We listen to a lot of baseball podcasts

The bats I’m rolling with in 2023

Telling you which players I believe are going to perform might be interesting and useful. But telling you which players I have rostered the most in my various off-season drafts feels like I’m putting my money where my mouth is.

I am in 20 fantasy leagues in 2023, including Draft Champions, NFBC 50s, NFBC redraft leagues, the Highlander Dynasty League, home dynasty leagues, home auction redrafts, Gladiators, the NERF league, and more.

In this article, I’m listing the hitters I took in at least 25% of my drafts this season and giving a brief explanation of why they’re on my teams and in what context. Hopefully, this will be a thought-provoking entertaining read for you, and an exercise in accountability and self-improvement for me.

Gleyber Torres (8 shares/20 teams) – This guy gets punished, by both fantasy managers and Yankees fans, for being exceptionally good in the happyfunball year of 2019 more than anyone in baseball. His worst 2023 projection is basically .255-20-75-75-10. Very similar to the numbers of Dansby Swanson, who has been going two full rounds higher than Gleyber. And who plays at a much deeper position.

Kyle Isbel (8/20) – I was very much in on him last season, which didn’t work out so well. But I’m hoping I was just a year early. He has the skills to contribute across the board, and should get the opportunity. His ADP was in the 600s until people started paying attention, and now it’s almost 200 spots higher. Still worth the flier.

Ian Happ (7/20) – Finished last year as a top 100 player, and an OF2. This year, he’s being drafted as an OF3 around pick 150. Why is the market fading him? He is 28 years old, has all five fantasy categories in his toolbox, and plays in an improved lineup. Made more contact, and lost some power in 2022. So he’s still figuring it out. But this is the type of player you bet on before he puts it all together. Not one you should be avoiding.

Wil Myers (7/20) – I’m a sucker for multi-positional guys who tick all the statistical boxes. Especially in the ballpark known as “Coors Light.” Health (which is a legitimate concern) is the only thing that will stop him from out-earning his ADP.

Christian Arroyo (7/20) – He’s been an above-average MLB hitter for the past two seasons, and he should get full-time at bats for at least the first month of the season. He’s likely at the bottom of Boston’s lineup. But it will be better than you think. A nice 2B insurance policy who has a little pop and speed around pick 500.

Matt Vierling (7/20) – He probably epitomizes my “type” in the reserve rounds of a FAAB league. A player who hasn’t gotten a full-time shot yet, but has good skills, and it looks like he could get an opportunity to show them. Similarly, his teammate Nick Maton is also on a bunch of my teams.

Miguel Vargas (6/20) – I’ve been a fan for years, so half of these shares are in dynasty. But I also really dig him in redraft. Dave Roberts said they’re going to play the hell out of him, and multiple prospect guys say the organization raves about him. If he gives you his boring projections where he’s being drafted, you’ll be fine. But there could be a lot more here. And unlike with other rookies, you don’t have to pay for that upside. Bonus points for the pending 2B eligibility.

Carlos Santana (6/20) – This is a Draft Champions special. Santana was going 100-150 picks after other 1B with very similar projections. So he ended up as my 3rd or 4th 1B on a bunch of teams. All the projections see a batting average bounce, and he has extremely safe playing time.

Ezequiel Tovar (6/20) – Another player I’ve been stashing in dynasty for a couple of years. To be fair, I do not predict him to be an offensive force in 2023. But I believed in him becoming a major-league bat when others did not, so I have him on a lot of rosters. He should be startable in most formats, and he had a fine ADP for MI in redrafts.

Corbin Carroll (6/20) – Carroll has been one of my favorite prospects in recent years. A couple of years ago, I had him over CJ Abrams when that was unpopular. So he is on a lot of my dynasty rosters. And I have a bunch of his rookie cards stashed to sell. I also grabbed him in a couple of redraft leagues at the 3-4 turn because I love the potential that much. If anyone is the next Trea Turner (and no one likely is), it’s Carroll.

Jordan Walker (6/20) – One of the biggest risers in Spring. I successfully traded for him in a few dynasty leagues early this off-season before he turned into Superman. In redrafts, I was able to draft him twice in the 13th round before the helium kicked in. I’m glad I did, because the talent is undeniable. And while he might be worth his current ADP, I don’t want to pay to find out.

Wilmer Flores (6/20) – My favorite multi-eligible position guy at the end of drafts. If he hit one more HR last year (to get to 20), and had his regular BABIP, he’d be getting drafted as a starting MI or CI everywhere. Another player I’ve drafted to fill this role on a few teams is Isaac Paredes.

Corey Seager (5/20) – For years, fading Seager has been an annual tradition I looked forward to every offseason. The injury history is just so robust. I was happy to let others take on that risk and watch them lose more often than not. And maybe I shouldn’t be tricked by one full year. But he’s one of the best pure hitters in baseball. An MVP caliber bat in the 4th-5th round is so tempting! When he goes down for the season in June, remind me to slap myself in the face.

Jazz Chisholm (5/20) – He might be my favorite player in baseball. He plays the game with joy and exuberance. With elite power and speed at a thin position, it’s pretty simple. If Jazz stays healthy, he’ll be a 1st round pick in 2023. Yes, this one makes me nervous.

Austin Riley (5/20) – Almost every one of my teams has Riley, Manny Machado, or Rafael Devers. It’s less about them being 3B than it is about them being some of the most reliable high-average, high-power bats in the game.

Side Rant: Why do people hate 3B this year? I was tricked into this groupthink early in the off-season too, but then I did my own analysis. Alec Bohm has a fine floor, and I think he could unlock some power. Same for Ke’Bryan Hayes, who should add 20 SB to that. Josh Jung will be plenty productive as a power bat. There is nothing wrong with vanilla Ryan McMahon. And Justin Turner is a great late play for batting average and good counting stats. Don’t believe the hype about this position. Let others panic and overdraft due to perceived position scarcity.

Rowdy Tellez (5/20) – I’ll pencil him in for .245-30-80-80. But I think there’s both power and average upside. If the Brewers lineup clicks, it would not shock me if he had a better season than Matt Olson. As is, he’s a slightly worse version of him, but goes seven rounds later. Bargain!

Sean Murphy (5/20) and William Contreras (5/20) – There’s a group of productive full-time catchers with good power and solid batting average who go in the middle rounds of most drafts. I have no problem grabbing whichever one falls as a solid C anchor, and these two ended up on a lot of my teams.

Catcher Note: I have JT Realmuto and Daulton Varsho on a couple of teams, since their speed sets them apart (I’m a bit concerned Varsho doesn’t run as much in Toronto though). But I haven’t gotten a lot of Sal Perez or Will Smith because I feel like this group of mid-round catchers provide similar value a few rounds later.

Anthony Santander (5/20) – Legitimate power on an improving lineup at a position where power felt light this draft season. Had bad batting average luck later in the season, and should – say it with me, boys and girls – benefit from the shift!

Keibert Ruiz and Christian Vázquez (5/20) – Batting average is one of the most overlooked fantasy stats (especially by yours truly). This year, on every team, I tried to get a second catcher who doesn’t hurt me in BA and actually plays regularly. These guys fit the bill, and also give you some chip-in steals. Given Keibert’s age, there’s a good possibility for another level on offense.

Jorge Polanco (5/20) – A consistently underrated fantasy performer who ends up on a lot of my teams over the years. I’m not thrilled that he’s dinged up going into the season. It’s becoming a bit of a thing with him.

Brandon Marsh (5/20) – The defense will give him the opportunity to play everyday. Here’s hoping he can cut down on the Ks, and unlock another level of production. If not, he’s a fine 5th outfielder in the cut of healthy Kevin Kiermaier.

Kevin Newman (5/20) – A forgotten man in Draft Champions formats, he was usually available near pick 500. Finding someone with multi-position eligibility with a starting job (at least to start the season) in a good ballpark that late made him an easy pick for me.

Guys who just missed the cut: Nico Hoerner, Lars Nootbaar, Triston Casas, Jake Fraley, Williy Adames, Bryan Reynolds, Daulton Varsho, Travis d’Arnaud, Oswald Peraza, Mitch Garver, Xander Bogaerts, Juan Soto, Yordan Alvarez, Seth Brown, and Chris Taylor.