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10 Players Whose 2022 Performance You Can Ignore (Fantasy Baseball)

by Taylor Tarter | Featured Writer
Jan 31, 2023
Juan Soto

Some players have breakout seasons backed by great data. Others outperform their background metrics, casting doubt on a great season.

On the flip side, some players end up having terrible seasons that could just be the result of some bad luck. How do fantasy managers know which situation is which? Which players can we ignore based on their previous season?

Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit

2022 Performances You Can Ignore

Check out the players below whose 2022 performances you can disregard based on a number of factors.

BABIP Related Hitters

Paul Goldschmidt (1B – STL)

Goldschmidt had the highest BABIP in baseball in 2022 at .368, which was also tied for the second highest of his career. His career average BABIP is .349, and most projections systems predict his 2023 BABIP to be between .307 and .321.

He achieved this sky-high BABIP with the second lowest line drive rate of his career. A batter with a high LD% can typically sustain a high BABIP, which makes Goldy’s BABIP and batting average last season seem like an aberration. He has been able to sustain high BABIPs in past seasons, but had done so with LD rates between 21% to as high as 27.5%. His LD rate in 2022 was 18.9%.

Additionally, his wOBA of .419 was 52 points higher than his xwOBA for the largest gap among qualified hitters. He also possessed the largest difference between his batting average and expected batting average among qualified hitters.

While his home run production seemed in line with his career numbers, fantasy managers should ignore the batting average from last year and expect it to come back down to earth in 2023.

Carlos Correa (SS – MIN) 

Similar to Goldschmidt, Correa ended the 2022 season with the second highest BABIP and batting average of his career, while also posting the lowest line drive rate of his career at 19.8%

If Correa had done other things like improve his K%, chase rate, contact%, or swinging strike rate, then the spike in his AVG would be easier to buy. However, the Minnesota shortstop put up worse numbers in all of those categories than in 2021.

After putting up a .339 BABIP and a .291 AVG a season ago, projections expect Correa to hit between .263-.271 with a BABIP between .301-.307. This is a much more realistic expectation for Correa, making his 2022 AVG easy to ignore.

Carlos Santana (1B – PIT) 

On the other end of the BABIP scale is Santana, whose .209 BABIP was the lowest in baseball. This likely played a huge role in the second worst AVG in his career at .202 (the worst was in 255 PAs in 2020).

Santana had the largest difference between his AVG and xBA for qualified players with a lower AVG than xBA – his xBA was .253.

Another reason why fantasy managers can ignore his awful output from last year is that his hard contact was very good. His 9.3% barrel rate was top 20 among qualified first baseman and his 44.9% hard-hit rate was eighth.

Not only did he hit the ball hard, but he pulled the ball nearly 50% of the time while driving the ball almost 17% of the time. Unfortunately for Santana, 54% of his pulled line drives resulted in outs because of the shift.

With the shift banned in 2023, Santana should see improvements in his production, especially in his batting average. Ignore the 2022 stats, and bank on Santana being better in 2023.

Max Muncy (2B – LAD)

Muncy has never been a player that fantasy managers expect to hit for a high AVG, but a .196 AVG across 565 PAs was surprising for the Dodgers infielder.

He also hit the fewest homers of his career in seasons where he had more than 400 PAs. A major culprit of this was likely his return from a torn UCL, which many evaluators thought would not fully heal until 2023. This could have potentially impacted his barrel% and hardhit% (both of which were still very good) which saw a decrease from 2021. The injury may also have had an impact on his home run production. His 13% HR/FB rate from 2022 was 10.1% lower than his 2021 rate and 7.7% lower than his career average.

Additionally, his BABIP was the third lowest it has ever been, and the lowest of his career in seasons of 400 or more PAs. Yes, his K%, chase rate, and contact rate worsened, but BABIP factors in balls put into play.

What likely affected his BABIP much more is that he pulled 141 balls into the shift, the sixth highest total among left-handed hitters.

With more time to recover from his UCL injury, and the shift ban, fantasy managers can ignore Muncy’s extremely disappointing 2022 and expect better in the season ahead.

Juan Soto (OF – SD)

2022 was easily the most disappointing seasons of Soto’s career after posting a .249 BABIP and a .242 AVG, both career lows.

Soto has reached 600 PAs in three of his five seasons (not counting his debut season and 2020) and posted the lowest home-run total in those three seasons. Despite elite hard contact data (top-25 overall in barrel and hard-hit rates) Soto struggled to get balls to leave the park. Perhaps this was affected by a 17% HR/FB rate in 2022, which was 7% lower than the prior season and 5% lower than his career average.

With his batting average dropping so far, fantasy managers may think his plate discipline data fell off a cliff. The problem there is that it was nearly identical to the numbers he put up in 2021. In fact, he actually improved his overall contact rate, and he was one of six players to have a higher walk rate than contact rate.

Soto will likely not have to deal with ownership or trade questions in 2023, and will have a full year in San Diego, so fantasy managers and Soto should have fewer worries. Ignore the worst season of his career, and expect a major bounce-back for Soto in the season ahead.

HR/FB Related Hitters

Nick Castellanos (OF – PHI)

Castellanos had an incredibly disappointing 13 home runs in 558 PAs in 2022, which was the lowest total since he hit 11 homers in 579 PAs in 2014. This came a year after he hit 34 home runs in 585 PAs. What happened?

The Phillies’ outfielder saw a precipitous drop in hard contact. His barrel rate dropped by 4% from 2021 to 2022 for the lowest rate of his career (6.6%). His hardhit% dropped 12.3% to 34.6% for the second lowest rate of his career. Yet, his launch angle increased from 2021 to 2022.

One issue is that he posted the second highest GB% of his career and the second lowest HR/FB% of his career. His HR/FB rate was 8.6% in 2022, after averaging 23.1% the prior two seasons.

One reason to expect the home run issue to turn around for Castellanos is that Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia was the fifth best park for homers for righty batters in 2022 (only three behind Great American Ball Park in Cincy). Additionally, Kevin Long is one of the best hitting coaches in the league, and should be able to help adjust Castellanos’ approach.

Ignore the home run output that plagued Castellanos in 2022, and trust the projections that expect him to return to 20 or more home runs in 2023.

Jose Abreu (1B – HOU)

Abreu also posted a disappointingly low home run total in 2022. His 15 homers last season was the lowest total of his MLB career including 2020 when he had only 262 PAs.

The obvious culprit for this is an insanely low (for Abreu) 9.6% HR/FB rate. His 2022 fly ball rate was just 3% lower than it was in 2021 when he hit 30 homers in 20 fewer PAs than in 2022. The difference is that his HR/FB rate in 2021 was 10.3% higher than last season.

Abreu had the lowest launch angle of his career in 2022, but it was just 1.7 degrees lower than in 2015 when he hit 30 bombs. His 9.5% barrel rate from last season was lower than in the prior season, but still ranked 16th among qualified first baseman. He did this while also posting the fifth highest hardhit rate among all qualified batters.

Abreu hit the ball hard enough last season, and put the ball in the air enough to turn out a home run total in the 25-30 range, but had terrible luck in terms of how many of his fly balls left the park.

This is something fantasy managers should expect to change in 2023. Ignore the 15 homers from 2022, and plan on Abreu returning to form in the upcoming season.

Pitcher Performances to Ignore

Alek Manoah (SP – TOR)

Manoah turned in a 16-7 season with a 2.24 ERA, which was the fourth best ERA among qualified starters. Why should fantasy managers ignore this spectacular season?

First, his expected ERA and xFIP were both higher than his ERA by over a run – his xERA was 3.31 and xFIP was 3.97. His SIERA, which is a more predictive expected ERA metric, was 3.85.

Manoah also ended 2022 with a .244 BABIP, the fifth lowest among qualified starters. Unlike batters, a low BABIP for pitchers suggests good luck. Another sign that Manoah may have experienced some good luck is that he posted a well-below league average 7.1% HR/FB rate.

Additionally, among all pitchers, the big Toronto righty saw 74 of his pitches against lefty hitters pulled into the shift. Of those 74 pitches, 50 of them resulted in outs.

Without the help of the shift against left-handed hitters in 2023, Manoah will have to find other ways to get batters out. He could still be very good, but the 3.73 projected ERA by the BAT could be close to where he ends up in the coming season.

Logan Webb (SP – SF)

Another pitcher who benefitted greatly from the shift in 2022 was Webb. Lefty batters pulled 81 pitches into the shift against Webb last season, the second highest total for all starting pitchers.

Of those 81 balls pulled into the shift by lefties, 55 of them resulted in outs for Webb. This was tied for the fourth highest total (with Tony Gonsolin). This means that 68% of balls pulled into the shift against Webb by left-handed batters resulted in an out.

While Webb’s BABIP was more reasonable than Manoah’s at .293, Webb also posted a suppressed 8.3% HR/FB rate. He also had the 12th lowest K/9 rate among qualified starters at 7.63.

All of these issues cast doubt on Webb being able to repeat his 2.90 ERA from 2022. What also casts doubt on that ERA being repeatable are his advanced and expected ERA metrics from last season. His xERA was 3.59, his xFIP was 3.92, and his SIERA was 3.56.

The BAT, ATC, and Steamer projections systems all project him for an ERA between 3.70-3.80 for 2023. Fantasy managers should consider ignoring his ERA from 2022, and may want to bump him down their rankings.

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