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Best Ball Targets for Fantasy Baseball Drafts

Corey Seager - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, MLB Injury News

The fantasy baseball season is right around the corner. For those fantasy managers looking to get an edge on their 2023 leagues, best ball formats are an awesome way to get an early look at where players are being drafted in terms of ADP and evaluate which players have a stock price that is likely to return full value and then some for their price tag.

One key piece to drafting in set-it-and-forget-it leagues is the ability to take a completely different approach compared to your normal redraft and dynasty football leagues. While best ball formats can present the ultimate in risk-reward options in drafts, we often advocate for the opportunity to let your other league members make the mistake of drafting volatile assets.

Here’s a list of fantasy baseball draft targets for best ball this season.

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Fantasy Baseball Best Ball Targets

Spencer Strider - SP, Atlanta Braves

ADP - 27.4

Strider came out of nowhere last season and blew the doors off of baseball and fantasy. His surface and peripheral numbers through 131 1/3rd IP were that of an ace. With a league-leading 29.7 K-BB% rate, Strider was 3.2% higher than the next pitcher on the board, Carlos Rodon. That same difference was the gap between Rodon and 13th-place Clayton Kershaw.

Strider's only 24 years but his rookie season is better than that of several veterans with multiple all-star seasons under their belts. How he builds on that is difficult to gauge but for the sake of fantasy, you are definitely paying for a repeat within a reasonable range. Strider regularly goes off of draft boards as the 5th SP. In best ball drafts, he is worthy of the 3rd Round cost. Whenever players like this emerge on the scene, skepticism and expected regression is valid. Strider's frame is not that of a workhorse starter at just 6' 195lbs. He also pitched part of last season as a long reliever which allowed him to work himself up throughout the season rather than beginning with a starter's typical 5-6IP load.

Nevertheless, those concerns are mitigated in best balls as any unforeseen outcomes can be thrown out thanks to best ball's user-friendly format which reaps the good and dumps the bad. Strider when good is not just great but arguably the best and could cost a first-round pick come 2024 if he repeats 2022 in any way this season.

 

Corey Seager - SS, Texas Rangers

ADP - 52.5

Corey Seager is coming off of a solid, yet, unspectacular first year with the Texas Rangers. Having his first 30-home run season and being the healthiest since 2016 is definitely positive but his offensive slash-line was the worst since his injury-shortened 2018. Luckily, underlying metrics like xwOBA still shows Seager in a very favorable light and suggest that all things equal, he should be due for regression this coming season.

Seager also dealt with a career-low BABIP (.242) which was nearly .100 lower than his career mark coming into the season. With or without benefitting from shift changes that should help him this season, we should expect a much better outcome for Corey Seager in 2023. He is a points league darling at full strength given that he does not strike out often, produces roughly a .300 batting average yearly, and can have his lack of steals mitigated by the fact that the category is nowhere close to similar weight as head-to-head or rotisserie leagues.

 

Kevin Gausman - SP, Toronto Blue Jays

ADP - 61.9

Kevin Gausman is another victim of bad 2022 luck due for positive regression in 2023. Gausman's xFIP and SIERA were in the range of Shohei Ohtani and Shane McClanahan while his ERA was closer to Jordan Montgomery and Chris Bassitt. Not to say he was bad in 2022 but definitely was not as good as he should have been. Park changes in Toronto may continue to cause his surface numbers to disappoint relative to "true" pitching performance but to Gausman's credit, he is a career 42.4% ground ball pitcher, and one of the higher inducers on the Blue Jays' staff.

Gausman's a great get for points league drafters because not only will any awful starts caused by Toronto's new park (or the daunting AL East) get swept under the rug, if Gausman were to pitch up to his peripherals, you are grabbing one of the MLB's best starters who has thrown at least 170IP in 5 of the past 7 seasons. 23% of Gausman's 31 starts last season went for at least 7IP and he is likely in a 5-man rotation which bodes well for plenty of 2-start weeks.

 

Vinnie Pasquantino - 1B, Kansas City Royals

ADP - 100.1

Vinnie P aka Italian Breakfast may just eat your lunch if he's avoided in best ball. Pasquantino was one of the hardest hitters of 2022. Unfortunately, his fantasy output did not match his Statcast data. That should very well change in 2023 as he is no longer a rookie and has a full season ahead of him to make up for it.

Pasquantino in his first MLB season posted the 10th-best xwOBA among hitters with at least 200 balls in play. That ranks just behind Kyle Schwarber (going roughly 40 picks ahead of him) and Austin Riley (consensus top-25 pick). The biggest flaw in Pasquantino's game is the fact that he plays for the Royals! Their pitchers' park and egregious surrounding offense are definitely legitimate mitigating factors but at pick 100, you cannot say no. Pasquantino's average and extra-base hit ability should be enough for an extremely fruitful year regardless of his lack of steals or a handful of homers stolen by Kauffman stadium's confines.

 

Alec Bohm - 3B, Philadelphia Phillies

ADP - 202.7

Bohm partially broke out in 2022 as a consistent, everyday bat who put up a solid line of 72 runs, 13 home runs, 79 RBI, and a .280 average. While those numbers are not stunning, they were enough to return good investment for those who drafted him beyond his 250 ADP.

This season, Bohm's price has risen but the expectations are more so that of a steady bat rather than a talented hitter with another stratosphere to hit. There is still plenty of "upside" with Bohm in the form of a 20+ home run bat that averages nearly .300. Bohm already hit to the tune of a .290 expected average in 2022 according to Statcast and underplayed his slugging numbers. Beyond that, he hits in an improving lineup with Trea Turner added towards the top and at a home park that is 4th best in baseball for right-handed hitters. Bohm is the perfect pick at ADP and even worth reaching a round or two.

 

Other Notable Players to Draft



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