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2023 Fantasy Baseball: One sleeper to consider drafting from every MLB team

2023 Fantasy Baseball: One sleeper to consider drafting from every MLB team

Your definition of fantasy baseball sleeper might vary, but the following list contains undervalued players when compared to ADP.

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Arizona Diamondbacks: Brandon Pfaadt

Pfaadt might begin the season in the minors but could easily end it as the Diamondbacks’ second-best starter. He’s a legit prospect who posted a 2.63 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP with a 10.8 K/9 rate in the hitter-friendly PCL last season. Pfaadt should be a real fantasy asset the moment Arizona gives him a chance.

Atlanta Braves: A.J. Minter

Raisel Iglesias should have Atlanta’s closer’s role mostly to himself this season, but the 33-year-old’s stuff dropped off some last season. The Braves are projected to win the most games in MLB, and Kenley Jansen has moved on. Meanwhile, Minter was quietly one of baseball’s best relievers last year while finishing top-five in WAR. He has the upside to match any fantasy reliever in 2023 yet has a 225+ Yahoo ADP.

Baltimore Orioles: Kyle Bradish

It’s certainly not ideal pitching for Baltimore and in the AL East, but at least Camden Yards started to decrease homers dramatically after moving in its fences last year. Bradish experienced success after changing his pitch mix post-All-Star-break last season and has seen increased velocity this spring. He's a breakout candidate in 2023.

Boston Red Sox: Adam Duvall

One season removed from leading the National League in RBI (113) and hitting 38 homers, Duvall isn’t being drafted as a top-100 outfielder in Yahoo leagues despite an upgrade in home parks. Fenway has boosted batting average (+11%) and runs scored (+19%) more than any other park in the AL the past three seasons, and it has also increased HR for RHB by 10%. Duvall should be a fixture in Boston’s revamped lineup as the team’s best defensive outfielder by far. ZiPS projects a 117 wRC+ in his new confines.

Chicago Cubs: Nick Madrigal

Madrigal is a deeper sleeper without much power/speed upside or a clear every-day role to open the season after Chicago signed Dansby Swanson. But Madrigal will play multiple positions (including the thin 3B) and could hit leadoff when in the lineup. He’s a former top-five pick who hit .317 in his first two seasons before a down 2022; that category help could be impactful coming off a season in which hitters collectively had the worst BA (.243) since the 1960s.

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.

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

Naylor is slated to hit toward the middle of Cleveland’s lineup as the team’s every-day first baseman. He’ll provide power without hurting batting average and projects to have similar if not better production than numerous first basemen being drafted far earlier. Naylor is much healthier now further removed from a gruesome 2021 injury.

Colorado Rockies: Nolan Jones

Colorado’s lineup has multiple spots open for competition, and Jones is a former second-round pick who posted a 122 wRC+ in Triple-A last season. Far worse hitters have provided plenty of fantasy value playing half of their games in Colorado. Coors Field boosted batting average an MLB-high 13% for left-handed batters last season. It also increased scoring an MLB-high 46%; the next highest was 17%. Jones could even gain 3B eligibility as one of the team’s best internal options to help compensate for Brendan Rodgers’ season-ending injury (though Mike Moustakas recently agreed to a non-roster deal).

[2023 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP]

Dinelson Lamet is a deep sleeper to emerge as Colorado’s closer. He has questionable durability but elite stuff, while Daniel Bard is coming off a career-best season; he's also showing decreased velocity in spring.

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.

Houston Astros: Forrest Whitley

Hunter Brown no longer qualifies as a sleeper now that he’s likely to open the season in Houston’s rotation, but Lance McCullers’ arm injury also potentially opens the door for a deeper fantasy sleeper in Whitley. He has suffered a litany of injuries and walked everyone during his brief return to action last season, but Whitley is a former first-round pick with SP1 stuff. He has struck out 334 batters in 237.0 career minor-league innings and is finally fully healthy.

Whitley is just one more injury to Houston's current rotation away from a promotion, which usually results in a bunch of wins.

Kansas City Royals: Franmil Reyes

Reyes is going undrafted after being an 11th-round pick in NFBC Main Events last year. He could easily hit in the middle of Kansas City’s lineup (and is OF-eligible) on a team badly needing offensive help. Only Fenway Park has increased run scoring (+9%) and batting average for righties (+9%) more than Kauffman Stadium the past three seasons.

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.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Jason Heyward

Noah Syndergaard is another fantasy sleeper joining a Dodgers system that expects to increase his velocity and just helped Tony Gonsolin record the fifth-most wins while pitching the 89th-most innings in MLB last season. But Heyward is a deeper sleeper on the hitter side, as he’s been one of spring training's biggest risers. The former first-round pick hasn’t done much since 2019 but appears to have locked down a role in L.A.’s outfield with a revamped swing that continues to impress. Heyward is worth a flier given the upside that comes with playing for the Dodgers and in a park that boosts homers.

Miami Marlins: Edward Cabrera

Cabrera is being completely overlooked with 65 SP going before him in Yahoo drafts. He’s an injury risk but has truly electric stuff and is healthy now. Sandy Alcantara will beat him in volume, but there’s a real chance that Cabrera is better than his teammate in every rate stat this season.

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.

Minnesota Twins: Kenta Maeda

Maeda enters the season fully healthy and without restrictions 18 months removed from Tommy John surgery. He has impressed already this spring, including two scoreless innings against hitters who knew what pitches were coming. It wasn’t that long ago when Maeda’s peripherals put him among the truly elite starters in baseball. He’ll also benefit from Minnesota’s strong defense.

New York Mets: Tylor Megill

Megill had a 2.43 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP with a 9.7 K/9 rate in his first six starts last year before an implosion and injuries ruined the rest of his season. He’ll likely begin 2023 in the minors but is being stretched out to start and will almost certainly get a chance in New York sooner rather than later, given the age/injury risks in the team’s rotation (Carlos Carrasco is also a trade candidate).

Megill lost 15 pounds in the offseason (BSOHL alert!) and is a real fantasy sleeper while playing in arguably baseball’s best pitcher’s park.

New York Yankees: Clarke Schmidt

Schmidt is a former first-round pick who should get a chance in New York’s rotation this season with Frankie Montas sidelined. Domingo Germán is another fantasy sleeper who might open the season as a starter, but Schmidt is going to get an opportunity soon after impressing this spring with a new cutter that has produced incredible early results. Schmidt had a 26.6 K-BB% in Triple-A last season that would’ve led all starters in MLB, and he’ll likely rack up wins pitching for the Yankees.

Oakland A’s: Shintaro Fujinami

Wins will likely be a problem pitching for an Oakland team expected to score the fewest runs in baseball this season, but Fujinami’s stuff appears far better than projection systems would suggest. He had control issues in Japan, but Fujinami will benefit from pitching in a park that’s among the leaders in decreasing batting average and home runs.

Philadelphia Phillies: Brandon Marsh

Marsh cut his K% down 6.5% and saw his wRC+ jump from 79 to 114 after getting traded to Philadelphia last season (his batting average also increased 60+ points). He has 20/20 potential as the Phillies' starting center fielder and gets to hit in a park that boosts lefty power. Darick Hall is a deep sleeper for cheap homers and could even hit in the middle of Philadelphia’s lineup until Bryce Harper’s eventual return.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Mitch Keller

Keller was once a top pitching prospect who turned it on in the second half last year and has now introduced a cutter to his repertoire. He has shown increased velocity this spring but remains completely ignored in Yahoo drafts.

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.

San Francisco Giants: Kyle Harrison

Harrison is baseball’s best left-handed pitching prospect who’s ready to contribute sooner rather than later. The Giants’ rotation looks deep on paper, but it’s not a group strong enough to hold back a prospect who just struck out 186 batters over 113.0 innings as a 20-year-old. Harrison won’t pitch deep into games, but ZiPS is projecting a 10.6 K rate that would’ve been the sixth-best among starters last season. San Francisco also made a point of improving its defense over the winter and still has a climate that prevents baseballs from traveling far (unless you’re the GOAT).

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.

St. Louis Cardinals: Steven Matz

Matz continued to battle injuries last year, but he also posted a 21.3 K-BB% that would’ve ranked top-10 among starters if he qualified. Matz’s 5.25 ERA was accompanied by a 3.64 expected ERA. He should continue enjoying playing outside the AL East and in a pitcher’s park that’s among the league leaders in suppressing homers. Matz is coming off a torn MCL (not an arm injury) and enters 2023 fully healthy — and a fantasy sleeper.

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.

Kyle Manzardo is a deeper fantasy sleeper who’ll command a big FAB bid once he’s called up midseason.

Texas Rangers: Andrew Heaney

Heaney is another former top prospect (and top-10 pick) with a checkered injury history who possesses a ton of upside. He recorded a 32.9 K-BB% on the road last season that would’ve led all MLB starters by a significant margin, and he'll be leaving a park that increased home runs to RHB an MLB-high 44% the past three seasons. Heaney is a dark horse Cy Young candidate.

Toronto Blue Jays: Ricky Tiedemann

Although younger, Tiedemann could be on a similar path as Alek Manoah, whom Toronto wasted no time calling up to the majors. ZiPS is projecting a 9.9 K rate for the rookie, which only 10 starters in the majors bested last season. Tiedemann should start racking up wins the moment he enters the rotation with the help of a Blue Jays offense projected to score the most runs in the American League. Given his skills, situation and possible opportunity, Tiedemann is a highly intriguing sleeper who’s going undrafted in most fantasy leagues. Lefties who throw this hard are rare.

Washington Nationals: Cade Cavalli

Cavalli was a first-round pick in 2020 and will be given the opportunity to join Washington’s rotation this season. There’s injury risk here, and the Nationals will hurt his chances at wins, but Cavalli has nice strikeout potential. He has quickly become forgotten/free in fantasy drafts.