Over the last two weeks, I’ve given you my fantasy highs and lows at both tips of the hot corner. In each case, I shared some names to consider, and avoid, at the corner infield positions during the middle-to-later rounds of 2023 fantasy drafts. Now that we’ve looked forward, it’s time to look backward.
We love draft season, regardless of fantasy sport. We consult our favorite fantasy expert projections, track ADPs, create our draft lists, determine our draft strategy, etc. etc. etc. What a wonderous time of the year. Once that is done and the season starts, most of us either bask in the glow of early season success or struggle to figure out what went wrong. Without fail, we look like champs or chumps, sometimes both, to our league mates.
As much emphasis as we put on April and May, fantasy baseball is a marathon. Of course, we should evaluate our draft strategies throughout the season so we can learn from our mistakes but like in school, the final grades don’t come out until the end. Now that we’re rapidly approaching the end of the “school” year, it’s time to grade the final exams. So, let’s build our fantasy classroom and take a look at the report cards.
The Overachievers: As the name implies, these players outperformed their pre-season projections and may have led your squads to fantasy title games.
Austin Riley, Braves: It’s not really a stretch to see Austin Riley coming into his own this season. In March, he was generally the 12-14 3B coming off the board with an ADP in the 50’s overall. Projections had him about 30 HRs, 95 RBIs and an OPS of .835. With a week left in the season, he’s delivered 37 HRs, 92 RBIs and an OPS of .888. Not bad for a 5th or 6th round pick.
Eugenio Suarez, Mariners: Another bargain on draft day turned out to be the first-year Mariner 3B who is surpassing his HR projections by about 15% and his OPS by 85 points. Suarez has meshed very well with the youngsters in the Pacific Northwest and together have the M’s on the verge of a playoff birth. How did he do for your fantasy teams?
Brandon Drury, Padres: Nobody overachieved more at 3B than Brandon Drury. Check out the typical preseason projection for Drury: .227/.276/.367 with 1 HR. With projections like those, he naturally went undrafted in all but the deepest of leagues. Now, check out his current stat line: .261/.316/.501 with 28 HRs. We call this a league winner!
The Teacher’s Pets: Teacher’s pets are those players who are expected to be class leaders and delivered on their promises.
Nolan Arenado, Cardinals: Nolan Arenado may have fallen from the elite ranks on draft day but his projected stats (30+ HRs, 95+ RBIs, & .795 OPS) still put him amongst the better hot corner options. This provided some potential value for those eager to stop his draft day sliding. Those who invested in that value were properly rewarded (30 HRs, 100 RBIs, & .898 OPS). The drafters may have gotten it wrong but the prognosticators certainly got this one right.
Bobby Witt Jr, Royals: Whether a Royals fan or not, we all were happy to see Bobby Witt Jr wearing royal blue on Opening Day. The preseason projection experts were left scrambling for a suitable full-season line. They came up with numbers that looked like: .253/.311/.440 with 21 HRs and 18 SBs. What did Bobby do? How about .257/.296/.442 with 20 HRs and 28 SBs. Not bad guys!
The Class Clowns: We all remember those kids in school who had potential but never quite lived up to it…only to find themselves years later writing for Razzball. “Ahem!” Perhaps I know one of those kids. Anywho…
Anthony Rendon, Angels: This one was primarily driven by injury as Anthony Rendon only played 45 games this season. In those 45 games, he provided 5 HRs and a .707 OPS. That’s a far cry from the 23 HRs and .845 OPS projected for the Angels 3rd star.
Jeimer Candelario, Tiger: One of the biggest misses of the season ended up being Jeimer Candelario. Jeimer was a draft darling, landing on many sleeper lists for players who were projected to have big seasons. It was hard to not get taken by this play, everything seemed to line up perfectly for him. Jeimer was projected to hit 20 HRs and produce a .780 OPS. His takers were “rewarded” with 13 HRs and a .629 OPS. It makes me wonder who was sleeping on this one.
Kris Bryant, Rockies: Are you guilty of blowing helium into your draft lists when Kris Bryant signed with the Rockies? I admit, GUILTY AS CHARGED! I was high on Bryant but I wasn’t alone. Prognosticators were too, projecting 27-29 HRs, 95-100 RBIs and a .273 BA. Well, it’s hard to produce at a high level when you’re battling plantar fasciitis, just ask Albert Pujols. Those who invested in Bryant too much (“AHEM!” I really need to do something about this cough!) were rewarded with just 42 games, 5 HRs and 14 RBIs.
Where do the other 3B fit into our fantasy classroom? Let me know your thoughts in the chat below.