Today concludes the fantasy baseball sleepers‘ portion of our program. *nudges homeless woman sleeping on my couch that I tried to get Cougs to agree to a threesome with* No more sleepers, Francine. Meh, I’ll let her rest. Like the 3rd basemen to target, 2nd basemen to target or outfielders to target, this post is necessary. You need to target the right names at the end of the draft for starters. Last year’s starters to target post included Tony Gonsolin, Jordan Montgomery, Cristian Javier, Joe Ryan and Hunter Greene. They’ve moved way up ranks this year with one making the jump to my top 20 starters. As I always say, starters are available later. As with other target posts, these guys are being drafted after the top 200 overall. Also, all Steamer hitter projections are updated just about every day (mostly small adjustments), and all 2023 fantasy baseball rankings are updated. Anyway, here’s some starters to target for 2023 fantasy baseball:
Grayson Rodriguez (ESPN 205) What jumps out at me in this post is it’s the Age of Gray. We are having a Graynaissance. If you draft Jon and Sonny Gray and Grayson and ask me a question, that’s a Grey four of a kind, and you win the house that I’m living in, and have to pay my mortgage, and I don’t move out. Please, just let me stay in the shed that I’ve painted with a mural of Shed Long. I’ve already given you my Grayson Rodriguez fantasy. Can I put money on Grayson and Jordan Walker winning AL and NL ROYs? What about Gunnar and Corbin? Ugh, I hate dilemmas. No, I’m not stalling while I move out so you can move in. Just give me a minute!
Luis Garcia (Yahoo 209) I’ll admit to being a tad worried that Luis Garcia will regress because he can’t do the rocking-the-baby windup this year. “How can I put batters to sleep?” That’s Luis Garcia, but his stats say he should be off the board way before 209, at least at Yahoo.
Patrick Sandoval (Yahoo 230, ESPN 210, NFBC 209) Appizzarently, I’m the only that ever likes Patrick Sandoval, because he was in this post last year too. He’s on the verge of being a top 50 starter that becomes a top 20 starter. Looking for a guy who could take the leap? Sandoval is right there. All he needs to do is reduce his walk rate by about a half walk per nine, and he already was a 2.91 ERA, 3.09 FIP guy last year.
Kodai Senga (Yahoo 269) Coolwhip already gave you his Kodai Senga fantasy, and I might even be more excited. If past informs the future, then how is Kodai not going to be worth at least a top 200 pick? Every pitcher who has come from Japan with similar stats has done better, and I don’t see why Senga will be any different. Plus, the 90+ win Mets will give him all sorts of chance for wins. Senga seems like the biggest lock to out-earn his draft spot by at least 100 spots out of pitchers and hitters. Maybe Jordan Walker returns top 50 value, but he’s going inside the top 150 by final week of the season. Maybe Grayson does better than his 175 ADP (or 205 at ESPN) but a lack of innings will leave Grayson struggling to be worth more than a top 100 pick without insane wins luck. Others will out-earn their draft pick by 100 spots, naturally, but none are as obvious as Senga right now. He’s my LOCK OF THE YEAR, said like the guy at the racetrack who is 3-for-75 at picking winners.
Jon Gray (Yahoo 212, NFBC 219) Drafting Jon Gray, Grayson, and Son Gray back-to-back-to-back and naming my team the Family Reunion. The funny thing about Sonny and Jon Gray, that isn’t funny, is they’re basically the exact same guy now. It’s the Gray Guys and they’re insanely similar in fantasy value, and almost everywhere you look they’re being drafted and ranked right next to each other. One has a bit more Ks upside (Jon) and one has better ratios upside (Sonny), but tomato-tomahto-pronounced-like-you’ve-never-heard-the-word-before. May as well say tomato-Cus-D’Amato. I mean, has anyone ever said tomahto in their life?
Sonny Gray (Yahoo 273, ESPN 205, NFBC 220) Speaking of Gray’mahtos, see the blurb right above. They are identical in every way, except for the ways they are different.
Hunter Brown (Yahoo 213, NFBC 208) Hunter Brown is ranked in the 160’s at ESPN! That’s not to say he won’t be worth that, but, as I talk about on this week’s podcast that should be out today, I like Hunter Brown but he is starting to feel like a fade. Going before Grayson? My boy? Cmon!
Ross Stripling (Yahoo 308, ESPN unranked, NFBC 292) I could’ve listed Merrill Kelly, Miles Mikolas and Alex Cobb, and would you look at that, I just did! Instead, I’m spotlighting a guy I haven’t talked much about. Why I think Stripling is still absurdly low in rankings is ADP takes form in October when everyone is guessing, gets calloused over but never falls off. Stripling wasn’t signed, so people were drafting him later than they should back then, and now he’s still going later for no reason other than early ADP screwed up where he should be drafted. He’s in San Fran and has a career 3.78 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 8.3 K/9. That’s not a barely-300-overall draft pick.
Edward Cabrera (Yahoo 217, ESPN 218, NFBC 219) I also am back in on Trevor Rogers. Ya know, you can just go to my top 100 starters and see all the guys I like. I’m clearly not listing them all again. Braxton Garrett is interesting too. Okay, all Marlins starters. I even liked Sandy Alcantara last year, but now he’s overpriced. Mentioned Edward Cabrera a lot in my Jesus Luzardo sleeper, too.
Justin Steele (Yahoo 274, ESPN 299, NFBC 289) Speaking of sleepers (I just was in the blurb above), Justin Steele sleeper, and he has not taken any sort of bump up in value after that post, and excitement is pretty flat on him, from what I can tell. Y’all ain’t a bunch of Seinfelds, clearly, because you don’t like the man of Steele. That’s fine, more for me! And Jerry, obviously. We also avoid Kevin Newman in drafts.
Michael Kopech (Yahoo 296, ESPN unranked, NFBC 281) Here’s what I think is happening. There’s so many gee-dee starters, that even ones we really like. Guys who have been on our radars for a long time are still being largely ignored because you can draft five random starters with your eyes closed in the range of 150 overall in drafts, and shrug with a, “My friends call me Mr. Kopech, because I like him so much, but I just have no room on my fantasy team for any more starters.”
Kenta Maeda (Yahoo unranked, ESPN unranked, NFBC 284) Similar to what I said on Kopech, and Cabrera and about to say Peterson. There’s so many starters that could be a legit number three like Maeda and he is going basically undrafted because people are thinking, “Where do you put him?” As they stare at their fantasy teams, and legitimiately have no room on their team for him.
Jared Shuster (Yahoo unranked, ESPN unranked, NFBC 728) Added Old Shoe — Sorry, just watched Wag the Dog — to the top 100 starters and top 500. In the top 100 starters post, I wrote him up, if you’re interested. When I say, the Braves have a top 20 starter come out of nowhere every year, then as quickly disappear, I’m only half kidding that it’s part of my rational why I’m drafting Shuster everywhere. Dylan Dodd, too, if he gets the Braves’ 5th spot, then giddy up on that instead.
Clarke Schmidt (Yahoo unranked, ESPN unranked, NFBC 532) In his last spring training start, Schmidt threw a perfect five innings, and was awarded the key to the city of Noonecaresaboutspringtrainingstatsville. His next matchup will be mano a Germano as they battle for who stays in the Yanks’ rotation when Rodon returns, but that doesn’t matter for a flyer now, which Schmidt happens to be at this point.
David Peterson (Yahoo unranked, ESPN unranked, NFBC 502) There’s a ton of guys crazy late that I won’t get into on this post, but I like Brandon Pfaadt, Ken Waldichuk, Shintaro Fujinami, Kyle Bradish, no, not all pitchers from awful teams, there’s David Peterson! Or Tylor Megill. Or, maybe, Bryan Abreu. I think it’s 70/30 in Peterson’s favor over Megill to take Quintana’s spot, but I’m only 50/50 on those odds. Whichever guy it is, they’re going to have a huge uptick in value. Neither are ranked anywhere, and at the average average draft pick of 510, they’re going to end up with way more value, even if it’s only until July. We’ll cross the “Quintana is returning” bridge when we get to it. I could even see double Tappan Zee Megill and Peterson in a draft.