2023 Fantasy Baseball: Hitting sleepers being overlooked in drafts
Your definition of fantasy baseball sleeper might vary, but the following list of hitters contains undervalued options when compared to ADP.
For even more overlooked players, check out Dalton Del Don's list of 30 sleepers, one for each MLB team.
Milwaukee Brewers: Jesse Winker
Winker dealt with injuries as well, but he might be 2022’s best example of how switching home parks can destroy a hitter’s fantasy value. After being dealt to Seattle, he finished with 10 fewer homers than his previous season in Cincinnati despite playing 25-plus more games and significantly increasing his fly ball rate. Winker’s HR/FB% went from 20.7% in GAB to 9.7% last season. He deserves a fantasy boost now that he'll once again be hitting in an extremely friendly park for homers.
Tampa Bay Rays: Josh Lowe
Lowe was one of the bigger waiver-wire busts last season, wasting a bunch of FAB with an ugly .221/.284/.343 line and a 33.3 K%. But this is a former first-round pick who recorded a 151 wRC+ last season in Triple-A, where he also hit 36 homers and stolen 51 bases the past two years (705 ABs). Tampa Bay didn’t add anyone after losing left fielder David Peralta during the offseason and has a spot in the lineup for Lowe if he’s ready to finally hit major-league pitching. His K rate will always carry batting average risk, but Lowe’s power/speed potential remains highly intriguing in fantasy leagues.
Chicago White Sox: Elvis Andrus
Andrus was quietly one of only 21 players who went 15/15 last season. He accomplished it while playing most of the season in one of baseball’s best pitcher’s parks in Oakland before moving to Chicago. In fact, Andrus hit more home runs for the White Sox than he did the A’s last season, despite just 33% of his at-bats coming with Chicago.
Andrus is 34 years old and clearly will regress in 2023, but if we prorate his stats with the White Sox over 600 ABs, we’d get: .271-83-30-93-36 (no one went 30/30 last season). Andrus re-signed in Chicago, which has increased homers by 22% for RHB the past three years. He isn’t being drafted as a top-35 shortstop in Yahoo leagues.
[Batter up: Join or create a Yahoo Fantasy Baseball league for free today]
Cincinnati Reds: TJ Friedl
THE BAT X projects Friedl for 15/10 in fewer than 425 ABs and a wRC+ (104) higher than Riley Greene, Jake McCarthy and Oscar Gonzalez, among others being drafted far higher in fantasy leagues (including teammate Jake Fraley, with a 98 wRC+ and an ADP 50+ spots higher).
Great American Ballpark has increased home runs for left-handed batters by a staggering (and MLB-high) 63% the past three seasons.
Cleveland Guardians: Josh Naylor
Detroit Tigers: Austin Meadows
Meadows has averaged 30 homers, 81 runs scored and 98 RBIs during odd-number years throughout his career, so numerologists should expect a big 2023 bounce-back after he hit zero homers last season.
In all seriousness, Meadows is reportedly down 15 pounds and fully recovered from last year’s injuries and off-field issues. He’s also slated to hit cleanup, is still just 27 years old and should benefit from Comerica Park changing its dimensions in the offseason; Detroit decreased HR for LHB an MLB-high 39% the past three seasons but should be more hitter-friendly after moving in the CF/RF fences.
Los Angeles Angels: Jared Walsh
Walsh might be the cheapest source of 30 homers now that he’s back healthy and playing in one of baseball’s best parks for lefty power. Angel Stadium has boosted home runs for left-handed batters a whopping 32% the past three seasons.
[Free bracket contests for both tourneys | Printable Men's | Women's]
San Diego Padres: Ha-Seong Kim
Kim posted a lowly 70 wRC+ in his first season in the majors but bounced back (105 wRC+) last year while providing terrific defense. He’ll be San Diego’s starting second baseman with Jake Cronenworth moving to first, and Kim might be the cheapest fantasy middle infielder (who’s also 3B-eligible) capable of posting a 15/15 season.
Seattle Mariners: Kolten Wong
Wong is barely going in the top 250 picks of fantasy drafts despite being one of only eight middle infielders who went 15/15 last season. It’s a downgrade in home parks to be sure, but Wong is in a nice role slated to hit leadoff ahead of Julio Rodríguez.