Just like last week, I’m going to change up the traditional Corner Infield Mashup and give you my fantasy highs and lows for 2023. In the last edition, we discussed several hot corner names to chase and avoid in 2023. Today, we’ll do the same for the other hot corner.
Just like before, I’m going to avoid the obvious “highs” and “lows” to focus on some of the names that are expected to be considered for corner infield positions during the middle-to-later rounds after your traditional first basemen are drafted. Whether 3B or 1B, the CI players can go a long way to fill those gaps in your counting stats. Usually, we want to add to power here but if you can land a multi-tool player, that’s even more valuable (I have one for you below). No matter your strategy, take a look at what I have for you and let me know what you think.
Rowdy Tellez, Brewers: Was there ever any doubt Rowdy Tellez could dent the baseball? A lack of consistency has been the key with Tellez, something he seems to be moving beyond this season. The pending free agent sits today with a career-high 32 HRs and 85 RBIs. He blisters RHP to the tune of an .811 OPS this season. So, what has changed? More consistent playing time certainly helps. He’s also seen an uptick in Barrel %, Hit Strength %, xSLG, BB % and ISO. All these metrics tell me he’s figured out how to be an everyday MLB player in his age 27 season. He’s a fan favorite in Milwaukee and they would do well to retain his services in 2023. You would also do well to keep him on your draft radar in the Spring.
Seth Brown, Athletics: Whether he’s a late bloomer and finding his stride at age 30 or remains strictly a strong-side platoon player, Seth Brown is a valuable CI asset regardless. He may be a slight BA drain, not as bad as many comparable 1B targets in the latter parts of the drafts, but you can count on him to chip in 25-28 HRs and maybe 10 SBs over the course of a season. The A’s have allowed Brown to get 500+ ABs this season and he’s rewarded them with career-best batting stats. Remaining on the A’s and getting near every game ABs next season puts him squarely on my CI radar.
Gavin Sheets: Take most of what I said about Seth Brown and paste it here. Gavin Sheets is younger and lacks the wheels of Brown, but it appears the Pale Hoes are grooming him to either be a strong-side platoon player, allowing Jose Abreu to get off his legs more, or even eventually supplanting him at 1B. This one is less of a sure thing but I’m bullish on Gavin going into his age 27 season, preferably remaining with the Sox.
Jared Walsh, Angels: This one pains me, I’ll be honest. After a 2021 season where we saw 29 HRs and 98 RBIs, this season has been a disaster. Over 454 plate appearances, he’s logged half as many long balls and an ugly .215/.269/.374. His season came to an abrupt ending with a diagnosis of thoracic outlet syndrome in late August. Walsh went under the knife a couple weeks ago and is expected to be ready for spring training. Ready for spring training is one thing, but ready to return to his 2021 numbers or better? I’d like to think he’ll get back there but I’m not counting on it for 2023.
The Brothers Gurriel: I was going to focus this on older brother Yuli but for me, it also applies to Lourdes. Despite his advancing age, Yuli is still a decent MLB player but has become a liability for fantasy. He very well may fail to reach double digit HRs or 50 RBIs. There’s not much in his advanced metrics to suggest the current .244/.290/.365 slash is going to right itself. His younger brother Lourdes can still hit the ball, as his .291 AVG confirms but there’s not a lot of pop in the bat. His barrels are way down, along with his ISO and wOBA, confirming the paltry 5 HRs on the season. He’s shown a trend of rebounding in that department after a down season but I’m not buying into that narrative. With only 8 games at 1B this season and few remaining games to log many more, there may not be a debate about Lourdes as your CI in 2023.
Eric Hosmer, Red Sox: Can we finally move on from Eric Hosmer being a relevant fantasy baseball name? Please? He still has years left on his massive 8-yr, $144M contract so he’ll certainly be a familiar name on some people’s draft board. However, we can safely say he shouldn’t be seriously considered outside of the very deepest of leagues. Power? Gone! Speed? Also Gone! Batting Average? Well, not completely gone! He does, and should continue to, provide some BA relief but that only works if you’re insanely solid in all the other counting stats. I’ll go out on a limb and say that situation will be few and far between. No matter the narrative you hear in the spring, just say no!