With the 2023 MLB season right around the corner, fantasy baseball drafts are in full swing. Players' ADPs are rising and falling based on guys signing with specific teams and that opens up opportunities for other guys to step up and be fantasy darlings. In this article, we’re going to look at players that contribute in specific areas of fantasy baseball. Let’s dive into some of the top single-category fantasy baseball contributors heading into the 2023 MLB season.
Jeff McNeil, 2B New York Mets
The 2022 batting title was won by none other, than Jeff McNeil of the New York Mets. For the third time in four years, the Mets' second baseman has finished in the top 13 in batting average. Twice he’s finished top five. McNeil belted 23 home runs back in 2019, but in all four other seasons combined McNeil has hit…23 home runs. McNeil and his new contract extension should slot into a prime position in a potent Mets lineup and once again, hover above a .300 batting average for the fifth time in six years.
Luis Arraez, 2B Miami Marlins
The Miami Marlins went out and traded for second baseman Luis Arraez, which means Jazz Chisholm is moving to the outfield. The 25-year-old Arraez has been a fantastic source of batting average and hits as his worst season in terms of batting average is .294. He’s a career .314 hitter, will hit atop the Marlins’ lineup and has 14 career home runs and just eight stolen bases. You can rely on Arraez to once again flirt with a .300 average.
Alex Verdugo, OF Boston Red Sox
Since being the centerpiece of the Mookie Betts trade, Alex Verdugo has been solid for the Boston Red Sox through three seasons. Verdugo has hit .288 through those three seasons for Boston will once again have a chance to approach that number. He’s projected to hit fifth for the Red Sox and according to Baseball Savant, Fenway Park has been the third highest-rated ballpark to hit in over the last three years.
Yandy Díaz, 3B Tampa Bay Rays
You’re not going to see much from Yandy Díaz outside of his top button undone and his biceps popping out of his shirt like he’s ready to belt 50 home runs a year, but he’s not that guy. He’s someone that every time you look up, he’s on base. Well, 40% of the time at least. Diaz had a robust .401 OBP last year and has topped the .400 mark in two of the last three years. He’s projected to lead off once again for Tampa Bay this year too.
Anthony Santander, OF Baltimore Orioles
Without looking at his numbers, would you have known Santander belted 33 homers in 2022? It was the first time he played more than 110 games during his career, so it was his best opportunity to do so considering he hadn’t hit more than 20 home runs in a previous season. The adjustment to Camden Yards did not impact Santander’s power whatsoever and for a guy that’s hit .240 in back-to-back seasons, we’ll rely on his power if and when we’re drafting him.
Rowdy Tellez, 1B Milwaukee Brewers
Everything we thought Rowdy Tellez could be in Toronto he was in Milwaukee last year. Tellez finished tied for eighth in the league with 35 home runs and was tied for third amongst all first basemen. Tellez is once again projected to hit third for the Brewers this year giving him ample opportunity to have a repeat performance of 2022. For a guy that hit 35 home runs, he was actually quite unlucky considering his xSLG was .479 compared to his actual number of .461. Maybe 40 home runs is possible in 2023.
Rhys Hoskins, 1B Philadelphia Phillies
In all four of the seasons that Rhys Hoskins has played at least 100 games, he’s hit at least 27 home runs. He’s hit 30+ in two of those seasons, including the 2022 campaign. Hoskins, still just 29, was actually below his career average when you look at slugging percentage and expected slugging. His slugging was at .462 last year while his career mark is .492. We could see even more power from Hoskins in 2023 in an even more potent Phillies lineup than last years World Series team.
Adalberto Mondesi, SS Boston Red Sox
Yeah, we know, we do this song and dance every year. “This is the year Adalberto Mondesi finally does it!” “No doubt about it, Adalberto Mondesi is a fantasy baseball sleeper this year!” Every. Single. Year. Maybe a change of scenery is what it’ll take for Mondesi to truly live up to the hype. Even if he’s mediocre in a lot of areas of his game, the one thing we know about him is that he’s going to run and he’s going to run a lot. In 102 games a few years ago, Mondesi stole 42 bases. 42! That’s the type of upside he has. With Trevor Story on the shelf, Mondesi is going to man second base and barring good health, could lead the league in steals.
Nico Hoerner, 2B Chicago Cubs
With the addition of Dansby Swanson, the Cubs are going to shift Hoerner to second base, but he’s projected to be the team’s leadoff hitter in 2023. Hoerner is not exactly a guy you look towards for anything other than stolen bases entering this upcoming season. He could possibly see an uptick in runs with a revamped lineup behind him, but 20 steals last year were no fluke. Only 24 players across the league reached 20 steals. He should flirt with 20 again and could be a late-round add in your drafts.
Steven Kwan, OF Cleveland Guardians
With Kwan projecting to once again lead off for the Guardians, we should be taking a look at him for some late-round speed. He did hit .298 last year, but he was not a guy that was all that viable in fantasy baseball leagues outside of his speed and average. He was 25th in the league with 19 stolen bases and is a guy who could steal mid-to-high 20’s in bags this year. The Guardians added depth to their lineup with Josh Bell hitting behind Kwan, so the more often he’s in scoring position for Bell, José Ramírez, and co. the better.
Hunter Greene, SP Cincinnati Reds
It was a little bit of a bumpy road for Hunter Greene during his rookie campaign in 2022, but the one department he found his most success in was the strikeouts. Greene had 164 punchouts in 125.3 innings, a 30.9% K-rate, and 11.75 K/9. Those are some ELITE numbers. The problem with Green in ‘22 were the walks and the home runs. If he can cut those two things down and with an innings increase all but assuredly on the way, Greene is poised to reach 200 strikeouts this upcoming season.
Jesús Luzardo, SP Miami Marlins
The highly sought-after prospect finally made his mark after being dealt to Miami and had the best campaign of his career in 2022. He only made 18 starts due to injury, but he missed bats at an elite level. He posted a 30% K-rate and generated a 13.8% swinging strike rate. The swinging strike rate, if he had qualified, would be on par with the likes of Shane Bieber and Robbie Ray, who both had finished in the top 10 in that category.
Josiah Gray, SP Washington Nationals
The home runs allowed can’t get any worse, can they? The former top prospect has really had an issue keeping baseballs in the yard, but at the same time, he’s been reliable at generating strikeouts. He had 154 Ks in 148.2 IP last year and has 230 Ks through his first 219 IP for his career. He had nearly a 24% K-rate and an 11% swinging strike rate as well. Gray actually enters the year as the Nationals' top pitcher and could push for 200 innings. We could be talking about a guy that has 225 strikeouts and is the 153th drafted pitcher according to NFC’s ADP this offseason.