Welcome back to the first Hitter Profiles of the 2023 fantasy baseball season! This offseason has included a lot of big contracts, changing landscapes, and dreams of what next season will bring. Here at Razzball, we have all passed our physicals thanks to a routine of finger curls and rigorous stretching. Unfortunately, I did hear that Grey had to attend his physical a few times due to a paper cut from 2013. With those formalities behind us, it is time to look ahead to what draft season will bring. This week we kick off with a look at some of my favorite sleepers for the 2023 fantasy baseball season and what they could bring for pennies on the dollar at the draft table. Welcome back folks and let us dig into the outfield class during our Sleepers 1.0.
Jesse Winker (Milwaukee Brewer – ADP 274)
I know, this one does not feel right starting off a sleeper post. This is supposed to be about upcoming rookies and names like McCarthy or Nootbaar. The difference here is that a true sleeper is not a guy everybody is talking about. For Winker, he is every bit a sleeper moving to Milwaukee after a dreadful season in Seattle. So why is he a sleeper? For starters, hitting .219 with terrible defense will grab the ire of any fanbase with many in Seattle happy to bid him adieu. On the flip side, Winker walked an astounding 15.4% of the time while having one of the biggest BA and xBA gaps in the majors at 0.30. He also moves to a more hitter friendly park where he easily could have popped 20 homers in a down 2022 season. He might not be the early round outfielder we drafted in 2022, but he has not fallen as far as most believe.
Austin Meadows (Detroit Tigers – ADP 276)
Another outfielder going in the early twenties in snack drafts, Austin Meadows had a year to forget in 2022 and it appears many folks are forgetting Meadows in 2023 drafts. Going in the 23rd round at this point in time, there is no denying the talent that is possible with prior seasons hitting 33 and 27 homers. He did miss time at the end of the 2022 season to focus on his mental health after a rough season full of injuries. That said, the underlying metrics in 2022 were much better than folks might believe. Starting with plate discipline, Austin cut his walk rate to a career low 11.6% while being more patient at the plate and making more contact when he did attack. In addition, his xBA of .308 and xSLG of .460 suggest he was a bit unlucky in the power department. While the production was not there, there is a lot of potential at this price for 2023 where he will be locked into a starting role.
Ramon Laureano (Oakland Athletics – ADP 223)
It has been four years since Ramon has played more than 100 games and his style makes him a risk every year to reach that milestone. He even committed earlier in the offseason to playing a 150 game schedule in 2023, which I put as much stock in as arriving at Spring Training in the best shape of his life. However, finding a player capable of going 20/20 this late in the draft is no easy task. Remember that Laureano’s 150-game pace over the last two seasons would have delivered a 22 home runs and 19 steals. The low cost of entry here is easily worth investing in.
Jarred Kelenic (Seattle Mariners – ADP 309)
Do you recall an AL West prospect that came up and struggled in his first cameo in the major leagues only to take the league by storm the following season? Yes, I am talking about the Millville Meteor otherwise known as Mike Trout. Looking at Kelenic, he has had two of those rough seasons, so that means he will be even better! Kidding aside, it was not long ago that Kelenic was a cannot miss prospect. In fact, down in AAA last year he was still raking with a 150-game pace of .295, 31 homers and 16 steals. Upon his recall, a .182 BABIP covered up a 40% hard hit rate, improving strikeout pace and a nearly 20% barrel rate. This is far from a sure thing, but with the pedigree and continued AAA success there is a chance he makes the leap and if he does it could be a significant one.