Looking back at the baseball season and sports in general, we always say that various players and teams have broken out, lived up, and/or fallen short of expectations. However, in the spring of 2023, New York fans, both Yankees and Mets fans never could have imagined their teams would find themselves dead last in their respective divisions, especially this late in the year, extra wild cards be damned. Insert old-timer quote: “That’s why they play the games…” As we find ourselves in the middle of the stretch run of roto leagues or about to enter head-to-head playoffs, let’s take a look at some middle infielders that got us in the position our teams are in, for better or worse, while also looking at their 2024 values:
Jazz Chisholm Jr. – Marlins: Dealing with another injury-plagued season, but the per-game stats and power/speed stats are still there. As the Marlins aren’t likely to make major upgrades in their lineup in 2024, I’m leaning towards being off of Jazz for the time being and going with the perceived safety of a Matt McLain-type. Perhaps Jazz gets a ding in ADP in the spring of next year, but I’ll still be out at a 75ish ADP.
Nico Hoerner – Cubs: Has been well worth his draft day ADP of ~150 and more, slashing 75/9/62/.277/.336/33. The additions of Swanson and Bellinger have proven fruitful for extra counting stats. My gut tells me Hoerner’s fantasy value will hinge on if Bellinger is retained and/or if the Cubs find a suitable middle of the order replacement if Bellinger leaves Chicago, especially as the rate of stolen bases has risen throughout the league.
Ok, so the speed and plate discipline are obviously legit. Kim’s not going to all of a sudden challenge for the HR title, but the 91% and 92% Whiff and Chase Rates show Kim’s newfound statistical gains are earned and not a total fluke. Kim’s more than just a pesky at-bat, and at age 27, it will be interesting to see if we see him tap into more power or lean towards hitting for a higher batting average. Ultimately, Kim will, in all likelihood be over-drafted in 2024 for our fantasy purposes.
Corey Seager – Rangers: One year into the shift being banned and Seager is a top 25 batter. Well, Seager’s made even more gains in just about all facets of his batting profile, with his EV, WOBA, HardHit% numbers all ranking in the 98th percentile or better. Coupled with a career-high barrel rate of 18.4%, safe to say Seager’s gains are legitimate and he’s one of the reasons the Rangers and fantasy owners are feeling good. Looks like the Dodgers could have used a guy like him at short this season.
Elly De La Cruz – Reds: Surpassed Barry Bonds for fewest career games to 10+ HR & 20+ SB, since 1900: If he’s this productive with a 34.2% K rate and a 7.2% BB rate, the sky’s the limit for when he improves his plate discipline over the next couple of seasons. The only question I have with Elly is how high are you willing to draft him next year?
Trevor Story – Red Sox: Showing some rust in the early going back from injury, but his track record suggests he’ll pick things up. He’s still barreling the ball at rates similar to the last few years. Fenway is no Coors (but then again no other MLB park is), but Fenway remains one of the highest BABIP-friendly ballparks (see Xander Bogearts batting average dropoff from the Red Sox to the Padres this year). I doubt he’s a 30% K guy for the rest of his career. A .255 – .260 average with 25 homers and 20 steals with a K% around 25 percent makes for a solid bet for 2024. If Story goes around ADP 150-180 in drafts next year, he’ll be a steal.
Bo Bichette – Blue Jays: Having another productive season, slashing 54/18/62/.316/.346/3. Bo’s a known quantity at this point, and we know he’s a great hit tool guy, accompanied by good counting stats in a great lineup and home ballpark. The most perplexing stat to me is Bo’s significant drop-off in sprint speed, considering Bo’s only 25 and in the middle of his prime years.
If Bo doesn’t do something to correct his speed/explosiveness, those 3-5 stolen bases will be 0, and while Bichette brings plenty of other fantasy-friendly assets to the table, he’ll drop a bit in drafts next season.
Have a great week!