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2023 Fantasy Baseball Year-In-Review: Bobby Witt Jr.

Bobby Witt Jr. - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, MLB Injury News

Bobby Witt Jr. came into the 2023 season as one of the most coveted draft picks in fantasy baseball. In 2022, he demonstrated the highly sought-after power-speed combination, hitting 20 home runs and stealing 30 bases as a highly touted rookie. After seeing the phenom’s first-year success, fantasy managers were optimistic about Witt’s potential in 2023. 

Witt had a slow start to the dismay of those early drafters. The 23-year-old heated up as spring turned to summer and those that stuck by him were happy that they did. In the end, Witt hit another 30 jacks and grabbed 49 more stolen bases in a triumphant turnaround. 

Let's review his final stats from 2023 and evaluate his season from a fantasy perspective.

Be sure to check all of our preseason fantasy baseball rankings for Roto, Points, H2H, dynasty, best ball, prospects and more:

 

Avoiding The Sophomore Slump

Any look back at a player’s fantasy season begins with a review of their final line.

2023: .276/.319/.495, 97 R, 30 HR, 96 RBI, 49 SB

Witt started the 2023 season with a shocking cold streak. He went hitless in seven of the Royals’ first 10 games to start the season, recording just five hits in 28 plate appearances in that span. It wasn’t until a three-hit effort two weeks into the season that Witt got his batting average above the .200 mark. His woes at the plate continued through the spring and he ended May with a paltry .228/.266/.430 slash line.

The saving grace to Witt’s early season slump was that he was still contributing to the counting categories in traditional fantasy baseball formats. Even though he only reached base 54 times during April and May, he still came out of that stretch with 35 runs scored and 17 stolen bases.  

Bobby Witt Jr.'s counting stat monthly splits from 2023

Bobby Witt Jr.'s advanced stats monthly splits

Fortunately, Witt got hot in June and kept improving as the summer wore on, eventually plateauing in the final month of the season. He significantly improved his strikeout and walk rates in June and his batting average began to climb. In July and August, everything came together for Witt and he was finally delivering in the ways fantasy managers were hoping he would.

 

The numbers behind the numbers speak to Witt’s value as a fantasy asset and growth as a real-world ballplayer. The former second-overall pick improved his game in nearly every metric measured by Statcast over his rookie year performance, including dramatic increases in his expected stats.  

Bobby Witt Jr.'s statcast profile from 2023

Bobby Witt Jr.'s statcast percentile ranks from 2023

Witt’s value to the Royals is irreplaceable. Last season, he started 147 games at shortstop and another 10 as Kansas City’s designated hitter. It took some time but Witt fulfilled the preseason expectations set by fantasy managers. His in-season adjustments at the plate turned him from a .228 hitter into a finalist for an American League Silver Slugger Award. 

Witt took full advantage of the league’s new bases and pitching rules, propelling him to a total of 49 stolen bases. Combined with his 30 home runs, Witt became just the fifth-ever major leaguer to reach those totals in the same season, and the first 30-30 player in Kansas City Royals history.

 

What To Expect From Witt In 2024 Fantasy Baseball

The success of Witt’s sophomore campaign will certainly make him an early pick in fantasy drafts for 2024. In the early drafts already taking place at NFBC, his ADP is at 2.91, ranking behind only Ronald Acuna Jr. and Julio Rodriguez. Early projections have Witt in line for another season with 30 home runs and 40 stolen bases and another such finish would justify spending a first-round pick on the shortstop. 

Witt will be 23 when the 2024 season begins and has done the work to fix the holes in his game. Defensively, he went from being one of the lowest-ranked shortstops (according to defensive metrics) to finishing in the 99th percentile in outs above average in 2023. He reduced his already modest strikeout rate to 17.4% and while he still chased pitches more than the league average, his contact rate was actually higher. 

With a growing ability to get on base, increasing power potential, and elite baserunning speed, Witt will reward managers who trust him with an early pick in 2024. The budding star will continue to contribute in all five categories in traditional roto leagues and a top-10 finish is a distinct possibility. 



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