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11 Early Fantasy Baseball Sleepers (2023)

Feb 23, 2023
Top Fantasy Baseball Sleepers (2023)

One of the primary goals for every fantasy baseball manager ahead of their drafts should be to find players who return a hefty return on their draft day investment. For most fantasy drafts, that investment is their average draft position (ADP). You can dominate your draft by identifying which guys have the highest chance of providing the most value every time you’re up to pick. This becomes more important the deeper you go into the draft, as late-round players will either be duds who you’ll drop within a few weeks, decent contributors who outperform expectations and stick around on your roster for most of the season, or studs who can boost your title chances.

We asked our experts to provide their favorite early fantasy baseball sleepers. Their favorite hitter and pitcher sleepers are below.

Check out our fantasy baseball draft strategy on selecting hitters early >>

Q1. Which hitter outside the top 150 overall in ECR do you expect to be this year’s biggest sleeper and why?

Jesse Winker (OF – MIL)
“Jesse Winker’s No. 251 ECR is 15 spots lower than his ADP, so the experts are even more pessimistic about a bounce-back year. The trepidation is reasonable, as he won’t offer any speed and should sit against lefties. However, let’s not forget he batted .284/.379/.539 from 2019 to 2021 before last year’s power outage in Seattle. Winker moves to a better park in Milwaukee, and the career-low .219 batting average should rise closer to his career .270 norm considering his stellar plate approach. Only Juan Soto, Alex Bregman, and Max Muncy chased fewer pitches off the plate than Winker, one of seven qualified hitters with a contact rate over 80% and a walk rate above 12%.”
Andrew Gould (FantasyPros)

Cody Bellinger (OF – CHC)
“If we’re digging deep into the player pool to try to find someone who can explode upward as this year’s biggest sleeper, then we want a hitter that can excel in at least one category. Cody Bellinger has two seasons on his resume in which he hit 39 or more home runs and, while basically every part of his game has crumbled since 2019, we know how high his ceiling is. There’s risk everywhere — including the potential of a platoon — but he can easily outpace the rest of the hitters currently ranked outside the top 150 with his power alone.”
Mario Mergola (Sporfolio)

Josh Jung (3B – TEX)
“Whether it’s prospect fatigue or shiny-new-toy syndrome, Josh Jung is grossly underrated this year. Last February, he had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder and didn’t make his season debut until July 28, 2022. The eighth pick in the 2019 MLB Amateur Draft reached the majors in September to get a taste of The Show. Unfortunately, Jung had an uncharacteristically high strikeout rate at Triple-A (28.3 K%) and for the Rangers (38.2 K%). However, per FanGraphs, Jung had a more palatable 22.2 K% in 342 plate appearances in the upper minors in 2021. Gamers should cut Jung some slack for last year’s strikeout rate and take the plunge with a top-200 pick on a player who clubbed 19 homers with a .326 batting average, .398 OBP and 152 wRC+ in 2021 and has impressive scouting grades at multiple reputable outlets.”
Josh Shepardson (FantasyPros)

Riley Greene (OF – DET)
“Detroit’s lineup is loaded with potential bounce-back candidates but Riley Greene is the one who could legitimately deliver. He and his teammates will all benefit slightly from Comerica Park’s modified dimensions but that’s not the driving force here. Greene only slashed .253/.321/.362 with 5 HR in 376 at-bats his rookie year but he spent the whole season getting back to game speed after fracturing his foot just before Opening Day. The Tigers have new hitting coaches to work with Greene and Spencer Torkelson, both of whom could take a big step forward in living up to their top-prospect pedigree.”
Pierre Camus (Fantasy Endgame)

Riley Greene is a sleeper at an ADP of 189. He has no platoon concerns as a young player and is actually better against LHP than righties: .367 avg v LHP in 2021 (AA,AAA), .303 in 2022 (MLB). Max EV in 82nd percentile, HardHit% in 77 his rookie season. Plus the dimension changes to Comerica Park’s center-right field fence shouldn’t hurt his power numbers.”
Tristan Davis (SEMO Fantasy Sports Podcast)

Josh Rojas (2B,3B – ARI)
“I am intrigued by Josh Rojas (220) as a sleeper for 2023. Arizona should have a fun lineup with a lot of pop and speed, boosting Rojas in every stat category. He stole 23 bases last season and could exceed that with the new baserunning rules. He also cut his strikeout rate from 24.9 percent in 2021 to 19.2 percent in 2022, and he carries an elite chase rate in the 96th percentile. On top of that, he qualifies for 2B/3B in many leagues, which gives managers flexibility between two shallow positions. Rojas could easily be one of the year’s biggest sleepers.”
Kelly Kirby (FantasyPros)

Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit

Q2. Which starting pitcher outside the top 150 overall in ECR do you expect to be this year’s biggest sleeper and why?

Hunter Brown (SP – HOU)
“Hunter Brown probably won’t be a sleeper for much longer following news that Lance McCullers won’t be ready for Opening Day. That injury clears a rotation spot for a 24-year-old who registered a 2.55 ERA and 134 strikeouts in 106 innings at Triple-A last season. Houston let Brown work six innings in each of his two strong MLB starts before moving him to the bullpen in preparation for the postseason, so the rookie might not be severely limited on a per-start basis. There’s major strikeout upside with the ability to notch a bunch of wins for the defending World Series champions.”
Andrew Gould (FantasyPros)

Jesus Luzardo (SP – MIA)
“The prospect shine had worn off Jesus Luzardo when he posted an abysmal 6.61 ERA in 2021, but he jumped back onto everyone’s radar with a stellar 2022 campaign that led to 120 strikeouts, a 3.32 ERA, and a 1.03 WHIP in just over 100 innings. The “just over 100 innings” is the issue, however, as the left-handed pitcher experienced forearm issues on his throwing arm that sidelined him for a large portion of last year. That’s the main reason why he is ranked so low, however, and taking the risk that he can navigate around injuries could produce a massive reward.”
Mario Mergola (Sporfolio)

Tony Gonsolin (SP – LAD)
“Unfortunately, Tony Gonsolin missed time late in the 2022 regular season with a forearm issue. However, he returned in time for the postseason and was brilliant before the injury. Gonsolin had a 2.14 ERA, 3.69 xFIP, 0.87 WHIP, 7.0 BB%, 23.9 K% and 28.7 CSW% in 24 starts that lasted 130.1 innings. The gap between his ERA and xFIP might provide pause for gamers. However, Gonsolin had a 2.34 ERA and 4.02 xFIP in 51 starts in his career, totaling 250.1 innings. So, he appears to be an outlier. As a result, Gonsolin is a screaming value and belongs inside the top 150 players. ”
Josh Shepardson (FantasyPros)

Reid Detmers (SP – LAA)
“In his first full season in the majors, Reid Detmers was extremely volatile. The highlight was a no-hitter in early May against Tampa Bay, while the lowlight was a demotion in late June after his ERA reached 4.66 at that point. He came back stronger and posted a 3.36 ERA with far better strikeout numbers in the second half as he dialed back fastball usage. That helped cut down his HR numbers in a huge way, from 11 HR allowed in the first half to 2 HR in the second half. Detmers is ready to shoulder a full season’s worth of innings and could provide great numbers across the board at a discount.”
Pierre Camus (Fantasy Endgame)

Sean Manaea (SP – SF)
“Sean Manaea can bounce back with the Giants with an ADP of 299. In recent years, the Giants have been a place where starters have thrived. Kevin Gausman and Carlos Rodon both had huge years there and notably ditched their changeups. Manaea’s changeup had an average of .309 against it in 2022 and he threw it 26% of the time. I have faith the Giants can work their magic at this ADP.”
Tristan Davis (SEMO Fantasy Sports Podcast)

Jon Gray (SP – TEX)
“Jon Gray (196) had a series of unfortunate injuries in 2022 that prevented him from ever getting into a consistent groove. When he was healthy, he flashed some of the potential that fantasy managers hoped for after he escaped Coors Field. Gray’s Statcast page is red in every category except fastball spin rate, and he has averaged slightly above a strikeout per inning his entire career. He also cut his walk rate down from 3.50 BB/9 to 2.76. Assuming he avoids the flukey injuries in 2023, he’s a solid sleeper option for your fantasy pitching staff.”
Kelly Kirby (FantasyPros)

Beyond our fantasy baseball content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our free mock Draft Simulator – which allows you to mock draft against realistic opponents – to our Draft Assistant – which optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball draft season.

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