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Blake Meyer’s Must-Have Players (2023 Fantasy Baseball)

Blake Meyer’s Must-Have Players (2023 Fantasy Baseball)
cameraBlake Meyer’s Must-Have Players (2023 Fantasy Baseball)

Back again with another article, and boy, does it feel good. Of all the articles I’ve written thus far, I think this might be the one I’m the most excited about. It’s one thing for me to let you guys know who is over and underrated based on ADP. It’s another for me to have the ability to tell you guys who my absolute favorite players to draft and roster this fantasy baseball season are. So without further ado…

Blake Meyer’s Must-Have Players

Anthony Santander (OF – BAL)

While he may not have started the offseason as one of my “Must-Have” players, he has quickly climbed to the top of my list. Arguably one of the most underrated players in baseball, It’s hard not to love the man once you dive into just how good he’s been these past few seasons.

In 2019, Santander hit 20 home runs in just 93 games. In the shortened 202o season, he hit 13 doubles and 11 home runs in just 37 games. That amounts to a 56-double, 48-home run pace over a full 162 games played. His power fell off a bit in 2021, with 18 home runs in 110 games, but he followed it up with 33 in 152 games last season. Those 33 were good for the 12th best in baseball, tied with Rangers slugger Corey Seager.

His statcast numbers look excellent as well. His 11.6% barrel rate last season was a career-high. His average exit velocity (90.1 MPH), hard-hit rate (43.3%), and xwOBA (.352) were all well above league average as well. Over the years, Santander has steadily made better and better contact. In turn, he’s also lowered his K rate as well to a career-best 18.9%.

He is currently being taken as the 28th outfielder off the board and 117th overall. This after finishing 2022 as the 18th best outfielder in NFBC roto value tied with guys like Teoscar Hernandez, who’s currently being taken as the 17th outfielder this year. We’re entering a season where steals will be cheap, and home run power becomes hard to find. Only 21 players hit 30+ home runs in 2022, and the majority of that list are guys being taken very early in the draft. Finding someone after the 10th round who can be that power-hitting weapon for you is crucial to helping you nail your draft. That’s why I’ve been sure to draft him in all of mine.

Lars Nootbaar (OF – STL)

Yes, I am aware that Nootbaar has become everyone’s favorite player to hype up this year. He is someone, though, that I have been doing my part to make people aware of since last year. The Cardinals may have a stacked group of solid, young outfield talent, but none of them should be standing in the way of Lars and his hype train.

He burst onto the season in 2022 in a major way. Outside of his end-of-the-year batting average, there wasn’t a whole lot to not be enamored by when it comes to Lars. His 12.1% barrel rate and 91.7 MPH average exit velocity were in the 85th and 90th percentile, respectively. Combine those with his 46% hard-hit rate, and you have a guy who made consistent quality contact last season. It wasn’t just his quality of contact that was impressive, though. He was also one of the best hitters in the league in terms of plate discipline as well. He ended the season with a 14.7% walk rate. Putting him in the 98th percentile in all of baseball. The majority of that was due to his impressive 21% chase rate, 7% lower than the league average, putting him in the 92nd percentile.

The .228 average wasn’t ideal, but his end-of-the-year xBA was almost 20 points higher at .247, which is promising. If you take his season from July 1st on, Lars hit a solid .253 with a 16.3% walk rate, 17.4% strikeout rate, and a .891 OPS. The hype he’s getting going into this season hasn’t affected his ADP as much as expected, either. Currently going as the 46th outfielder off the board at pick 184, the sky is the limit for Nootbaar. He is another I’ve taken in every draft, and expect to continue that trend moving forward.

Jazz Chisholm (2B – MIA)

I completely understand the hang-up people have with Jazz and his injury issues. Trust me, I get it. But that doesn’t mean it bothers me in the slightest. With every player in the league, there is going to be an injury risk, you just need to decide where you are comfortable taking that risk. For me, Jazz is where I’m comfortable. Keep in mind, though, that it is important not to fill your roster with guys who are forever injury prone. A risk here and there, though, can be the difference between a fifth and a first-place league finish.

For one, Jazz is probably the most electric player in baseball. In his last 162 games, he’s hit .242 with 24 doubles, seven triples, 28 home runs, and 26 stolen bases. He’s also scored 97 runs and driven in 90 despite the Marlins having a below-average lineup. Those stats are on par with the 2022 version of Marcus Semien, who finished the year as the second-best second baseman in fantasy baseball by roto value.

He’s also shown amazing improvements in each of his years at the major league level.

BA K% Exit Velo Sweet Spot% Slugging OPS
2020 .161 30.6% 87.1 MPH 27% .321 .563
2021 .248 28.6% 90.2 MPH 29% .425 .728
2022 .254 27.4% 90.4 MPH 37.3% .535 .860

Before getting injured last season, Jazz also had an absurd barrel rate of 16.7%. He’s fast as hell, with a sprint speed in the 94th percentile. Playing in arguably the most shallow position in fantasy baseball makes Jazz a must-have for me. At the top, you have Altuve, Semien, Jazz, and Albies, and after that, you really hit a cliff where the talent drastically falls off. I’m willing to roll the dice in the fourth round by taking Jazz and enjoying that dual eligibility he’ll end up with once he’s played enough outfield games to count. Mind the risk, but enjoy the reward that comes from having Jazz on the squad.

William Contreras (C – MIL)

Firstly I’d like to say that the catcher position is much deeper this year compared to previous ones. At least in a one-catcher league. In two catcher leagues, it gets a little dicey if you wait too long, but the same can be said for a lot of positions. With that being said, William Contreras should be on your radar if you’re wanting to spice things up at the catcher position.

In my rankings on the expert platform, I have William as the seventh-best catcher. One spot ahead of his brother Willson. This, in my eyes, makes him a massive value pick seeing as he’s currently the 10th catcher going off the board according to the consensus ADP, 40 picks AFTER his brother. Pretty low for a guy with a real chance at leading the catcher position in home runs in 2023.

He’s hit 28 home runs in his 153 career major league games. Including 20 last season in just 97 games. It’s not often you see a player hit 20+ in under 100 games. Especially a Catcher. He did this behind an excellent 13.4% barrel rate, 46.6% hard-hit rate, and 115.2 MPH max exit velocity. The power he possesses is the real deal. Especially if you take into account that he spent last season hitting in just an average-at-best home park for right-handed hitters. This season he heads to American Family Field, which is much more favorable to righties with power. They are the sixth-best park in baseball for right-handed home runs.

Catcher used to be a position that was known as a bit of a black hole. You had your one or two at the top who people clamored to get, and after that, it was really downhill. We’re now entering a season where you can afford to wait and still get a high-end catcher. If Contreras plays 130+ games this season, as he should, there’s no reason he shouldn’t hit 30+ home runs. He is the kind of pick that you’ll look back on at the end of the year and say to yourself, “Damn, I’m smart as hell for taking the right Contreras brother.”

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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