The 2022 fantasy baseball season is no different than any other season. Check out any of the fantasy baseball mock drafts, the MLB best ball drafts, or just look at any 2022 fantasy baseball rankings – everyone loves their shiny new toys. Everyone loves a fantasy baseball rookie. Especially in their fantasy baseball keeper rankings or dynasty rankings.

Ever since Albert Pujols burst onto the scene in 2001, fantasy baseball owners have been big-time prospect-hunting for the next big thing. We were overlooking proven veteran talent to get at players like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper before their competition even knew what was coming. And it's not even just the marquee names. For every Vladimir Guerrero Jr. there are a boatload of other rookies like Trevor Rogers, Ryan Mountcastle, Alec Bohm and Bobby Dalbec. Some pan out and you get a huge boost in fantasy, but many do not. The key is figuring out where the juice is most worth the squeeze.



Is Bobby Witt Jr. the No. 1 Fantasy Baseball Rookie of 2022? 

The time is now in Kansas City. It’s time for the Bobby Witt Jr. show, and to be rather blunt, he needs to be in the lineup every day for the Royals. They have a clear need at third base, which is where he will likely play every day to begin the year, but I wouldn’t rule shortstop out either, as the inevitable injury to Adalberto Mondesi will occur, and Witt Jr. could slide over if needed. Bobby Witt Jr. is an incredible “toolsy” player that is gaining plenty of steam in fantasy baseball drafts leading up to the season. Is the hype worthy of the pricy investment? Let’s examine.

To say Witt Jr. is an elite prospect might be selling the star infielder short. Depending on what site you look at, his overall ranking may differ, so let’s look at a couple different ones.


Baseball America

Major League Baseball (Courtesy of Jonathan Mayo)

Baseball Prospectus













Information compiled from Baseball Reference

Also, Witt Jr. is Matt Selz’s number one ranked prospect in his top-300 rankings.

The idea of what Witt Jr. could be is exciting, but he’s lived up to the billing thus far. In 2021, he posted a .290/.361/.576 slash line with 33 home runs, 97 RBI, 99 runs scored, and 29 stolen bases. Overall, for his minor league career, spanning 160 games, he has a .283/.350/.520 slash line with 34 home runs and 38 stolen bases.

He’s looked excellent this spring, and his sweet swing has played well in Spring Training as well as throughout his minor league career. We get a nice view of his swing in this tweet from the Royals.

Then, to sweeten the pot even more, the parallels of keeping the hands inside the baseball and driving a ball for a round tripper is rather similar to Mike Trout, or at least that is what the MLB’s social media team said/showed.

In the above tweet, Witt does a great job keeping his hands inside the baseball, and stays compact to ensure that he can get to this pitch. Well, not only did he get to the pitch, but he got there with authority.

While Witt Jr. has yet to have his first Major League at-bat in the regular season, he’s been excellent in the Spring Training at-bats given to him. In 59 career at-bats in Spring Training over the last couple of years, Witt Jr. has hit .339 with five home runs (11.8 AB/HR), a 20.6 percent strikeout rate and 6.3 percent walk rate. How do those numbers compare to his minor league career? Well, quite similarly.





Spring Training








No one is doubting the tools, or at least they shouldn’t be. The big question is will Witt Jr. be the starting third baseman on Opening Day? The answer should be yes, but if there was any doubt about it, perhaps the new Prospect Promotion Incentive in the CBA will entice Kansas City to have Witt Jr. up for the whole season.

In most formats, Witt Jr. will begin the year with shortstop eligibility, but he will become even more valuable in fantasy formats when he gets third base eligibility, which shouldn’t be long into the season, depending on your league or league provider’s eligibility requirements. Witt Jr. is a 20/20 threat this season, at least, and that could end up selling him short if everything works out. Per the projections here at Fantasy Alarm, there are three shortstops projected for 20/20, and seven shortstops in the 20/10 club.

What about third base? Well, only three third baseman are projected for over 20 stolen bases, and José Ramírez is the only one projected with 20+ home runs and more than 20 stolen bases. What about the 20/10 club at the hot corner? Just two. TWO! The multi-positional eligibility is nice in and of itself, but having eligibility at one of the thinnest positions in fantasy, and one devoid of top speed (outside of Adalberto Mondesi) is a huge boost to his fantasy value.



Beyond eligibility at third base and playing for a team that loves to run (most steals in 2021 and over the last three years combined), after hitting eighth in the lineup the first couple of spring training games, he hit second in the next handful of contests. Why is this meaningful? Across the American League in 2021, batters in the nine-hole saw 9,021 plate appearances, whereas batters hitting second saw 10,882 plate appearances. More opportunities for fantasy goodness for a player of Witt Jr.’s caliber often means more significant fantasy production.

Witt. Jr has all of the talent in the world and playing in the Kansas City lineup will help boost his speed numbers, since everyone knows that they love to run. And I mean LOVE to run. Witt Jr.’s floor this year is likely 12-15 stolen bases, and I believe I’m being rather conservative there. Per Statcast’s Park Factors, Kauffman stadium has the tenth-highest Park Factor for right-handed hitters, and while it ranks rather low for right-handed power, it plays well for other base hits. Witt Jr. has plenty of power, so I’m not concerned about him hitting any less than 20 homers in 2022.

Third base eligibility and [potentially] hitting near the top of the lineup? A floor of 20/10, with the potential for 20/15, 25/15, or dare I even say 20/20? There may be some growing pains for Witt Jr., but a .260+ batting average with 20+ home runs and 20+ stolen bases at one of fantasy’s most shallow positions is incredibly profitable.

Do you hear that? Do you? Because that is the sound of Bobby Witt Jr.’s fantasy value skyrocketing into oblivion.

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