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Part-Time Infielders Worth Rostering In 2023 Fantasy Baseball

Do you ever get excited about a player you plan to have on your team after each of your drafts, but then you hear they’re in the dreaded platoon, and all the excitement seems to vanish? That’s a term we all hate to hear. Of course, we want to roster players who are going to play and not sit on the bench 40% of the time.

Just because someone might not have everyday playing time doesn't mean they have no fantasy relevance, especially in deeper leagues. Last year, there were several productive platoon players, such as Joc Pederson and Albert Pujols.

Below, I’m going to highlight nine infielders who will likely start the season as part of a platoon. They’re the ones who I think will still provide a lot of value, despite part-time at-bats. It is meant for deeper leagues, as each player listed currently owns an ADP of 322 or higher.

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Chris Taylor, Los Angeles Dodgers (322 ADP)

Chris Taylor owns a .258/.337/.447 slash line with 88 home runs and 60 steals across 741 games since his first full season with the Dodgers in 2017, but he's coming off his worst campaign since he was a Seattle Mariner. His average was down to .221, he hit just 10 home runs, and he collected 45 runs and 43 RBI across 118 games. Taylor also dealt with numerous ailments and missed about a month of baseball while on the injured list.

Now, it seems he’s played himself out of an everyday role. But fantasy owners have to keep in mind that Taylor, someone who can play all over the diamond, has never failed to appear in less than 76.5% of his team games in L.A., except for 2022. The Dodgers are also not as deep offensively as they have been, so he should still play in at least 120 games even while listed as a weak-side platoon option.

I see a bounce back in the 32-year-old's production as well. Taylor’s biggest issue last season was a bloated 35.2% strikeout rate, a first-percentile mark. His whiff rate ballooned to 39.9%, but he was still selective, with an O-Swing below 30% for the ninth consecutive year. It will be hard for Taylor to maintain a strikeout rate that high, and his punchout issues aren’t a new problem, as he owns a career 28.6% rate.

The former fifth-rounder is still a power threat- he’s posted a barrel rate of no less than 10.2% in the last three years. Taylor plays in a great venue and hasn’t hit many grounders over the previous two seasons. Considering he went deep 20 times in 2021, there’s no question he can provide at least 15 or 16 big flies next year.

Taylor's also an above-average baserunner. He had 83rd-percentile sprint speed in 2022 with 10 steals and is averaging 13 stolen bases per 162 games since 2020. Taylor can play second and outfield in fantasy baseball and will give managers production in four categories but is only being drafted around pick 322, great value for this kind of bench option.


Wilmer Flores, San Francisco Giants (363 ADP)

It’s amazing to me that Wilmer Flores has been so undervalued during his career. He owns a .261/.314/.433 career line with 20 homers per full season. Flores doesn’t run but provides decent counting stats and there’s plenty of production in his bat.

He had a bit of a down year in 2022, though. Flores hit just .229, but he still smashed 19 dingers and provided 72 runs and 71 RBI. We can blame a BABIP that fell to .246 for the 31-year-old's batting average, as his 87.8 MPH average exit velocity was around his career norm and although his strikeout rate rose, it still sat at 17.1%. 

Oracle Park suppresses home runs, especially for right-handers, ranking second to last in home run factor. Still, Flores posted over 21 expected home runs, and take a look at his home run totals at each respective divisional venue:


The Giants likely won’t have him in the lineup daily, with David Villar getting an extended look at third base after an impressive rookie stint last year and LaMonte Wade Jr. looking to stay healthy after an injury-plagued 2022. But Flores is, at a minimum, a platoon against lefties (lifetime 115 wRC+ versus southpaws), and he plays all over the infield. 

When the former Met does start, he’ll probably be right in the middle of the lineup. And even if Flores only plays 120 games, there’s no reason he can’t offer fantasy owners 18 home runs, 120 RBI plus runs, and a batting average closer to his career rate of .261, at an ADP of just 363.


Alex Kirilloff, Minnesota Twins (371 ADP)

Alex Kirilloff was once a highly touted prospect with an ability to hit for power and average. His scouting report was so promising and his grades given by MLB.com were almost unrivaled. 

Even so, Kirilloff hasn’t shown up at the big league level much, producing a career slash line of .251/.295/.398. The Twins haven't given up on him yet, but he won't be an everyday player in 2023. Kirilloff will likely take the bench with left-handers on the mound, given his career 67 wRC+ against southpaws. The 25-year-old can still provide enough value to justify taking a shot in the later rounds. 

His power is unquestionable. Kirilloff hit eight home runs over 59 games in 2021 with a 12.8% barrel rate and 10.8 expected long balls. It took a dip last year, with three home runs in 45 contests and a 6.4% barrel rate, but he still slugged 10 homers in 35 games at Triple-A.

Kirilloff won’t hurt the batting average, as he hit .251 and .250 in 2021 and 2020, respectively. The former 26th-overall prospect's strikeout rates could use some work, but his 22.7% career rate isn’t that worrisome, especially after he posted a 20.1% whiff rate last year. 

The Twins will run out a solid lineup, and if (when) Kirilloff produces, he likely won’t stay in the seventh spot of the batting order, where he’s projected to bat at the moment. He may be part of a first-base platoon, but he'll still play close to 115 games, giving owners enough value and potential at his ADP of 371.


Gio Urshela, Los Angeles Angels (455 ADP)

In 2022, Gio Urshela was a respectable deep fantasy option, producing a .285 batting average with 13 home runs, 61 runs, 64 RBI, and one stolen base across 144 games as a member of the Minnesota Twins. The Twins then traded the third baseman to the Los Angeles Angels during the offseason.

There isn’t an everyday spot for Urshela in L.A., but he can play multiple positions all over the infield. Every major projection system has him playing at least 102 games, and the stats he’ll put up will make him a suitable bench option on any fantasy team looking for a solid backup.

Since 2019, Urshela has posted strong numbers. During the last four seasons, he owns a .290/.336/.463 slash line while averaging 20 home runs every 162 games. Urshela's now moving to Angel Stadium, a prime offensive venue in terms of batting average and home runs (103 hit factor and 121 home run factor). 

The Colombian hits a crazy amount of line drives, including a 30.1% line drive rate last season. Urshela doesn’t hit the ball especially hard but has been around average in terms of barrel rate and average exit velocity since 2019, never placing lower than the 41st percentile. He also makes enough contact with a lifetime 19% strikeout rate and a 2022 17.4% rate.

Urshela won’t run, but his counting stats will be decent enough as the Angels have a deeper lineup than what we’re used to, and though he doesn’t walk much, he still gets on base considering his .321 career OBP. 

His ADP is sitting at 455, a bargain for someone with the potential to provide 15 homers, a .280 average, and 120 RBI plus runs, similar to or better than the projections for Alec Bohm, Jesse Winker, and Trey Mancini, all going well before the 31-year-old.


Nolan Gorman, St. Louis Cardinals (462 ADP)

Nolan Gorman, before last season, was a top prospect in the Cardinals' farm system. He then slashed .226/.300/.420 with 14 home runs, 44 runs, 35 RBI, and one stolen base over 89 games in his rookie campaign in 2022.

Gorman's Baseball Savant page paints a prettier picture of his season. He posted a 14.4% barrel rate and 89.2 MPH average exit velocity. Gorman owned a .239 xBA and .476 xSLG, and his 17.4 expected home runs hardly compare to his actual total. The youngster hit a bunch of deep balls, and his average home run distance was 410 feet, 29th among hitters with 150 batted balls. 

Busch Stadium isn’t the best place to go deep in, but Gorman still had 14 xHR at the park, so he should get better luck in that area. He never hit the ball on the ground last year (27.2% ground ball rate) and showed a lot of power in the minors.

Gorman's only problem was a strikeout rate that sat at 32.9% after a career MiLB rate of 27.5%. But the former 38th-overall prospect compiled a .270 average in the minors, and his power will make up for any shortcomings in that department.

With the Cardinals' deep roster, Gorman finds himself in a likely platoon at the designated hitter spot with Juan Yepez. He hit just .211 against southpaws last year and was a terrible fielder, producing -8 runs above average according to FanGraphs, so it’s not like the club will trust him to fill in on defense.

But on the strong side of a timeshare and numbers that should get better means at least 100 games for Gorman. His ADP of 462 is too cheap to pass up for a guy with 20-25 home run upside and decent counting stats in a great St. Louis lineup.


Brandon Belt, Toronto Blue Jays (471 ADP)

When healthy, Brandon Belt has been one of the best power hitters in the game over the past few years. A knee injury plagued his 2022 season, holding him to a .213 average and eight home runs over 78 games. From 2019-2021, though, Belt smashed 55 homers with a .494 slugging percentage across 304 contests. Now he heads into 2023 healthy. And although Belt's projected as part of a platoon, there’s good reason to roster him later in drafts. 

He’s left-handed and owns a career .268/.363/.477 slash line against righties in his career, meaning he'll be on the strong side. Also, just two seasons ago, Belt owned a 128 wRC+ facing left-handers. He shouldn't exclusively start with a right-hander on the bump. I don't see Belt playing any less than 110 games.

The longtime Giant's now at a way better park, and his barrel rates, which have averaged 15.5% over the last three seasons, will get him to 20 bombs. Belt's strikeout rate has increased the past couple of seasons, reaching 27.2% in 2022, but he’s a lifetime .261 hitter, and the shift ban will certainly help after he faced the shift 85.2% of the time last year.

He’ll bat in a top AL lineup, so his power and on-base ability (career 12.1% walk rate and .356 OBP) will get him plenty of counting stats. Belt doesn’t run, accumulating just four stolen bases since 2020, but with an ADP of 471, fantasy managers are getting plenty of value. The 34-year-old's overlooked in drafts with a bounce back on its way, and the Jays didn't give him $9.3 million to sit on the bench.


Dylan Moore, Seattle Mariners (557 ADP)

Fantasy managers looking for stolen bases late in the draft have a few options late in drafts, one of which is Dylan Moore. The 30-year-old swiped 21 bases in just 104 games during 2022 and has stolen 65 bags over 381 career games since 2019 (27.6 SBs/162 games). 

There are some blaring issues with Moore, though. First, the Mariners lineup doesn't have a spot for the former seventh-round pick to get everyday playing time. Moore will probably be on the wrong side of a platoon, facing left-handers. 

Second, he’s a batting average flop. Moore hit .224 last year, but with a .202 xBA. He also owns an ugly career .208 average, matched by a .206 xBA. Moore strikes out quite a bit (career 30% strikeout rate), and his fly ball rates are always high (career 30.7%).

So why is he a good pick? Well, Moore's very capable of producing versus right-handers. He posted a 117 wRC+ against them in 2022, and his 92 career wRC+ is playable. Moore’s very good on defense and can play all over the diamond, so the Mariners should find ways to get him in.

And the California native has some sneaky pop, exhibited by his 12.9% barrel rate in 2022 and 9.8% lifetime mark. Again, Moore hardly hits the ball on the ground with a 34% career ground ball rate, so his 35 home runs over four campaigns are a bit surprising and could be in line for an uptick.

If he can provide 25 steals and double-digit homers, that’s enough to justify drafting him late. Even though Moore might hurt the batting average, it’s hard to find someone with his skillset at an ADP of 557.


LaMonte Wade Jr., San Francisco Giants (566 ADP)

The other half of Flores’ platoon, LaMonte Wade Jr. is coming off a disappointing 2022 campaign. He slashed .207/.305/.359 with eight homers, 29 runs, 26 RBI, and one steal over 77 contests. And there’s no chance he’ll play against left-handers this season after he posted a paltry .100 average off them last year in 30 at-bats, and his career .103 mark isn’t much better.

Despite his deficiency, I think Wade Jr. is a great target late in drafts. First, he’s on the strong side of the platoon. The Giants are a smart organization, so his dominance against right-handers (career .800 OPS) means he should start almost every game with a righty on the bump and get close to 450 plate appearances.

Wade Jr. still has his power, displayed by his 9.5% barrel rate and 9.4 expected home runs, putting him on a 19.7 expected home run pace. Oracle Park isn’t the best for hitters, but the 29-year-old still would have gone deep nine times if he played every game there.

Wade Jr.'s strikeout rate improved (20.3%) as he hardly swings and misses, and his walk rate increased (10.4%) after showing excellent patience. He still hit tons of balls in the air (34.3% ground ball rate), but an inflated 38.5% fly ball rate after producing a 31.5% mark in 2021 didn’t help his batting average. There should be natural regression in that area. Also, he ran a .233 BABIP last year and hit .253 two seasons ago, so that department will see an improvement.

With the amount Wade Jr. walks, the club will likely lead him off, and the Giants will employ an above-average batting order. He’ll have many chances to cross home plate, and if he can homer at least 15 times, 60 runs and 60 RBI isn’t out of the question. Further, although Wade Jr. isn’t the fastest (20th-percentile sprint speed in 2022), he stole six bags in 2021, and most projection systems have him swiping at least four bases next year.

The former Minnesota Twins draft pick is basically free in drafts with an ADP of 566. fantasy owners can use him as a good bench option who they can plug in time at first base and the outfield in their lineups on days he's playing.


Matt Vierling, Detroit Tigers (601 ADP)

Matt Vierling has been a target of mine all off-season, and I wrote about him in my outfielder breakout piece. He isn't eligible as an infielder on every platform, but those who can use him as such should take advantage. Vierling came over from the Phillies in the Gregory Soto trade and is in a perfect place to come into his own.

He played in 117 games last season and slashed just .246/.297/.351 with six homers and seven steals. But, Vierling's Baseball Savant page from 2022 has lots of red, as he placed in at least the 80th percentile in many metrics.

He doesn’t strike out much (career 20.7% strikeout rate) and owns a lifetime .282 xBA. Vierling's barrel rates haven’t faired very well, but he improved his flyball totals last year (23.4% flyball rate), and his high exit velocities can make up for it. Comerica Park is looking to increase offense, changing the park dimensions and wall height, so with his speed, he can put up a 15-15 campaign.

Playing time has been a concern, but Vierling can play all over the diamond, as he saw time in the outfield, third, second, and first base last year. The Tigers don’t have the most intimidating offense, so they’ll have to give playing time to anyone who hits at even a league-average level. RosterResource has Vierling in a platoon with Akil Baddoo, one of the worst hitters from 2022, so chances are the former will take playing away time from the latter.

The product of Notre Dame's ADP of 601 is insanely high, especially for someone with speed and good-quality contact stats that can put the bat on the ball. I wouldn't worry about playing time. It’ll be there, and Vierling will easily outplay his draft cost as a good late addition to any team.

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