Shiny New Toy Syndrome (2023 Fantasy Baseball)
Like Christmas morning on a cold Winter’s day, few feelings surpass the elation a child feels when they unbox a sparkling new rendition of the hottest toy on the market. Everyone wants the newest thing, whether it is a material object, the coolest new social trend, or even a contemporary idea.
Fantasy sports are no different, as owners long for those ripe, fresh-out-of-the-box players that could carry their teams for seasons to come. In baseball, for example, those who reached to pluck up breakouts in 2022, such as Julio Rodriguez, Bobby Witt Jr., and Shane McClanahan found themselves reaping the rewards.
Conversely, for every glistening new toy that proves its worth, there are also those that lose their shine quickly and end up at the bottom of the toy box. Wander Franco, Seiya Suzuki, Jarred Kelenic, and Shane Baz all posted letdown seasons relative to their 2022 ADPs. As a result, the annual hit-or-miss tendencies of these young players brings about the most important question in relation to Shiny New Toy Syndrome: is it worth it?
A handful of shimmering new “toys” are set to hit the MLB fantasy landscape in 2023. Given their current draft ranks, it is time to find out if these players are worth their elevated price tags.
Fantasy Baseball Shiny New Toy Syndrome
Spencer Strider (SP – ATL) – ADP: 34.0, SP6
Strider burst onto the scene in 2022 after being selected by Atlanta in the fourth round of the 2020 draft. The fireballer out of Clemson ended up concluding his rookie season by finishing second in the NL ROY race, just behind teammate Michael Harris. Over 20 games started, Strider finished 11-5 with a 2.67 ERA and a 202:45 K:BB ratio. Not too shabby for a guy that some thought would never have the chance to be a formidable MLB starter. Strider will be looking to stay healthy in 2023 and best his previous numbers, which he should have a very solid shot at accomplishing. Though his price tag is high, Strider’s projection for the upcoming season has a Cy Young award well within the range of possible outcomes. He feels like a shiny toy worth paying up for at cost.
Corbin Carroll (LF – ARI) – ADP: 77.0, OF22
As a former first-round five-tool prospect, 22-year-old Corbin Carrol is just about as shiny as it gets. The rookie debuted in 2022 and, despite the small sample size, showcased why he should have fantasy managers salivating at the mouth. Carrol’s .830 OPS over his 115 PAs was promising, and according to Statcast, he posted the top sprint speed in the entire MLB. Most projections have Carrol registering a middling batting average in 2023, though the upside for a 20-20 season certainly looms large. At an ADP of 77.0, Carrol is worth taking a chance on in the most desolate position in all of fantasy.
Gunnar Henderson (SS – BAL) – ADP: 88.0, SS17
A true phenom and oddsmaker favorite for AL ROY, Gunnar Henderson has lived up to the hype so far. In an Orioles’ lineup that has the feel of a strong campaign looming, Henderson should thrive as the three or four hitter in 2023. Through a limited sample size in 2022, the 22-year-old slashed .259/.348/.440 with four homers and 12 XBHs. This season, Henderson should be in line to approach 20 round trippers, if not more, and his speed goes overlooked as a double-digit threat. The young heralded shortstop could find himself as a value being picked as the 17th overall player from his positional group.
Grayson Rodriguez (SP – BAL) – ADP: 186.0, SP59
Back to the Orioles’ well we go, with a young starter expected to make his MLB debut as early as in April of the 2023 campaign. Baltimore’s top prospect should be cracking the Opening Day rotation, and will find himself making plenty of starts out of the gate. The biggest question mark may be how Brandon Hyde and company utilize their young stud and if he will have his innings limited frequently. There is not a ton of risk drafting Rodriguez where he currently falls on draft boards, but he could be a tough sell ahead of guys around him like Brady Singer, Luis Garcia, and Miles Mikolas.
Kodai Senga (SP – NYM) – ADP: 172.0, SP96
Senga is an obvious question mark as he heads over to the Big Apple for his inaugural campaign, though the upside is tantalizing. The 30-year-old Japanese phenom has a fastball that clocks out at 101 MPH and a splitter that drops out of the zone without notice. Though not as acclaimed as former Japanese talents such as Shohei Ohtani, Yu Darvish, and even Daisuke Matsuzaka, Senga has the potential to be a more than serviceable MLB starter. Playing on a Mets team that will once again have substantial firepower, it makes sense to snag up Senga at his current price before it starts to tick upwards.
Anthony Volpe (SS – NYY) – ADP: Undrafted, SS47
Further down the list, we have Anthony Volpe, also known as the fifth-ranked prospect in all of baseball. Volpe’s hype has been getting pumped all offseason, and he will be turning just 22 shortly after the season is underway. The youngster is expected to eventually reign as a true five-tool prospect, as he posted 21 home runs and 50 steals over two teams in high-A ball last year. Oddsmakers expect Volpe to see time in the majors in 2023, and he is currently ranked with the 8th highest odds to win the AL ROY. Considering his draft position, it just makes sense to grab Volpe if he is there at the backend of fantasy drafts. That said, any production he ends up with for the upcoming campaign should be considered a bonus rather than an expectation.
It feels as though there are some “shiny new toys” worth taking a stab at in fantasy drafts for the 2023 MLB season. Though the risk could outweigh the reward for some higher-ranked players, there is not much harm in taking a chance on some younger guys in the hope that they can explode onto the scene. Or maybe the analysis here is simply incorrect, and the Shiny New Toy Syndrome has already begun to take over. It will be up to the drafters to decide where to put their faith in these bright, new, up-and-coming prospects.
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