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2023 Fantasy Baseball: Projecting the Second Round

After discussing the projected first round of 2023 fantasy baseball ADP, why not take it one step further and dive into the second round today. The second round is where we really begin to see some nice value picks potentially opening up along with a handful of elite arms coming into the picture.

If you missed the Projected 1st Round Article, here were the top 15 players: Trea Turner, Aaron Judge, Jose Ramirez, Julio Rodriguez, Shohei Ohtani, Ronald Acuña Jr, Juan Soto, Kyle Tucker, Mookie Betts, Yordan Alvarez, Bobby Witt Jr, Corbin Burnes, Freddie Freeman, Bryce Harper, and Jacob deGrom (already wavering on that one).

Please note that these are not my personal rankings. This is just how I project the second round of 2023 ADP to be.

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2023 Fantasy Baseball: Projecting the Second Round

16. Bo Bichette (SS – TOR)

If you gazed into your crystal ball around mid-season and saw Bo Bichette in this spot for this article, you’d likely scratch your head. Despite being a universal top-10 pick, Bichette was underwhelming through the first five months of the season with a .260/.305/.420 line entering September to go along with 17 homers, nine steals, 66 RBI, and 67 runs scored. Not bad by any means, but not what you want from your first-round pick. However, Bichette was one of the best fantasy assets in the game after September first, racking up seven homers, four steals, 27 RBI, and 24 runs in September/October with a .406/.442/.662 slash line.

While Bichette might not be a top-5 pick again this year, he deserves some first-round consideration after averaging 27 HR, 98 RBI, 106 R, and 19 steals over the last two seasons while hitting a combined .294. Oh yeah, he’s also led the American League in hits in each of the last two seasons. Another .280+/90+/20+/90+/10+ season is likely in store for Bo in 2023 with a very good Toronto lineup around him.

17. Shane McClanahan (SP – TBR)

As with many big-name starters down the stretch, Shane McClanahan’s elite production tallied off a bit. But even with the slowdown, McClanahan still finished 2022 with a stellar 2.54 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and a 30.3% strikeout rate in a career-high 166.1 innings. Could the additional volume be part of the reason for his swoon down the stretch? Absolutely. That’s not uncommon. And honestly, I’m not worried about it one bit.

When you look at McClanahan’s profile, he checks off all the boxes you could want for a top-5 fantasy pitcher. McClanahan has three very good offspeed pitches with his slider and changeup each recording a whiff rate above 40% while the curveball sat at 28.4% with a .139 BAA. He also lowered his walk rate down to 5.8% while increasing his groundball rate to an impressive 50.6%. McClanahan also doesn’t give up a ton of hard contact either, allowing a 6.4% barrel rate and 32.6% hard-hit rate. He’s a top-5 SP for 2023 any way you slice and dice it.

18. Manny Machado (3B – SDP)

Another year, another great season from Manny Machado. In 150 games, Machado finished with 32 homers, 102 RBI, 100 runs, and nine steals with a .298/.366/.531 slash line. Outside of his K rate rising nearly 5% and barrel rate dipping slightly below 10%, Machado’s metrics remained consistent with previous seasons and were still very good to elite across the board. One underrated aspect of Machado’s profile that adds value here as well is his ability to stay on the field. Since the start of the 2015 season, Machado is 2nd in games played (Goldschmidt) and first in plate appearances. He’s one of the safest bets to return top-25 overall value once again in 2023. Plus, I can’t wait to see what a full year with Juan Soto and Fernando Tatís Jr looks like. My personal ranking of him will be a bit higher than this.

19. Vladimir Guerrero Jr (1B – TOR)

Given his namesake and performance in 2021, Vladimir Guerrero Jr still might sneak into the back end of some first-rounds. However, on average, I feel Vladdy will fall into the 17-20 range on average. Keep in mind also that part of Vlad’s dominant 2021 was aided by Dunedin and Buffalo (MiLB parks) where he combined for a .828 SLG and 21 HR in just 44 games. That’s not to say Vlad isn’t a great fantasy player, but I’m not expecting 2021 again.

Guerrero finished with a .284/90/32/97/8 line to go along with excellent QoC metrics, despite the barrel rate, AVH EV, and hard-hit rates dipping a bit from 2021. On the other hand, Vlad’s GB rate went back up and launch angle decreased from 2021 levels. There’s certainly more upside than his 2021 numbers if he can get that launch angle back up, but Vlad performing at 2022 levels still warrants him being a top-25 pick.

20. Sandy Alcantara (SP – MIA)

A total of eight pitchers crossed the 200-inning threshold in 2022. Seven of those eight barely did, finishing in the 200-205 IP range. And then you have Sandy Alcantara leading the way with 228.2 innings, 23.2 innings above 2nd place Aaron Nola. That volume is huge for fantasy purposes and even more so when it’s elite volume at that. In addition to leading the Majors in innings, Alcantara finished with a stellar 2.28 ERA and 0.98 WHIP along with a 5.6% walk rate and 23.4% strikeout rate. While that strikeout rate isn’t elite and closer to league average, it’s the volume that matters here as Alcantara finished 8th with 207 strikeouts. This 23-24% range is his floor, and I still believe there’s a bit more strikeout potential moving forward as well. In 2023, I wouldn’t have any issues with someone taking Alcantara as the first non-Ohtani pitcher off the board.

21. Mike Trout (OF – LAA)

Just when everyone was beginning to count him out as a first-round player, Mike Trout uses his mighty lumber to give all the doubters the proverbial middle finger. Everyone was focusing Aaron Judge chasing (and passing) Roger Maris’ 61 mark, but in the shadows, Mike Trout slugged 40 home runs in just 499 plate appearances for a 650 PA pace of 52. On top of all the dingers, Trout added 85 runs, 80 RBI, and a .283/.369/.630 slash line. His .630 SLG and .347 ISO were Trouts highest marks in those categories since 2019. On the surface, Trout is a first-round talent, but durability issues will likely push him into the 2nd round of drafts in 2023.

22. Pete Alonso (1B – NYM)

While Aaron Judge was going bonkers for one New York baseball team, Pete Alonso was dominating in the shadows for New York’s other team. In 685 PA, Alonso cranked 40 homers with 90 RBI, a league-leading 131 RBI, and a .271/.352/.518 slash line. Alonso has become one of the most reliable elite options in the game, averaging 42 homers, 110 RBI, and 89 runs per 650 plate appearances while playing in 97.1% of the Mets games since the beginning of the 2019 season. If you’re looking for elite three-category production and a decent enough average, Alonso is your guy.

23. Gerrit Cole (SP – NYY)

As mentioned previously, there’s no consensus #1 pitcher this year, but more of a consensus top tier which certainly includes Gerrit Cole. Sure, his ERA rose to a mortal-level 3.50, but if that’s the floor for Cole over an entire season to go along with elite volume and elite strikeouts, that still warrants him being selected as a top-5 starting pitcher on draft day. Many of Cole’s metrics were in line with previous seasons, but the problem was him allowing too many home runs. No pitcher allowed more homers than Cole (33) and his HR/9 rate was 5th highest. But on the positive side, all five of Cole’s pitches registered a whiff rate above 28%. Cole has one of the highest floors and highest ceilings of any pitcher in baseball.

24. Rafael Devers (3B – BOS)

I’m going to enjoy the likely Rafael Devers discount in 2023. After coming into 2022 as a top-15 pick, Devers put together a good but not great season with 27 home runs, 88 RBI, 84 runs scored, and a .295/.358/.521 slash line. However, most of that damage was done before the all-star break as Devers and many other Red Sox bats slowed down the stretch.

  • Pre All-Star Break: 377 PA, .324/.379/.601, 28 2B, 22 HR, .277 ISO
  • Post All-Star Break:  237 PA, .249/.325/.388, 14 2B, 5 HR, .139 ISO

The real Devers is closer to that pre-ASB version that was dominating AL pitchers for four months and a top-20 player in 2021 as well. Nothing in the profile suggests that the dominant Devers has gone anywhere either. Devers still displayed great QoC metrics and is one of the better pure hitters in the game.

25. Dylan Cease (SP – CHW)

Would I personally take Dylan Cease here? No. But I do think he’ll sneak into the 2nd round of ADP in 2023. When Cease is on, there’s no doubt that he’s one of the most dominant pitchers in the game, and one of the most exciting to watch as well. However, his overall performance screams regression in 2023. At least to some degree. Having an ERA of 2.20 while also having a 1.11 WHIP and 10.4% walk rate just doesn’t pass the sniff test. Most of Cease’s ERA indicators were around 3.50 as well. Now, given his elite bat-missing ability, I’m not expecting him to rise to a mid-3 ERA, but I’d back on the ERA being closer to 3.00 in 2023. Still a great pitcher and a fantasy ace, but he’ll probably go a bit too high for my liking in 2023 drafts.

26. Austin Riley (3B – ATL)

In 2022, Austin Riley proved that 2021 was no fluke and he was here to stay as an elite fantasy asset. For the second straight season, Riley topped 90 runs, 30 home runs, 90 RBI, and a .270 AVG while finishing in the top 5% of hitters in AVG EV, Max EV, barrel rate, hard-hit rate, xSLG, and xwOBA. Riley also made slight improvements in many plate discipline metrics. And while he won’t run a ton, Riley is pretty much becoming the third-base version of what Alonso brings across the diamond. This position falls off quickly, making Riley a desirable target in the first 30 picks or so.

27. Fernando Tatís Jr (SS – SDP)

With all of his injury issues over the last year and his suspension to open the 2023 campaign, figuring out where Fernando Tatís Jr goes in 2023 ADP is no easy task. However, given his immense upside and #1 overall player skillset, I’m in the mindset that someone will take a chance on him before we reach the 30-pick mark in drafts. Looking back to 2021, Tatís was able to rack up 42 homers and 25 steals in just 130 games and has a 125/48/116/31 162-game pace for his career so far.

If he can stay relatively healthy after he returns from his suspension in April, using a top-30 pick on him will easily be justified. The risk is certainly there though, making Tatís the biggest risk/reward pick in this area of drafts. And remember, the longer San Diego plays this postseason, the quicker we see Tatís in 2023. It’s definitely going to matter when you have your draft when it comes to Tatís.

28. Paul Goldschmidt (1B – STL)

In reality, Paul Goldschmidt should likely be going closer to pick 20 than pick 30 in drafts. But the fact that he’s 35 will likely cause Goldy to slide down to this range of ADP. I’ll take it. Goldschmidt is coming off one of the best seasons of his career in 2022, slashing .317/.404/.578 with 106 runs, 35 home runs, 115 RBI, and seven steals. Goldschmidt remains one of the most consistent elite bats in the game, hitting above .285 in 10 of his 11 full seasons and cranking at least 30 home runs in each of his last five full seasons. All of his underlying metrics back up his performance this season as well. Some will pass due to age, but that’s foolish.

29. Michael Harris II (OF – ATL)

This is exactly where I selected Michael Harris in our early 2023 mock draft on Episode 154 of Fantrax Toolshed this week. There are some regression possibilities on the horizon in 2023 given Harris’ aggressive approach and the dreaded “Sophomore Slump”. However, I’m not in the mindset that the “slump” or regression will be drastic. Harris proved to be a reliable source speed in the minors and backed that up with a 95th-percentile sprint speed and 20 SB in 441 PA this season. With the new rules coming next season and a full season of PA for Harris, 25-30 steals is well within reach.

As pitchers figure him out a bit and exploit his aggressiveness, the AVG will likely drop. However, given the contact skills he’s shown as a professional and the power gains he made last season, I’m still anticipating a .270+ AVG and 20+ home runs with solid R and RBI totals as well, even hitting in the bottom half of Atlanta’s lineup. A .270+/20+/25+ season with 160+ R/RBI would make Harris a top-25 player in 2023.

30. Brandon Woodruff (SP – MIL)

This is a spot I changed my mind on about 30 times, but ultimately landed on Brandon Woodruff. Personally, I’m hoping he goes a tad lower than this as I’m going to be targeting him heavily in 2023 drafts. After his first half-dozen starts of the season, Woodruff’s ERA sat at a bloated 5.97. Three starts later, he landed on the IL and missed a month of action. But after Woody returned, he was one of the best pitchers in baseball for the last three months of the season, posting an excellent 2.38 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 24.9% K-BB over 109.2 innings.

Woodruff has proven to be one of the most reliable elite arms to roster in fantasy, providing elite strikeouts and low ratios year in and year out. In 70 starts since the beginning of 2020, Woodruff has recorded the 6th-best ERA, 2nd-best WHIP, and 4th-best K-BB% among qualified arms.

Honorable Mentions (Hitters): Luis Robert, Cedric Mullins, Marcus Semien, Francisco Lindor, Ozzie Albies, JT Realmuto

Honorable Mentions (Pitchers): Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Spencer Strider, Julio Urias, Aaron Nola, Carlos Rodon, Edwin Diaz, Emmanuel Clase

Media Credit: MLB, Bally Sports Braves, Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire

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