2022 Fantasy Baseball ADP Recap: Round 1
As we head into the new year and ramp up the 2023 fantasy baseball draft prep, let’s look back at the early rounds of the 2022 drafts. This will be a five-part series, reviewing each pick of the first five rounds. This series will focus on 12-team leagues, so 60 players are discussed, and will use end-of-draft season ADP (average draft position) from CBS. I chose CBS over ESPN and Yahoo as some of the ADP was wonky, and this made the most sense for this exercise.
Looking back on what went right and wrong from the previous season is an excellent exercise before digging into the 2023 fantasy baseball research. So we will dig in and see what players were worth the draft day price. Which players were busts? And even which players were major hits that likely helped fantasy players win leagues.
The results of a draft pick can vary from format to format so I will focus on 5×5 ROTO formats, but the information should also help points leagues and H2H players. If you have any further questions on the analysis by rounds or more for your 2023 season, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter. But first, let’s look at the top 12 picks of the 2022 draft season.
2022 Fantasy Baseball Average Draft Position Takeaways: First Round
Turner has become a staple at the beginning of fantasy baseball drafts for a few years. In 2022, Turner did not disappoint as he was once again a five-category stud. Turner had an elite stat line of .298/21/101/100/27. That’s a great stat line, but some hoped for more steals from Trea after having 32 or more steals for five straight seasons, including two seasons over 43. Nevertheless, Trea did not lose your fantasy league and was once again the steady floor/ceiling player you look for in the first round.
2. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR – 1B)
After a monstrous 2021 season, Guerrero experienced some expected regression in 2022. Vladito still had a respectable stat line of .274/32/90/97/8, but it was a far cry from 2021’s .311/48/123/111/4. The overall production fell, likely due to his groundball rate rising to 52.1% from 44.8%. In addition, Guerrero’s barrel and hard-hit rates fell to 11.2% and 50.4%. Vlad’s still a tremendous offensive talent, but an early first-round pick may not be the place for him going forward.
2022 was a bizarre season for Soto. He was traded from the Nats to the Padres, and once joining the Padres, he had a hard time getting it going, well, getting it going offensively for the standards we expect anyway. Soto finished the season with 27 home runs, decent for Soto standards, but only 62 RBI and a horrible .242 batting average are just not acceptable. Soto still walked over 20% of the time, which was great to see, and playing for the Nats was never in his favor. The problem is that the Padres weren’t in Soto’s favor either, as he only hit six home runs and .236 in his 53 games in a San Diego uniform. A bad fantasy season for those that drafted Soto.
Ramirez once again proved that he is one of the best first-round picks you can make in fantasy. He put together another 20/20 season with 29 home runs and 20 stolen bases. That gives Ramirez four straight seasons with 20/20 (excluding shortened 2020). JRam also provided a quality .280 batting average and 126 RBI, filling all five ROTO categories. Ramirez isn’t just an elite fantasy player but an elite fantasy player at an ugly third-base position, making him even more valuable.
Bichette had a slow start to 2022 but finished with 24 home runs and a .290 batting average. It was a very good season, but he let down some fantasy managers as the stolen bases dropped from 25 in 2021 to 13 in 2022, and his runs dropped from 121 to 91. Bichette was still an outstanding fantasy shortstop, but the 25 stolen base season may be a one-time deal, making his fantasy value take a slight hit.
Harper had a nice 2022, but it was not an early first-round pick nice. Harper only played in 99 games where he battled injuries. He still hit a respectable .286 with 18 home runs and through in 11 stolen bases. An entire season and Harper is a good pick; sadly, he did not play an entire season. You cannot predict injuries, so this one stings, but he did not pay off that early draft price in the end.
7. Shohei Ohtani (LAA – SP,DH)
Ohtani is a fantasy baseball unicorn. He is a CY Young-caliber arm and offensive MVP-caliber bat. He did both of those very well this past season with an offensive stat line of .273/34/90/95/11, as well as pitching 166 innings with a .233 ERA, 15 wins, and a 26.5% K-BB. The hardest things with Ohtani are knowing when to play him in weekly leagues (outside of 2-start pitching weeks) and the fact he is UTIL only when it comes to offense. But, other than those minor issues, Ohtani is a fantasy juggernaut.
Cole had a disappointing 2022 to some, especially for those that expected more from a first-round starting pitcher. He finished the season with a 3.50 ERA and only 13 wins, but he did throw over 200 innings with a 1.02 WHIP and a 26.1% K-BB. In addition, Cole had home run issues, which resulted in a 1.48 HR/9, but other than that, it was business as usual for the Cole Train. The Yankee ace should be just fine heading into 2023.
Trout showcased his elite fantasy gifts once again with 40 home runs and a .283 batting average with 85 runs and 80 RBI. The runs and RBI were a bit disappointing for a first-round pick, but Trout putting these numbers up in 119 games is simply impressive. In addition, Trout had a career-best barrel rate of 19.7%, with a 50.3% hard-hit rate and 114.4 mph maxEV. Trout once again proved that he is one of the best baseball players when he is healthy.
Betts had another solid fantasy season with 35 home runs, 117 runs scored, 12 stolen bases, and a .269 batting average. Betts has scored over 100 runs in five of his last six seasons (excluding 2020) to go with 20+ home runs in all six seasons. His batting average has dipped into the .260’sover the previous two seasons, which is less than desired, but the entire stat line is solid and first-round viable.
11. Freddie Freeman (LAD – 1B)
Freeman’s first season in LA was a success, even with the dip in power to only 21 home runs. He hit over .300 for the sixth time in seven seasons while driving in 100 and scoring 117. Freeman also ran wild with a career-high 13 stolen bases. The power decline may be disappointing to some, but the overall five-category stat line is outstanding, and I expect the power to come back in 2023.
Burnes backed up a breakout 2021 season with 202 innings of outstanding pitching. Burnes had a 2.94 ERA with a 0.97 WHIP and a 30.5% strikeout rate. Burnes allowed more home runs than usual, 14.1% HR/FB, but still dominated as he did not allow many base runners. He only racked up 12 wins, but that is not on him with those great numbers. Burnes was worth every bit of his first-round draft price.
When looking back at the first round, most picks came through in a big way. You paid off if you went for five-category studs in Turner and Ramirez. Later-round targets like Betts, Trout, and Freeman also paid off significantly. If you started on the mound, Cole and Burnes were the aces you hoped for, and the unicorn Ohtani was terrific. Then, of course, there were a few busts with Soto, Bichette, and Guerrero. All in all, no one lost your fantasy leagues in Round 1, but some helped propel your team to success.
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