October 20, 2022, 6:22 pm
I know, I know. It’s only October, the championship series are barely underway, and here I am talking about 2023 rankings. This is more of a fun exercise for me as opposed to data that will end up being useful come next season. A ton will change between now and March, when most people will start drafting, so I will update and expand this list throughout the offseason, but for now, here is my way too early top-50 for 2023 with a write up for each player.
1. Trea Turner
As of right now there is no safer pick at 1.01 in 2023 than Turner. He has the highest floor of any player in fantasy, even if he leaves the Dodgers. That may impact his RBIs and run numbers a touch, but 25 HR, 25 SB, and a .300 batting average is about what we can expect every year. Personally, my favorite player in fantasy and an absolute treat to have on your team
2. Jose Ramirez
J-Ram is the next best thing to Turner. He is another fantasy stud that provides elite value in all five categories at a weak position in third base, and he does it without the benefit of other big name players around him in Cleveland. He didn’t have the greatest second half, but that shouldn’t stop you from pouncing on Ramirez as a top-3 pick next season.
3. Ronald Acuna Jr
You could make a legitimate case for Acuna as the 1.01 next year, given his 40/40 skillset atop one of the deepest lineups in baseball. The soon-to-be 25-year-old will be another year removed from his torn ACL and we should see his power numbers return to go along with the monster steals. He is my very early pick for 2023 NL MVP.
4. Julio Rodriguez
Julio is behind the first three guys, but not by much. 28 HR, 25 SB, and a .284 average as a rookie is just bonkers, and he did that despite missing 30 games in 2022. Big things are coming for Julio, whether that’s 30/30, 40/40 or 50/50, it’s hard to say. There is a decent chance for him to be the No. 1 fantasy player next season if he stays healthy.
5. Shohei Ohtani
Depending on where you play your fantasy, Shohei could be the consensus first overall pick. In daily changes where he is both a pitcher and a batter, it’s a no-brainer. On Yahoo, Ohtani is listed as two players, so he’s lower there. Very hard dude to rank, but I think the five slot makes sense if we are talking about weekly leagues.
6. Aaron Judge
I think he’s unlikely to repeat as the No. 1 player again in 2023, but Judge should still put up monster numbers regardless of what jersey he has on. Hitting 62 HR again is unrealistic, and odds are that he doesn’t steal 16 bags again, but 50 and 10 seems pretty likely. The “injury prone” narrative isn’t really justified. Draft with confidence, just maybe not first overall.
7. Kyle Tucker
These last two seasons have shown us what Tucker can do in a full year. He slots into the middle of that deadly Astros lineup and should have no problem putting up roughly the same numbers we have become accustomed to over the last two years ( ~ 30 HR, 100 RBI, 20/25 SB). Going into his age-26 season, he could take an even bigger jump.
8. Juan Soto
There’s no doubt in my mind that Soto bounces back after a disappointing season by his lofty standards. His “down” year still resulted in 27 HR and a 20.3 BB%. A full season in a San Diego lineup that will also boast Fernando Tatis Jr and Manny Machado is terrifying. There will be counting stats galore, and look for that average to also climb back up to the .300 range.
9. Corbin Burnes
The first true pitcher on my list, I just have more faith in Burnes being consistently great than I do any other pitcher. It feels very safe to forecast that he will end 2023 with a sub 3.00 ERA, 200 IP and close to 250 strikeouts. If you are going to go with a pitcher in round one, it’s hard to find someone with a higher floor than Burnes.
10. Manny Machado
He’s fresh off a top-10 fantasy season, and Machado is a player where you more or less know heading into the season what he is going to provide. 30 HR, 100 RBI, 10 SB, and a .300 average. You add Tatis back to the mix along with a full season of Soto, and that lineup could be the most dangerous in baseball. Machado is in line for yet another monster season at the dish.
11. Shane McClanahan
Shane is a stud, and I expect him to build off his elite 2022. He should throw more innings next season (he ended this year at 166.1) and continue to provide elite K numbers for a winning club. He had a couple of rough starts in September against top tier lineups that shouldn’t be a big concern to anyone. A young, rising stud whose 2022 was more than Cy Young worthy.
12. Bo Bichette
He reminded us in the last month of the season what he can do when he gets hot, and it was incredible to watch. There likely would have been a significant discount heading into drafts had it not been for his .406 average, 7 HR, 27 RBI and 4 SB final month. Regardless, Bo is a five category stud who will be going at least half a round later than last year. Pounce.
13. Freddie Freeman
An incredible year that saw him return top-5 fantasy value should keep Freddie in the first-round range going into draft season. He is a player where it may be hard to predict the final stat line, but you know that he will be an elite option whether it comes from his power, speed, contact skills, the Dodgers lineup or a combination of them all. Very safe pick.
14. Jacob deGrom
It’s very hard to place deGoat. If he starts 30 games next year, then he is pretty easily the No. 1 overall fantasy player. It’s just hard for me to see that happening, which is why I’ve baked in some risk factor into this number. Even still, he was the 121st ranked player on Yahoo despite pitching only 64.1 innings. Just absurd. Even if he misses a few starts, he will be the best pitcher in the sport when out there.
15. Mookie Betts
Mookie had himself a big year and he will again be a pretty safe pick for 2023. The batting average and stolen bases aren’t quite what they used to be (still very good just not the same level as his Boston years), but he just hit a career-high 35 dingers to go along with 117 runs. The counting stats will be there for almost any Dodger, but especially so for the star leadoff hitter.
16. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Vlad didn’t have quite the year we were expecting and still finished with 32 HR, 97 RBI, and 8 SB while batting .274. The crazy thing is he never really had a hot stretch all year. The Jays lineup is special, and he’s almost always in it, having played in 321 of the last 324 games. Lucky us, we get him a full round later than last year. Let’s not forget he will only be 24 heading into next year.
17. Yordan Alvarez
It can’t be overstated how elite Alvarez is at the dish. You have to wonder what his stat line would look like had it not been for the hand troubles that held him to one home run and a .234 batting average in August. He still finished with a 185 wRC+, 37 HR, 97 RBI and a .306 average even with the 27 games missed this year. If only he stole bases…
18. Gerrit Cole
Cole is still in the elite pitching tier, one of the few guys who can log 200 innings and give you 250 strikeouts every single year. However, I think he has to be lower now than in recent years. He has struggled down the stretch in consecutive seasons, really killing H2H managers when it mattered most. Still great, but not a first-round pick anymore
19. Bobby Witt Jr.
It’s easy to overlook just how great Witt was this year. He plays in Kansas City and there were so many other phenomenal rookies this season that he may not even finish top-3 for the award. He put up a 80/20/80/30 season with a .254 batting average. He’s an absolute stud for fantasy that may even push into the first round in some drafts.
20. Fernando Tatis Jr.
If the Padres keep winning games, he may end up even higher on this list come February/March. Tatis will have everything to prove next season after he missed all of 2022 due to injuries and a PED suspension, plus he will return a lineup that will surely be among the best in the game. Even if the Padres don’t win another game he will only miss a couple of weeks, and that is essentially nothing over the course of a 162 game season. Huge target for me next year.
21. Bryce Harper
I’m guessing that I will be a bit lower on him than consensus heading into next year. I guess I’m still worried about his elbow and how much he will be on the field over the course of the season. He only played the field eight times this season. I’m guessing we start to see fewer stolen bases as he enters his thirties as well. If he’s healthy, I don’t have much doubt that he can outperform this slot. It’s just a big if for me.
22. Francisco Lindor
I hope you enjoyed the discount last year, because it ain’t happening again in 2023! Lindor bounced back the way that we were all expecting after a very disappointing debut season in New York. He is still an elite five-category producer that returned close to first-round value this season. The Mets fell very short of expectations this year, so don’t be surprised if there’s another top-tier bat in that lineup next season to help add to the counting stats.
23. Sandy Alcantara
Alcantara was outstanding and will likely walk away with the NL Cy Young for his efforts this year. The concern that I (and many) people have is that a huge part of his value comes from pitching 200-plus innings. He isn’t a massive strikeout guy and wins are hard enough to forecast on a good team, let alone the Marlins. He is one of the best arms in the game, but it might be a hard road back to the same heights for fantasy.
24. Pete Alonso
Pete put up a ridiculous season, hitting 40 home runs and driving home a ridiculous 131. I’m a little skeptical that he gets quite up there again, but he should still be in the neighborhood of 100 RBIs. It was also nice to see him hit a career-high .271. Not much needs to be said here really, I have a lot of faith taking Pete anywhere towards the end of round two.
25. Julio Urias
Urias has been nothing short of dominant for the past two seasons, winning 37 games with a 2.57 ERA while averaging a strikeout per inning. Playing for the Dodgers certainly helps, but he has been amazing in his own right. Some were skeptical coming into 2022, but there isn’t much doubt in my mind that Urias can do the exact same thing again next year.
26. Zack Wheeler
Wheeler is Mr. Consistency. He will start 25-30 games every year while providing solid strikeout numbers on a very good ball club. He had forearm tendinitis down the stretch this year, which is something that happens with Wheeler every year and isn’t a big concern moving forward. I’d be quite content with drafting him to be your SP1 in the spring.
27. Paul Goldschmidt
Goldy went nuts this year and nearly won the triple crown and is a good bet to win the NL MVP, but I’m not projecting him to reach exactly the same heights again next season. He’s always been known for consistently being on the field but I’d expect him to get some more rest days as he will be entering his age-35 season. Love the dude, love the lineup, just don’t expect him to provide first-round value again next year.
28. Dylan Cease
The only big issue I have with Cease is his control, but it’s a relatively small price to pay considering what else he brings to the table. He has a strong case for Cy Young this season and in a lot of years his 14 wins, 227 Ks and 2.20 ERA would have got the job done. I’m drafting with confidence at the 2/3 turn.
29. Edwin Diaz
The first closer off the board (and soon to be followed by another), Diaz was stupid good this year. He struck out 50.2% of batters. That’s over half of the batters he faced. Hard to find words to describe how good he was. I expect he will be the first closer off the board next season and it is completely justified to take him in this range given the scarcity of saves.
30. Emmanuel Clase
The only real thing that put him below Diaz is the strikeouts. Clase put together a 42 save, 1.36 ERA and .73 WHIP season. You would be perfectly justified to take him ahead of Diaz given how exceptional he has been over the past two seasons. You can’t really go wrong with either of these guys at the top as they are the cream of the crop for closers in 2023.
31. Mike Trout
It’s hard to rank Trout these days. Despite all of the worry with his back, he still hit 40 bombs in 119 games but there is still some reason to be concerned. For one, he doesn’t steal bases anymore. He may literally have zero next season. He may also end up missing significant time. There is also a chance that the Angels trade him in the offseason. I don’t feel terribly confident about ranking him as of now, I’m sure this number will change a ton over the winter.
32. Alek Manoah
Manoah is a total stud. Granted, I would have liked to see his strikeout numbers go up rather than down in his sophomore season, but it’s hard to complain about 16 wins, a 2.24 ERA and a .99 WHIP. There is just a confidence about him that you won’t find on the stat sheet, but after watching him start so many times it’s clear that he is in fact that dude. If you go for hitters early, have full faith taking Manoah as your SP1 in round 3, assuming he’s still there!
33. Max Scherzer
I love Scherzer, I just don’t trust him as much as I once did. I don’t think that he will ever be awful. He would likely rather retire than pitch to a 5.00 ERA one season and fizzle out of the league. But I do think at age-38 it is likely he will have to miss time again next season. A healthy Max could realistically finish the season as the SP1 across fantasy, but I’m not banking on it
34. Brandon Woodruff
Woodruff struggled to begin 2022, but once June hit he was the same guy we have known over the last few years. He finished with a 3.05 ERA and a 30.6 K% despite the rough start, and he also benefits from playing in arguably the worst division in all of baseball. He’s not exactly a “workhorse”, but he should be able to log 160-plus innings and provide ~200 Ks
35. Max Fried
Consistency is key with Fried. He has a 54-25 record in his career to go along with a 3.09 ERA, and for the last three years specifically he has been one of the elite arms in the game. Far from overpowering but still providing close to a strikeout per inning while pitching for one of the best clubs in MLB. Another guy for the “draft with confidence” group.
36. Michael Harris II
I find Harris very hard to rank and he will likely bounce around a little bit, but I think the end of the third round feels generally correct right now. The 21 year old nearly had a 20-20 season in 114 games, and he did this despite routinely batting in the bottom third of the Braves lineup. I also expect him to lead-off or bat second next season which would only help his value. We’ll re-evaluate this winter, but as of now I’d be very happy to grab him at the 3/4 turn.
37. Zac Gallen
Gallen had a fantastic bounce-back season after going 4-10 with a 4.30 ERA in 2021. It was the only year of his career with an ERA over three, so it was hard to be that worried about him but still nice to see him settle back in. I would expect that the Diamondbacks get better next season after taking a 22 jump in wins this season, and that should only improve Gallen’s fantasy outlook.
38. Rafael Devers
Maybe he pushes up a bit, but I expect this to be generally the right range for Devers. There isn’t a lot of certainty in that Red Sox lineup, and I think there is a half decent chance they go into more a rebuild next season considering the strength of the AL East. This would not bode well for Devers, who already lost 17 runs and 25 RBIs this season compared to last.
39. Marcus Semien
We all expected a drop off from last year and I guess it’s fair to say that we got it, but Semien was one of the more valuable players in fantasy for a second straight year in 2022. A 25-25 season with 100 runs is nothing to sneeze at. I really like that Rangers lineup for next season, and there is a chance Semien could be pushed even higher up the board based on 2B scarcity.
40. Justin Verlander
Another hard player to rank. Verlander will be 40 by the time he throws another regular season pitch. Similarly to Scherzer, I have a hard time seeing Justin pitching if he doesn’t truly have it anymore, but I also can’t see him repeating his incredible 2022 season that will almost certainly net him a third Cy Young. At the price he is likely to go next season, I can’t see myself being too in on him.
41. Austin Riley
Riley makes for a very safe pick somewhere in the early fourth round. His 2022 output was nearly identical to what he did in 2021 (his average dropped a bit but otherwise very close). I have no reason to believe that his production will fall off in any way next season. Riley will be 26 to start next season and I think it’s very possible he jumps up to the 40 HR mark.
42. Randy Arozarena
Arozarena is another pick that you have to feel pretty confident about in the fourth round. His stolen bases jumped from 20 to 32 this year and he also drove in an extra 20 runs. The lineup around him isn’t great but the Rays always end up fielding strong teams anyway, so not much worry there. Solid five-category production
43. Spencer Strider
Following an absolutely dominant rookie season in which he struck out more than 38% of batters and pitched to a 2.67 ERA, Strider will surely be a very popular pick next season. There is some worry about how many innings he potentially would throw, but in 131.2 this season he was a top-50 player according to Yahoo. Some may reach even higher, but this feels like the correct range to draft him as of right now.
44. Cedric Mullins
He didn’t hit as many home runs or have as high of an average as we probably were hoping for, but there is no denying that Mullins had a ton of value this season. 16 HR and 34 SB will play on any roster, and I think this is a great range for him. The Orioles should take another step forward next season, and Mullins will likely be about a round cheaper than in 2022, so count me in.
45. Ozzie Albies
Next year will likely be the cheapest redraft you will ever pay for Ozzie Albies. He played in only 64 games and will no doubt fall well past his second-round ADP from a year ago. He went for 100/30/100/20 just a season ago and, as I’ve said a few times above already, Atlanta has an incredibly scary lineup. There’s a good chance he ends up as my most rostered player next season, assuming his price doesn’t go back up too much.
46. Nolan Arenado
We pretty much know what to expect with Arenado. ~ 30 HR, 100 RBI, and a batting average in the .280 neighborhood. There’s a chance I move him up a bit before the season, depending on what moves the Cardinals make. He hasn’t scored as many runs as I would have hoped in St. Louis these last two seasons, but it’s a pretty small complaint. I’m very happy drafting him here.
47. Aaron Nola
Nola bounced back beautifully this season (similarly to what Zac Gallen did actually). He should be good for 200 innings and more than 200 strikeouts again next season, and hopefully he is able to maintain that 3.6 BB% rate, or at least something close to that. One of the very safe pitchers to take inside of the top-50 for next year, and he should come a couple rounds cheaper than some of the other aces on this list.
48. Josh Hader
After a ridiculously dominant April, Hader wasn’t nearly as sharp down the stretch as we would have liked and was actually dropped in quite a few leagues. We have to remember though, his wife had pregnancy complications that caused him to miss time and he was also traded mid-season, which impacts everyone differently. The human element is often forgotten in sports and in fantasy, but very real things happened to Josh this season and I have no trouble believing he will once again be an elite closer in 2023.
49. Kevin Gausman
I think Gausman is one of the more criminally underrated pitchers in all of baseball. He quite literally had the worst BABIP (.363) in all of baseball, but still managed the second best FIP (2.38), which is insanity. Surely, he will have a bit more batted ball luck next season and I really think he will be a Cy Young candidate. Hell, he should probably get some down-ballot votes for the award this season.
50. Jose Altuve
Altuve is another player with a long track record where we know almost exactly what we will get from him. I’m a little uncertain about how many steals he will get. He will be 33 around the start of next season and he probably won’t take as many chances on the base-paths, but 20 HR, close to a .300 average and solid counting stats will almost certainly remain batting atop the Astros lineup.
Just Missed The Cut: Luis Robert, Carlos Rodon, Framber Valdez, Adolis Garcia, JT Realmuto