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A Shamelessly Early 2023 Mock Draft

The PL Staff recaps a VERY EARLY 2023 mock draft.

Some of us are having a fantastic season this year. Baseball is back and we have drafted Aaron Judge, Paul Goldschmidt, and Shane McClanahan (someone reading this actually rosters all three of those players and I’m jealous). However, some of us are essentially out of contention after drafting the likes of Walker Buehler, Ozzie Albies, and Salvador Perez. For those ready for 2022 to come to a close, I offer you a far too early look into next year’s future.

I gathered twelve Pitcher List staffers and we drafted the first six rounds of a hypothetical 2023 league. We drafted with the agreement of a 5×5 head-to-head categories league, where Shohei Ohtani counts as one player.

With that, I’ll leave it to the rest of the staff to break down their draft selections.

Created by @visual_endgame on Instagram & Twitter

Brett Goldhammer

 

Pick 1.1 overall in a single-Ohtani league with daily moves is really just a slam dunk. The guy is an absolute stud on both sides of the diamond and I don’t think we need any more analysis than that. Wrapping back around on the Round 2-3 turn, Luis Robert and Bobby Witt Jr. provide a fantastic power-speed base. The pair has combined for 27 homers and 31 steals in just over 160 games played this season. Couple that with sixth-round pick Adolis García who is 18/15 so far this season and you have three legit 30/30 candidates and more than enough speed to not need to worry about that for the rest of the draft and without sacrificing any power at all.

With Ohtani functionally acting as a free ace, I decided to continue to pound away on the hitting, Grabbing a discount on Xander Bogaerts at the end of the fourth round. He was generally a mid-third-round pick in preseason 2022 and has done nothing but perform so far this season (.312/.487/.460) and there really is no reason for his stock to drop a full round. Kyle Schwarber adds some thump and while he and Adolis García both come with some major BA risk, Bogaerts/Robert provide a nice cushion there. All told, I love this start on offense and obviously would be diving in heavy on the pitching in the next few rounds as most teams had already locked in a pair of starters in the first six rounds of the draft.

The biggest surprise in the draft is seeing Mike Trout as a third-round draft pick, but given the uncertainty about his long-term health, this is certainly in the range of outcomes come next spring. Love the value on Austin Riley, Kyle Tucker, and Luis Robert as the last three picks in the second round. Any and all of these guys could catapult into clear first-round selections with a strong second half. Finally, Spencer Strider stands out as a name in this mock that I would never have pegged coming into 2022 as a potential top-100 pick, but it is absolutely deserved. This guy is a fantasy stud blossoming before our eyes and the strikeout efficiency is just awesome.

 

Scott Chu

 

The draft pool feels REALLY deep, so my picks were less about “who is good” and more about general roster construction. The depth of talent made it easier for me to take risks in the third and fifth rounds, so I feel really good about how this played out.

Drafting José Ramírez was pretty easy for me, as I’ve had him as fantasy’s top hitter for many weeks and until recently I had him in a tier of his own. Third base has been difficult to manage this season, and it may be in 2023…unless you’ve got someone like J-Ram.

My second-round pick was easy too! I’m a big Kyle Tucker fan and was thrilled he made it to me. I thought there had been some mistake or egregious choices made before it got to me; I would have been really happy to land just about every second-round player. I don’t need to tell you how good Tucker is – his stat line does that for me – but the notion that players of this caliber will be available at the end of the second round makes me feel really good about drafting no matter what spot I end up picking from.

My third-round pick was going to be a pitcher no matter what because having an elite pitcher is at the core of my roster-building philosophy. Mad Max Scherzer is a guy I’ve rooted for since he was a Tiger all those years ago, and even if he only pitches 130-150 innings, I know each start is of supreme quality. There’s no way he finishes outside the top 15. As of now, he’s the 10th best starting pitcher in fantasy despite having 20-40 fewer innings pitched.

Of course, picking Max and taking on the innings risk meant I was going to want to hedge that bet a little with a second pitcher, and Julio Urías fell right into my lap. While he started the season with a stark drop in velocity, it’s been much better in his last several starts. He has eight wins in his last nine outings, and his last four have really looked like the 2021 version of Urias.

I wasn’t done hedging my pitching bets either, as Josh Hader was available in the fourth and I was more than happy to rectify that. Edwin Díaz is a free agent and we aren’t sure how that will play out, but Hader will be the closer for the Padres and he’s all but guaranteed to be a top-three closer in 2023.

I closed out with Trevor Story, and that’s either going to look fine OR very stupid when the real draft season rolls around. What I’ll be watching for as the season progresses is whether he gets that strikeout rate back under control. If he can just get it to settle closer to 25% than 30%, I’ll feel much better. That said, even in a down year, he was on track for 23-25 home runs and 15-18 steals. Even if he only does that and hits .250, this pick works out fine.

 

Estevão Maximo

 

The top of the first round is bound to look different in 2022 compared to 2021. Between the benefits of dual-threat Shohei Ohtani, and the returns of Ronald Acuña Jr. and Fernando Tatís Jr. to full-season contributions, a new top 3 should form. I went with Acuña over Tatis but could see it go either way. It’s been great to see early on that the ACL injury hasn’t inhibited Acuña’s aggressive baserunning.

Austin Riley is proving that his 2021 season was anything, but a fluke, and if you look at his overall numbers since the beginning of 2021, he pairs up with Rafael Devers pretty equally, I’m not saying they’re the same player, but with Riley’s power upside, I’ll be looking to grab him in the back end of the second, if he ever gets that far. Beyond JoRam and Devers, I see no other 3B ahead of him for 2022.

I decided to go hitter-heavy early on, and that’s an approach I intend to take for my drafts next year. We’ve seen too much high-end production from pitchers that didn’t necessarily go in the first four rounds of drafts, you just have to know where to look for the upside.

With that in mind, I elected to take a couple of powerful bats in Byron Buxton and Nolan Arenado in the third and fourth rounds. Yes, I’m aware Riley loses 1B eligibility for next year as things stand now, but in Yahoo format with two utility spots, you need to take advantage of that flexibility, and taking the last player in a tier of hitters you have this high in the Draft does just that.

Bo Bichette was clearly being over drafted heading into this season with an ADP in the middle of the first round, and while his struggles against fastballs particularly raise some eyebrows, his value here in the fifth with the durability he provides is simply too much to pass up. Bo has been particularly unsuccessful running the bases in 2022 with 7 steals in 13 attempts, a contrast with his 25 steals in 26 attempts last year, and I’d expect something in the middle for next year.

Justin Verlander will be 40 next year. He is also a top 10 pitcher this year with relative ease. I’m intrigued to see where he gets drafted by the masses. Verlander’s fastball isn’t quite what it was, but it’s still getting the job done, and he hasn’t shown many signs to be concerned about a steep drop-off next season. Scherzer is still going pretty high, and while they’re not the same. I can’t simply dismiss JV at this point solely because of his age without any other big warning signs.

This mock only does six rounds, but ideally, I’d complement Verlander with another starter with a safe floor like Shane Bieber or Logan Webb. Maybe Walker Buehler if I was feeling frisky, or Teoscar Hernándezwho seems to be back on track after a concerning start to his season.

 

Liam Casey

 

With the 4th pick of the draft, I snagged the 2nd outfielder off the board: free agent-to-be Aaron Judge. Judge is currently leading the majors in almost every major hitting category, including an outrageous 43 home runs through August 5th. Judge will play most of next year at age 31 and his enormous frame could lead to an abrupt physical breakdown, but the 2022 season has shown he is still capable of major success.

While snagging a top SP in round 2 is my typical move, 4 of my top 5 SP targets were already gone. Scherzer was sitting there, but do I dare double down on older players who while playing well, could start to slip at any moment? Why not let my New York bias shine and pick another hulking power hitter for a New York team and select Polar Bear Pete Alonso? It felt like a bit of a reach, but Alonso’s power output has been absolutely insane since. And now, HR is a category I will never have to worry about.

Waiting on my SP turned out to work in my favor, as my SP5 in Max Fried was still sitting pretty for me. While he doesn’t generate a ton of strikeouts, Fried has been consistently nails since the beginning of the 2020 season. I seriously considered Alek Manoah here, but in the end, I took the guy with the slightly longer track record. Welcome aboard, Maximus.

My target with the 4th pick was definitely infield, but my main man Tommy Edman was sniped in the pick immediately before mine. I had a few choices here. Arenado was still on the board, as was Xander Bogaerts and even Jose Altuve. Looking at the rosters ahead of me, I see Team 1 with Bobby Witt Jr. and Team 3 with Austin Riley. Surely they won’t both pick Bogaerts and Arenado, right? WRONG. With a quick run on infielders, I have to pivot and instead decided to pair Aaron Nola with Max Fried atop my staff. Nola is currently enjoying one of the best seasons of his 9-year career, with an elite walk rate and a K% that won’t leave you wanting. It wasn’t Plan A, but I am fine with this pick.

My aforementioned infielder gaffe led me to take DJ LeMahieu in round 5. LeMahieu is still a well above average hitter at 34 years old, and his 1B/2B/3B eligibility will be key for my not-so-great (non-existent) infield. He also hits at the top of one of the best lineups in the league, making for oodles of run potential.

For my next trick, I present to you George Springer in round 6. This has got to be my favorite pick so far. His name seems to fly under the radar a bit these days, but looking at some of the other names drafted this round, give me the guy who could hit 25 homers and steal 10+ bases in a loaded Jays lineup. He hasn’t posted the AVG numbers he did back in Houston, but I’ll gladly take the ceiling here with a guy like Springer.

 

Ethan Kaplan

 

One of the fun things about working at PL is the opportunity to work on unique projects like mock drafts. I’m on the design team, and it’s always nice to talk shop, especially with people I don’t normally get to interact with.

My overall strategy isn’t too crazy. When between a few players, I always take positional depth into account, I tend to take a guy on a winning team over a losing team, and I love guys who play multiple positions. Advanced metrics always tell a good story of a guy who is set to outperform his numbers.

Round 1 — Vladimir Guerrero Jr.: With Ohtani being the obvious 1:1, there’s a great group of guys in the next 8-10 picks that you can’t really go wrong with. I took Vlad 1:1 in two leagues this year where Ohtani was two players, and it has paid off well. You’re losing steals, but making up for it in just about everywhere else. I considered Turner and Tatis Jr., but health was a concern.

Round 2 — Gerrit Cole: Taking an elite pitcher on a winning team is never a bad idea. Cole racks up Wins and K’s, and he sets the foundation for the rest of my staff. The next pitchers available I thought were a tier down, and while Manoah will probably join this tier one day, I figured they’d both be gone by my next pick.

Round 3 — Ozzie Albies: Ah, Ozzie Albies. I always end up with him in years he’s injured. I didn’t take him last year in my leagues on purpose, and naturally, he made me look stupid. If he’s healthy for a full season, he has second-round upside. While 2B has more depth than in years past, the upside of Albies is too tempting.

Round 4 — Tommy Edman: As a Cubs fan, I’ve gotten to watch a lot of NL Central teams, and I can never understand why Edman doesn’t get more love nationally. He plays Gold-Glove caliber defense at 2B, SS, and OF, and hits for solid average, power, and has speed. The versatility, especially with injury concerns with Albies mentioned above, made him too hard to pass up.

Round 5 — Andrés Giménez: Gimenez earned his first All-Star appearance this year after coming over from the Mets in the Francisco Lindor trade. I think he’ll shoot up draft boards next year, especially as a guy who can play 2B or SS. He’s hitting .297 with 12 homers and 11 SB at the time of writing this. See if you can snag him around this area in your leagues next year, and thank me later.

Round 6 — Logan Gilbert: I think people slept on Gilbert a bit after a disappointing 2021, but he’s really turned it on in 2022. He’s up to 128.1 IP this year after last year’s cap at around the 130 IP mark. It’ll be interesting to see how he finishes the year, especially if Seattle makes the playoffs.

 

Shelly Verougstraete

 

With the sixth overall pick, I was ecstatic that Trea Turner was still available. Turner was typically going #1 or #2 in preseason drafts. While he hasn’t been running as much as he did last year, he still has 18 swipes to go along with his 17 homers.

I was hoping to snag a pitcher in the second round but with McClanahan, Burnes, and Alcantara off the board, I decided to add another big bat in Manny Machado. The 30-year-old started out white-hot but has cooled recently. However, with the addition of Juan Soto and a healthy Fernando Tatís Jr., he could lead the league in RBI next year.

I went back-to-back pitchers in the third and fourth round and added Alek Manoah and Joe Musgrove to the team. While they don’t have the eye-popping strikeout rates as some other pitchers, they are both solid guys who pitch for great teams and also go deep enough into games to get me some wins.

I was pretty excited to land Marcus Semien in the fifth round. The start of his season was dreadful but he has turned it on as of late and is giving you double-digit homers and steals.

With my last pick, I decided to bite the bullet and pick up a legit closer in Edwin Díaz. The Mets should be an excellent team again next year and Díaz has the chance to lead the league in saves and lead all closers in strikeouts.

 

Austin Bristow II

 

I’ll be honest, I did not expect to be able to draft Padres Legend, Juan Soto, with the 7th overall pick. Sure, he was batting .243 at the time of my pick, but he still had a 20% walk rate and 20 home runs! We all know Soto is a generational talent currently on a Hall of Fame track, so I have absolutely no concerns about his production going forward. He had to deal with rampant trade speculation all season and still managed a .315/.495/.616 slash line in July with 6 homers, 25 walks, and 12 strikeouts. Soto will be just fine and a great value in the middle of the first round.

Taking Sandy Alcantara as the third pitcher off the board was a no-brainer for me. I see him as a true ace that can pitch 200+ innings per season. In fact, from the beginning of last season through 8/2/2022, Alcantara leads all pitchers with 355 innings pitched (Adam Wainwright is second with 329.2). As this becomes rarer among starters, I expect to see Alcantara regularly regarded among the best pitchers in baseball.

Well, folks, I got to take Mike Trout 31st overall, in the middle of the 3rd round. Sure, this draft started mere days after we heard the concerning news of Trout’s diagnosis. Costovertebral dysfunction at T5 certainly sounds scary; my wife, a physician assistant, said it was essentially a compression of the spine, hindering twisting motions. Sure, that sounds bad for someone who professionally swings a baseball bat. That said, everything I have read on the condition makes it seem manageable, especially now that Trout has received an accurate diagnosis. I have hope that Trout, a world-class athlete with access to the best medical care a human could hope for, will be able to continue being his incredible self for many years to come, including 2023. That said, he played in only 36 games last year and has obviously missed time in 2022. I don’t blame my other drafters for being concerned. Hopefully, by March ’23 we will have a much clearer perspective on what to expect from the perennial MVP candidate.

My next two picks were far less interesting to me, simply taking the player I saw as the best available each time. Tim Anderson at 42nd overall seems like fair value; he was being taken around 37th overall in 2022 and has simply continued hitting .310+ while giving us decent pop and speed. Factor in that he’s doing this with a BABIP that is 28 points lower than his average over the last three years and Anderson looks like one of the safest picks in the fourth round. Kevin Gausman, taken with the 55th overall pick, gives me a second ace. He’s having a weirdly great season; he’s basically being BABIPed to death (.385 rate in 2022 compared to .279 over the last two years), but still rocking a 28% K-rate and 4% walk rate. I believe in the talent and expect this weird outlier to regress in the second half.

Looking back, Ketel Marte at 66th overall was probably a reach. He was taken around 74th overall in 2022 and has performed worse in the first few months of the season. His BABIP is near a career-low (.295), while his walk rate is a career-high (11.3%). His swing trends are nearly identical to last season, but his contact rate has fallen from a solid 84.7% down to a more pedestrian 80.8%. This would be a career-low for Marte if maintained through the second half. Oddly enough, almost all of this contact regression is coming from pitches in the zone; Marte has sported an 85.8% Z-Con rate this season, compared to his 91.7% rate in 2021. It will certainly be worth keeping an eye on this trend throughout the remainder of the year to see if Marte can make adjustments and maintain his status as a top-tier hitter.

 

Jake Maish

 

Round 1 — Fernando Tatís Jr.: Before we knew about Tatís’ hand injury, he was being drafted at 1.1 or 1.2. I assume that if he comes back healthy and looks like himself for the rest of the season, he’ll be back inside the top 5 in ADP next year. He undoubtedly belongs in the first tier of fantasy talent when healthy. 

Round 2 — Shane McClanahan: McClanahan is my SP1 for ‘23. He’s the only SP with 2 primary pitches that each has a HC% <20% and a CSW% > 35% (his changeup and curveball). He currently leads all qualified SP in SIERA, CSW%, SwStr%, and WHIP. He’s top-5 in K-BB%, ERA, FIP, LOB%, and Eno Sarris’ Pitching+. 

Round 3 — Matt Olson: The most common problem on my fantasy teams this year is a lack of power. Assuming the baseball remains consistent from this year to next (which might be foolish to do), I’ll be grabbing premier power bats relatively early. Olson carries elite numbers in Barrel%, Avg EV, Max EV, ISO, and fly ball EV. 

Round 4 — Jazz Chisholm Jr.: Chisholm was on pace for a 30/30 season before he hit the IL with a lower back strain. The power breakout is absolutely legit, as he carried a 16.7% barrel rate on 150 batted balls. He also increased his FB% from 24.4% to 34.7% and dropped his GB% from 49.4% to 39.3%, which is especially important because his EV on fly balls increased from 88.7 to 94.1 mph. 

Round 5 — Alejandro Kirk: It was easy to choose Kirk as the first catcher off the board because he ranks among the best hitters in the league in both his plate discipline and his quality of contact. He provides a huge boost in batting average from the catcher position, and I needed it to balance out my offense after my previous two picks. 

Round 6 — Spencer Strider: Since he became a starter on May 30th, Strider is 2nd in SIERA, 2nd in K-BB%, and 3rd in FIP among qualified SP. He also has a 136.1 Stuff+ according to Eno Sarris’ model, which leads all MLB starters by a wide margin (although it’s boosted a bit by his relief appearances). 

Normally, here’s how I would determine my overall draft strategy:

  • Download the latest ADP data from the NFBC and bring it into a spreadsheet
  • Highlight the players that I plan on targeting, but choose a different color based on the players’ positions 
  • Find the clusters: Where are my favorite SPs being drafted? What positions have the most or best late-round options? Where do the talent drop-offs happen at each position?

ADP should not tell you exactly where to draft anyone, but it can be useful to get a broad look at where the market stands. Obviously this wasn’t possible for this draft, but four hitters and two pitchers is right about where I want to be after 6 rounds. I’m much better at assembling a pitching staff in the later rounds and on the wire than I am at assembling an offense that way. 

 

 

Dylan Drummey

 

Since only the first 6 rounds were drafted, my strategy behind drafting each position consisted of 2 starting pitchers and 4 batters. Some opted for a 1 and 5 pitcher/batter combo, while others chose 3 and 3. I didn’t want my team to have any disadvantage in one category, so I thought it best to play defensively. With this strategy, almost every matchup will likely come to player skill versus counting on the arrangement of my draftees.

In this type of league, it is crucial to create market share among categories. For me, this meant focusing on players that would produce the most amount of good for the most categories. While predicting these standard categories is difficult, using other metrics to predict overall performance should lead to positive results. On the pitching side, starting pitchers  Corbin Burnes and Carlos Rodón will absolutely dominate strikeouts. Low ERAs and WHIPs will be generated from their ability to miss bats, which is expected to continue. Both pitchers lead in predictive statistics such as pCRA, making them a safe bet to likely lead in each individual matchup, which is mainly why Burnes was my favorite pick of the entire draft. Wins will vary – Burnes will likely garner more than Rodón due to their respective teams, but I didn’t deeply consider it since it is not easily controlled. Any matchups where the team manages to garner the most wins is a plus. In drafting, focusing on as much as a person can predict about an individual player is my preferred strategy. Relievers (and consequentially saves) were ignored due to that reason – their extreme amounts of volatility and uncontrollable save opportunities made them too variable to predict accurately. These pitchers should be able to produce solid category points, standing a chance even against the teams with more pitchers.

On the other side of the ball, the offensive players chosen were picked for similar reasons. As mentioned in the pitching, predicting these categories can be especially difficult to project because these statistics are so reliant on a player’s team/teammates. This is especially true with RBIs, Runs Scored, and Stolen Bases. Nevertheless, utilizing advanced overall metrics and considering team strategies may be able to indicate future performance. Predictive metrics such as xwOBA scored Freddie Freeman, José Abreu, Jose Altuve, and J.D. Martinez as some of the top hitters in the game. The underlying metrics, such as Barrel%, Hard Hit Rate, Whiff Rate, and Average Exit velocities tell a similar story. The only exception to this is Altuve, who routinely scores in the bottom half of the league in the aforementioned underlying stats. Not to fret — he continually has a high average, which should help elevate that category. In fact, every player on this draft currently has above a .280 average and good expected BAs, which should lead to good rankings in the future for 2023. HRs should also not be a problem. Each batsman is known to hit the ball out of the park often. For RBI and Runs Scored, these guys are on teams that consistently produce some of the best offensive numbers in the league. Along with being talented themselves, their teams will help bring them these opportunities. All of these factors combine to make a formidable offense.

With this combination of pitchers and hitters, this team should prove to be a tough opponent. Many top-tier category producers are currently on this team, and I expected that trend to continue for 2023.

 

 

Daniel Port

 

Round 1 — Yordan Alvarez: His 30 HRs would prorate out to 54 over a 162-game season. He’s a rare elite slugger who feels like a lock to contribute in AVG as well. He’s doubled his BB% to 15.2% while lowering his K% six points to 18.6%. Add in a 5% jump up in BBL% to an astonishing 20.7% and a 61.8 HardHit% with an average 95.7 MPH Exit Velo and it’s easy to dream on his ceiling too. I feel like at the very least you can pencil him in next season at minimum for a .280+ average with 30 to 40 HRs and 200+ R/RBI. Sign me up.

Round 2 — Paul Goldschmidt: On pace this year to hit a career-high 42 HR this season, it is hard to find a first base option with a higher floor than Paul Goldschmidt. He has hit at least .290 in 9 of the last 10 seasons with at least 30 HR (given he hits four more HR this season) in 7 of those seasons. He’s had a BB% in the single digits just once in his 12-year career and has never had a wRC+ below 117. Yeah he’s 34 but he’s having a career year and there’s no statistical sign he’s slowing down so sign me up for a .290 AVG, 30 HR surefire bet in the second round.

Round 3 — Dansby Swanson: I love guys who contribute in all categories and that fits Swanson. He’s been hitting for this kind of power since 2019 when he was hitting at 30 HR pace through July 23rd when a heel injury derailed his season and sapped him of his power. I don’t know if I expect him to steal bases at a 20 SB pace next season but I’d bank on 10 to 15 probably. I am assuming he resigns with the Braves next season and if he does I expect at least 180+ R/RBI hitting #2 in that lineup.

Round 4 — Zack Wheeler: Wheeler just keeps getting better every season dropping his ERA to a career-best 2.69 ERA (his 3rd consecutive season with a sub-3 ERA), plenty of strikeouts, plenty of win opportunities on a good team, and a near-lock for 200 IP. Nick has him at #7 on The List right now so I’m stoked to get in the 4th as the 11th SP off the board.

Round 5 — Starling Marte: I think it was unrealistic to expect Marte to steal 47 bases again this season but he’s still swiping bags at a 20+ rate while hitting at a 20 HR rate. He’s the #2 hitter in a lineup that is 5th in the league in runs scored and nothing in his underlying numbers indicate his AVG or speed is fading and he has a career-high 134 wRC+ at 33.

Round 6 — Cedric Mullins: This is probably my one upside/risky pick here as I think most people are out on Mullins after dropping down from his huge 2021 season. His stolen bases aren’t going anywhere as he’s stealing bases at a 36 SB pace. That gives him a high floor for being productive for my team in the rarest category. I don’t think the power is coming back due to the changes made to Camden Yards but I wouldn’t be shocked either if he hits for better average. His BABIP is down to .298 and his infield hits percent is down 3% both of which is weird for someone so fast. Either way that’s all icing on the cake all I really need him to do for this pick to make sense is hit .260 again and steal 30 bases.

 

Anthony Tucker

 

After participating in the 2023 Way Too Early Mock, I found my biggest takeaway to be that, while the first two rounds look deeper with hitting talent than in recent memory, that depth soon tapers off at a number of positions. While picking Julio Rodríguez and Mookie Betts provides rare five-category balance, I felt I had already missed out on most of the elite infielders before I even made my third pick.

Conversely, I did not feel pressure to draft pitching upon seeing all of the quality options available into the fifth round, some of whom did not get drafted in our mock (Frankie Montas, Clayton Kershaw, Logan Webb, and Luis Castillo just to name a few). Given how quickly positions like 3B and SS appear to thin compared to previous years, I think I’ll lean on drafting a volume of pitchers who fall, rather than use one of my first three picks to secure the highest-end quality of SP. The farther we are removed from the 2019 juiced ball environment (as well as the 2021 “sticky stuff” ban to an extent), the less crucial drafting early-round pitching has seemingly become.

To those ends, my favorite pick was Brandon Woodruff. After some early season struggles and a trip to IL, Woodruff looks back on track as a fantasy ace. I believe he’s as safe an option at SP as a number of the pitchers drafted in rounds three and four, but at a better price. If he continues his pace he’s set over the last month, I’d expect to see his stock rise. Despite picking a rookie in the first round, my most interesting pick is definitely Jacob deGrom. I currently have no idea how to value deGrom for 2023 and am not sure that I’ll have many answers even into next draft season. When healthy, he’s the best in the game – an absolute steal at pick 33. The question is, however, how many innings do you expect from him given his extensive injury history over the last few seasons? I expect his draft stock to rise if he has a good August and September, likely enough to price me out during next draft season.

 

Joe Gallina

 

Mock drafting a team for the 2023 baseball season without the guidance of an “official” current ADP list made me feel the same way that Linus from the Peanuts gang did when he lost his beloved security blanket: a bit lost and slightly insecure. Creating the foundation for my future fantasy baseball team with six measly picks while there are still two months left to the 2022 season was somewhat scary. At the same time, taking part in this “way too early draft” was also liberating because I didn’t feel pressured in having to take a player based on predetermined ADPs.

In picking last from the 12th spot, I focused on offense early. I targeted Yordan Alvarez for my first pick, but Mr. Port beat me to him, so I pivoted to Bryce Harper. It’s easy to forget about Harper since he’s been on the IL for a while, but he has a 38 HR, 108 RBI, and 17 SB 162-game average as a Phillie. In selecting Rafael Devers with my next pick, I filled the shallow third base position with a guy who’ll consistently hit for a high average and who is a virtual lock for 30 plus HRs and 100 plus RBI every season.

With my next two picks I planned on taking a pitcher (I wanted to leave the mock with two aces) and an offensive player (preferably a shortstop) with five-tool potential. I set my sights on Alek Manoah. He’s young, has great control, and gets plenty of run support from the formidable Blue Jays offense, but Shelly V. beat me to him, so I drafted Dylan Cease. He might not have Manoah’s pinpoint control, but as I’m writing this blurb, Cease is striking out 12.4 batters per nine innings and he has a microscopic 2.01 ERA. I considered Xander Bogaerts for my next pick, but his sudden loss of HR power is troubling, and I set my sights on Dansby Swanson instead. The former first-round pick seems well on his way to a 20 HR/20 SB 2022 season but since he was already taken, I grabbed the hot-hitting Francisco Lindor instead. I’ve been a vocal critic of Lindor for the past couple of seasons, but he’s batting well over .300 for the past month and he swings a power bat and has excellent speed. Even if he reverts back to being a .248 hitter (his overall BA since 2020) his 30 HR and 15 to 20 SB potential was just too enticing to pass up with the 48th pick in the draft.

I finished up my draft by selecting Padres ace Yu Darvish (I had no idea Juan Soto would be providing him with added run support) and Padres first baseman Josh Bell. I find that we often think of first base as a deep fantasy position, but it seemingly starts to thin out rather quickly after the first five or six first basemen come off the board.

 

Featured Image by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter and @EthanMKaplanImages on Instagram)

Austin Bristow II

Raised as an Atlanta Braves fan in central Illinois, Austin Bristow II attended Eureka College for undergrad and Purdue University for his master's degree in Higher Education Administration. Since co-founding his home league at age 16, Austin has been obsessed with fantasy baseball. Austin serves as the Staff Manager for Pitcher List and host of the On the List podcast.

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