With the 2023 MLB season rapidly approaching, it is time to take a look at some player targets in NL-only fantasy baseball leagues. The AL version of this article was already released and can be viewed here as well. There is no real additional filler needed for this one. Let’s jump right in.
Players to Target in NL-Only Leagues
Hitters to Target
Playing for an annually underachieving team in Pittsburgh, Reynolds, for whatever reason, has flown under the radar in fantasy drafts this offseason. Somehow, someway, people seem to be forgetting that the 28-year-old smacked a career-high 27 home runs last season while batting in the heart of the Pirates’ lineup. Projected out of that same spot again in 2023, 20-25 home runs and a .270s batting average should be the absolute floor for the fifth-year veteran.
There are other positive factors to note in Reynolds’ game that should have fantasy managers excited about his 2023 prospects. 2022 marked career-highs for Reynolds in both average exit velocity and maximum exit velocity, noting the improvement in his year-over-year power numbers. He also ranked in the top 75th percentile in sprint speed last season, yet he concluded the year with only seven steals. With the MLB’s implementation of larger bases in 2023, there is reason to believe Reynolds could end up setting a career-high in stolen bases, which should, at worst, be a double-digit number.
Right now, Reynolds is currently, on average, the 41st player and eighth outfielder off the board in NL-Only fantasy leagues behind Starling Marte and Corbin Carroll. At this price, he is a screaming value and should be a no-brainer pick in the third or fourth round of drafts.
The Arizona Diamondbacks should have an improved lineup in 2023, and Christian Walker will be a mainstay in the heart of the order. The 30-year-old had an unprecedented breakout in 2022, as he mashed a career-high 36 long balls and 94 RBI over the course of the season. Those numbers both ranked top-20 in their respective categories across the entire MLB. Now, Walker can be had in NL-Only leagues in the middle of the fifth round as the sixth first baseman off the board.
Walker should bat cleanup for Arizona when the season commences on March 31st, and he will be batting ahead of three players that all project to have OBPs higher than the MLB average, Corbin Carroll, Ketel Marte, and Jake McCarthy. Not to mention those three men all possess above-average speed and should be menacing on the basepaths for scoring runs. Walker will have all the opportunity in the world to drive in more runs this season, and it is certainly not out of the question for him to top 30 homers once again.
One list, back-to-back 30-year-old breakout MLB hitters. Another prime reason that baseball is as unpredictable as anything is the unlikely rise of Joey Meneses, similar to Christian Walker above. Meneses was in the minor leagues for nine long years before earning an opportunity with the Nationals last season, and he took full advantage once he got the call-up to the bigs.
Across 56 games and 240 plate appearances, Meneses slashed a sublime .324/.367/.563 with 13 homers, 34 RBI, and 27 XBHs. During his short stint with Washington, he ranked in the 71st percentile in max exit velocity and was above the league average in xwOBA.
Meneses is already off to a tear this Spring, particularly in the World Baseball Classic, where he led the entire platform with 10 hits, held a .370 batting average, and stoked two massive home runs for team Mexico. He will now look to carry this over to the MLB regular season as the Nationals’ Opening Day three-hitter. Meneses is looking like a better value pick in NL-only (but also full MLB) fantasy drafts every day, where he is consistently falling to the ninth round for whatever reason.
Pitchers to Target
A preseason injury seems to have scared fantasy managers off from Wright during drafting season, but his ADP has deflated to the point where he has become a no-brainer click for numerous reasons. Wright was the MLB-wins leader in 2022 and the only 20-game winner to boot. Hilariously, Wright will still be the fourth or fifth starter in the Braves’ rotation, given their incredible depth. Still, the 27-year-old deserves a lot more respect than his 56.0 ADP currently suggests.
Wright was undeniable last season, illustrated by his pristine 21-5 record, 3.19 ERA, and dominant 0.95 HR/9. He finished 10th in the NL Cy Young Award race and has top-15 Vegas odds again for 2023. Reports out of Atlanta are that his injured shoulder will be good to go by Opening Day and that he should be available to pitch during the second series of the season. Wright is a fine draftable option for the middle of a fantasy team’s rotation at this time.
An electric closer with filthy stuff, Camilo Doval should be a sneaky bet to lead the NL in saves in 2023. The third-year Giant was 27-of-30 in such opportunities last season across 67.2 innings pitched. Doval has the closer job to himself in San Francisco, and he has already proven to be a dominant force on the hill.
Doval’s K/9 in 2022 was actually down from his 2021 numbers, but he is already off to a hot start this Spring in that area. He seemingly did not have any troubles with his stuff last season, where he was in the top 10 percent of the MLB in average exit velocity, xBA, xSLG, Barrel %, fastball velocity, and fastball spin. Doval consistently throws his heater (which is a cutter, by the way) in the upper 90s and tops 100 MPH with regularity. Basically, what is being illustrated here is that when he is on, he is typically untouchable. He really deserves to be right up there with Josh Hader at the top of the closer list on draft day.
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | SoundCloud | iHeartRadio