We are merely eight games into the 2023 season and have learned a lot about what we can expect this season. For starters, that lack of steals we have seen in past seasons is long gone with the rule changes going forward. This means that players that derive value from speed will have more than ample opportunity to contribute. We are also reminded that injuries are a reality of our game that will drive any fantasy manager crazy as we see players like Jose Altuve and Michael Harris tumble down the rankings. Finally, we are rewarded for our eternal hope in the prospecting of our fantasy teams through players like Jordan Walker and Corbin Carroll. If the first week of the fantasy season has told us anything, it is that we are in for a fun ride and with that a lot of opportunity for the savvy fantasy owner. Time to break down the top 100 hitters for the rest of the 2023 fantasy baseball season.
- Gleyber Torres – Jumping up the rankings this week, Gleyber has filled the box score with five steals and is tied for the AL lead in that category. At the same time, he is showing newfound patience at the plate which has never been his calling card. I have traditionally been a detractor from the Torres train but am intrigued by the early going. If I was betting, this is simply an early season hot streak and Torres will be nothing more than middle infield fodder come summer. Anything more and I will be happily surprised.
- Jordan Walker – While the numbers are not quite following at this point in time, Walker has been far from a disappointment so far this season. Starting in every game, he is showing off top 10% hard hit rates and sprint speeds. Sure, the season is early, and he has hit far too many groundballs with an aggressive approach at the plate. However, in what is shaping up to be a very strong Cardinal lineup, he will have plenty of protection and potential for run production. He deserved a bump and gets it this week.
- Bryan Reynolds – Maybe the most impressive player so far this season, Reynolds is making the Pirates look silly for their contract negotiations. He is top of the league in homers and runs batted in while hitting well over .400 this season. To go along with the statistics, he has been making some of the best quality contact in the league. Moreover, kicking off his age 28 season, he is at the peak of his career and there is little reason to doubt what he is doing so far in 2023. Just take a quick peak at that Savant profile:
- Tyler O’Neill – How much we should read into the tiff with manager Oliver Marmol will be hard to decipher. Regardless, the Cardinal’s outfield is too full, and it is going to get more crowded when Lars Nootbar returns from injury as soon as next week. Between the realization that O’Neill likely had a career year in 2021 and the fact that he will likely only play in 80% of the Cardinals games, his stock is dropping. He has all the talent in the world and the best path forward is likely a trade of O’Neill or somebody else to open up playing time.
- Mitch Haniger – This one pains me to write, but not as much pain as Haniger has caused fantasy owners with every injury in the book. While recovering from an oblique injury he was shut down for a week with back issues. Not even taking batting practice at this point, Haniger is likely out until at least May. He is a good player, but cannot be relied upon as a long-term starter at this point in time.
- James Outman – Taking advantage of playing time in the Dodgers outfield, Outman has three homers on the season with another on Saturday night. With a combination of power and speed, there is plenty of intrigue for fantasy owners. There are certainly warning signs as well that we must be careful with. Outman does not play against lefties and has a BABIP north of .500 in the early going. Firmly in the watch category this week, we are likely looking at an early season hot streak that would simply go unnoticed mid-season.
- Masataka Yoshida – Yoshida has quietly been an above average contributor early this season. He has contributed across the board in the early going but should be expected to mostly contribute in the power category as he is merely league average in his running. That said, he hardly looks overmatched with strong plate discipline and could settle in as a backend outfield option for fantasy owners.