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Fantasy Baseball Takeaways & Lessons Learned Ahead of 2023

Fantasy Baseball Takeaways & Lessons Learned Ahead of 2023

Another year is in the books, and it’s crazy to think back to the beginning of the year when we were worried we may not get a season thanks to the lockout.

But we did, and we’re looking ahead to the World Series and 2023 drafts. While those are important, take a few weeks or a month to breathe, take a break, and touch grass. You’ll be happy you did.

But when you get back, you can start your planning for 2023. Year-to-year trends don’t always carry over, but it’s smart to unpack the previous season

So let’s look at some takeaways from the season that was and what we want to tweak heading into 2023.

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Avoid Mirage Breakouts

Probably my worst call heading into 2022 was that of Akil Baddoo. I fully bought into his 2021 season and expected it to carry over to 2022. At the same time, I ignored Frank Schwindel‘s season in 2021 and expected a bust performance from him in 2022. The difference for me was age and pedigree, but it was confirmation bias at its finest.

See, Baddoo was years removed from being a top prospect, but he was just 23 years old heading into this season, which seemed to make a sustained breakout more possible for him than it did with the 29-year-old Schwindel.

Of course, we can’t ignore all breakouts, but even if you are high on a player and like the overall profile, ignoring red flags – such as Baddoo’s 26.5 K% and .335 BABIP – will set you up for failure.

Shifting Your Way to Success

For 2023, as MLB bans the shift adjusts the fielder’s positions for shifting abilities, we can expect some players to take a step forward with their production.

Now, it’s easy to say blindly that Joey Gallo will be better, but you can still shift around him to limit him to singles if he can even make contact with the ball.

But the players I expect to see the biggest jump in production were actually highlighted by Jeremy Frank on Twitter.

Yes, Kyle Tucker and Corey Seager, who led the league in outs made on ground balls/line drives hit into shifts.

Big pull guys who make contact, like Kyle Schwarber and Rowdy Tellez, should also be helped by the new rules.

Stop Overdrafting Closers

This is one I preach every single year, yet we see people paying up for closers at a premium. Liam Hendriks and Josh Hader were being drafted in the first three rounds of drafts. Seven total closers were going in the top 100. Eight closers appeared in the top 100 for Razzball’s end-of-year player rater – with only Emmanuel Clase, Jordan Romano, Liam Hendriks, Edwin Diaz, and Kenley Jansen appearing on the list from the seven that were drafted. That means that you wasted your Hader pick, and essentially your Hendriks pick, as he finished 50 spots below his ADP.

We do this every year. Please learn.

Volume Matters

I play in many points leagues, so I target volume with my pitching staff. But even in category leagues and roto, I carried over that strategy.

And it worked.

Eight pitchers threw at least 200 innings this last year, and seven finished in the top 101 players for the year. Merrill Kelly was the lone omission, but even he finished No. 115.

The No. 1 rated pitcher was Justin Verlander, who was the mold for consistency and volume before his Tommy John surgery. He proved that to be true again this year before missing a little bit of the final month that kept him from reaching the 200-inning threshold.

More Steals?

For the first time since 2017, we saw a year-by-year increase in stolen bases, as there were 2,487 stolen bases. The last time we saw 3,000 steals in a season was in 2012.

Every year, we hear about how stolen bases are so scarce. And it’s true, to an extent, but it forces us to reach for players who provide anything else except steals.

But with the new bases in play next year, we can expect to see an increase in stolen base attempts. We’ve seen minor leaguers steal at double the amount this season with the bases, and while that won’t carry over completely, we have to think there will be an increase by the players who have shown the propensity and speed to run.

Someone like Byron Buxton could bounce back to actually steal bases this year and not just hit home runs. I like to look at players who are among the top of home plate to first base sprint speed since that is a better indicator of true speed than just sprint speed and look for values there.

Players like Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas, Steven Kwan, and Buxton all stand out to me. Or anyone who is facing Noah Syndergaard, of course.

Temper Expectations

When Ronald Acuna Jr., Juan Soto, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Fernando Tatis Jr. all came up and dominated rather early, we set expectations too high for every prospect to do the same.

And then came Julio Rodriguez and Bobby Witt Jr. this year. They had high expectations, but both surpassed even the wildest predictions.

I was high on both, but they definitely performed better out of the gate than I ever thought.

But because of that, I’m going to shift how I predict the top prospects who come up next year will do. Even someone like Gunnar Henderson, who has shown flashes as a top prospect, should be awarded some patience.

That goes doubly so for pitching prospects, who it just takes longer to click than the hitting prospects more times than not.


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Michael Waterloo is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Michael, check out his archive and follow him @MichaelWaterloo.

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