MLB Best Ball Targets (2023 Fantasy Baseball)
In the wide world of fantasy sports, the Best Ball format continues to quickly take over as one of the leading overall options. Sites offering contests have become quick to add the format, whether it be smaller-end private offerings or large-scale tournament settings. In 2023, Best Ball is an ideal option for people looking to have a stake in fantasy baseball, particularly for those that may not have the time to manage a 162-game season-long league.
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As the format is still a newer concept within the industry, some may be wondering, what is Best Ball? The premise is actually quite simple: players draft a roster of players that they will use throughout the course of a full season. Each week, the team’s highest-scoring players will be against the rest of the league they are in. There are no waiver wires, trades, or acquisitions throughout the season. The players you draft prior to the season are the players you are stuck with for the duration of it. That means if you draft Aaron Judge with the first overall pick and he goes down with a season-ending injury during the first game of the season, your only replacement for him will be any alternate outfielders that you drafted.
Looking deeper into the MLB Best Ball format, the standard industry layout is typically a 20-round draft, with the positional breakdown being between pitchers, outfielders, and infielders. Roster construction is incredibly important, as having too much of one position could limit your team’s scoring in other areas. Additionally, unlike in season-long leagues, it is only recommended to draft starting pitchers, as they vastly outscore relief pitchers in this format. There is plenty of additional nuance regarding fantasy Best Ball, and as the format evolves, there are more and more resources out there when it comes to strategy.
All that said let’s now take a look at some specific later-round players that I would recommend targeting in 2023 MLB Best Ball drafts and why.
2023 MLB Best Ball Targets
Jesse Winker (OF – MIL) – ADP: 120.8
The name of the game in MLB Best Ball for hitters is power. The scoring system greatly rewards a hitter’s ability to send the ball out of the park or for extra bases. In addition to this, sharp drafters are well aware of the scarcity at the outfield position heading into the 2023 season. Winker looks like one of the best mid-round targets when you combine these two factors. By all accounts, Winker had a down 2022, leading to career-lows in average, slugging percentage, and OPS while striking out a career-high 103 times. Despite that, the 29-year-old was still able to produce 14 home runs and 53 RBI while playing for Seattle, and within the confines of one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in baseball. There are numerous signs here for positive regression for Winker in 2023. He will now be playing at American Family Field in Milwaukee, a much better setting for hitters. Also, the fielding shift will no longer be a factor this season, an obstacle Winker faced during 76.1% of his plate appearances in 2022. Hitting in the middle of the order for the Brewers this year, Winker has a great chance at returning to numbers closer to his final season in Cincinnati than last year with the Mariners.
Adam Duvall (OF – BOS) – ADP: 188.7
Looking even further down the board, we have Red Sox outfielder Adam Duvall settling in with many similar parallels to the aforementioned Winker. Duvall is set to be the starting center fielder for Boston and should see ample playing time out of the gate. The 34-year-old is coming off a poor season where he was limited to just 86 games played. However, he is just two seasons removed from a dazzling campaign in 2021, where he mashed 38 longballs and 113 RBI. Duvall is never going to hit for a high average, but that is less important when it comes to Best Ball. If he can return to 20-plus home run power (and many projections have him surpassing that number), then he could be the single-best outfield value across the board. The confines of hitting at Fenway Park and the green monster should also help him substantially this upcoming season.
Corey Seager (SS – TEX) – ADP: 53.9
There are so many reasons why Corey Seager could pay dividends for Best Ball team managers in 2023. The second-year Ranger set a career-high with 33 homers in 2022 and is now positioned to improve on his overall numbers. Much of this has to do with the implementation of removing the fielding shift. Seager was top-10 in the entire MLB in 2022 when seeing the shift from opposing teams to the tune of a staggering 92.8% of his plate appearances. The removal alone should allow him to accumulate more hits as a true pull-hitting lefty. The Rangers also figure to be more competitive this season, and Seager will see maximum at-bats in the heart of the Texas lineup. It would not be shocking to see the 28-year-old push for career highs across the board in 2023 or even be in the running for AL MVP.
Jazz Chisholm Jr. (2B – MIA) – ADP: 85.8
Yes, you read that correctly- in Best Ball formats across the industry, Chisholm was and will continue to be listed as an infielder for the duration of drafting season, despite the young star’s transition over to center. Regardless of position, Chisholm is simply ranked far too low and makes for an intriguing mid-round infield value in BB. The third-year player appeared in just 60 games in 2022, yet he posted nearly identical (if not better) numbers than he did when he started 124 games in 2021. Assuming he can stay healthy for the upcoming campaign, Chisholm is set to take a step forward, and he will likely bank career numbers in every meaningful category.
Zac Gallen (SP – ARI) – ADP: 73.5
Quality starts are an added scoring aspect in Best Ball that helps set some starting pitchers apart. Gallen is a prime example of this, as he logged a solid 19 QSs in 2022 while compiling a 12-4 record with a 2.54 ERA. He is set to head the D’Backs pitching staff in 2023 and should be able to finish with close to 200 strikeouts if all goes accordingly. His Best Ball ADP has already risen considerably throughout the offseason, but he still possesses value in the seventh or eighth round. He is just the kind of pitcher to be looking for when trying to round out a staff.
- Taylor Ward (OF – LAA) – ADP: 76.1
- Masataka Yoshida (OF – BOS) – ADP: 99.0
- Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (OF – ARI) – ADP: 175.0
- Gunnar Henderson (SS, 3B – BAL) – ADP: 114.4
- Will Smith (C – LAD) – ADP: 150.6
- Ezequiel Tovar (SS – COL) – ADP: 230.4
- Hunter Greene (SP – CIN) – ADP: 91.3
- George Kirby (SP – SEA) – ADP: 109.4
- Reid Detmers (SP – LAA) – ADP: 184.5
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