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Gut’s Guys — Vlad Sedler’s Top Player Exposures for Fantasy Baseball 2023

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Opening Day is here, which means the most fun part of baseball season – fantasy baseball draft season – has finally concluded. There is truly nothing more exciting than the January through March stretch of researching, prepping, slow draft DCs and that big build up to the final draft weekend. 

 

I started drafting with some NFBC Gladiators (best ball roto) right after Thanksgiving break. That feels like lifetimes ago as far how locked in I am now in drafts, strategy and the player pool. I made sure to deeply poke holes into my own biases and challenge myself to get comfortable with different types of roster builds. I’ve been incredibly locked in and confident this month and am now ready to grind for the next 26.5 grueling weeks in my quest to dominate and win lots of money.

Here is my final tally of fantasy baseball leagues in 2023. I ended up with 11 FAAB leagues which will be a handful, but you can be rest assured that I’ll be busting my hump on all teams and see them through to the end of the season. My only non-NFBC league is my Tout Wars Draft-and-Hold.

  • 4 – Main Event, ME (15tm, FAAB)
  • 1 – Super Auction (15tm, FAAB)
  • 5 – Online Championship, OC (12tm, FAAB)
  • 1 – TGFBI, industry league (15tm, FAAB)
  • 1 – RazzSlam, industry league (12tm, 2 total FAAB)
  • 5 – Cutline Best Ball (10tm, 2 total FAAB)
  • 15 – Draft Champions, DC (15tm, no FAAB)

Here are the players (by position) I targeted and drafted the most of. I’ve also included some hitters and pitchers I had more shares of (FOMO – fear of missing out).

Catchers

Gabriel Moreno, Joey Bart, Yasmani Grandal, Seby Zavala (DCs only)

As most know, I’m not a big early-catcher guy. A few shares of Will Smith and Willson Contreras around ADP, and I do think Contreras could end up as the top-ranked catcher this season. I’ve been happily scooping up rookie Gabriel Moreno around his pre-March ADP (235) and was still willing to pay the price when it soared up to the 165-180 overall range after the Carson Kelly injury. Moreno should make an immediate impact as a rookie, hitting over .270 with at least 10 homers, 60+ RBI and a few swipes.

Joey Bart and Yasmani Grandal were mostly market price plays – both available late in drafts. I’m least bullish on Bart but believe the market is too low on the former top prospect and that he produces respectably in 2023. Seby Zavala has five spring homers and is a capable backup backstop.

FOMO: Sean Murphy, Alejandro Kirk

Sean Murphy will rake this season. He could easily lead all catchers in HR/RBI and will benefit from the best supporting cast he’s ever played with. Don’t be surprised to see him hitting cleanup at certain parts of the season. Alejandro Kirk is another relatively overlooked guy who is the best bet at the position to hit .300-plys in over 500 plate appearances. 

First Base

Ty France, Vinnie Pasquantino, José Abreu, Brandon Belt 

I’ve been mostly slumming it with first base value, drafting Ty France on two of my Main Event teams and in several DCs. He was hitting .308 with 11 HR and 49 RBI (352 PA) before being derailed by an elbow injury that affected him in the second half. He doesn’t run but a four-category contributor hitting in a primo lineup slot (third between Julio Rodríguez and Teoscar Hernández) should pay dividends. 

Tough times having to choose between Vinnie Pasquantino and José Abreu in drafts and I ended up with a few of each. Most notably, one Vinnie P two rounds past his ADP in Las Vegas Main Event. It wouldn’t shock me to see both hit .290 with 25-plus homers but Abreu is the better bet for 100 RBIs. Brandon Belt may be a walking injury, but a post-300 ADP has me buying in yet again, especially if he gets the opportunity to hit fourth against right-handed pitchers this season.

FOMO: Freddie Freeman

Oddly enough, I was rarely ever in a draft position to take Freeman (just a couple shares) and will have serious FOMO watching him on television nearly every day here in L.A. Freeman is as safe of a back-end first round pick as they come, earning top-15 overall value in each of the last two seasons. 

Second Base

Max Muncy, Brandon Lowe, Bryson Stott

I’m a big believer in a Max Muncy rebound back to the 30-homer levels and playing a key part in the Dodgers’ offensive production this season. He is a year-plus removed from his elbow woes and has some of baseball’s best plate patience – a 15% career walk rate and a 15.9% mark last season. Brandon Lowe is a prime LYB (Last Year’s Bum) who played just 65 games and produced a 97-39-99-7-.263 line in 2021. He will be a key cog in this Rays offensive machine that feels underrated in draft season. Bryson Stott has been underpriced all season in the 230-260 ADP range. He’s a former upper echelon prospect who has a full-time role, two positions of fantasy eligibility and has a shot at a 20/20 season.

FOMO: Jean Segura

Big fan of Mean Jean and just don’t have as many shares as I’d like. An odd guy to have FOMO for since he’s only a slightly above average hitter playing half his games in a pitchers’ park. But a healthy Segura is someone who can help in four of the standard roto categories, especially if he gets run in the top-third of this Marlins’ lineup.

Third Base

Austin Riley, Isaac Paredes, Yandy Díaz, Anthony Rendon

It’s all coming together for the Braves this year and this team will be tough to beat. The Austin Riley/Matt Olson combo might be responsible for 80 homers or more combined. I’ve preferred Riley over Pete Alonso and Rafael Devers in the second round, mostly because of his age, growth and ideal team context.

I discussed Yandy Díaz as a fantasy profit center in my late-round breakout hitters article this December and have been steadily drafting him at and around his 250 overall price tag. If Diaz can hold down the leadoff gig, he can easily produce profit without having to hit for much power. Continuing my Rays’ lovefest with Isaac Paredes who flashed an 11.5% walk rate with 22 HR in just 381 PA last season. He offers much positional flexibility (1B, 2B, 3B) and could find his way to near full-time at-bats in 2023.

It’s been 82 years since Anthony Rendon was fantasy relevant, but the stars should align with this All-Star Angels offense featuring Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Taylor Ward and Hunter Renfroe. The key for Rendon is undoubtedly health and his post-200 ADP price tag had me clicking on him in as many drafts as humanly possible. My 3B-CI double-punch this draft season was usually Rendon and Diaz. Really just need one of them to work out, but I’m betting on both.

FOMO: Alec Bohm

The former third overall draft pick of the Phillies had a semi breakout in 2022 and could take another step forward in 2023. The key for Bohm is earning a higher lineup slot and figuring out a way to hit the ball harder. He’s been doing a bit of that this spring (4 HR in 64 PA) and should be earning 1B eligibility with Hoskins out, though we’re essentially drafting him to cover 3B. Many a sharp analyst have predicted a big season for Bohm, and it would certainly be sad to miss out on it with almost no roster exposure. 

 

Shortstop

Bo Bichette, Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, Jeremy Peña

Didn’t mess around at shortstop this year. The tier cliff drops off steeply after the Dansby Swanson/Xander Bogaerts/Tim Anderson/Willy Adames group, and I always wanted to make sure I grabbed a top one. Only once did I fully punt the position (not by design) and ended up with Ezequiel Tovar as my starter. It does not feel comfortable. Strong feelings on a big season from the Jays’ main bats but I’m clearly not alone on that sentiment. We’ve seen Bichette be a steady and safe asset the last couple seasons and accumulating at least 690 PA in each of them. He slowed down on the basepaths and it’s tough to predict if he’ll land closer to 10-15 or 25-30 but everything is on the table with the new rules. Bichette is just 25, hits between George Springer/Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and hits the ball hard (92 EV, 50% HH). One of the safer first-round picks this season.

Nothing wrong with steady and boring in the third round, hence Francisco Lindor has been a comfortable target for me these last three months. He returned first round fantasy value at fifth round ADP last season (albeit, with offense down around the league) and another boring 100/25/85/15/.270 will help us sleep easy at night. 

FOMO: Fernando Tatis Jr.

I ended up with no shares and I’ll have to just live with it if he does what I thought he might do last season – be the highest producing hitter in fantasy. Some might say it’s a dangerous stand. Thankfully, it takes more than one player to win a fantasy league. 

Outfield

Luis Robert Jr., Eloy Jiménez, Tyler O’Neill, Taylor Ward, Josh Lowe, Jake Fraley, James Outman 

Made it pretty clear how I feel about Luis Robert Jr. in a tweet last week that received much backlash. Hopefully you know by now I don’t post stuff like this for engagement or clicks, it’s because I feel strongly about Robert finally staying healthy and producing a massive fantasy season. If he doesn’t, anyone and everyone is free to blast me and tell-me-so this October. Tyler O’Neill and Taylor Ward are my two favorite outfielders in the 75-110 ADP range. For better or worse, I’ve been clicking on them all draft season. Hitting ahead of Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout should put Ward in a fantastic position to produce fantasy profit. With O’Neill, the concern is always health. Would love to see him earn some at-bats from the two-hole to help boost his SBs, but with 600-plus plate appearances, O’Neill should swipe 20 bags with ease.

Jake Fraley is my favorite outfielder in the midrange. Fraley should benefit from playing half his games in Great American and should be a cheap source of 15/15. The 27-year-old has played in just 165 career games but owns an impressive 12.7% career walk rate. Josh Lowe and James Outman have been my favorite late-round stabs. Lowe is a post-hype “sleeper” who had a nice spring and earned a roster spot for Opening Day, though he will likely hit the bench against lefties. Outman was a bit of an under the radar prospect who also had a tremendous spring – enough to earn a roster spot with the Dodgers. My expectation is that Outman plays almost every day against right-handed pitching and could earn a full-time role at some point this season. Both Lowe and Outman have double-digit homer and stolen base upside. Outman is less likely to hurt the batting average category. 

FOMO: Seiya Suzuki, Cody Bellinger, Mike Trout

Targeted and drafted a handful of Suzuki before his oblique injury but kept getting sniped at the lower price point (ADP 150-170) over the last couple weeks. Suzuki is on the mend and should be back in action by the middle of April. I’ve backed off a bit on Bellinger this draft season and hope it doesn’t come back to bite me. He has struggled mightily since 2019 and has an opportunity to re-establish himself with his new team, the Cubs. Only ended up with Mike Trout in TGFBI and it’s a decision I may greatly regret. Just too many other targets and directions I wanted to go around his ADP. Trout could produce an Aaron Judge-like season and no one would be surprised.

Starting Pitcher

Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Jesús Luzardo, Carlos Rodón, Blake Snell, Jeffrey Springs, Sonny Gray, Brandon Pfaadt, Ross Stripling, Lance McCullers Jr., Freddy Peralta, Steven Matz, Michael Wacha

I’ll have plenty of gut feelings that will be wrong this year, but one overwhelming one I’ve had is that Jacob deGrom stays healthy and wins the AL Cy Young. If he does spend any time on IL or is shut down, I can’t be surprised or sad because I knew the risk I was taking on. Max Scherzer is a top-five SP for me, and I’ve taken him everywhere from 31 to 56 overall. I foresee a full season of dominance from Jesús Luzardo and for him to be a locked in fourth round fantasy pick this time next year. Ended up with Carlos Rodón (for cheap) on a couple of my Las Vegas teams and hoping he resumes his regularly scheduled gems sometime in early May. Blake Snell has that massive strikeout upside and I’m hoping he reels his ratios back to a level closer to his 2018 AL Cy Young season rather than what we’ve seen the last couple years. 

Jeffrey Springs is everyone’s fantasy darling this year. It was much more fun to draft him in the 11th round of 15-teamers than his new sixth-/seventh-round price tag. Freddy Peralta is another pitcher I believe in and have stoutly invested in, hoping his shoulder holds up and that he finally surpasses the 150 IP threshold. Big believer in Brandon Pfaadt making an impact immediately though we obviously have to wait until he gets promoted. Hopefully I can keep my FAAB teams where I drafted him healthy enough so that I’m not in a position to drop him while he’s in Triple-A. 

Lance McCullers Jr. was my most-rostered pitcher prior to his injury, and I’ve since laid off. Most of my shares are in 50-round Draft-and-Holds and I pray he’s back and in the Houston rotation sometime in early May. Steven Matz, Ross Stripling and Michael Wacha are three veterans I’ve been drafting at or ahead of ADP with expectations of solid ratios in relation to their price points. All three call solid pitchers parks their home and Matz and Wacha should receive plenty of run support in most of their starts. 

FOMO: Spencer Strider, Max Fried, Clarke Schmidt

Oddly enough, wasn’t in many draft positions to scoop up Strider as much as I had liked. He’s clearly one of the top arms in the National League and could easily be the best pitcher in baseball this year. A big fan of his teammate Max Fried who is a perennial NL Cy Young candidate, could easily win 20 games and we perhaps see improvement with his strikeout rate. Everyone and their mothers seem to be on the Clarke Schmidt train. There just became a point (around 210 ADP) where he became more than fully priced. Would not be shocked to see him establish himself in this Yankees’ rotation and produce consistently all season.

Relief Pitcher

Raisel Iglesias, Ryan Helsley, Michael Fulmer, Dylan Floro, Jorge López

The Raisel Iglesias injury hit me hard, as he’s one of my most-rostered players, specifically on my higher-dollar squads. Hoping he has no more setbacks and can assume his role as the team’s closer and hopefully produces a top-three RP season. Ryan Helsley was lights out last season and could end up as the only reliever in baseball with 30-plus saves and 100-plus strikeouts. Which means RP1 overall is well within the range of outcomes. Brad Boxberger could pull away and make us Michael Fulmer investors look foolish. Boxberger is a solid reliever with a history of ninth inning work. I do believe Fulmer will stand out as the lone guy closing out games for the Cubs – a role he personally vied for. I’ve touched on Dylan Floro and Jorge López before as my preferred ninth-inning options in their respective bullpens. Floro will be in a committee with lefty A.J. Puk, which is fine as long as Matt Barnes and others don’t get involved. Though Jhoan Duran is an elite reliever already, I still believe the Twins plan to utilize him in a high leverage role, which would allow Lopez to earn the bulk of save opportunities this season.

FOMO: Reynaldo López

Word is Liam Hendriks won’t be put on the 60-day IL, which opens up the possibility of us seeing him in a White Sox’ uniform sometime in June. In the meanwhile, I do believe Reynaldo López separates himself from the bullpen pack and dominates as the team’s closer for the next couple of months.

Draft Season All-Fade Team

Here is my draft season all-fade team. These are players I avoided at their market prices.

C – Early Catchers (J.T. Realmuto, Daulton Varsho), Danny Jansen

1B – Nathaniel Lowe, C.J. Cron, Jared Walsh

2B – Jazz Chisholm Jr., Tommy Edman, Vaughn Grissom

3B – José Ramírez, Rafael Devers, Gunnar Henderson, Spencer Steer

SS – Fernando Tatis Jr., Bobby Witt Jr., Thairo Estrada

OF – Michael Harris, Randy Arozarena, Cedric Mullins, Jake McCarthy, Riley Greene, Alex Verdugo

SP – Aaron Nola, Dylan Cease, Zack Wheeler, Hunter Greene, Triston McKenzie, Chris Sale, Dustin May, Grayson Rodriguez, Chris Bassitt, José Berríos, Merrill Kelly

RP – Emmanuel Clase, Daniel Bard, Jhoan Duran, Andrés Muñoz, José Leclerc

Hope you all enjoyed draft season. Time to play ball.

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