Players to Reach For: Hitters (2023 Fantasy Baseball)
There is no better feeling than seeing your draft targets fall to you one after another in a fantasy baseball draft. The final outcome results in a beautifully finished roster from top to bottom that you visualized from the start.
Unfortunately, it is rarely the case to go start to finish in a draft and end up with all of your guys. Typically, drafters ahead of you will almost certainly snipe a targeted player at least once or twice.
For this reason, sometimes it makes sense to reach on a player you are high on for a season, largely dependent on draft position. If you have a stake in a particular guy that you know is going to breakout or exceed expectations, do not hesitate to take them five, ten or even twenty spots ahead of ADP in some cases.
Hitters to Reach For (2023)
Let’s take a look at some hitters for the 2023 MLB season that may be worth reaching on this year.
Pete Alonso (1B – NYM): ADP 20.5
Starting towards the top of the draft board, Alonso is currently going off as the third first baseman and ninth infielder overall as fantasy rankings currently stand. This places him right at the beginning of the second round in standard 10-team leagues. However, there is merit to ranking Alonso even higher than this, and snagging him in the middle/back-end of the first round instead. We’re talking about a guy that has number one overall fantasy ability at both his position and in general.
Somewhat overshadowed by Aaron Judge‘s historical 2022 campaign, Alonso just went on to put up a “quiet” 40 home runs and 131 RBI last season, good for second in the NL and tied for first in the MLB (with Judge) respectively. The 28-year-old was also ranked 14th across the league in max exit velocity, smashing baseballs at an average of 116.5 MPH. He has ranked top-15 in that category in each of the past three seasons and his power will not be subsiding in the upcoming campaign.
Most projection sites have Alonso plateauing right around the 40-HR mark again in 2023, and surpassing triple-digit RBIs for the third time in his five-year career. These numbers would easily place Alonso as a first-round fantasy value at his position once again.
Dylan Cease (SP CWS): ADP 53.5
A former sixth-round pick, Cease broke out in 2022 in a big way, and he will be looking to carry that over in his fifth professional season. Cease was third in the MLB with a 2.20 ERA across 32 starts and 184.0 innings pitched last year. He also left a career-high number of hitters he faced in 2022 on base at a clip of 82.3%. Thanks to these accomplishments, Vegas now projects the 27-year-old to be right in the AL Cy Young Award race in 2023, ranked with the third-best odds behind Jacob deGrom and Gerrit Cole.
With all of this said, Cease’s fantasy ADP still somehow remains in the middle of the fifth round, a screaming value given his projected numbers. He is the 15th starting pitcher off the board behind the likes of Zack Wheeler and Julio Urias, yet feels like he should be closer to the Aaron Nola/Spencer Strider tier of pitchers that are going nearly 25 picks higher than him in some instances. Cease is a player I would be pulling the trigger on early as a true ace in the game of baseball and fantasy baseball alike.
Will Smith (C – LAD): ADP 78.9
Touching on all different position types and ADP ranges in this article, Smith comes in as a catcher that continues to fly under the radar on draft days. Despite Dodgers’ head coach Dave Roberts himself proclaiming that Smith will likely bat out of the three-hole in 2023, his ADP has remained steady in the seventh to eighth round since the offseason commenced.
You cannot go wrong batting in the prolific Los Angeles lineup, and Smith is going to get the most opportunities of his young career to both hit for power and drive in runs in 2023. He only has two of the sport’s true superstars in Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman hitting ahead of him.
In 578 2022 plate appearances, Smith slashed .260/.343/.465 with 24 homers and 87 RBI. Those numbers should be the absolute floor for him in 2023. Smith can be grabbed with confidence as much as a round ahead of where his current ADP is, especially given the shallow depth of the catcher position in fantasy baseball when compared to other spots.
J.D. Martinez (DH – LAD): ADP 178.6
Back-to-back Dodgers to close out the list reaffirms the idea that players on such an imposing team can and should be confidently drafted ahead of where they may be slotted. Martinez is a screaming value at his current price, which is somehow almost undrafted in standard fantasy leagues. Likely gone are the days where JDM mashes for 35+ homers and 100+ RBIs, but the change of scenery from Boston to L.A. could be the revitalization his career desperately needed.
Martinez was not even that bad in his final season in Boston, as he held a solid .274 batting average with 16 long balls and 62 RBI across 139 games. Now, for the Dodgers, the 12-year veteran will see most of his at-bats out of the DH spot, which should allow him focus solely on his batting ability. To reiterate, you cannot go wrong hitting in a lineup reeking of potency like the Dodgers, and JDM should seamlessly be able to slide into the middle of the order.
Don’t be shocked if Martinez re-approaches the 25-home run mark in 2023, and his RBI total should increase substantially given the names hitting in front of him. He is well worth the reach at cost.
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