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5 Bounce-Back Infielder Candidates In 2023 Fantasy Baseball

jorge polanco fantasy baseball rankings draft sleepers MLB injury news - icon rotoballer

One of the best ways to get ahead in your fantasy baseball draft is to take advantage of the players who are falling in ADP unnecessarily. Baseball is a funny game, and it doesn't take a whole lot to generate a down year for a player.

The bigger sample is always better than the smaller sample, so we're here today to point out five infielders who let us down in 2022 that should be expected to have better campaigns in 2023.

Here are five infielders to target in your draft as players whose prices are just too cheap after a disappointing 2022 season.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association including Baseball Writer of the Year, Football Writers of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year and many more! Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!


Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins

Here is what Polanco has done over the last two seasons.

2021 644 97 33 98 11 .269
2022 445 54 16 56 3 .235

It was a phenomenal season in 2021, followed up by a really poor 2022 go at it.

Despite this, the underlying numbers were still pretty strong for Polanco. He managed strikeouts well (21.4%), walked a ton (14%), and hit the ball very well (10.2% Brl%, .358 xwOBA, both marks better than what he did in 2021).

He probably hit too many high fly balls (average launch angle of 21.7 degrees, meaning he turned some line drives into catchable fly balls), and was quite possibly too passive at the plate.

I'm not going to diagnose the guy from a professional hitting point of view, but what I do know with relative certainty is that we still have a talented hitter on our hands here. He is just 29 with 73rd percentile sprint speed, so things certainly point toward Polanco having plenty of upside in all categories. On a per-dollar basis, Polanco might be my favorite second baseman to draft.


Jonathan India, Cincinnati Reds

India was a strong fade for me last season after overperforming his way into a Rookie of the Year Award. What I didn't expect was for him to struggle so much to stay on the field (431 plate appearances) and to perform while healthy (.246/.325/.376). He hit just 10 homers (a 43.1 PA/HR, well below average) and stole just three bases despite the very hitter-friendly home ballpark.

Now, India's price has plummeted past pick 180, and that presents some value for us. There's a good chance a lot of his bad performance last season was due to not playing fully healthy. If that's true, then things should improve with a clean bill of health without even the need for further skill improvements from the 26-year-old.

There is certainly quite a bit of upside from a guy with league-average(ish) pop and a good amount of speed as a lead-off hitter in Great American Ball Park. You could see a season where he scores 80 times, hits 20 homers, and steals 15 bases - and that would work out quite well where he's priced right now.


Ryan McMahon, Colorado Rockies

This Rockies team looks like one of the worst in the league. There are probably only four Rockies players that will be taken in a standard draft, and the only one I'm at all interested in would be McMahon.

Only 26 qualified hitters managed to post a double-digit barrel rate with a strikeout rate at or below 26%. McMahon was one of them with his 10.4% Brl% and 26% K% (I know, he barely made the cut and that's why I had to use just specific criteria). McMahon has great swing speed with a max exit velocity of 113.7 miles per hour and a 90th-percentile mark of 106.5. Both of those marks are well above the league averages.

The bad news is that he's atrocious away from Coors (.645 OPS last year), and the Rockies aren't going to be an offensive juggernaut even in those home games. All things considered, however, McMahon makes for a pretty appealing pick after 200 at a really tough position to fill after the top two tiers are gone.


Ketel Marte, Arizona Diamondbacks

Four years ago feels like forever given all that has gone down, but it's not exactly the distant past either. Four years ago, Marte put up one of the better fantasy seasons in recent memory. In that 2019 campaign, he hit .329/.389/.592 with 32 homers and 10 steals while scoring 97 runs and driving in 92 more - all on a pretty bad Arizona team.

He has not come close to those heights since, most recently hitting just .240/.321/.407 and getting dropped in plenty of fantasy leagues one season ago. The silver lining is that a nagging hamstring can be blamed for a lot of that poor performance - he clearly was not himself last season.

Marte still showed strong bat speed (115.2 max exit velocity, 42% hard-hit rate), and he still did not strike out much at all (18%). His expected batting average in 2021 was an elite .302, and last season, he still outpaced his actual performance with an xBA of .251.

With the hamstring getting right and the improving team around him - I think Marte should be able to make hay at his current ADP of 204. He's a really nice buy-low middle infielder for 2023.


Jared Walsh, Los Angeles Angels

The Angels' first baseman was one of the biggest hitting breakouts of the 2021 season. He finished that season with a .277/.340/.509 line while hitting 29 homers and driving in 98 runs. There were some reasons for doubt looking at the underlying 26% K%, 50% GB%, and .322 xwOBA - but certainly, nobody saw the 2022 season coming where he hit just .215/.269/.374 with 15 homers and just 44 RBI.

Now we are left wondering about who the real Walsh is. His strikeout rate came up to 31% last season and the walk rate dropped to 5% - not good signs. He still posted an above-average barrel rate at 9.5% and he did bring down the ground ball rate to 46%. Lots of good and bad news here.

The one thing we might want to take seriously with Walsh is health. He had major surgery in September to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome, but all of the news has been positive since then. He has been appearing in game action this Spring and seems ready to reclaim most of the duties at first base for a pretty exciting Angels team.

The upside is quite low, I think, but you can do a whole lot worse for a bench option at first base while you wait and see how he looks on the field early in the year. He's cheap enough to just drop after a few weeks if you don't like what you see.

There you have five bounce-back targets in the infield. The nature of the player pool this year has a lot to like late in the draft in the infield, and not so much to like in the outfield. A strategy I'm liking is to get outfield-heavy early to get your hands on a few of those studs, and then fill out your infield later with these strong value options. Hope this helps, thanks for checking us out here on RotoBaller!

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