In my last column of 2022, I told you why playing in deep fantasy baseball leagues like TGFBI is so alluring. There is really nothing like pitting your knowledge against worthy opponents in a format where 450 players are drafted. With that said, you’d better be prepared to do a hundred hours (or more) of research.
Playing in shallow leagues requires a knowledge of approximately 300 ballplayers. That’s not to say that researching 300 players isn’t time-consuming. But most of these players are high profile and relatively well known. What do you know about Spencer Steer, a third baseman for the Cincinnati Reds (ADP 436)?
If you’re interested in doing this kind of research, you have come to the right place. In fact, you can start now because I’ve already done some work. Not that I’m the best source for your research. If you’re going to be playing in a 10-team league, you can skip this column. If you’re in a 12-team league, please keep reading.
The minimum ADP for the players mentioned below is 250. The early ADP numbers, which are sure to change as the season approaches, come from NFBC. Since the 2022 season ended, there have been hundreds of drafts. As I’ve said previously, these are the high-stakes fantasy players drafting. In other words, they’re the best.
Let’s start with an interesting player with an ADP of 287.This player was being drafted in the top 50 overall three years ago. At 23, they said he checked all the boxes. The previous season, this player had hit 33 home runs, driven in 89 runs and upped his average exit velocity and hard-hit rate along with his barrel rate, while batting .291.
Any guesses on who this mystery player might be? Looking at his 2019 stats, analysts agreed he had the talent to be a top-30 fantasy player. He stole 12 bases that season and possessed 78th percentile sprint speed. His only real shortcoming was his defense, and that doesn’t hurt a fantasy player unless he loses playing time.
What a difference three years can make. This player was traded from Tampa Bay to Detroit before the start of the 2022 season. After getting off to a strong start in his first 10 games with his new team, this former first-round pick only played in 26 more games before ending his injury-plagued season in early September.
If you were playing fantasy baseball last year, you probably know the player is Austin Meadows. After being traded to the Tigers, Meadows looked like his old self in the first 10 games. Then, he dealt with a series of ailments, including COVID, vertigo and right and left Achilles strains. The Achilles strains occurred right after the COVID bout.
Meadows announced in early September that he was done for the season due to mental health struggles, so it appeared that the disappointing campaign took quite a toll. Now entering only his age-28 season, Meadows could be a bounce-back candidate. Although his best year came in 2019, he also recorded 27 home runs and 106 RBI as recently as 2021.
There are a range of outcomes for Meadows in 2023. He could be out of baseball before the end of the season, or simply waiver-wire fodder. Meadows carries plenty of injury risk, but this is already baked into his price. He has a track record hinting at massive upside, and there will be plenty of playing time available on a rebuilding Detroit squad.
If Meadows is available to draft in the 19th or 20th round of a 15-team league, I’m likely going to be a buyer. But there are other position players that are available between ADP 250 and 300. Here are seven that I like. Depending on when you draft, things could change with the ADP of these players, so do your own research between now and draft day.
D.J. LEMAHIEU, 1B, 2B, 3B, NY YANKEES
LeMahieu, 34, delivered a strong first half with a .279/.383/.403 slash line and 48:45 BB:K in 83 games, but he 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. LeMahieu took a major step back in 2021 and was rebounding well in 2022 prior to the injury. ADP 250.
GABRIEL MORENO, C, ARIZONA
Moreno was traded from Toronto to Arizona two days before Christmas and should receive his fair share of starts behind the dish. Moreno hit .319 on 73 plate appearances for Toronto after being called up and had just two extra-base hits. He hit just 11 home runs in 99 minor-league games since the start of 2021 and his 24.9 Hard% in the minors last season was mediocre. ADP 265.
ADALBERTO MONDESI, 3B, BOSTON
Mondesi played in all but one game during the shortened 2020 campaign, but he’s otherwise been unable to remain off the injured list since he made his MLB debut in 2016. He has 119 steals over the past five seasons despite the limited action which is why he is so alluring. His .255 average during that stretch is respectable, though his 4.4 percent walk rate is not. ADP 271.
JESSE WINKER, OF, MILWAUKEE
Winker finally eclipsed 500 plate appearances in 2022, but he did so playing through back and leg troubles which hurt his overall numbers. When healthy, Winker has been a solid hitter. His hard hit rate plummeted last year from the top 20th percentile in previous seasons to the bottom 20th, but his ability to slug around .550 when healthy gives him upside. ADP 282.
MIGUEL VARGAS, 1B, LA DODGERS
Vargas can hit, evidenced by a 304/.404/.511 slash in 2022, with a 14.6 K%, 31.7 Hard% and 17 homers in 113 games at Triple-A. He was called up by the Dodgers in early August and played sparingly in the final two months of 2022. Eligible at first base heading into 2023, Vargas has a chance to play in the outfield, or at third base after the departure of Justin Turner. ADP 285. He’s also been reported to be in the mix at second base.
YOAN MONCADA, 3B, CHICAGO WHITE SOX
There is a wide range of possible outcomes for Moncada, coming off a dismal 2022 campaign. He did end the season with six multi-hit efforts in 19 games in September, going 24-for-82 (.293) for the month. With a new manager, Pedro Grifol, at the helm, the hope is that he could return to something close to his 2019 form, where he slashed .315/.367/.548, with 25 homers. ADP 288.
GARRETT MITCHELL, OF, MILWAUKEE
In the ongoing search for steals, Mitchell is worth a flyer. The Brewers have a crowded outfield depth chart, including fellow prospect Sal Frelick. But Mitchell received run in the majors, so he has the inside track to win a job in camp. In 68 plate appearances, he posted a strong .311/.373/.459 slash line and had eight stolen bases. ADP 294.
Thomas L. Seltzer, AKA Doubting Thomas, writes about football and baseball for CreativeSports. Be sure to follow Thomas on Twitter@ThomasLSeltzer1.