBI
49
SB
3
R
82
Rutschman began the season on the minor league IL with a triceps issue. When healthy, he quickly advanced from Double-A Bowie to Triple-A Norfolk before being called up on May 21. He started slow, posting a 137/.228/.196 line after 13 games, but then settled in to go .271/.380/.481 the rest of the way. Rutschman played excellent defense, finishing second among catchers with 18 defensive runs saved while exhibiting solid framing and an excellent arm. His plate discipline is stellar as demonstrated by a 13.8% walk rate and 18.3% strikeout clip. Rutschman's low 38.4% groundball rate helped him compile extra base hits with a below average fly ball exit velocity. His 35 doubles to 13 home run ratio should tilt more to the long ball as he continues to develop. As is, Rutschman is one of the top backstops in the league, assured of the lion's share of playing time for Baltimore. His ceiling is the top fantasy catcher.
Rutschman began the season on the minor league IL with a triceps issue. When healthy, he quickly advanced from Double-A Bowie to Triple-A Norfolk before being called up on May 21. He started slow, posting a 137/.228/.196 line after 13 games, but then settled in to go .271/.380/.481 the rest of the way. Rutschman played excellent defense, finishing second among catchers with 18 defensive runs saved while exhibiting solid framing and an excellent arm. His plate discipline is stellar as demonstrated by a 13.8% walk rate and 18.3% strikeout clip. Rutschman's low 38.4% groundball rate helped him compile extra base hits with a below average fly ball exit velocity. His 35 doubles to 13 home run ratio should tilt more to the long ball as he continues to develop. As is, Rutschman is one of the top backstops in the league, assured of the lion's share of playing time for Baltimore. His ceiling is the top fantasy catcher.
ARI (C)
G
124
AB
406
AVG
.232
HR
19
RBI
54
SB
11
R
60
On the strength of 27 homers and 16 steals, Varsho finished as the No. 2 catcher in 5x5 roto leagues last season. His .235 average dragged him behind the Phillies' JT Realmuto, but regardless it was an incredibly impressive campaign, and most importantly for our purposes, he maintains catcher eligibility entering 2023 (31 appearances, 18 starts behind the plate). There is some frigid blue on his Statcast page, so perhaps he will continue to struggle to hit for average, but the power-speed combination from the catcher position makes Varsho a valuable asset in the rotisserie game. As good of a young player as he is, those playing in one-catcher leagues and/or points leagues should beware not to overrate Varsho based on where he ranks on two-catcher, roto cheat sheets.
On the strength of 27 homers and 16 steals, Varsho finished as the No. 2 catcher in 5x5 roto leagues last season. His .235 average dragged him behind the Phillies' JT Realmuto, but regardless it was an incredibly impressive campaign, and most importantly for our purposes, he maintains catcher eligibility entering 2023 (31 appearances, 18 starts behind the plate). There is some frigid blue on his Statcast page, so perhaps he will continue to struggle to hit for average, but the power-speed combination from the catcher position makes Varsho a valuable asset in the rotisserie game. As good of a young player as he is, those playing in one-catcher leagues and/or points leagues should beware not to overrate Varsho based on where he ranks on two-catcher, roto cheat sheets.
TOR (C)
G
127
AB
391
AVG
.284
HR
15
RBI
53
SB
0
R
50
Kirk was one of the league's top hitting catchers as his 129 wRC+ was highest among the five backstops with at least 500 plate appearances. His plate skills remained excellent, with a 50% groundball rate supporting an increased BABIP. Kirk's exit velocity on fly balls increased, indicating his patience allowed turning on pitches he can drive, so while his power fell, it wasn't commensurate with the increase in grounders. Lost in Kirk's exploits at the plate were his improvements behind it. Kirk's defense improved significantly, specifically with regards to framing, but he also caught 26% of base stealers as opposed to 19% the prior campaign. Still just 24 years old, Kirk can easily regain some of the loft on batted balls, increasing power. Even with the uptick in defense, Kirk will often serve as designated hitter, so he should again combine quality and quantity into a top-10 fantasy backstop.
Kirk was one of the league's top hitting catchers as his 129 wRC+ was highest among the five backstops with at least 500 plate appearances. His plate skills remained excellent, with a 50% groundball rate supporting an increased BABIP. Kirk's exit velocity on fly balls increased, indicating his patience allowed turning on pitches he can drive, so while his power fell, it wasn't commensurate with the increase in grounders. Lost in Kirk's exploits at the plate were his improvements behind it. Kirk's defense improved significantly, specifically with regards to framing, but he also caught 26% of base stealers as opposed to 19% the prior campaign. Still just 24 years old, Kirk can easily regain some of the loft on batted balls, increasing power. Even with the uptick in defense, Kirk will often serve as designated hitter, so he should again combine quality and quantity into a top-10 fantasy backstop.
OAK (C)
G
133
AB
452
AVG
.237
HR
18
RBI
59
SB
1
R
59
Murphy came into the season known more for his glove work than his bat, yet finished the season as the fifth-best fantasy backstop behind only Realmuto, Varsho, Smith, and Perez. Murphy pulled a Perez-like workload in plate appearances with 612 plate appearances, but Oakland used him at DH 30 times to reduce the wear and tear on his knees. He rewarded them by reducing his strikeout rate and setting career bests in every possible category, even with his first career steal! The ballpark and the supporting cast for 2023 do him absolutely no favors, and he is just now entering his first year of eligibility so the possibility of a trade to a better situation is still off on the horizon. For now, enjoy the volume he provides but now you will have to pay full freight for him as the discount days are over.
Murphy came into the season known more for his glove work than his bat, yet finished the season as the fifth-best fantasy backstop behind only Realmuto, Varsho, Smith, and Perez. Murphy pulled a Perez-like workload in plate appearances with 612 plate appearances, but Oakland used him at DH 30 times to reduce the wear and tear on his knees. He rewarded them by reducing his strikeout rate and setting career bests in every possible category, even with his first career steal! The ballpark and the supporting cast for 2023 do him absolutely no favors, and he is just now entering his first year of eligibility so the possibility of a trade to a better situation is still off on the horizon. For now, enjoy the volume he provides but now you will have to pay full freight for him as the discount days are over.
ATL (C)
G
93
AB
342
AVG
.272
HR
15
RBI
54
SB
0
R
46
Some eyebrows were raised when Atlanta gave d'Arnaud a two-year deal after his disappointing 2021 season at the plate, but he rewarded the club with thier faith in him with a strong rebound season in 2022 as the club found a way to mix and match his strengths with William Contreras. d'Arnaud used a more aggressive approach at the plate in 2022 looking to hunt early and often for fastballs and he hit .274 while slugging .512 off heaters with 12 of his 18 home runs on the season coming off the 2021 season where he hit .193 and slugged .377 against fastballs. Despite producing like one, d'Arnaud has never been an everyday catcher as he has but twice exceeded 400 plate appearances but yet has five double-digit homer easons to his name and just scored a career high 61 runs this past season. Simply put, he makes the most of his opportunities and his 2022 production even exceeded what he did in 2019 when he re-established his market value with a livelier baseball. He could lose a few more at bats to the upside of Contreras in 2022, but he is otherwise aging very well.
Some eyebrows were raised when Atlanta gave d'Arnaud a two-year deal after his disappointing 2021 season at the plate, but he rewarded the club with thier faith in him with a strong rebound season in 2022 as the club found a way to mix and match his strengths with William Contreras. d'Arnaud used a more aggressive approach at the plate in 2022 looking to hunt early and often for fastballs and he hit .274 while slugging .512 off heaters with 12 of his 18 home runs on the season coming off the 2021 season where he hit .193 and slugged .377 against fastballs. Despite producing like one, d'Arnaud has never been an everyday catcher as he has but twice exceeded 400 plate appearances but yet has five double-digit homer easons to his name and just scored a career high 61 runs this past season. Simply put, he makes the most of his opportunities and his 2022 production even exceeded what he did in 2019 when he re-established his market value with a livelier baseball. He could lose a few more at bats to the upside of Contreras in 2022, but he is otherwise aging very well.
G
127
AB
430
AVG
.270
HR
10
RBI
53
SB
5
R
47
Vazquez was acquired by the Astros at the trade deadline to boost their offensive production at catcher, but he never found his footing in Houston and had a .586 OPS across only 35 games as Martin Maldonado remained the primary backstop. Vazquez also struggled in 2021 with a 76 wRC+, but he still had a strong first half for Boston last season with a .282/.327/.432 slash line, eight homers and 42 RBI in 84 contests. The latter numbers are more in line with his production over the past few years, and he's hit north of .270 in four of the past six seasons. He clubbed 23 homers in 2019 but hasn't reached double digits in any other big-league campaign, so he shouldn't be expected to provide more than a handful of long balls. Vazquez shouldn't have trouble finding consistent playing time given his strong work behind the plate and provides a solid average, and he's likely to remain a decent mid-tier fantasy option in 2023 at a position of offensive scarcity.
Vazquez was acquired by the Astros at the trade deadline to boost their offensive production at catcher, but he never found his footing in Houston and had a .586 OPS across only 35 games as Martin Maldonado remained the primary backstop. Vazquez also struggled in 2021 with a 76 wRC+, but he still had a strong first half for Boston last season with a .282/.327/.432 slash line, eight homers and 42 RBI in 84 contests. The latter numbers are more in line with his production over the past few years, and he's hit north of .270 in four of the past six seasons. He clubbed 23 homers in 2019 but hasn't reached double digits in any other big-league campaign, so he shouldn't be expected to provide more than a handful of long balls. Vazquez shouldn't have trouble finding consistent playing time given his strong work behind the plate and provides a solid average, and he's likely to remain a decent mid-tier fantasy option in 2023 at a position of offensive scarcity.
SEA (C)
OUT
G
113
AB
347
AVG
.213
HR
22
RBI
54
SB
2
R
38
All aboard the Big Dumper express! Raleigh earned the moniker from Jarred Kelenic with his breakout sophomore season hitting timely homers with stellar defense as Raleigh seemingly aimed to remind Seattle what they once had in Mike Zunino. Raleigh's batting average was nothing to write home about as it hovered there most of the season with some peaks (.254 in down the stretch) and valleys (.136 into June), but his 121 wRC+ was well above the 89 figure the catching position as a whole produced league-wide. Like Zunino, the story here is raw power and Raleigh has plenty of it with the ability to launch a baseball to all fields with a prevalance to crank and yank them down the right field line. His numbers against righties and lefties are nearly identical and the defense means he is the primary catcher as long as the recovery from offseason hand surgery goes well. He is one of the primary reasons the catching position is no longer considered a black hole as he went from undraftable in 15 team leagues last season to a likely top 8 catcher on draft boards this season.
All aboard the Big Dumper express! Raleigh earned the moniker from Jarred Kelenic with his breakout sophomore season hitting timely homers with stellar defense as Raleigh seemingly aimed to remind Seattle what they once had in Mike Zunino. Raleigh's batting average was nothing to write home about as it hovered there most of the season with some peaks (.254 in down the stretch) and valleys (.136 into June), but his 121 wRC+ was well above the 89 figure the catching position as a whole produced league-wide. Like Zunino, the story here is raw power and Raleigh has plenty of it with the ability to launch a baseball to all fields with a prevalance to crank and yank them down the right field line. His numbers against righties and lefties are nearly identical and the defense means he is the primary catcher as long as the recovery from offseason hand surgery goes well. He is one of the primary reasons the catching position is no longer considered a black hole as he went from undraftable in 15 team leagues last season to a likely top 8 catcher on draft boards this season.
(C)
G
125
AB
407
AVG
.194
HR
20
RBI
59
SB
1
R
48
KC (C)
G
130
AB
460
AVG
.222
HR
18
RBI
62
SB
3
R
29
Melendez gets a passing grade, offensively. As a 23-year-old rookie, he popped 18 home runs and drew 66 walks in 534 plate appearances, putting him roughly league average by wRC+. It's defensively where the questions come up. Melendez struggled behind the plate both defensively (-18 DRS) and with pitch framing. Salvador Perez is still locked in as the near-everyday catcher when healthy, so Melendez will likely see most of his time in the outfield to begin 2023. He's not a finished product with the bat, but the 2021 minor-league home run leader clears the bar in two-catcher leagues. The defensive questions leave open some playing-time downside, but the rebuilding Royals would be wise to live with his limitations and hand Melendez 500-plus PA again to evaluate his progress against big-league pitching.
Melendez gets a passing grade, offensively. As a 23-year-old rookie, he popped 18 home runs and drew 66 walks in 534 plate appearances, putting him roughly league average by wRC+. It's defensively where the questions come up. Melendez struggled behind the plate both defensively (-18 DRS) and with pitch framing. Salvador Perez is still locked in as the near-everyday catcher when healthy, so Melendez will likely see most of his time in the outfield to begin 2023. He's not a finished product with the bat, but the 2021 minor-league home run leader clears the bar in two-catcher leagues. The defensive questions leave open some playing-time downside, but the rebuilding Royals would be wise to live with his limitations and hand Melendez 500-plus PA again to evaluate his progress against big-league pitching.
DET (C)
G
91
AB
286
AVG
.245
HR
14
RBI
43
SB
1
R
37
Coming off something of a breakthrough 2021 campaign, when he hit 22 home runs and drove in 61, Haase was productive again in 2022 but took a bit of a step back. Despite playing in 12 more games, he only mustered 14 home runs and 44 RBI. Haase at least was clearly a better offensive option behind the plate than Tucker Barnhart, and that led to Haase essentially supplanting Barnhart as the No. 1 catcher as the season went along. Haase also displayed some defensive versatility, as he made 11 starts in the outfield, though that was down from 22 outfield starts in 2021, as the Tigers turned him into more of an everyday backstop. Catcher is a notoriously thin position in fantasy, so there is value in someone who can simply get to double figures in home runs and not be too much of a drain on batting average. That's what Haase has done the last two years for the Tigers, and he seems poised to enter 2023 as a starter, with Barnhart in a reserve role if he returns to the team. Now 30 years old, Haase is unlikely to take another significant leap as a player, so fantasy managers should continue to expect steady if not spectacular production.
Coming off something of a breakthrough 2021 campaign, when he hit 22 home runs and drove in 61, Haase was productive again in 2022 but took a bit of a step back. Despite playing in 12 more games, he only mustered 14 home runs and 44 RBI. Haase at least was clearly a better offensive option behind the plate than Tucker Barnhart, and that led to Haase essentially supplanting Barnhart as the No. 1 catcher as the season went along. Haase also displayed some defensive versatility, as he made 11 starts in the outfield, though that was down from 22 outfield starts in 2021, as the Tigers turned him into more of an everyday backstop. Catcher is a notoriously thin position in fantasy, so there is value in someone who can simply get to double figures in home runs and not be too much of a drain on batting average. That's what Haase has done the last two years for the Tigers, and he seems poised to enter 2023 as a starter, with Barnhart in a reserve role if he returns to the team. Now 30 years old, Haase is unlikely to take another significant leap as a player, so fantasy managers should continue to expect steady if not spectacular production.
The rest of our Fantasy Baseball Outlooks & Rankings are reserved for RotoWire subscribers.
LAD (1B)
G
160
AB
602
AVG
.319
HR
27
RBI
102
SB
10
R
121
With a 157 wRC+, Freeman was at least 50% better than average for the fifth time in his career. His homers fell, but a personal best 47 doubles helped mitigate the drop. One home run estimator indicated three of his 22 dingers were undeserved while another pegged him for four more. The underlying metrics show no difference from previous seasons, so perhaps the drop was moving to the NL West, though on paper it shouldn't have made a difference. Freeman swiped 13 bases, his most ever. Freeman only missed three games, bringing the count to just 10 absences since playing only 117 games in 2017. Excluding 2020, Freeman has collected at least 192 runs plus RBI over this span, exceeding 200 for the last three full campaigns. Freeman may not match the homers and steals of other elite hitters, but he makes up for it in the other three roto categories, and with a 12% walk rate, he's an OBP and points league monster.
With a 157 wRC+, Freeman was at least 50% better than average for the fifth time in his career. His homers fell, but a personal best 47 doubles helped mitigate the drop. One home run estimator indicated three of his 22 dingers were undeserved while another pegged him for four more. The underlying metrics show no difference from previous seasons, so perhaps the drop was moving to the NL West, though on paper it shouldn't have made a difference. Freeman swiped 13 bases, his most ever. Freeman only missed three games, bringing the count to just 10 absences since playing only 117 games in 2017. Excluding 2020, Freeman has collected at least 192 runs plus RBI over this span, exceeding 200 for the last three full campaigns. Freeman may not match the homers and steals of other elite hitters, but he makes up for it in the other three roto categories, and with a 12% walk rate, he's an OBP and points league monster.
STL (1B)
G
154
AB
567
AVG
.309
HR
31
RBI
100
SB
8
R
101
Goldschmidt's underlying metrics were actually better in 2021, but last season he teamed up with Lady Luck to take home the National League MVP. The only skill-based metric Goldschmidt improved from the prior campaign was a return to a double-digit walk rate. His HR/FB ticked up four points despite a slight drop in fly ball average exit velocity. His .368 BABIP was its highest since 2015, despite the third lowest average exit velocity over that span. His .261 xBA and .482 xSLG were both his second lowest since 2015. Despite all this, everything came together, and Goldschmidt posted a 177 wRC+, the best of his career. The take home message is expect regression, likely to a level lower than his 2021 season. Goldschmidt is still a solid fantasy producer with a high batting average floor and plus power along with a handful of steals, just don't pay for his magical 2022 season.
Goldschmidt's underlying metrics were actually better in 2021, but last season he teamed up with Lady Luck to take home the National League MVP. The only skill-based metric Goldschmidt improved from the prior campaign was a return to a double-digit walk rate. His HR/FB ticked up four points despite a slight drop in fly ball average exit velocity. His .368 BABIP was its highest since 2015, despite the third lowest average exit velocity over that span. His .261 xBA and .482 xSLG were both his second lowest since 2015. Despite all this, everything came together, and Goldschmidt posted a 177 wRC+, the best of his career. The take home message is expect regression, likely to a level lower than his 2021 season. Goldschmidt is still a solid fantasy producer with a high batting average floor and plus power along with a handful of steals, just don't pay for his magical 2022 season.
TOR (1B)
G
161
AB
620
AVG
.284
HR
36
RBI
100
SB
6
R
101
It was expected that Guerrero Jr would drop back off his incredible 2021 season due to Toronto playing fulltime at Rogers Centre rather than the cozy environments of Dunedin and Buffalo as well as the changes to Camden Yards for road trip. Factor in the mushball and his homers dropped off to where we reastically should have expected them to be but it was surprising to see both his runs and RBIs fall back below 100 considering the talent in the lineup around him in Toronto. Whereas he hit .315 with 11 homers with runners in scoring position in 2021, those numbers fell to 5 and .267 respectively last year in nearly identical sample sizes. RISP production lacks year over year stickiness, but it was an issue last year as the league did tend to pitch around him leading to more walks (11%) in those situations than others (8%.) The 8 steals were a nice bonus considering he is not the fleetest of foot. We can call him a five-category contributor as a first baseman; he cannot quite pull off a younger Paul Goldschmidt, but who can?
It was expected that Guerrero Jr would drop back off his incredible 2021 season due to Toronto playing fulltime at Rogers Centre rather than the cozy environments of Dunedin and Buffalo as well as the changes to Camden Yards for road trip. Factor in the mushball and his homers dropped off to where we reastically should have expected them to be but it was surprising to see both his runs and RBIs fall back below 100 considering the talent in the lineup around him in Toronto. Whereas he hit .315 with 11 homers with runners in scoring position in 2021, those numbers fell to 5 and .267 respectively last year in nearly identical sample sizes. RISP production lacks year over year stickiness, but it was an issue last year as the league did tend to pitch around him leading to more walks (11%) in those situations than others (8%.) The 8 steals were a nice bonus considering he is not the fleetest of foot. We can call him a five-category contributor as a first baseman; he cannot quite pull off a younger Paul Goldschmidt, but who can?
NYM (1B)
G
156
AB
579
AVG
.263
HR
40
RBI
113
SB
4
R
88
Since 2020, only Aaron Judge has more homers than Alonso. If you go back a year, Alonso heads the list. Last season, he posted his best season since 2019, fueled by a career high .271 batting average. Alonso's 18.8% strikeout rate dropped for the third straight season. His fly ball exit velocity dropped, but a tick more fly balls and missing only two games allowed him to reach the 40-homer level for the second time on his career. Other than stolen bases, Alonso checks all boxes. Missing only 18 games in his four-year career shows durability while a wRC+ between 120 and 144 each season indicates reliability. A low strikeout rate offers a solid batting average floor for one of the top sluggers in the league. Alonso also hits in a prominent spot in a productive lineup. For pure power, it doesn't get any better.
Since 2020, only Aaron Judge has more homers than Alonso. If you go back a year, Alonso heads the list. Last season, he posted his best season since 2019, fueled by a career high .271 batting average. Alonso's 18.8% strikeout rate dropped for the third straight season. His fly ball exit velocity dropped, but a tick more fly balls and missing only two games allowed him to reach the 40-homer level for the second time on his career. Other than stolen bases, Alonso checks all boxes. Missing only 18 games in his four-year career shows durability while a wRC+ between 120 and 144 each season indicates reliability. A low strikeout rate offers a solid batting average floor for one of the top sluggers in the league. Alonso also hits in a prominent spot in a productive lineup. For pure power, it doesn't get any better.
HOU (1B)
G
156
AB
597
AVG
.295
HR
26
RBI
104
SB
0
R
91
At the end of last season, Abreu's fantasy managers were left wondering one thing: where did the power go? Abreu managed a mere four home runs after the All-Star break, slugging .414 in 67 games after the intermission. He hit only one homer in his final 55 games. It wasn't just the power -- Abreu's strikeout and walk rates both went in the wrong direction in the second half. So, was he simply pressing or is this the beginning of the cliff for Abreu? He will be 36 at the start of the 2023 season. He still had outstanding season-long marks in exit velocity and hard-hit rate, per Statcast, despite the late power outage. Father Time is undefeated, but Abreu seems like a strong bounce-back candidate given his glimmering track record of both performance and durability. He finds himself in a perfect situation to put up significant runs and RBI as Houston's new starting first baseman after inking a three-year deal this offseason.
At the end of last season, Abreu's fantasy managers were left wondering one thing: where did the power go? Abreu managed a mere four home runs after the All-Star break, slugging .414 in 67 games after the intermission. He hit only one homer in his final 55 games. It wasn't just the power -- Abreu's strikeout and walk rates both went in the wrong direction in the second half. So, was he simply pressing or is this the beginning of the cliff for Abreu? He will be 36 at the start of the 2023 season. He still had outstanding season-long marks in exit velocity and hard-hit rate, per Statcast, despite the late power outage. Father Time is undefeated, but Abreu seems like a strong bounce-back candidate given his glimmering track record of both performance and durability. He finds himself in a perfect situation to put up significant runs and RBI as Houston's new starting first baseman after inking a three-year deal this offseason.
ATL (1B)
G
160
AB
591
AVG
.240
HR
36
RBI
107
SB
2
R
89
Olson handled the impossible task of replacing a face of a franchise the best he could, but the 2022 results were still a fantasy disappointment. Olson was coming off a career year in a bad ballpark with a lesser lineup, so the relocation to Atlanta and its roster was expected to be more of a boon for Olson yet the performance was closer to 2019 than it was 2021 In hindsight, we should have looked at the risks of changing leagues, replacing Freeman, and getting a new contract as a Bermuda Triangle of risks with the slugger as that is how the season played out. He took advantage of the lineup to continue to drive in runs and the 34 homers, with the baseball manufacturing issues, were still solid but he gave back the strikeout gains from 2021 going back to his pre-2020 levels as he worked to adjust to a different league. 2023 should allow him to resume the trajectory of 2021 with more familiarity with the National League. That said, how he handles non-fastballs makes or breaks his batting average and offspeed stuff really ate him up in 2022 (.224 avg, 26% Whiff rate) over 2021 (.267 avg, 18% whiff rate.)
Olson handled the impossible task of replacing a face of a franchise the best he could, but the 2022 results were still a fantasy disappointment. Olson was coming off a career year in a bad ballpark with a lesser lineup, so the relocation to Atlanta and its roster was expected to be more of a boon for Olson yet the performance was closer to 2019 than it was 2021 In hindsight, we should have looked at the risks of changing leagues, replacing Freeman, and getting a new contract as a Bermuda Triangle of risks with the slugger as that is how the season played out. He took advantage of the lineup to continue to drive in runs and the 34 homers, with the baseball manufacturing issues, were still solid but he gave back the strikeout gains from 2021 going back to his pre-2020 levels as he worked to adjust to a different league. 2023 should allow him to resume the trajectory of 2021 with more familiarity with the National League. That said, how he handles non-fastballs makes or breaks his batting average and offspeed stuff really ate him up in 2022 (.224 avg, 26% Whiff rate) over 2021 (.267 avg, 18% whiff rate.)
WAS (1B)
G
140
AB
555
AVG
.276
HR
26
RBI
81
SB
5
R
75
Meneses was the International Player of the Year in 2018, batting .311/.360/.510 with Triple-A Lehigh. Meneses played in Japan for two years then returned stateside in 2021, landing in the Red Sox system. He signed a minor league deal with the Nationals for the 2022 campaign. After cleaning house at the trade deadline, Washington promoted the 30-year-old for his MLB debut. He slashed .286/.341/.489 for Triple-A Rochester. Meneses crushed 13 homers in two months, though two xHR metrics pegged him for 10. While Meneses power was in line with his minor league numbers, his .371 BABIP with the Nationals was artificially high, spurred by an unsustainable number of outfield line drives sporting a high BABIP. Even with batting average regression, Meneses warrants a look at first base in a transition year for the Nationals. His power is mixed-league worthy, but brace for the inevitable dip in batting average.
Meneses was the International Player of the Year in 2018, batting .311/.360/.510 with Triple-A Lehigh. Meneses played in Japan for two years then returned stateside in 2021, landing in the Red Sox system. He signed a minor league deal with the Nationals for the 2022 campaign. After cleaning house at the trade deadline, Washington promoted the 30-year-old for his MLB debut. He slashed .286/.341/.489 for Triple-A Rochester. Meneses crushed 13 homers in two months, though two xHR metrics pegged him for 10. While Meneses power was in line with his minor league numbers, his .371 BABIP with the Nationals was artificially high, spurred by an unsustainable number of outfield line drives sporting a high BABIP. Even with batting average regression, Meneses warrants a look at first base in a transition year for the Nationals. His power is mixed-league worthy, but brace for the inevitable dip in batting average.
PHI (1B)
G
145
AB
541
AVG
.246
HR
32
RBI
83
SB
2
R
86
Last year was a mixed bag for Hoskins. He hit 30 homers, the second highest total of his career, but his 122 wRC+ was his second lowest in six MLB seasons. One reason is Hoskins stayed healthy for the first time since 2019. However, Hoskins didn't take full advantage with a career low fly ball rate. Sure, the personal high .292 BABIP was nice, but Hoskins' job is to hit the ball in the air, hopefully over the fence. His strikeout rate was a career high 25.1% with a 10.7% walk rate, just a tick better than last season's career low. While last season could have been better, Hoskins was still a solid fantasy asset with a skill set likely to provide similar results for a few years. The disclaimer for many players is not to pay for last season's stats. Doing so for Hoskins could earn a profit since he left some homers on the table. That said, his playoff exploits could help recover some of his lost allure.
Last year was a mixed bag for Hoskins. He hit 30 homers, the second highest total of his career, but his 122 wRC+ was his second lowest in six MLB seasons. One reason is Hoskins stayed healthy for the first time since 2019. However, Hoskins didn't take full advantage with a career low fly ball rate. Sure, the personal high .292 BABIP was nice, but Hoskins' job is to hit the ball in the air, hopefully over the fence. His strikeout rate was a career high 25.1% with a 10.7% walk rate, just a tick better than last season's career low. While last season could have been better, Hoskins was still a solid fantasy asset with a skill set likely to provide similar results for a few years. The disclaimer for many players is not to pay for last season's stats. Doing so for Hoskins could earn a profit since he left some homers on the table. That said, his playoff exploits could help recover some of his lost allure.
COL (1B)
G
128
AB
463
AVG
.263
HR
26
RBI
85
SB
0
R
67
It is somewhat amusing that while Cron hit 57 homers over the past two seasons in Denver, he never did reach the 30 plateau as he did in Tropicana Field of all places in 2018. Cron hit 22 of his 29 homers in Coors this past season with a hefty .302/.354/.601 slash line, but other stadiums were his kryptonite as he hit .214/.279/.340 away from Denver with seven homers. Fantasy managers should hope the Rockies keep Cron around as long as possible given how poorly he has hit away from Coors the past two seasons. The power will play anywhere, but this profile is much less attractive if it comes with batting average risks.
It is somewhat amusing that while Cron hit 57 homers over the past two seasons in Denver, he never did reach the 30 plateau as he did in Tropicana Field of all places in 2018. Cron hit 22 of his 29 homers in Coors this past season with a hefty .302/.354/.601 slash line, but other stadiums were his kryptonite as he hit .214/.279/.340 away from Denver with seven homers. Fantasy managers should hope the Rockies keep Cron around as long as possible given how poorly he has hit away from Coors the past two seasons. The power will play anywhere, but this profile is much less attractive if it comes with batting average risks.
BAL (1B)
G
136
AB
512
AVG
.262
HR
24
RBI
83
SB
3
R
62
Mountcastle's numbers don't express it, but he sported better skills than the previous season, but was shortchanged between six and nine homers, depending on which xHR mark is trusted. Looking at his spray chart, the discrepancy is more than the new Camden Yards dimensions. Mountcastle increased his fly ball exit velocity 1-mph, adding around four feet to his average fly ball distance. Yet, his HR/FB slipped from 20.4% to a snake bit 13.3%. Mountcastle chased less while being more aggressive in the zone, resulting in shaving a couple of points of his strikeout rate. The narrative will be moving the left field fences back in Camden Yards cost him power, but he was also unlucky in the home run department. This presents a buying opportunity as many will over adjust Mountcastle's new power baseline. He's still in the upswing of his career, hitting in the meat of an improving lineup.
Mountcastle's numbers don't express it, but he sported better skills than the previous season, but was shortchanged between six and nine homers, depending on which xHR mark is trusted. Looking at his spray chart, the discrepancy is more than the new Camden Yards dimensions. Mountcastle increased his fly ball exit velocity 1-mph, adding around four feet to his average fly ball distance. Yet, his HR/FB slipped from 20.4% to a snake bit 13.3%. Mountcastle chased less while being more aggressive in the zone, resulting in shaving a couple of points of his strikeout rate. The narrative will be moving the left field fences back in Camden Yards cost him power, but he was also unlucky in the home run department. This presents a buying opportunity as many will over adjust Mountcastle's new power baseline. He's still in the upswing of his career, hitting in the meat of an improving lineup.
KC (1B)
G
144
AB
516
AVG
.297
HR
23
RBI
71
SB
3
R
52
Despite posting a .391/.440/.739 line in the spring, Pasquantino opened the season with Triple-A Omaha, but a .932 OPS with 40 walks to just 39 strikeouts in 73 games earned him a late June promotion. Pasquantino began just 4-for-30 with six walks, but the Royals patience was rewarded as Pasquantino hit .316/.392/.478 the rest of the way, with a two-week interruption for shoulder discomfort. Pasquantino's discipline translated to the majors as he walked 35 times with just 34 strikeouts in 298 plate appearances. He's a fly ball hitter with plus power that should play in cavernous Kauffman Stadium, but he hits ample line drives to support a BABIP around .300. His best position is designated hitter which isn't ideal for a fledgling 25-year-old, but the Royals need his bat in the lineup, so he'll play every day. Most young players struggle, but Pasquantino's approach should lead to more peaks than valleys.
Despite posting a .391/.440/.739 line in the spring, Pasquantino opened the season with Triple-A Omaha, but a .932 OPS with 40 walks to just 39 strikeouts in 73 games earned him a late June promotion. Pasquantino began just 4-for-30 with six walks, but the Royals patience was rewarded as Pasquantino hit .316/.392/.478 the rest of the way, with a two-week interruption for shoulder discomfort. Pasquantino's discipline translated to the majors as he walked 35 times with just 34 strikeouts in 298 plate appearances. He's a fly ball hitter with plus power that should play in cavernous Kauffman Stadium, but he hits ample line drives to support a BABIP around .300. His best position is designated hitter which isn't ideal for a fledgling 25-year-old, but the Royals need his bat in the lineup, so he'll play every day. Most young players struggle, but Pasquantino's approach should lead to more peaks than valleys.
TEX (1B)
G
140
AB
512
AVG
.285
HR
21
RBI
67
SB
4
R
67
Lowe had a surprisingly terrific fantasy season in his second full season at the major leagues setting career highs nearly across the board. The .302 batting average was a huge surprise given he is not the quickest of players, but 19 infield hits on mostly weakly hit balls against the shift certainly helped push his batting average up this season. He also finally showed more consistent loft in his swing, and while he still has a 1.5:1 grounder to flyball ratio, that is an improvement over the 2.0 level he was living at in previous seasons. He has always been an excellent hitter when ahead in the count, but 2022 was the first time he wasn't futile when down in the count. Lowe hit .281 in such situations this past season going .179 in such situations previously. If you are banking on him hitting near .300 again, factor in that data point as well as the infield hits with the shifting rules changing. Draft for run production and level set your batting average projections a tercile lower.
Lowe had a surprisingly terrific fantasy season in his second full season at the major leagues setting career highs nearly across the board. The .302 batting average was a huge surprise given he is not the quickest of players, but 19 infield hits on mostly weakly hit balls against the shift certainly helped push his batting average up this season. He also finally showed more consistent loft in his swing, and while he still has a 1.5:1 grounder to flyball ratio, that is an improvement over the 2.0 level he was living at in previous seasons. He has always been an excellent hitter when ahead in the count, but 2022 was the first time he wasn't futile when down in the count. Lowe hit .281 in such situations this past season going .179 in such situations previously. If you are banking on him hitting near .300 again, factor in that data point as well as the infield hits with the shifting rules changing. Draft for run production and level set your batting average projections a tercile lower.
NYY (1B)
G
138
AB
489
AVG
.233
HR
28
RBI
69
SB
6
R
75
Likely by design to take advantage of the short right field porch in Yankee Stadium, Rizzo hit flyballs at a career high 49% clip. It worked as he pulled 16 of his 32 long balls into the right field seats in the Bronx, though Rizzo's 18.4% strikeout rate was its highest since 2014. More flyballs helped sink Rizzo's BABIP to .216, the lowest mark of his career, though the resulting power fueled a 132 wRC+, his best since 2019. Rizzo's contact and hard-hit rates remain solid but he's approaching the age where skills start to decline. He re-upped with the Yankees on a two-year deal with a buyout/club option for a third year, so the short porch will once again be a bullseye. The elephant in the room is Rizzo has been one of the most shifted players and with the new rules, he could benefit. A buying opportunity exists if the room is ignoring this, but it's unwise to anticipate a huge difference.
Likely by design to take advantage of the short right field porch in Yankee Stadium, Rizzo hit flyballs at a career high 49% clip. It worked as he pulled 16 of his 32 long balls into the right field seats in the Bronx, though Rizzo's 18.4% strikeout rate was its highest since 2014. More flyballs helped sink Rizzo's BABIP to .216, the lowest mark of his career, though the resulting power fueled a 132 wRC+, his best since 2019. Rizzo's contact and hard-hit rates remain solid but he's approaching the age where skills start to decline. He re-upped with the Yankees on a two-year deal with a buyout/club option for a third year, so the short porch will once again be a bullseye. The elephant in the room is Rizzo has been one of the most shifted players and with the new rules, he could benefit. A buying opportunity exists if the room is ignoring this, but it's unwise to anticipate a huge difference.
ARI (1B)
G
144
AB
523
AVG
.247
HR
24
RBI
78
SB
1
R
76
Walker parlayed more patience and an increase in fly balls into a 122 wRC+, the highest mark of his career. He swung at fewer pitches in and out of the zone, fueling a career low 19.6% strikeout rate. Walker's fly ball exit velocity increased, supporting a career-high .235 ISO. Unfortunately, his BABIP was adversely affected, falling over 50 points to .248. However, a 10.3% walk rate helped mitigate the damage. There was some luck involved in Walker's uptick, but the new approach should help him maintain more power than previously displayed. Walker's 17 defensive runs saved were by far the most among qualified first basemen which should help him stay on the field in the event he incurs some regression. After dealing with oblique issues last season, Walker missed only two games. He missed only 13 in 2019-2020, so durability is a plus. Walker is in play for those waiting on a first baseman/corner infielder.
Walker parlayed more patience and an increase in fly balls into a 122 wRC+, the highest mark of his career. He swung at fewer pitches in and out of the zone, fueling a career low 19.6% strikeout rate. Walker's fly ball exit velocity increased, supporting a career-high .235 ISO. Unfortunately, his BABIP was adversely affected, falling over 50 points to .248. However, a 10.3% walk rate helped mitigate the damage. There was some luck involved in Walker's uptick, but the new approach should help him maintain more power than previously displayed. Walker's 17 defensive runs saved were by far the most among qualified first basemen which should help him stay on the field in the event he incurs some regression. After dealing with oblique issues last season, Walker missed only two games. He missed only 13 in 2019-2020, so durability is a plus. Walker is in play for those waiting on a first baseman/corner infielder.
(1B)
G
152
AB
530
AVG
.258
HR
21
RBI
75
SB
0
R
74
As fantasy managers, we want all the data we can get to analyze how a player will perform. One thing we cannot measure is what happens when you disrupt a player's situation with a midseason trade and we saw that come to pass with Bell last season. The first baseman was having a terrific fantasy season for managers who bought back in at a great price this past winter until the deadline deal to the Padres where he slipped back into 2020 levels of production without the excuse of a pandemic at its peak to blame. His performance simply cratered out west dropping from a 143 wRC+ with the Nationals to a 79 wRC+ with the Padres. The pre-trade performance was some of e best production we have seen from Bell while the performance with the Padres was a return to the 2020 season which tanked his value he established during the happy fun ball season of 2019. His 2021 numbers are a more realistic expectation of what the 30 year old free agent can do in a full season, but he is likely finding his third team in less than a year. The defending world champs certainly could use a first baseman of his caliber, and given his Texas roots as a prep player, it could be just what the doctor ordered.
As fantasy managers, we want all the data we can get to analyze how a player will perform. One thing we cannot measure is what happens when you disrupt a player's situation with a midseason trade and we saw that come to pass with Bell last season. The first baseman was having a terrific fantasy season for managers who bought back in at a great price this past winter until the deadline deal to the Padres where he slipped back into 2020 levels of production without the excuse of a pandemic at its peak to blame. His performance simply cratered out west dropping from a 143 wRC+ with the Nationals to a 79 wRC+ with the Padres. The pre-trade performance was some of e best production we have seen from Bell while the performance with the Padres was a return to the 2020 season which tanked his value he established during the happy fun ball season of 2019. His 2021 numbers are a more realistic expectation of what the 30 year old free agent can do in a full season, but he is likely finding his third team in less than a year. The defending world champs certainly could use a first baseman of his caliber, and given his Texas roots as a prep player, it could be just what the doctor ordered.
The rest of our Fantasy Baseball Outlooks & Rankings are reserved for RotoWire subscribers.
TEX (2B)
G
158
AB
641
AVG
.251
HR
31
RBI
86
SB
19
R
101
For the second straight season, Semien led MLB with 724 plate appearances. His first nine games with the Rangers were disastrous with a .369 OPS. However, Semien recovered to post a .756 OPS the rest of the way. His 107 wRC+ was the third highest of his career, but that does not capture 25 steals, by far his season high. Semien's Statcast page doesn't portend power, but he's quietly a fly ball hitter with an uncanny ability to cluster them down the line where most fences are within reach. A career .263 BABIP reflects his fly ball nature, but a strikeout rate around 20 percent props up Semien's average enough so his power/speed combo plays in any format. It would be more comforting if Semien's success was greater supported by a higher exit velocity or hard-hit rate, but Semien's track record of getting the job done lands him among the top fantasy second basemen, buoyed by excellent durability.
For the second straight season, Semien led MLB with 724 plate appearances. His first nine games with the Rangers were disastrous with a .369 OPS. However, Semien recovered to post a .756 OPS the rest of the way. His 107 wRC+ was the third highest of his career, but that does not capture 25 steals, by far his season high. Semien's Statcast page doesn't portend power, but he's quietly a fly ball hitter with an uncanny ability to cluster them down the line where most fences are within reach. A career .263 BABIP reflects his fly ball nature, but a strikeout rate around 20 percent props up Semien's average enough so his power/speed combo plays in any format. It would be more comforting if Semien's success was greater supported by a higher exit velocity or hard-hit rate, but Semien's track record of getting the job done lands him among the top fantasy second basemen, buoyed by excellent durability.
ATL (2B)
G
145
AB
579
AVG
.259
HR
25
RBI
91
SB
15
R
93
The final three-and-a-half months of Albies' 2022 season were wiped out by injury, in particular a broken left foot and then a broken pinkie finger suffered in his second game back from the injured list. Most of the batted-ball metrics were well down for Albies, but it's impossible to glean too much from the sample (269 plate appearances). His strikeout rate remained right around his career average at 17.5%. Perhaps most disturbingly for rotisserie players is the fact that his running waned (3-for-8 on the basepaths) as his Statcast sprint speed only ranked in the 54th percentile. That said, we should expect renewed intent for Albies to start the 2023 season, assuming he doesn't run into more health trouble. Despite losing Freddie Freeman last winter, Atlanta still ranked third in baseball in scoring, so Albies could reach 100 runs scored for the fourth time already.
The final three-and-a-half months of Albies' 2022 season were wiped out by injury, in particular a broken left foot and then a broken pinkie finger suffered in his second game back from the injured list. Most of the batted-ball metrics were well down for Albies, but it's impossible to glean too much from the sample (269 plate appearances). His strikeout rate remained right around his career average at 17.5%. Perhaps most disturbingly for rotisserie players is the fact that his running waned (3-for-8 on the basepaths) as his Statcast sprint speed only ranked in the 54th percentile. That said, we should expect renewed intent for Albies to start the 2023 season, assuming he doesn't run into more health trouble. Despite losing Freddie Freeman last winter, Atlanta still ranked third in baseball in scoring, so Albies could reach 100 runs scored for the fourth time already.
HOU (2B)
G
141
AB
550
AVG
.278
HR
27
RBI
64
SB
12
R
105
One of these years, Altuve will let us down, but 2022 was not that year as he had his best season by wRC+ by repeating his four-category volume, albeit not in the way anyone predicted. Houston's issues at the bottom of the lineup limited Altuve's opportunities to their rebuilding years levels, but the 18 steals in 19 attempts was a huge surprise after a three-year run of 16 for 24 on the bases. He was one of four players (Berti, Andrus, Marte) to swipe at least 18 bases at age 32 and the first time since 2017 we have seen more than two players swipe that many bases. The changes in the rules may help Altuve's steals hold up another season, but treat double-digit steals as a bonus. The lineup around him and the home ballpark insulate him somewhat from the aging curve which he continues to evade. The physical similarities could raise the same age concerns which beset Dustin Pedroia at this age, but that is likely the only way he gets remotely discounted in drafts this season.
One of these years, Altuve will let us down, but 2022 was not that year as he had his best season by wRC+ by repeating his four-category volume, albeit not in the way anyone predicted. Houston's issues at the bottom of the lineup limited Altuve's opportunities to their rebuilding years levels, but the 18 steals in 19 attempts was a huge surprise after a three-year run of 16 for 24 on the bases. He was one of four players (Berti, Andrus, Marte) to swipe at least 18 bases at age 32 and the first time since 2017 we have seen more than two players swipe that many bases. The changes in the rules may help Altuve's steals hold up another season, but treat double-digit steals as a bonus. The lineup around him and the home ballpark insulate him somewhat from the aging curve which he continues to evade. The physical similarities could raise the same age concerns which beset Dustin Pedroia at this age, but that is likely the only way he gets remotely discounted in drafts this season.
MIA (2B)
OUT
G
144
AB
501
AVG
.246
HR
25
RBI
75
SB
26
R
81
What could have been. Chisholm Jr was on pace for a monster fantasy season in Miami after a winter where many debated his fantasy merits but the dream lasted just 60 games as a stress fracture in his back and a torn meniscus ended his season in late June. Preseason projections had him in the 20-20 aea with a low batting average, but Chisholm Jr was on pace to toy with a 30-30 season and finished 11 points above the league-wide batting average thanks to his willingness to accept a few more walks and chasing fewer pitches out of the zone. He has had a full-time role for two seasons in Miami, but we have yet to see a full-season of play from him and he has now lost his dual-eligibility as he is exclusively a second baseman. The 30-30 potential is still there for Chisholm Jr if the body is healthy and the next manager allows the team to run as Mattingly did this past season. The health risk should give you pause if you are considering reaching for the upside here.
What could have been. Chisholm Jr was on pace for a monster fantasy season in Miami after a winter where many debated his fantasy merits but the dream lasted just 60 games as a stress fracture in his back and a torn meniscus ended his season in late June. Preseason projections had him in the 20-20 aea with a low batting average, but Chisholm Jr was on pace to toy with a 30-30 season and finished 11 points above the league-wide batting average thanks to his willingness to accept a few more walks and chasing fewer pitches out of the zone. He has had a full-time role for two seasons in Miami, but we have yet to see a full-season of play from him and he has now lost his dual-eligibility as he is exclusively a second baseman. The 30-30 potential is still there for Chisholm Jr if the body is healthy and the next manager allows the team to run as Mattingly did this past season. The health risk should give you pause if you are considering reaching for the upside here.
TOR (2B)
OUT
G
151
AB
585
AVG
.267
HR
13
RBI
67
SB
27
R
84
Merrifield was the subject of trade speculation since he broke out for the Royals in 2017, and the team finally dealt him to the Blue Jays last season. It's really a move that came a couple years late, as the veteran utility man had a career-worst .642 OPS for Kansas City prior to the deal. He fared better in Toronto with a .769 OPS in 44 games, so he's heading into 2023 with a slightly more positive outlook. The 34-year-old closed out last year with 11 home runs, 58 RBI, 70 runs and 16 stolen bases, with the steals representing a significant dip from his 2021 production (40 thefts). Joining the Blue Jays' potent lineup should provide a boost to Merrifield's counting stats in 2023, and he'll likely open spring training as the favorite to start at second base. Even if he does continue to rebound from his poor first half of 2021, Merrifield shouldn't be expected to rediscover his All-Star form from 2018 and 2019, when he had a 115 wRC+.
Merrifield was the subject of trade speculation since he broke out for the Royals in 2017, and the team finally dealt him to the Blue Jays last season. It's really a move that came a couple years late, as the veteran utility man had a career-worst .642 OPS for Kansas City prior to the deal. He fared better in Toronto with a .769 OPS in 44 games, so he's heading into 2023 with a slightly more positive outlook. The 34-year-old closed out last year with 11 home runs, 58 RBI, 70 runs and 16 stolen bases, with the steals representing a significant dip from his 2021 production (40 thefts). Joining the Blue Jays' potent lineup should provide a boost to Merrifield's counting stats in 2023, and he'll likely open spring training as the favorite to start at second base. Even if he does continue to rebound from his poor first half of 2021, Merrifield shouldn't be expected to rediscover his All-Star form from 2018 and 2019, when he had a 115 wRC+.
STL (2B)
G
154
AB
594
AVG
.259
HR
12
RBI
59
SB
27
R
91
A graduate from Stanford with a degree in math and computational science, Edman is a smart baseball player and you can see it in certain stats like his stolen-base success rate (career 79-for-92). He picks his spots and maximizes his natural talent. While Edman doesn't draw a ton of walks, he puts the ball in play and can hit for decent average and a bit of pop from both sides of the plate. It's worth noting that of Edman's 32 steals last season, 21 came when he batted out of the leadoff spot. Conversely, he only stole two bags in 31 games batting at the bottom of the order, so the Cardinals' lineups will be worth watching as we push closer to Opening Day. Regardless of where he slots in, Edman will be in the staring nine close to every day thanks to his defensive prowess. He is eligible at both middle-infield positions entering 2023.
A graduate from Stanford with a degree in math and computational science, Edman is a smart baseball player and you can see it in certain stats like his stolen-base success rate (career 79-for-92). He picks his spots and maximizes his natural talent. While Edman doesn't draw a ton of walks, he puts the ball in play and can hit for decent average and a bit of pop from both sides of the plate. It's worth noting that of Edman's 32 steals last season, 21 came when he batted out of the leadoff spot. Conversely, he only stole two bags in 31 games batting at the bottom of the order, so the Cardinals' lineups will be worth watching as we push closer to Opening Day. Regardless of where he slots in, Edman will be in the staring nine close to every day thanks to his defensive prowess. He is eligible at both middle-infield positions entering 2023.
SD (2B)
G
154
AB
560
AVG
.255
HR
17
RBI
77
SB
4
R
87
"Pesky" may be the best word to describe Cronenworth as a player. He did not have a particularly good season by his standards (.722 OPS), but he lays off pitches out of the zone and punishes mistakes. Despite a Statcast hard-hit rate ranking in the bottom quarter of the league, Cronenworth got to a respectable 17 homers last season. He made the most of his lineup placement batting in front of Manny Machado and eventually Juan Soto. He puts the ball in play at a strong clip (career 16.5 K%), but this is not a flashy talent. What makes Cronenworth appealing is dual-position eligibility (2B, 1B), everyday playing time in a good offense and a relatively high floor thanks to his contact and plate management skills. If everyone else is jumping at the perceived higher-upside players, welcome him to your roster with open arms as he's a strong bet to clear 600 plate appearances again.
"Pesky" may be the best word to describe Cronenworth as a player. He did not have a particularly good season by his standards (.722 OPS), but he lays off pitches out of the zone and punishes mistakes. Despite a Statcast hard-hit rate ranking in the bottom quarter of the league, Cronenworth got to a respectable 17 homers last season. He made the most of his lineup placement batting in front of Manny Machado and eventually Juan Soto. He puts the ball in play at a strong clip (career 16.5 K%), but this is not a flashy talent. What makes Cronenworth appealing is dual-position eligibility (2B, 1B), everyday playing time in a good offense and a relatively high floor thanks to his contact and plate management skills. If everyone else is jumping at the perceived higher-upside players, welcome him to your roster with open arms as he's a strong bet to clear 600 plate appearances again.
SEA (2B)
G
140
AB
529
AVG
.284
HR
18
RBI
76
SB
0
R
69
France may not sport the typical corner infield skill set, but it plays and can be a fantasy asset when used in the proper lineup build. His primary skill is an elite contact rate as his average exit velocity is 24th percentile flanked with a 29th percentile hard hit rate. France's fly ball exit velocity is a little higher, allowing him to maintain a slightly above average HR/FB. Put together, France has registered a wRC+ of 133, 130 and 127 over the past three seasons. His job as the Mariners' every day first baseman is secure, and manager Scott Servais likes to hit him in a prominent lineup spot. France's run production should benefit from an improving Seattle lineup. It hurts a bit that France no longer has second base eligibility, but France can provide batting stability with enough power to merit mixed league corner infield consideration.
France may not sport the typical corner infield skill set, but it plays and can be a fantasy asset when used in the proper lineup build. His primary skill is an elite contact rate as his average exit velocity is 24th percentile flanked with a 29th percentile hard hit rate. France's fly ball exit velocity is a little higher, allowing him to maintain a slightly above average HR/FB. Put together, France has registered a wRC+ of 133, 130 and 127 over the past three seasons. His job as the Mariners' every day first baseman is secure, and manager Scott Servais likes to hit him in a prominent lineup spot. France's run production should benefit from an improving Seattle lineup. It hurts a bit that France no longer has second base eligibility, but France can provide batting stability with enough power to merit mixed league corner infield consideration.
LAD (2B)
G
142
AB
489
AVG
.213
HR
28
RBI
78
SB
2
R
82
Muncy's fantastic 2021 season ended with the news of his elbow not healing as expected and his draft value was diminished by the looming concerns Muncy may need TJ surgery and miss the 2023 season. He ended up playing nearly full-time and came close to matching his 2021 plate appearances total, but there was a noticeable decline in his production as he struggled at the plate with an extreme flyball (63%) and pull (49%) approach at the plate. The new shift rules can fix some of the concerns, but not if he continues to hit flyballs at that rate. The biggest difference between the two seasons was how Muncy handled the fastball: he hit .307 and slugged .693 off fastballs in 2021 but those numbers dramatically declined to .196 and .408 respectively in 2022 and the league fed him a steady diet of fastballs. He and the club worked out a two-year extension in August with a club option in the second year so if the Dodgers are willing to invest in his talents again, maybe we should feel comfortable giving him another chance. After all, only he, Pete Alonso, and Mike Trout have as many as three seasons of 35+ homers over the past five seasons.
Muncy's fantastic 2021 season ended with the news of his elbow not healing as expected and his draft value was diminished by the looming concerns Muncy may need TJ surgery and miss the 2023 season. He ended up playing nearly full-time and came close to matching his 2021 plate appearances total, but there was a noticeable decline in his production as he struggled at the plate with an extreme flyball (63%) and pull (49%) approach at the plate. The new shift rules can fix some of the concerns, but not if he continues to hit flyballs at that rate. The biggest difference between the two seasons was how Muncy handled the fastball: he hit .307 and slugged .693 off fastballs in 2021 but those numbers dramatically declined to .196 and .408 respectively in 2022 and the league fed him a steady diet of fastballs. He and the club worked out a two-year extension in August with a club option in the second year so if the Dodgers are willing to invest in his talents again, maybe we should feel comfortable giving him another chance. After all, only he, Pete Alonso, and Mike Trout have as many as three seasons of 35+ homers over the past five seasons.
SF (2B)
G
149
AB
459
AVG
.255
HR
15
RBI
60
SB
17
R
68
Estrada came into the season just hoping to make the roster and finished the season tied for 11th in steals while also hitting 14 homers. He was one of 51 players to pull such a double-double in 2022 and was arguably the most surprising one given he had never had a double-digit homer total at any stop of his professional career and had not swiped double-digit bases since the 2016 season. Injuries on the roster put Estrada at three different infield positions and he fell a game short qualifying as an outfielder for the draft. The Giants are already looking at him to be that Ben Zobrist-like player for 2023 now that he has shown can do more than just hold down the end of the bench. That versatility will help prop up his fantasy value as the overall profile still looks rather fringy despite the surprising numbers this past season.
Estrada came into the season just hoping to make the roster and finished the season tied for 11th in steals while also hitting 14 homers. He was one of 51 players to pull such a double-double in 2022 and was arguably the most surprising one given he had never had a double-digit homer total at any stop of his professional career and had not swiped double-digit bases since the 2016 season. Injuries on the roster put Estrada at three different infield positions and he fell a game short qualifying as an outfielder for the draft. The Giants are already looking at him to be that Ben Zobrist-like player for 2023 now that he has shown can do more than just hold down the end of the bench. That versatility will help prop up his fantasy value as the overall profile still looks rather fringy despite the surprising numbers this past season.
TB (2B)
OUT
G
107
AB
383
AVG
.243
HR
23
RBI
62
SB
4
R
64
Lowe took hold of an everyday role in 2021 and delivered an .863 OPS and 39 homers in 149 games, but a nagging back injury limited him to only 65 games last year. He batted .221 but finished 2022 witha slightly-above-average 104 wRC+, and he also cut his strikeout rate nearly five percentage points to 22.9 percent. It's unclear exactly how much the back injury affected the second baseman's production, and it's worth keeping an eye on whether the issue resurfaces again during 2023. He fared better against left-handed pitching with a .793 OPS, though that success may not indicate much since it covered only 48 plate appearances. A return to his 2021 form shouldn't be expected, but Lowe should be in store for a bounceback season in 2023.
Lowe took hold of an everyday role in 2021 and delivered an .863 OPS and 39 homers in 149 games, but a nagging back injury limited him to only 65 games last year. He batted .221 but finished 2022 witha slightly-above-average 104 wRC+, and he also cut his strikeout rate nearly five percentage points to 22.9 percent. It's unclear exactly how much the back injury affected the second baseman's production, and it's worth keeping an eye on whether the issue resurfaces again during 2023. He fared better against left-handed pitching with a .793 OPS, though that success may not indicate much since it covered only 48 plate appearances. A return to his 2021 form shouldn't be expected, but Lowe should be in store for a bounceback season in 2023.
LAD (2B)
G
134
AB
453
AVG
.243
HR
15
RBI
60
SB
11
R
67
Given Taylor's strong 2021 campaign that included his first All-Star berth, the Dodgers seemed to be getting good value on the four-year, $60 million contract they handed him during the ensuing offseason. However, the versatile veteran performed well below his usual standards in the first year of the deal, finishing with a .677 OPS -- his lowest since becoming a full-time player -- over 118 games. Health certainly played a part in the drop-off, as Taylor battled a variety of injuries (most notably, a fractured foot that kept out nearly all of July) throughout the campaign. The bigger picture, however, is that Taylor struggled mightily to make contact -- both his 39.9 percent whiff rate and 35.2 percent strikeout rate ranked very near the bottom among major-league hitters. The utility man also lost some of his utility last season, as almost all of his time was spent in the outfield and at second base following a 2021 campaign during which he logged double-digit appearances at four different positions, including shortstop and third base. The reduction in positional eligibility along with the offensive struggles will likely have a big impact on Taylor's draft stock heading into 2023; there's still an element of power-speed in his profile, but a bounce-back for a hitter in his early 30s is far from a certainty.
Given Taylor's strong 2021 campaign that included his first All-Star berth, the Dodgers seemed to be getting good value on the four-year, $60 million contract they handed him during the ensuing offseason. However, the versatile veteran performed well below his usual standards in the first year of the deal, finishing with a .677 OPS -- his lowest since becoming a full-time player -- over 118 games. Health certainly played a part in the drop-off, as Taylor battled a variety of injuries (most notably, a fractured foot that kept out nearly all of July) throughout the campaign. The bigger picture, however, is that Taylor struggled mightily to make contact -- both his 39.9 percent whiff rate and 35.2 percent strikeout rate ranked very near the bottom among major-league hitters. The utility man also lost some of his utility last season, as almost all of his time was spent in the outfield and at second base following a 2021 campaign during which he logged double-digit appearances at four different positions, including shortstop and third base. The reduction in positional eligibility along with the offensive struggles will likely have a big impact on Taylor's draft stock heading into 2023; there's still an element of power-speed in his profile, but a bounce-back for a hitter in his early 30s is far from a certainty.
SEA (2B)
G
130
AB
445
AVG
.261
HR
13
RBI
47
SB
15
R
68
A calf strain and subsequent setback cost Wong three weeks. He would go on to slash .281/.372/.490 with nine homers and seven steals in 64 games after the All-Star break although he lost time to lefties as his struggles against them mounted (.138/.266/.175 vs. LHP for the season). Wong hit .294 against southpaw pitching in 2021, but he has an obvious platoon partner in Dylan Moore after getting sent to Seattle in the Jesse Winker deal, so a loose platoon should be expected to begin 2023. Wong has proven to be productive against righties in his career with a solid average and a splash of both power and speed. He has only cleared 500 plate appearances twice in the majors and yet has recorded double-digit homers and steals on five occasions. His speed is waning as he pushes closer to his mid-30s, perhaps leaving some question about the sustainability of his stolen bases.
A calf strain and subsequent setback cost Wong three weeks. He would go on to slash .281/.372/.490 with nine homers and seven steals in 64 games after the All-Star break although he lost time to lefties as his struggles against them mounted (.138/.266/.175 vs. LHP for the season). Wong hit .294 against southpaw pitching in 2021, but he has an obvious platoon partner in Dylan Moore after getting sent to Seattle in the Jesse Winker deal, so a loose platoon should be expected to begin 2023. Wong has proven to be productive against righties in his career with a solid average and a splash of both power and speed. He has only cleared 500 plate appearances twice in the majors and yet has recorded double-digit homers and steals on five occasions. His speed is waning as he pushes closer to his mid-30s, perhaps leaving some question about the sustainability of his stolen bases.
(2B)
G
117
AB
435
AVG
.280
HR
13
RBI
47
SB
10
R
60
Segura sustained a fractured finger in late May and was limited to 98 games in 2022, and he was solid when healthy with 10 home runs and 13 stolen bases for a 105 wRC+. The injury resulted in him playing the fewest games of his career as he had previously never played fewer than 125 contests, not counting his rookie campaign and the shortened 2020 season. He continues to provide an above-average bat at second base, but his counting stats have dwindled over the past few years. He had a 15.0 percent strikeout rate and .305 BABIP, which is in line with his career numbers. Segura should be able to maintain that batting profile for at least another year, though his fantasy potential remains limited beyond a high batting average.
Segura sustained a fractured finger in late May and was limited to 98 games in 2022, and he was solid when healthy with 10 home runs and 13 stolen bases for a 105 wRC+. The injury resulted in him playing the fewest games of his career as he had previously never played fewer than 125 contests, not counting his rookie campaign and the shortened 2020 season. He continues to provide an above-average bat at second base, but his counting stats have dwindled over the past few years. He had a 15.0 percent strikeout rate and .305 BABIP, which is in line with his career numbers. Segura should be able to maintain that batting profile for at least another year, though his fantasy potential remains limited beyond a high batting average.
NYM (2B)
G
137
AB
478
AVG
.303
HR
9
RBI
53
SB
3
R
61
McNeil entered the season with little job security after he posted a .679 OPS in 2021 while the Mets signed Eduardo Escobar during the offseason and returned Robinson Cano from suspension, but McNeil turned things around in a resounding way and led MLB with a .326 average. He hit .319 across his first three big-league campaigns before he dropped to .251 in 2021, and in 2022 he showed the previous poor season was an aberration. The second baseman still didn't hit for much power with nine home runs, but he struck out at only a 10.4 percent clip. McNeil's counting stats were nothing special at 73 runs and 62 RBI, but that could be attributed to the fact he spent most of the year in the bottom half of the order. Leadoff man Brandon Nimmo is headed for free agency, and if he continues his career elsewhere McNeil would be a logical candidate to take over atop the order for the Mets.
McNeil entered the season with little job security after he posted a .679 OPS in 2021 while the Mets signed Eduardo Escobar during the offseason and returned Robinson Cano from suspension, but McNeil turned things around in a resounding way and led MLB with a .326 average. He hit .319 across his first three big-league campaigns before he dropped to .251 in 2021, and in 2022 he showed the previous poor season was an aberration. The second baseman still didn't hit for much power with nine home runs, but he struck out at only a 10.4 percent clip. McNeil's counting stats were nothing special at 73 runs and 62 RBI, but that could be attributed to the fact he spent most of the year in the bottom half of the order. Leadoff man Brandon Nimmo is headed for free agency, and if he continues his career elsewhere McNeil would be a logical candidate to take over atop the order for the Mets.
The rest of our Fantasy Baseball Outlooks & Rankings are reserved for RotoWire subscribers.
CLE (3B)
OUT
G
155
AB
583
AVG
.278
HR
34
RBI
118
SB
24
R
102
Ramirez is a machine who consistently pumps out terrific fantasy seasons yet rarely goes first overall in a draft. He finished as the third best player behind Judge and Goldschmidt this year despite playing two-thirds of the season with a hand injury which required offseason surgery. Ramirez set a career high in RBIs thanks to better talent in front of him in the lineup while dropping in homers and runs scored likely due to the hand and the inconsistent talent behind him in the lineup. 2022 was the fourth consecutive season he swiped 20 or more bases in a full season as well. The only knock on him is that he is a mere human at the plate when he hits righty, but that is only because he is that terrific hitting from the other side where he spends 80% of his time in the box. He still is unlikely to go first overall in a draft, but he is money in the bank when he is in the lineup with infinitesimal risk in his profile.
Ramirez is a machine who consistently pumps out terrific fantasy seasons yet rarely goes first overall in a draft. He finished as the third best player behind Judge and Goldschmidt this year despite playing two-thirds of the season with a hand injury which required offseason surgery. Ramirez set a career high in RBIs thanks to better talent in front of him in the lineup while dropping in homers and runs scored likely due to the hand and the inconsistent talent behind him in the lineup. 2022 was the fourth consecutive season he swiped 20 or more bases in a full season as well. The only knock on him is that he is a mere human at the plate when he hits righty, but that is only because he is that terrific hitting from the other side where he spends 80% of his time in the box. He still is unlikely to go first overall in a draft, but he is money in the bank when he is in the lineup with infinitesimal risk in his profile.
SD (3B)
G
153
AB
578
AVG
.294
HR
33
RBI
107
SB
11
R
100
Machado delivered career-best 152 wRC+ with 37 doubles, 32 home runs, 102 RBI and 100 runs to power the Padres offense in 2022. It's the second straight season the third baseman has cracked 100 RBI, and it's the sixth time in his career he's topped 30 homers. He surprisingly produced his worst strikeout rate at 20.7 percent, but a .337 BABIP helped him to a .298 average despite a .264 xBA. Machado will turn 31 years old in July and should continue to be a major producer near the top of San Diego's lineup in 2023, though his numbers could fall a bit if he's unable to again significantly outperform his expected figures.
Machado delivered career-best 152 wRC+ with 37 doubles, 32 home runs, 102 RBI and 100 runs to power the Padres offense in 2022. It's the second straight season the third baseman has cracked 100 RBI, and it's the sixth time in his career he's topped 30 homers. He surprisingly produced his worst strikeout rate at 20.7 percent, but a .337 BABIP helped him to a .298 average despite a .264 xBA. Machado will turn 31 years old in July and should continue to be a major producer near the top of San Diego's lineup in 2023, though his numbers could fall a bit if he's unable to again significantly outperform his expected figures.
BOS (3B)
G
148
AB
579
AVG
.285
HR
31
RBI
101
SB
3
R
90
Coming out of the break, Devers .324/.379/.602 was pacing for a career-best year. He then spent 10 days on the IL with a sore hamstring. After returning, Devers was unable to recapture form, posting a .248/.325/.383 line the rest of the way. Other than the 1.5-mph drop in fly ball exit velocity, Devers underlying skills weren't much different over the second half, but his BABIP dropped from .353 to .289. For the season, Devers still managed a career-best 140 wRC+, but a drop in homers and a less potent Red Sox lineup resulted in fewer than 90 runs and 90 RBI. Devers eclipsed the century mark in both in each of the prior two full seasons. Devers defense remained below average, but he showed signs of improvement. Still just 26-year-old, Devers best season is probably yet to come. He doesn't run, but Devers crushes the rest of the categories. He may not be first round material, but he's in the discussion.
Coming out of the break, Devers .324/.379/.602 was pacing for a career-best year. He then spent 10 days on the IL with a sore hamstring. After returning, Devers was unable to recapture form, posting a .248/.325/.383 line the rest of the way. Other than the 1.5-mph drop in fly ball exit velocity, Devers underlying skills weren't much different over the second half, but his BABIP dropped from .353 to .289. For the season, Devers still managed a career-best 140 wRC+, but a drop in homers and a less potent Red Sox lineup resulted in fewer than 90 runs and 90 RBI. Devers eclipsed the century mark in both in each of the prior two full seasons. Devers defense remained below average, but he showed signs of improvement. Still just 26-year-old, Devers best season is probably yet to come. He doesn't run, but Devers crushes the rest of the categories. He may not be first round material, but he's in the discussion.
ATL (3B)
G
156
AB
589
AVG
.280
HR
34
RBI
94
SB
1
R
86
Riley now has 3.16 years of major league service (trust us, don't look it up,) and has quickly established himself as one of the premier power hitters in baseball with elite metrics in Barrel%, Average Exit Velocity, HardHit%, and awesome walk up music. The expected stats from 2021 told us the .300 average was an outllier, so the 30-point drop in batting average did not come as much of a surprise. That said, he does profile as someone who should see some type of bump in batting average with the shift rules changing this season. Sure, he doesn't walk that often and his strikeouts are a bit on the high side, but this is a modern day Mike Schmidt at the plate who may eventually need a new defensive position given his limitations at the hot corner. He is a solid four-category performer who continues to improve his draft status and finished this season as the 21st most valuable player in standard formats. There is a strong chance he does not make it to the 3rd round this season so plan accordingly.
Riley now has 3.16 years of major league service (trust us, don't look it up,) and has quickly established himself as one of the premier power hitters in baseball with elite metrics in Barrel%, Average Exit Velocity, HardHit%, and awesome walk up music. The expected stats from 2021 told us the .300 average was an outllier, so the 30-point drop in batting average did not come as much of a surprise. That said, he does profile as someone who should see some type of bump in batting average with the shift rules changing this season. Sure, he doesn't walk that often and his strikeouts are a bit on the high side, but this is a modern day Mike Schmidt at the plate who may eventually need a new defensive position given his limitations at the hot corner. He is a solid four-category performer who continues to improve his draft status and finished this season as the 21st most valuable player in standard formats. There is a strong chance he does not make it to the 3rd round this season so plan accordingly.
STL (3B)
G
148
AB
558
AVG
.274
HR
30
RBI
98
SB
3
R
74
Save for the pandemic season, Arenado has totaled at least 30 homers with 100 RBI every season since 2015. He posted seasons with a higher wOBA in Colorado, but his 151 wRC+ was the best of his career. Arenado's defense was again stellar. The main differences between last season and his first with St. Louis were fewer strikeouts and more walks along with better BABIP fortune. His batted ball and Statcast numbers were virtually identical. Arenado missed a career high 14 games, but most were when he served a short suspension, was on the restricted list and on paternity leave so durability remains high. Arenado had a chance to opt out of his contract, but he declined. Playing in Busch Stadium could hurt his numbers towards the end of the remaining five years he has left on his contract, but there is currently no indication of a decline. What Arenado lacks in speed, he makes up for in reliability.
Save for the pandemic season, Arenado has totaled at least 30 homers with 100 RBI every season since 2015. He posted seasons with a higher wOBA in Colorado, but his 151 wRC+ was the best of his career. Arenado's defense was again stellar. The main differences between last season and his first with St. Louis were fewer strikeouts and more walks along with better BABIP fortune. His batted ball and Statcast numbers were virtually identical. Arenado missed a career high 14 games, but most were when he served a short suspension, was on the restricted list and on paternity leave so durability remains high. Arenado had a chance to opt out of his contract, but he declined. Playing in Busch Stadium could hurt his numbers towards the end of the remaining five years he has left on his contract, but there is currently no indication of a decline. What Arenado lacks in speed, he makes up for in reliability.
SEA (3B)
G
149
AB
529
AVG
.217
HR
33
RBI
87
SB
1
R
75
Suarez's time with the Reds came to an end last March when Cincinnati sent him and Jesse Winker to Seattle for outfielder Jake Fraley and two pitchers. The park downgrade didn't matter for Suarez as he continued to do what he always does; take his walks, strike out and hit homers. His strikeout rate ticked up to a career-high 31.2%, continuing what is now a five-year trend of increase in that number. With that level of swing and miss, Suarez will be prone to slumps. He's the type of player that needs a full season to find his level but in the end he's typically around 30 homers and 80 RBI. If you have the batting-average foundation already in place, Suarez makes a lot of sense in drafts as the third-base position begins to dry up. His 2021 was rocky but keep in mind the Reds were playing him at shortstop and his struggles in the field were clearly affecting him at the plate.
Suarez's time with the Reds came to an end last March when Cincinnati sent him and Jesse Winker to Seattle for outfielder Jake Fraley and two pitchers. The park downgrade didn't matter for Suarez as he continued to do what he always does; take his walks, strike out and hit homers. His strikeout rate ticked up to a career-high 31.2%, continuing what is now a five-year trend of increase in that number. With that level of swing and miss, Suarez will be prone to slumps. He's the type of player that needs a full season to find his level but in the end he's typically around 30 homers and 80 RBI. If you have the batting-average foundation already in place, Suarez makes a lot of sense in drafts as the third-base position begins to dry up. His 2021 was rocky but keep in mind the Reds were playing him at shortstop and his struggles in the field were clearly affecting him at the plate.
(3B)
G
133
AB
479
AVG
.280
HR
17
RBI
80
SB
3
R
71
Turner was on his way to avoiding the IL for the second straight season when he was felled by an abdominal strain just after the break. He played sparingly over the final two weeks after fouling a ball off his left shin. Turner continued to produce at an above average clip, posting a 123 wRC+, but his .438 slugging level was his lowest since 2013. Turner maintained a high 43.4% fly ball rate, but he posted a low 7.7% HR/FB as his fly ball velocity dropped to its lowest level since 2018. Turner's strikeout and walk rates remained stellar, he's just lost some bat speed in his twilight years. Turner's defense is league average according to defensive runs saved, but his range is decreasing. Now 38-years-old, Turner can still be productive, but he's on the decline and injuries are a concern. He's still a mixed league asset but be ready to pull the plug if his already waning power is slow to show itself.
Turner was on his way to avoiding the IL for the second straight season when he was felled by an abdominal strain just after the break. He played sparingly over the final two weeks after fouling a ball off his left shin. Turner continued to produce at an above average clip, posting a 123 wRC+, but his .438 slugging level was his lowest since 2013. Turner maintained a high 43.4% fly ball rate, but he posted a low 7.7% HR/FB as his fly ball velocity dropped to its lowest level since 2018. Turner's strikeout and walk rates remained stellar, he's just lost some bat speed in his twilight years. Turner's defense is league average according to defensive runs saved, but his range is decreasing. Now 38-years-old, Turner can still be productive, but he's on the decline and injuries are a concern. He's still a mixed league asset but be ready to pull the plug if his already waning power is slow to show itself.
COL (3B)
G
150
AB
518
AVG
.243
HR
22
RBI
74
SB
6
R
71
While it's not quite fair to say he has no chance outside of Coors Field, McMahon is a .215/.301/.351 career hitter on the road. He has been able to shave his strikeout rate in recent years from around 30% to closer to 25%, and McMahon has now reached 20 home runs in each of his last three full seasons. Even so, on any other team, McMahon may not garner much attention. He has utility in leagues that allow you to stream him for his home series, but McMahon should not be viewed as a player to set and forget as the road numbers will really drag him down. Last March, McMahon signed a long-term deal with the Rockies, so he's not going anywhere. Deploy him careful and McMahon can provide a good deal of value thanks to the Coors bump. He's now third-base only in many leagues after making only 10 appearances at second base in 2022.
While it's not quite fair to say he has no chance outside of Coors Field, McMahon is a .215/.301/.351 career hitter on the road. He has been able to shave his strikeout rate in recent years from around 30% to closer to 25%, and McMahon has now reached 20 home runs in each of his last three full seasons. Even so, on any other team, McMahon may not garner much attention. He has utility in leagues that allow you to stream him for his home series, but McMahon should not be viewed as a player to set and forget as the road numbers will really drag him down. Last March, McMahon signed a long-term deal with the Rockies, so he's not going anywhere. Deploy him careful and McMahon can provide a good deal of value thanks to the Coors bump. He's now third-base only in many leagues after making only 10 appearances at second base in 2022.
TOR (3B)
G
144
AB
509
AVG
.222
HR
27
RBI
73
SB
2
R
76
2022 was a mixed bag of fantasy success for Chapman. He made the adjustment from Oakland to Toronto, and an eight-percentage point reduction in his strikeout rate helped him raise his batting average 19 points last season. Yet, he still hit 14 points below the league average and simply replicated his home run total from the previous season when many were expecting a Rogers Centre boost to his homers away from O.co Coliseum. On the plus side, he once again avoided the IL as he has done for three of the past four seasons but even hitting .250 in a season appears to be a distant memory for him as he has not done so now in four seasons. He still makes excellent hard contact and could potentially benefit from the new shifting rules as his wOBA against the shift fell 103 points when he changed divisions. It would be foolish to expect a full rebound in that area as a well-positioned second baseman next to the bag still has a fighter's chance of stopping anything up the middle. He would hit higher in a less talented lineup as he did in Oakland, but that is not likely to happen in Toronto in 2023.
2022 was a mixed bag of fantasy success for Chapman. He made the adjustment from Oakland to Toronto, and an eight-percentage point reduction in his strikeout rate helped him raise his batting average 19 points last season. Yet, he still hit 14 points below the league average and simply replicated his home run total from the previous season when many were expecting a Rogers Centre boost to his homers away from O.co Coliseum. On the plus side, he once again avoided the IL as he has done for three of the past four seasons but even hitting .250 in a season appears to be a distant memory for him as he has not done so now in four seasons. He still makes excellent hard contact and could potentially benefit from the new shifting rules as his wOBA against the shift fell 103 points when he changed divisions. It would be foolish to expect a full rebound in that area as a well-positioned second baseman next to the bag still has a fighter's chance of stopping anything up the middle. He would hit higher in a less talented lineup as he did in Oakland, but that is not likely to happen in Toronto in 2023.
HOU (3B)
OUT
G
127
AB
459
AVG
.257
HR
18
RBI
75
SB
1
R
73
While he will always have his vocal detractors as a result of his purported involvement in the 2019 Astros cheating scandal, Bregman should be able to rest easy at night knowing he's lived up to expectations as the No. 2 overall pick in 2015. He's a two-time All-Star and now a two-time World Series champion, having hit .294/.379/.569 in the most recent postseason to help manager Dusty Baker secure his first ring. Bregman was limited in 2021 due to quad and hamstring issue and underwent wrist surgery in November of 2021, which may have sapped his power early on in the 2022 campaign (.410 SLG at the end of June). He would go on to slug over .500 after the All-Star break. Running is something Bregman has abandoned, but the highly-capable bat and RBI opportunities batting behind Jose Altuve, Jeremy Pena and Yordan Alvarez make Bregman an appealing option to consider after the elite tier of third basemen are off the board.
While he will always have his vocal detractors as a result of his purported involvement in the 2019 Astros cheating scandal, Bregman should be able to rest easy at night knowing he's lived up to expectations as the No. 2 overall pick in 2015. He's a two-time All-Star and now a two-time World Series champion, having hit .294/.379/.569 in the most recent postseason to help manager Dusty Baker secure his first ring. Bregman was limited in 2021 due to quad and hamstring issue and underwent wrist surgery in November of 2021, which may have sapped his power early on in the 2022 campaign (.410 SLG at the end of June). He would go on to slug over .500 after the All-Star break. Running is something Bregman has abandoned, but the highly-capable bat and RBI opportunities batting behind Jose Altuve, Jeremy Pena and Yordan Alvarez make Bregman an appealing option to consider after the elite tier of third basemen are off the board.
NYY (3B)
OUT
G
135
AB
520
AVG
.283
HR
14
RBI
54
SB
5
R
83
LeMahieu delivered a strong first half with a .279/.383/.403 slash line and 48:45 BB:K in 83 games, but he scuffled down the stretch and hit .195 after the start of August. He was playing through a toe fracture but eventually landed on the injured list and missed most of the final month of the season. The injury likely played a role in his struggles, and he ended up with the worst BABIP (.285) of his big-league career. Overall, he played in 125 games and had a career-best 12.5 percent walk rate, while his strikeout rate (13.1 percent) remained steady with recent seasons. LeMahieu took a major step back in 2021 and was rebounding well in 2022 prior to the injury, which is encouraging news for his outlook going forward. However, he'll turn 35 years old in July and may have a more difficult time reaching the highs of his first two years in New York, both of which netted him a Silver Slugger.
LeMahieu delivered a strong first half with a .279/.383/.403 slash line and 48:45 BB:K in 83 games, but he scuffled down the stretch and hit .195 after the start of August. He was playing through a toe fracture but eventually landed on the injured list and missed most of the final month of the season. The injury likely played a role in his struggles, and he ended up with the worst BABIP (.285) of his big-league career. Overall, he played in 125 games and had a career-best 12.5 percent walk rate, while his strikeout rate (13.1 percent) remained steady with recent seasons. LeMahieu took a major step back in 2021 and was rebounding well in 2022 prior to the injury, which is encouraging news for his outlook going forward. However, he'll turn 35 years old in July and may have a more difficult time reaching the highs of his first two years in New York, both of which netted him a Silver Slugger.
NYM (3B)
G
141
AB
522
AVG
.239
HR
21
RBI
74
SB
1
R
65
Escobar signed a two-year, $20 million deal with the Mets in November 2021, and he delivered a down year during his first season in New York. It was a tale of two halves for the veteran infielder, as he posted a .676 OPS prior to the All-Star break and an .825 OPS during the second half. In total he finished 2022 with a .240/.295/.430 slash line, 20 home runs and 69 RBI, with it being the fifth straight full season in which he's hit at least 20 long balls. His 23.8 percent strikeout rate was the worst of his career, though he also had the highest hard-hit rate (37.4 percent) of his career. Escobar hasn't shown a notable decline entering his age-34 season and should be a solid, if unexciting, option at third base for fantasy managers in 2023.
Escobar signed a two-year, $20 million deal with the Mets in November 2021, and he delivered a down year during his first season in New York. It was a tale of two halves for the veteran infielder, as he posted a .676 OPS prior to the All-Star break and an .825 OPS during the second half. In total he finished 2022 with a .240/.295/.430 slash line, 20 home runs and 69 RBI, with it being the fifth straight full season in which he's hit at least 20 long balls. His 23.8 percent strikeout rate was the worst of his career, though he also had the highest hard-hit rate (37.4 percent) of his career. Escobar hasn't shown a notable decline entering his age-34 season and should be a solid, if unexciting, option at third base for fantasy managers in 2023.
SF (3B)
G
147
AB
481
AVG
.243
HR
21
RBI
68
SB
1
R
69
Flores set a career high with 151 games and 602 plate appearances, but it was ill-timed as he registered his worst season since 2018. Flores' 17.1% strikeout rate was below league average, but it was his worst ever. His BABIP is generally low, but last season's .246 was a career nadir. He managed to club a career-high 19 homers, but that was compiling, not skills. Like most righthanded hitters, Flores hits southpaws better than righties, but last season he struggled with the platoon advantage, though he also fared worse than usual facing same-side pitching. Aside from less contact, Flores lofted a career-high 46% fly balls with declining exit velocity, which was the impetus for the drop in BABIP. There is a good chance Flores will play less this season, so if his skills revert to previous levels, his mediocre power and absence of speed has limited mixed league allure but can be useful in NL-only formats.
Flores set a career high with 151 games and 602 plate appearances, but it was ill-timed as he registered his worst season since 2018. Flores' 17.1% strikeout rate was below league average, but it was his worst ever. His BABIP is generally low, but last season's .246 was a career nadir. He managed to club a career-high 19 homers, but that was compiling, not skills. Like most righthanded hitters, Flores hits southpaws better than righties, but last season he struggled with the platoon advantage, though he also fared worse than usual facing same-side pitching. Aside from less contact, Flores lofted a career-high 46% fly balls with declining exit velocity, which was the impetus for the drop in BABIP. There is a good chance Flores will play less this season, so if his skills revert to previous levels, his mediocre power and absence of speed has limited mixed league allure but can be useful in NL-only formats.
PHI (3B)
G
134
AB
492
AVG
.283
HR
11
RBI
62
SB
3
R
66
Bohm posted a .647 OPS and 26.6 percent strikeout rate as a sophomore in 2021, but he took a major step forward last season and had a 17.4 percent strikeout rate and .280/.315/.398 slash line. He played in 152 games and totaled 13 home runs, 72 RBI, 79 runs and two stolen bases, though his defense at third base remains subpar. Less encouraging was a drop in his already-low walk rate (down to 5.0 percent), which somewhat mitigated his improved average. Bohm saw his O-Swing rate rise 4.5 percentage points but still significantly improved his contact rate from 2021, and it seems unlikely he's able to continue that trend long term. Entering his age-26 season, Bohm's low power and minimal work on the basepaths limit his fantasy potential, though his .282 average with RISP could again lead to solid counting stats.
Bohm posted a .647 OPS and 26.6 percent strikeout rate as a sophomore in 2021, but he took a major step forward last season and had a 17.4 percent strikeout rate and .280/.315/.398 slash line. He played in 152 games and totaled 13 home runs, 72 RBI, 79 runs and two stolen bases, though his defense at third base remains subpar. Less encouraging was a drop in his already-low walk rate (down to 5.0 percent), which somewhat mitigated his improved average. Bohm saw his O-Swing rate rise 4.5 percentage points but still significantly improved his contact rate from 2021, and it seems unlikely he's able to continue that trend long term. Entering his age-26 season, Bohm's low power and minimal work on the basepaths limit his fantasy potential, though his .282 average with RISP could again lead to solid counting stats.
LAA (3B)
G
130
AB
458
AVG
.282
HR
14
RBI
62
SB
1
R
55
Urshela bounced back from an injury-plagued 2021 season to find a home at third base with the Twins and post career highs in hits and plate appearances with a productive 119 wRC+. He may have been more valuable with his glove with a 4.6 UZR, which was sixth among third basemen. Urshela makes good contact (his 81.2 contact rate ranked 42nd among qualified batters) which typically results in a plus batting average but he also has slightly above-average power (66th percentile Max Exit Velocity). He had just 14 home runs last season but may have been held back by a 9.1% HR/FB%. He lost shortstop eligibility last season, but still has the upside of a 20-home run hitter with a near .300 batting average and a nice batting average floor.
Urshela bounced back from an injury-plagued 2021 season to find a home at third base with the Twins and post career highs in hits and plate appearances with a productive 119 wRC+. He may have been more valuable with his glove with a 4.6 UZR, which was sixth among third basemen. Urshela makes good contact (his 81.2 contact rate ranked 42nd among qualified batters) which typically results in a plus batting average but he also has slightly above-average power (66th percentile Max Exit Velocity). He had just 14 home runs last season but may have been held back by a 9.1% HR/FB%. He lost shortstop eligibility last season, but still has the upside of a 20-home run hitter with a near .300 batting average and a nice batting average floor.
The rest of our Fantasy Baseball Outlooks & Rankings are reserved for RotoWire subscribers.
PHI (SS)
G
156
AB
629
AVG
.313
HR
25
RBI
94
SB
30
R
107
Turner finished the season as the 6th best fantasy player in standard formats with another strong season as a five-category contributor. The drop in batting average was offset by a surprising surge in RBI thanks to hitting leadoff less frequently but more importantly, he avoided the injured list for just the second time in the past five full seasons. His speed buys him hits others cannot afford as his 33 infield hits helped prop up his average as he struggled with breaking balls (.247 average) throughout the season. Even as he approaches 30, he retains his elite speed and back-to-back full big volume seasons ease the health concerns that followed him in previous years. It is scary to think what Turner could accomplish in steals under the new rules as he was already one of the best thieves by success rate in the league. He landed in Philadelphia in free agency, which is close to a neutral move when factoring in the ballparks and lineups of the Phillies and Dodgers (where righty power played way up, per Statcast).
Turner finished the season as the 6th best fantasy player in standard formats with another strong season as a five-category contributor. The drop in batting average was offset by a surprising surge in RBI thanks to hitting leadoff less frequently but more importantly, he avoided the injured list for just the second time in the past five full seasons. His speed buys him hits others cannot afford as his 33 infield hits helped prop up his average as he struggled with breaking balls (.247 average) throughout the season. Even as he approaches 30, he retains his elite speed and back-to-back full big volume seasons ease the health concerns that followed him in previous years. It is scary to think what Turner could accomplish in steals under the new rules as he was already one of the best thieves by success rate in the league. He landed in Philadelphia in free agency, which is close to a neutral move when factoring in the ballparks and lineups of the Phillies and Dodgers (where righty power played way up, per Statcast).
SD (SS)
SUSP
G
140
AB
520
AVG
.265
HR
36
RBI
95
SB
23
R
102
Tatis Jr may possibly be the biggest fantasy wildcard of 2023. He will be coming off an 80-game suspension for PEDs that will end earlier than initially projected since the Padres went deep into the NL playoffs. Tatis Jr is now projected to be back on the active roster in late April, but he has also undergone two different surgeries this winter. He finally had that long troublesome shoulder operated on as well as his left wrist. You add in the complexity of missing the entire 2022 season with his off the field antics leading to injury, the suspension, and two surgeries and we are left with how early someone will take the risk on a top five talent in a draft. The upside remains huge, but nobody can be blamed for passing on this maelstrom of risks as we have rarely seen so many red flags at one time with a player, let alone one of his caliber. The projections will likely look conservative for his talents, but with good reason. Simply put, he is going to make or break many fantasy teams in 2023.
Tatis Jr may possibly be the biggest fantasy wildcard of 2023. He will be coming off an 80-game suspension for PEDs that will end earlier than initially projected since the Padres went deep into the NL playoffs. Tatis Jr is now projected to be back on the active roster in late April, but he has also undergone two different surgeries this winter. He finally had that long troublesome shoulder operated on as well as his left wrist. You add in the complexity of missing the entire 2022 season with his off the field antics leading to injury, the suspension, and two surgeries and we are left with how early someone will take the risk on a top five talent in a draft. The upside remains huge, but nobody can be blamed for passing on this maelstrom of risks as we have rarely seen so many red flags at one time with a player, let alone one of his caliber. The projections will likely look conservative for his talents, but with good reason. Simply put, he is going to make or break many fantasy teams in 2023.
TOR (SS)
G
146
AB
595
AVG
.294
HR
24
RBI
91
SB
17
R
94
At the All-Star break, Bichette sat with a .257 average, a .720 OPS and seven steals in 13 attempts. Water eventually finds its level. Bichette cut his strikeouts back down -- 24.3 K% in the first half, 19.2% in the second half -- and took off to the tune of a .337/.378/.543 line after the intermission. He also improved his efficiency on the basepaths in the second half, going 6-for-8 in steal attempts. In retrospect, those that jumped Bichette into the first half of the first round last spring were a little overzealous, but don't let that disappointment keep you from investing in 2023. There are no questions about Bichette's ability with the bat. If anything, the fact his sprint speed ranked only mid-pack might be of slight concern.
At the All-Star break, Bichette sat with a .257 average, a .720 OPS and seven steals in 13 attempts. Water eventually finds its level. Bichette cut his strikeouts back down -- 24.3 K% in the first half, 19.2% in the second half -- and took off to the tune of a .337/.378/.543 line after the intermission. He also improved his efficiency on the basepaths in the second half, going 6-for-8 in steal attempts. In retrospect, those that jumped Bichette into the first half of the first round last spring were a little overzealous, but don't let that disappointment keep you from investing in 2023. There are no questions about Bichette's ability with the bat. If anything, the fact his sprint speed ranked only mid-pack might be of slight concern.
G
161
AB
623
AVG
.268
HR
26
RBI
93
SB
14
R
98
Swanson has developed into one of the most durable and reliable players in the league, let alone shortstop. Swanson and teammate Matt Olson were the only players to appear in all 162 games. In fact, Swanson has missed only two games since 2020. Swanson's skills are stable and mostly solid, though a 26% strikeout rate drains his batting average below the elite at the position. However, Swanson has at least 25 homers each of the past two seasons and doubled his stolen base output to 18. He's in the range of players likely to benefit from the new rules, so 20 bags are plausible. Swanson's defense has been inconsistent with last season's ranking as above average. Swanson is a classic compiler, exhibiting solid but not elite skills, buoyed by volume. If he hits near the top of the order, Swanson has top-5 shortstop potential. Beware, after three straight solid seasons, Swanson's price is on the rise.
Swanson has developed into one of the most durable and reliable players in the league, let alone shortstop. Swanson and teammate Matt Olson were the only players to appear in all 162 games. In fact, Swanson has missed only two games since 2020. Swanson's skills are stable and mostly solid, though a 26% strikeout rate drains his batting average below the elite at the position. However, Swanson has at least 25 homers each of the past two seasons and doubled his stolen base output to 18. He's in the range of players likely to benefit from the new rules, so 20 bags are plausible. Swanson's defense has been inconsistent with last season's ranking as above average. Swanson is a classic compiler, exhibiting solid but not elite skills, buoyed by volume. If he hits near the top of the order, Swanson has top-5 shortstop potential. Beware, after three straight solid seasons, Swanson's price is on the rise.
KC (SS)
G
150
AB
592
AVG
.257
HR
20
RBI
80
SB
30
R
82
Rookies are supposed to struggle, but someone forgot to tell Witt Jr. He crushed the ball throughout the Cactus League and defied the odds to make the opening day roster for the Royals. While he did struggle to accept walks leading to issues in OBP leagues, he also became just the sixth player age 22 or younger to homer at least 20 times, steal at least 30 bases while also scoring 80 runs and driving in 80 joining the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Ronald Acuna Jr, Cesar Cedeno, Willie Davis, and Mike Trout who did that at ages 21 and 22. Many of his age peers were still in A and AA ball while Witt Jr had an above league average OPS despite the low walk total. He has gone from wildcard last winter to a likely first round selection in standard 5x5 leagues this winter. The OBP penalty may hang around for another season, but he could be peak Hanley Ramirez in a hurry with his bat and legs.
Rookies are supposed to struggle, but someone forgot to tell Witt Jr. He crushed the ball throughout the Cactus League and defied the odds to make the opening day roster for the Royals. While he did struggle to accept walks leading to issues in OBP leagues, he also became just the sixth player age 22 or younger to homer at least 20 times, steal at least 30 bases while also scoring 80 runs and driving in 80 joining the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Ronald Acuna Jr, Cesar Cedeno, Willie Davis, and Mike Trout who did that at ages 21 and 22. Many of his age peers were still in A and AA ball while Witt Jr had an above league average OPS despite the low walk total. He has gone from wildcard last winter to a likely first round selection in standard 5x5 leagues this winter. The OBP penalty may hang around for another season, but he could be peak Hanley Ramirez in a hurry with his bat and legs.
NYM (SS)
G
149
AB
572
AVG
.259
HR
23
RBI
87
SB
14
R
87
Lindor's first year with the Mets in 2021 was the worst of his career, but he rebounded last season with a 127 wRC+ in 161 games. The 29-year-old totaled 26 home runs, 107 RBI, 98 runs and 16 stolen bases, and it's the first time in his career he's driven in more than 100 runs. The shortstop's resurgence played a major role in pushing New York to 101 wins and back to the playoffs, as he looked more like the player he was for Cleveland from 2017-19 than the player the Mets got in Year 1. However, Lindor also had a career-worst 18.8 percent strikeout rate and career-high .301 BABIP, which could temper expectations on him building on the 2022 production.
Lindor's first year with the Mets in 2021 was the worst of his career, but he rebounded last season with a 127 wRC+ in 161 games. The 29-year-old totaled 26 home runs, 107 RBI, 98 runs and 16 stolen bases, and it's the first time in his career he's driven in more than 100 runs. The shortstop's resurgence played a major role in pushing New York to 101 wins and back to the playoffs, as he looked more like the player he was for Cleveland from 2017-19 than the player the Mets got in Year 1. However, Lindor also had a career-worst 18.8 percent strikeout rate and career-high .301 BABIP, which could temper expectations on him building on the 2022 production.
G
148
AB
546
AVG
.302
HR
20
RBI
75
SB
9
R
88
Bogaerts has been consistently productive without an impressive Statcast page. Last season, he again parlayed outstanding plate coverage into a solid campaign, posting a 134 wRC+, the second highest of his career. Bogaerts homers usually emanate from turning on mistakes, but he was unable to do it as often, perhaps due to lingering shoulder and other assorted woes. The drop in power was mitigated by a .362 BABIP, above his career .336 mark. However, it was driven by a .356 BABIP on grounders, over 50 points above his career norm. Defense has always been an issue, but last season Bogaerts vowed to improve, and he did, finishing third for the AL Gold Glove at shortstop. Bogaerts opted out of his contract to enter free agency. His skills will play anywhere, though his power could benefit from a homer-friendly park. Nagging issues have been an issue, but Bogaerts is still one of the best fantasy shortstops.
Bogaerts has been consistently productive without an impressive Statcast page. Last season, he again parlayed outstanding plate coverage into a solid campaign, posting a 134 wRC+, the second highest of his career. Bogaerts homers usually emanate from turning on mistakes, but he was unable to do it as often, perhaps due to lingering shoulder and other assorted woes. The drop in power was mitigated by a .362 BABIP, above his career .336 mark. However, it was driven by a .356 BABIP on grounders, over 50 points above his career norm. Defense has always been an issue, but last season Bogaerts vowed to improve, and he did, finishing third for the AL Gold Glove at shortstop. Bogaerts opted out of his contract to enter free agency. His skills will play anywhere, though his power could benefit from a homer-friendly park. Nagging issues have been an issue, but Bogaerts is still one of the best fantasy shortstops.
TEX (SS)
G
131
AB
510
AVG
.271
HR
29
RBI
79
SB
2
R
81
The pressures that come with a 10-year, $325 million contract didn't seem to faze Seager, who established a new career high with 33 homers in his first season with the Rangers. He also drove in 80-plus for the second time in his career, and while his batting average was slightly disappointing, that was largely the result of a .242 BABIP that should be expected to return closer to his career norm (.317). The Statcast numbers suggest it was mostly bad luck as he crushed the baseball to the tune of a 97th percentile xSLG. Seager does not run but he puts bat to ball with great consistency -- his strikeout rate has ranged from 15.5% to 16.1% over the past three seasons -- and he's still just entering his age-29 season. A three-time All-Star, Seager is the type of player that could be an MVP candidate with sustained health and a little better luck on the field.
The pressures that come with a 10-year, $325 million contract didn't seem to faze Seager, who established a new career high with 33 homers in his first season with the Rangers. He also drove in 80-plus for the second time in his career, and while his batting average was slightly disappointing, that was largely the result of a .242 BABIP that should be expected to return closer to his career norm (.317). The Statcast numbers suggest it was mostly bad luck as he crushed the baseball to the tune of a 97th percentile xSLG. Seager does not run but he puts bat to ball with great consistency -- his strikeout rate has ranged from 15.5% to 16.1% over the past three seasons -- and he's still just entering his age-29 season. A three-time All-Star, Seager is the type of player that could be an MVP candidate with sustained health and a little better luck on the field.
PIT (SS)
G
132
AB
507
AVG
.237
HR
27
RBI
84
SB
15
R
69
Cruz is a walking highlight reel. He is a physical specimen at 6-foot-7, 210 pounds and packs some of the loudest tools you're ever likely to see on a baseball field. In late August, Cruz hit a batted ball at 122.4 mph, setting a new record for the Statcast era. His sprint speed ranked in the 98th percentile last season. As expected, there were some swing-and-miss issues (34.9 K%), though he shaved the strikeouts down over the season's final month and really took off (.288/.359/.525). The upside is obvious with the former top prospect, but it's important to remember that he's still just 24 years old and will be playing for a Pirates team without much around him in one of the game's worst ballparks for offense.
Cruz is a walking highlight reel. He is a physical specimen at 6-foot-7, 210 pounds and packs some of the loudest tools you're ever likely to see on a baseball field. In late August, Cruz hit a batted ball at 122.4 mph, setting a new record for the Statcast era. His sprint speed ranked in the 98th percentile last season. As expected, there were some swing-and-miss issues (34.9 K%), though he shaved the strikeouts down over the season's final month and really took off (.288/.359/.525). The upside is obvious with the former top prospect, but it's important to remember that he's still just 24 years old and will be playing for a Pirates team without much around him in one of the game's worst ballparks for offense.
MIL (SS)
G
140
AB
530
AVG
.249
HR
27
RBI
84
SB
7
R
80
Adames's 2022 outlook reminded fantasy managers how the shortstop was two different players: the struggling Home Willy at Tropicana Field and the awesome Road Willy away from it. Adames certainly enjoyed a full season in his new home as he hit 18 of his 31 homers in Milwaukee while setting a career high in RBIs and steals while finishing as the seventh most valuable shorstop on the season in standard formats. The new home digs helped him with homers, but switching leagues and divisions threw in a level of unfamilarity which led to batting average challenges both at home and on the road despite his third consecutive reduction in strikeout rate as his challenges with non-fastballs continue to linger. Adames is in a contract year, and has proven his merits defensively and has shown the ability to hit for power, but he remains a batting average risk until he shows he can effectively handle non-fastballs.
Adames's 2022 outlook reminded fantasy managers how the shortstop was two different players: the struggling Home Willy at Tropicana Field and the awesome Road Willy away from it. Adames certainly enjoyed a full season in his new home as he hit 18 of his 31 homers in Milwaukee while setting a career high in RBIs and steals while finishing as the seventh most valuable shorstop on the season in standard formats. The new home digs helped him with homers, but switching leagues and divisions threw in a level of unfamilarity which led to batting average challenges both at home and on the road despite his third consecutive reduction in strikeout rate as his challenges with non-fastballs continue to linger. Adames is in a contract year, and has proven his merits defensively and has shown the ability to hit for power, but he remains a batting average risk until he shows he can effectively handle non-fastballs.
BOS (SS)
OUT
G
121
AB
460
AVG
.254
HR
21
RBI
71
SB
20
R
74
There were concerns with Story with the "Big Contract in New Place" theory as well as him leaving Coors Field in play along with the usual dose of health reservations with the talented hitter. It turns out each of them were well-founded as they all came into play in 2023. Story performed as a league average player in the 94 games he did play with good counting stats, but missing nearly 60 games with a hand injury and a foot injury limited his overall production. A surprising jump in his strikeout rate coming over to the American League helped push his batting average to a career-worst .238 while his .251 average in Fenway could not save him. 2018 remains the only season in which Story has successfully avoided some type of injury, and while that is always looming, his sophomore season in Boston should offer a nice bounceback to 2021-levels of production.
There were concerns with Story with the "Big Contract in New Place" theory as well as him leaving Coors Field in play along with the usual dose of health reservations with the talented hitter. It turns out each of them were well-founded as they all came into play in 2023. Story performed as a league average player in the 94 games he did play with good counting stats, but missing nearly 60 games with a hand injury and a foot injury limited his overall production. A surprising jump in his strikeout rate coming over to the American League helped push his batting average to a career-worst .238 while his .251 average in Fenway could not save him. 2018 remains the only season in which Story has successfully avoided some type of injury, and while that is always looming, his sophomore season in Boston should offer a nice bounceback to 2021-levels of production.
HOU (SS)
G
150
AB
574
AVG
.253
HR
24
RBI
70
SB
14
R
79
Pena had the task of replacing the void left by Carlos Correa's departure in free agency over the winter. Pena had no major league experience coming into the season and had just 160 plate appearances at the minor league level the previous season, but finished the season slightly better than league average with a 102 wRC+. Few would have projected him with double-digit steals let alone double-digit homers, yet the rookie did both hitting more homers in 2022 than he had in his professional baseball career from 2018-2021 and stole more bases than he did in 2019 and 2021 combined. He didn't accept many walks in Triple-A in 2021 and accepted even fewer as a rookie while striking out often, but the Houston lineup was deep enough to absorb these risks and keep his excellent defense in the lineup as often as it was. The profile is rather reminscent of a younger Javier Baez with perhaps a little more contact, but the same types of risks apply with the conditions ripe for a sophomore slump.
Pena had the task of replacing the void left by Carlos Correa's departure in free agency over the winter. Pena had no major league experience coming into the season and had just 160 plate appearances at the minor league level the previous season, but finished the season slightly better than league average with a 102 wRC+. Few would have projected him with double-digit steals let alone double-digit homers, yet the rookie did both hitting more homers in 2022 than he had in his professional baseball career from 2018-2021 and stole more bases than he did in 2019 and 2021 combined. He didn't accept many walks in Triple-A in 2021 and accepted even fewer as a rookie while striking out often, but the Houston lineup was deep enough to absorb these risks and keep his excellent defense in the lineup as often as it was. The profile is rather reminscent of a younger Javier Baez with perhaps a little more contact, but the same types of risks apply with the conditions ripe for a sophomore slump.
ATL (SS)
G
122
AB
426
AVG
.296
HR
18
RBI
54
SB
18
R
72
Grissom began the season with High-A Rome before being promoted to Double-A Mississippi. Atlanta summoned him in early August, and he filled in admirably, posting a .291/.353/.440 line in 156 plate appearances. However, a .163/.250/.163 stretch for two weeks in September cost Grissom his starting job for the last ten games and into the playoffs. Grissom's early success was driven by a high BABIP, so regression was expected. He fanned a little more in the bigs, but that's to be expected. Even though he was mostly a shortstop in the minors, Grissom played second with the Braves. With Ozzie Albies back, Grissom could play shortstop or outfield. Ron Washington worked with Grissom in case the move to short manifests. Grissom is looking at a long and productive career, but his plausible outcomes this season range from a full-time job to struggling in the spring and opening the season with Triple-A Gwinnett.
Grissom began the season with High-A Rome before being promoted to Double-A Mississippi. Atlanta summoned him in early August, and he filled in admirably, posting a .291/.353/.440 line in 156 plate appearances. However, a .163/.250/.163 stretch for two weeks in September cost Grissom his starting job for the last ten games and into the playoffs. Grissom's early success was driven by a high BABIP, so regression was expected. He fanned a little more in the bigs, but that's to be expected. Even though he was mostly a shortstop in the minors, Grissom played second with the Braves. With Ozzie Albies back, Grissom could play shortstop or outfield. Ron Washington worked with Grissom in case the move to short manifests. Grissom is looking at a long and productive career, but his plausible outcomes this season range from a full-time job to struggling in the spring and opening the season with Triple-A Gwinnett.
(SS)
G
143
AB
536
AVG
.282
HR
22
RBI
74
SB
0
R
80
Correa surprised us all by signing a creative three-year deal with Minnesota and then unsurprisingly opted out of it to test the free agent market yet again. It is a risky play for someone who has as many full seasons as he does partial over the past fix full seasons, but youth is still on his side and he is coming off multiple well above average offensive seasons. Fantasy managers have given up any hope for steals out of Correa, but he is a solid four-category player as long as he remains on the field. A bruised finger had him on the IL this year, but he closed the season with a bang and the right new home park and lineup could put 2021 levels of production back into play. Of course, we run the risk of large new contract in a new home, but Correa deftly navigated those waters in 2022 for an underperforming team.
Correa surprised us all by signing a creative three-year deal with Minnesota and then unsurprisingly opted out of it to test the free agent market yet again. It is a risky play for someone who has as many full seasons as he does partial over the past fix full seasons, but youth is still on his side and he is coming off multiple well above average offensive seasons. Fantasy managers have given up any hope for steals out of Correa, but he is a solid four-category player as long as he remains on the field. A bruised finger had him on the IL this year, but he closed the season with a bang and the right new home park and lineup could put 2021 levels of production back into play. Of course, we run the risk of large new contract in a new home, but Correa deftly navigated those waters in 2022 for an underperforming team.
DET (SS)
G
145
AB
545
AVG
.239
HR
22
RBI
73
SB
12
R
71
Everyone remembers the infamous ceremonial first pitch by 50-Cent years ago, yes? Baez absolutely would have swung at that pitch in 2022. The first year Tiger led the league with a 49% out of zone swing rate last season chasing anything and everything thrown toward home plate and only Luke Voit had a worse swinging strike rate baseball last season. Perhaps the pressures of a big free agent in a new home fell upon him as this was easily the worst season of his career as he struggled to adjust to the spaciousness of Comerica Park after so many years in the Friendly Comfines in Chicago as he hit .220 with 7 homers at home compared to .253 with 10 homers on the road this past season. Despite his lack of selectiveness, he did surprisingly well with runners in scoring position hitting .296 with a .496 slugging percentage which allowed him to drive in 47 of his 67 RBIs on the season.However, a .212 average with a .260 OBP with the bases empty, which they often were in Detroit, impacted his abilities to score runs and steal bases. The second year rebound many free agents have seen should come into play here with Baez as he reduces his impulse to swing his way out of his struggles. He has never been the most disciplined hitter, but 2022 was as bad as we have ever seen from him and not the new reality.
Everyone remembers the infamous ceremonial first pitch by 50-Cent years ago, yes? Baez absolutely would have swung at that pitch in 2022. The first year Tiger led the league with a 49% out of zone swing rate last season chasing anything and everything thrown toward home plate and only Luke Voit had a worse swinging strike rate baseball last season. Perhaps the pressures of a big free agent in a new home fell upon him as this was easily the worst season of his career as he struggled to adjust to the spaciousness of Comerica Park after so many years in the Friendly Comfines in Chicago as he hit .220 with 7 homers at home compared to .253 with 10 homers on the road this past season. Despite his lack of selectiveness, he did surprisingly well with runners in scoring position hitting .296 with a .496 slugging percentage which allowed him to drive in 47 of his 67 RBIs on the season.However, a .212 average with a .260 OBP with the bases empty, which they often were in Detroit, impacted his abilities to score runs and steal bases. The second year rebound many free agents have seen should come into play here with Baez as he reduces his impulse to swing his way out of his struggles. He has never been the most disciplined hitter, but 2022 was as bad as we have ever seen from him and not the new reality.
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(OF)
G
140
AB
514
AVG
.296
HR
48
RBI
108
SB
10
R
107
Judge and the Yankees were unable to agree on a contract extension prior to the 2022 campaign, and the slugger delivered a recording-breaking season in his final year before free agency. The outfielder, who will turn 31 years old in April, set an American League record with 62 home runs and also totaled 111 walks, 131 RBI and 133 runs scored with a .311/.425/.686 slash line. He endured his share of injury issues in the past but played in a career-high 157 games and has missed only 19 contests across the past two seasons. Given the incredible numbers Judge is unlikely to deliver a repeat performance in 2023, though he should remain one of the most productive hitters in MLB regardless of whether he returns to New York or continues his career elsewhere.
Judge and the Yankees were unable to agree on a contract extension prior to the 2022 campaign, and the slugger delivered a recording-breaking season in his final year before free agency. The outfielder, who will turn 31 years old in April, set an American League record with 62 home runs and also totaled 111 walks, 131 RBI and 133 runs scored with a .311/.425/.686 slash line. He endured his share of injury issues in the past but played in a career-high 157 games and has missed only 19 contests across the past two seasons. Given the incredible numbers Judge is unlikely to deliver a repeat performance in 2023, though he should remain one of the most productive hitters in MLB regardless of whether he returns to New York or continues his career elsewhere.
SEA (OF)
G
149
AB
576
AVG
.286
HR
32
RBI
86
SB
29
R
95
A strong spring forced Seattle to break camp with Rodriguez as their centerfielder. He did not disappoint, capturing the AL Rookie of the Year award. Rodriguez's season could have been even better as he improved over the second half, but wrist and back issues limited him to 41 games after the break. Rodriguez's exit velocity, hard-hit rate, Barrel% and speed were all at least 90th percentile. His 25.9% strikeout rate and 7.1% walk rate could use some work, but that should come as the 22-year-old continues to develop. While it's fair to point out Rodriguez swiped 21 bags in his first 82 games but then stole only four bases in his final 52 contests, playing hurt could have slowed him down as he initially jammed his wrist sliding so, he may have just been cautious the rest of the season. Rodriguez merits top-five overall consideration, with a salient argument to be the first player off the board.
A strong spring forced Seattle to break camp with Rodriguez as their centerfielder. He did not disappoint, capturing the AL Rookie of the Year award. Rodriguez's season could have been even better as he improved over the second half, but wrist and back issues limited him to 41 games after the break. Rodriguez's exit velocity, hard-hit rate, Barrel% and speed were all at least 90th percentile. His 25.9% strikeout rate and 7.1% walk rate could use some work, but that should come as the 22-year-old continues to develop. While it's fair to point out Rodriguez swiped 21 bags in his first 82 games but then stole only four bases in his final 52 contests, playing hurt could have slowed him down as he initially jammed his wrist sliding so, he may have just been cautious the rest of the season. Rodriguez merits top-five overall consideration, with a salient argument to be the first player off the board.
HOU (OF)
G
145
AB
522
AVG
.295
HR
38
RBI
106
SB
1
R
99
Alvarez has few peers in Major League Baseball; Juan Soto is perhaps the only player on his level in terms of zone management and overall hitting skills. Alvarez's Statcast page is comical as he led MLB in average exit velocity, HardHit%, xwOBA, xBA, xSLG and Barrel%. Alvarez drew 78 walks while striking out only 106 times in 561 plate appearances during the regular season. Despite playing in only 135 games and stealing only one base, Alvarez finished as a top-10 roto hitter in 2022. We still have to worry about his knees although is absences last season weren't directly related. The 25-year-old is under contract with the Astros long term and maintains outfield eligibility in fantasy leagues entering 2023.
Alvarez has few peers in Major League Baseball; Juan Soto is perhaps the only player on his level in terms of zone management and overall hitting skills. Alvarez's Statcast page is comical as he led MLB in average exit velocity, HardHit%, xwOBA, xBA, xSLG and Barrel%. Alvarez drew 78 walks while striking out only 106 times in 561 plate appearances during the regular season. Despite playing in only 135 games and stealing only one base, Alvarez finished as a top-10 roto hitter in 2022. We still have to worry about his knees although is absences last season weren't directly related. The 25-year-old is under contract with the Astros long term and maintains outfield eligibility in fantasy leagues entering 2023.
ATL (OF)
G
140
AB
527
AVG
.268
HR
29
RBI
72
SB
31
R
104
The baseball world wondered what Acuna would look like coming off his July 2021 ACL tear. Our answer: he remains one of the most dynamic players in the game. There was no easing back into the running game as Acuna stole two bases in his return from the injured list April 28 and swiped a total of nine bags in his first 20 games of 2022. The dog days of summer were tough on Acuna and he finished the year with a .413 SLG, over 100 points below his career mark. However, he still ranked in the top eight percent of the league in all of HardHit%, xwOBA and xSLG, per Statcast. His launch angle was down close to eight points from his prior two seasons. Now that he's further removed from the knee surgery, and perhaps with a few tweaks, Acuna should be able to tap into more power and return to the elite tier of fantasy contributors.
The baseball world wondered what Acuna would look like coming off his July 2021 ACL tear. Our answer: he remains one of the most dynamic players in the game. There was no easing back into the running game as Acuna stole two bases in his return from the injured list April 28 and swiped a total of nine bags in his first 20 games of 2022. The dog days of summer were tough on Acuna and he finished the year with a .413 SLG, over 100 points below his career mark. However, he still ranked in the top eight percent of the league in all of HardHit%, xwOBA and xSLG, per Statcast. His launch angle was down close to eight points from his prior two seasons. Now that he's further removed from the knee surgery, and perhaps with a few tweaks, Acuna should be able to tap into more power and return to the elite tier of fantasy contributors.
HOU (OF)
G
148
AB
535
AVG
.271
HR
29
RBI
103
SB
21
R
78
Tucker broke out during the shortened 2020 campaign with an .837 OPS and has established himself as a key cog in the Astros' lineup over the past couple years. During 2022 he hit exactly 30 home runs for the second straight season and also stole 25 bases while being caught only four times in 150 games. He saw his batting average and ISO drop about 40 points each to .257 and .221, respectively, but he showed minor improvements in both his strikeout (15.7 percent) and walk rates (9.8 percent). Tucker's solid defense in right field further cements his spot in the everyday lineup, and his 129 wRC+ in the heart of Houston's potent order will continue to provide ample opportunities to rack up counting stats during his age-26 season in 2023.
Tucker broke out during the shortened 2020 campaign with an .837 OPS and has established himself as a key cog in the Astros' lineup over the past couple years. During 2022 he hit exactly 30 home runs for the second straight season and also stole 25 bases while being caught only four times in 150 games. He saw his batting average and ISO drop about 40 points each to .257 and .221, respectively, but he showed minor improvements in both his strikeout (15.7 percent) and walk rates (9.8 percent). Tucker's solid defense in right field further cements his spot in the everyday lineup, and his 129 wRC+ in the heart of Houston's potent order will continue to provide ample opportunities to rack up counting stats during his age-26 season in 2023.
LAA (OF)
G
128
AB
470
AVG
.285
HR
41
RBI
90
SB
3
R
93
Despite missing 43 games, Trout smacked an even 40 homers in 2022, tying Pete Alonso for third in baseball. The missed time was the result of a rare back condition called costovertebral dysfunction, but he returned to hit 16 of those aforementioned 40 homers in his final 40 games (.308/.370/.686 in that span). Running seems to be a thing of the past as Trout attempted just one steal last season and has a total of four stolen bases over the past three seasons, but there's no doubt the hitting skills are still elite. Eliminate running from the equation and the only variable is health; we should realistically bake in roughly a month of missed time, but Trout can do more in 130 games than most can contribute over a 150-game season. He's headed to the Hall of Fame one day and Trout is still a ways from his twilight years.
Despite missing 43 games, Trout smacked an even 40 homers in 2022, tying Pete Alonso for third in baseball. The missed time was the result of a rare back condition called costovertebral dysfunction, but he returned to hit 16 of those aforementioned 40 homers in his final 40 games (.308/.370/.686 in that span). Running seems to be a thing of the past as Trout attempted just one steal last season and has a total of four stolen bases over the past three seasons, but there's no doubt the hitting skills are still elite. Eliminate running from the equation and the only variable is health; we should realistically bake in roughly a month of missed time, but Trout can do more in 130 games than most can contribute over a 150-game season. He's headed to the Hall of Fame one day and Trout is still a ways from his twilight years.
LAD (OF)
G
136
AB
540
AVG
.272
HR
32
RBI
78
SB
14
R
111
Despite a two-week IL stint with a cracked rib, Betts parlayed a career high 47.7% fly ball rate into 35 homers, a personal best. The downside was a lower BABIP for the fourth straight season as Betts uppercut swing decreased his groundball exit velocity which torpedoed his groundball BABIP. However, a low 16.3% strikeout rate limited damage, allowing Betts to register a 144 wRC+, the third best of his career. Betts sprint speed fell to 49th percentile, but he still collected double-digit pilfers for the eighth straight campaign. In his salad days, Betts was one of, if not the top fantasy batter, worthy of the top overall pick. Less durability, a lower average and fewer steals have conspired to keep him out of that discussion, but he's still in the first-round chat. Since 2016, no one has scored more runs than Betts. Hitting at or near the top of a potent lineup should keep that intact.
Despite a two-week IL stint with a cracked rib, Betts parlayed a career high 47.7% fly ball rate into 35 homers, a personal best. The downside was a lower BABIP for the fourth straight season as Betts uppercut swing decreased his groundball exit velocity which torpedoed his groundball BABIP. However, a low 16.3% strikeout rate limited damage, allowing Betts to register a 144 wRC+, the third best of his career. Betts sprint speed fell to 49th percentile, but he still collected double-digit pilfers for the eighth straight campaign. In his salad days, Betts was one of, if not the top fantasy batter, worthy of the top overall pick. Less durability, a lower average and fewer steals have conspired to keep him out of that discussion, but he's still in the first-round chat. Since 2016, no one has scored more runs than Betts. Hitting at or near the top of a potent lineup should keep that intact.
ATL (OF)
G
142
AB
518
AVG
.299
HR
23
RBI
74
SB
23
R
85
Harris did not come out of nowhere, but no one expected him to reach the majors so soon, let alone win NL Rookie of the Year. He was slashing .305/.372/.506 with Double-A Mississippi when receiving the call in late May. Harris started out slow, but the Braves patience paid off. His 24.3% strikeout rate and 4.8% walk rate suggest Harris still has work to do, but a 75th percentile hard hit rate paired with 95th percentile spring speed and a 95.2 fly ball average exit velocity is the blueprint for a five-category cornerstone. Harris' platoon splits are a slight concern as he posted a .943 OPS against righties and a .649 mark facing southpaws. Just 22-years-old, Harris can surely narrow the gap, but in the short term he may hit low in the order with a lefty on the hill. It's risky investing top tier draft capital in a still unproven player, but the indicators point towards a perennial first round/$40 player.
Harris did not come out of nowhere, but no one expected him to reach the majors so soon, let alone win NL Rookie of the Year. He was slashing .305/.372/.506 with Double-A Mississippi when receiving the call in late May. Harris started out slow, but the Braves patience paid off. His 24.3% strikeout rate and 4.8% walk rate suggest Harris still has work to do, but a 75th percentile hard hit rate paired with 95th percentile spring speed and a 95.2 fly ball average exit velocity is the blueprint for a five-category cornerstone. Harris' platoon splits are a slight concern as he posted a .943 OPS against righties and a .649 mark facing southpaws. Just 22-years-old, Harris can surely narrow the gap, but in the short term he may hit low in the order with a lefty on the hill. It's risky investing top tier draft capital in a still unproven player, but the indicators point towards a perennial first round/$40 player.
SEA (OF)
G
136
AB
518
AVG
.280
HR
30
RBI
92
SB
10
R
81
With Hernandez heading into his final season before free agency and due well north of $10 million through the arbitration process, the Blue Jays traded him to the Mariners in November in exchange for reliever Erik Swanson and prospect Adam Macko. The move comes with a park downgrade for Hernandez, though he should slot into the heart of a quality order in Seattle. Hernandez didn't come all that close to replicating his All-Star 2021 season from a run-production standpoint, but it was still an excellent campaign as he reached 25 home runs in his third consecutive full season. He will chip in a handful of bags around the extra-base hits and strikeouts (career 29.4 K%). While his defense does not grade well, that's not going to cost him playing time in 2023 as the M's need his bat in the lineup every day.
With Hernandez heading into his final season before free agency and due well north of $10 million through the arbitration process, the Blue Jays traded him to the Mariners in November in exchange for reliever Erik Swanson and prospect Adam Macko. The move comes with a park downgrade for Hernandez, though he should slot into the heart of a quality order in Seattle. Hernandez didn't come all that close to replicating his All-Star 2021 season from a run-production standpoint, but it was still an excellent campaign as he reached 25 home runs in his third consecutive full season. He will chip in a handful of bags around the extra-base hits and strikeouts (career 29.4 K%). While his defense does not grade well, that's not going to cost him playing time in 2023 as the M's need his bat in the lineup every day.
SD (OF)
G
148
AB
499
AVG
.281
HR
29
RBI
79
SB
9
R
101
Baseball is an incredibly difficult game and even players with Hall of Fame skill sets will struggle for stretches. At the end of June, Soto was batting just .224. It leaked in the media that Soto had turned down the Nationals' 15-year, $440 million offer, setting the stage for a blockbuster trade that sent Soto out west for an all-time prospect haul. Batting average, as we know, has its limitations and in Soto's case his .242 season mark is downright misleading. He still hit the ball with incredible authority and chased pitches outside of the zone at a lower rate than anyone. The Padres did not run much last season under manager Bob Melvin, but everything else sets up well for a big-time rebound in Soto's first full season in San Diego.
Baseball is an incredibly difficult game and even players with Hall of Fame skill sets will struggle for stretches. At the end of June, Soto was batting just .224. It leaked in the media that Soto had turned down the Nationals' 15-year, $440 million offer, setting the stage for a blockbuster trade that sent Soto out west for an all-time prospect haul. Batting average, as we know, has its limitations and in Soto's case his .242 season mark is downright misleading. He still hit the ball with incredible authority and chased pitches outside of the zone at a lower rate than anyone. The Padres did not run much last season under manager Bob Melvin, but everything else sets up well for a big-time rebound in Soto's first full season in San Diego.
NYM (OF)
OUT
G
126
AB
491
AVG
.295
HR
15
RBI
62
SB
29
R
84
Marte did well enough in his debut with the Mets even though many will likely label it a disappointment for what he did not do. Marte's regular season was prematurely ended with a broken finger after being hit by a pitch and he missed 34 games in all in the regular season. His run production numbers were close to what he did between Miami and Oakland in 2021, but there was a dramatic drop in both his stolen base attempts as well as his success rate as his success fell from 90% to 67%. Buck Showalter has never been a huge fan of aggressively stealing games, so that kind of success rate could put a cap on what Marte does in 2023 even with the new rules in play. He did bounce back from a poor success rate in 2018 by converting 86% of his attempts from 2019-2021 so he absolutely deserves another crack at it. The next plateau will be him exceeding 550 plate appearances, something he has done but once in the previous six full seasons.
Marte did well enough in his debut with the Mets even though many will likely label it a disappointment for what he did not do. Marte's regular season was prematurely ended with a broken finger after being hit by a pitch and he missed 34 games in all in the regular season. His run production numbers were close to what he did between Miami and Oakland in 2021, but there was a dramatic drop in both his stolen base attempts as well as his success rate as his success fell from 90% to 67%. Buck Showalter has never been a huge fan of aggressively stealing games, so that kind of success rate could put a cap on what Marte does in 2023 even with the new rules in play. He did bounce back from a poor success rate in 2018 by converting 86% of his attempts from 2019-2021 so he absolutely deserves another crack at it. The next plateau will be him exceeding 550 plate appearances, something he has done but once in the previous six full seasons.
PHI (OF)
G
142
AB
507
AVG
.229
HR
39
RBI
81
SB
6
R
89
Schwarber is sort of like the modern-day Adam Dunn in that he's a three-true-outcomes player who is perennially underrated because of his low batting average. He's also not a good defender. With 46 home runs last season, Schwarber led the National League, finishing second in baseball behind only Aaron Judge. Surprisingly, Schwarber added a new element to his game in his first season with the Phillies in the form of stolen bases. He was 10-for-11 on the basepaths after going 4-for-8 over the prior three seasons, so it would seem one of the Philadelphia coaches got through to him on how to read opposing pitchers. Now entering his age-30 season, Schwarber should be celebrated for what he is. His power contributions more than make up for the low average and the steals are just a cherry on top.
Schwarber is sort of like the modern-day Adam Dunn in that he's a three-true-outcomes player who is perennially underrated because of his low batting average. He's also not a good defender. With 46 home runs last season, Schwarber led the National League, finishing second in baseball behind only Aaron Judge. Surprisingly, Schwarber added a new element to his game in his first season with the Phillies in the form of stolen bases. He was 10-for-11 on the basepaths after going 4-for-8 over the prior three seasons, so it would seem one of the Philadelphia coaches got through to him on how to read opposing pitchers. Now entering his age-30 season, Schwarber should be celebrated for what he is. His power contributions more than make up for the low average and the steals are just a cherry on top.
MIN (OF)
OUT
G
126
AB
461
AVG
.247
HR
36
RBI
72
SB
9
R
84
When Buxton is on the field, he's one of the best players in baseball. Alas, he hasn't played more than 100 games since 2017. Buxton hit a career-high 28 home runs in just 92 games (and his second best 382 PA) with a .832 OPS and was the starting center fielder for the AL All Star team. Buxton hurt his knee in Minnesota's 7th game of the season which caused severe tendinitis. He avoided the injured list for the injury but the Twins rested him frequently with a pattern of playing in center field, DH and then a day off every three games. He then suffered a hip strain Aug. 23 which landed him on the injured list and he was shut down for the season once the Twins fell out of the playoff race. He had offseason surgery on the knee and is expected to be ready for spring training. Buxton can strike out too frequently (30.4% last season) but has elite power and bat speed. He ranked 11th in MLB in Barrel rate and 7th in average Exit Velocity (both per Baseball Savant). Buxton may be the fastest player in MLB, which results in supreme efficiency on the base paths, but the Twins limit his opportunities for both strategy (the Twins were last in SB attempts) and health concerns. Buxton has 40-30 potential if he has a full healthy season, but Minnesota's strategy of frequently resting him last year could cap his fantasy upside if that becomes the norm.
When Buxton is on the field, he's one of the best players in baseball. Alas, he hasn't played more than 100 games since 2017. Buxton hit a career-high 28 home runs in just 92 games (and his second best 382 PA) with a .832 OPS and was the starting center fielder for the AL All Star team. Buxton hurt his knee in Minnesota's 7th game of the season which caused severe tendinitis. He avoided the injured list for the injury but the Twins rested him frequently with a pattern of playing in center field, DH and then a day off every three games. He then suffered a hip strain Aug. 23 which landed him on the injured list and he was shut down for the season once the Twins fell out of the playoff race. He had offseason surgery on the knee and is expected to be ready for spring training. Buxton can strike out too frequently (30.4% last season) but has elite power and bat speed. He ranked 11th in MLB in Barrel rate and 7th in average Exit Velocity (both per Baseball Savant). Buxton may be the fastest player in MLB, which results in supreme efficiency on the base paths, but the Twins limit his opportunities for both strategy (the Twins were last in SB attempts) and health concerns. Buxton has 40-30 potential if he has a full healthy season, but Minnesota's strategy of frequently resting him last year could cap his fantasy upside if that becomes the norm.
BAL (OF)
G
153
AB
568
AVG
.269
HR
19
RBI
57
SB
30
R
82
Mullins lost more than 100 points off his slugging percentage, but he stole 30 bases for the second consecutive year and thus remains a star in the rotisserie game. His HR/FB was effectively cut in half from 2021, and fittingly, his homer total was essentially halved. Mullins struggled against left-handed pitching, slashing .209/.265/.313 against same-side pitchers compared to .279/.340/.441 against right-handers. Those splits were not nearly as pronounced in 2021, but if they continue, Mullins will leave himself open to platooning, especially if the Orioles do indeed push into a competitive window. The speed is so rare nowadays that Mullins is worthy of early-round consideration in many fantasy formats even if there are lingering questions about his bat.
Mullins lost more than 100 points off his slugging percentage, but he stole 30 bases for the second consecutive year and thus remains a star in the rotisserie game. His HR/FB was effectively cut in half from 2021, and fittingly, his homer total was essentially halved. Mullins struggled against left-handed pitching, slashing .209/.265/.313 against same-side pitchers compared to .279/.340/.441 against right-handers. Those splits were not nearly as pronounced in 2021, but if they continue, Mullins will leave himself open to platooning, especially if the Orioles do indeed push into a competitive window. The speed is so rare nowadays that Mullins is worthy of early-round consideration in many fantasy formats even if there are lingering questions about his bat.
TB (OF)
G
134
AB
498
AVG
.269
HR
20
RBI
72
SB
24
R
74
Arozarena turned in his second consecutive 20-20 campaign despite not hitting his first long ball until May 9. He added 12 bags to his 2021 total and cut his strikeout rate by close to four percentage points. Statcast's expected stats paint Arozarena's game in a rather unfavorable light, but keep in mind only Trea Turner, Jose Ramirez and Arozarena have gone 20-20 the past two seasons in Major League Baseball. This is a rare skill set and the outfielder seems to like his round numbers as he briefly talked about the possibility of 20-40 after reaching 20 homers in late September. A lot hinges on Arozarena continuing to play every single day, which generally goes against the Rays' philosophy. He has been the exception to the rule the past couple seasons.
Arozarena turned in his second consecutive 20-20 campaign despite not hitting his first long ball until May 9. He added 12 bags to his 2021 total and cut his strikeout rate by close to four percentage points. Statcast's expected stats paint Arozarena's game in a rather unfavorable light, but keep in mind only Trea Turner, Jose Ramirez and Arozarena have gone 20-20 the past two seasons in Major League Baseball. This is a rare skill set and the outfielder seems to like his round numbers as he briefly talked about the possibility of 20-40 after reaching 20 homers in late September. A lot hinges on Arozarena continuing to play every single day, which generally goes against the Rays' philosophy. He has been the exception to the rule the past couple seasons.
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