Yesterday, I went over the top 10 for 2023 fantasy baseball. Today, I throw out preconceived notions, drink some potions and lather up my body with lotions, as I sloppily slip and slide my way through a very precarious top 20 for 2023 fantasy baseball. This top twenty is a blind man playing Twister. Half the time, I’m grabbing for things not knowing if they’re there or not. I legit think this top 20 could go countless other ways. Is countless a widowed Countess? No, it’s not, it’s a confusing AF top 20 for fantasy baseball. All the positional rankings will live under the 2023 fantasy baseball rankings. Here’s Steamer’s 2023 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Hitters and 2023 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Pitchers. The projections in this post are, as always, mine. (But if you click on a player’s name, you see Steamer’s projections for that specific player. It’s magic!) Subscriptions are up and running, and you can already get Rudy’s Draft War Room. Anyway, here’s the top 20 for 2023 fantasy baseball:
NOTE: All my rankings are currently available on Patreon for the price of a Starbucks coffee, if you get one of those extra grande frappuccino jobbers. Don’t wait for the rankings to come out over the next month, and get them all now.
CLICK TO SEE TOP 10 FOR 2023 FANTASY BASEBALL
11. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – This tier started in the top 10 for 2023 fantasy baseball. This tier goes from here until Soto. I called this tier, “Anonymous singing Destiny’s Child Say My Name.” Just spent longer than I care to admit (97 seconds) looking to see if Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Vladdy Senior had a falling out because I saw Statcast had Junior listed in their database without Jr. and I was like, “Did Vlad. Jr. drop the Jr. like a non-Strange-Gordon?” I see no confirmation of that, maybe Statcast just decided it was deep enough into Vlad Jr.’s career to let the Jr. go, like they once did with Nelson Cruz. Welp, whatever the case is, we know Vlad Jr.’s real name is Cake Batter, and as he will be forever known until he one day joins his dad in the halls of Cooperstown. Cake Batter’s power came down a little last year, and it can’t all be written off as a byproduct of not playing in the minor league parks. Cake made slightly worse contact, walked a lot less, and that led me to wonder if he wasn’t seeing the ball, as well. Confirmation success! Cake Batter’s O-Swing% was up and SwStr% was down, i.e., he wasn’t swinging at the best pitches. So, how did I land here with him? Bounce back? Nah, more like what I said for Boba and Judge in the top 10. Even if Cake Batter is as “bad” as he was last year, it wasn’t really bad, and I’d draft that kinda of bad every year. Cake Batter’s floor is solid and his upside is as immense as his backside. 2023 Projections: 96/33/107/.283/8 in 589 ABs
12. Juan Soto – Sexy Dr. Pepper’s walk rate last year was 20.3%. 2nd best was Judge with 15.9%. That is a hilarious separation between a guy who can take a walk about as well as anyone ever and a guy who just had the best season ever. Pitchers saw more reasons to pitch to Judge than a guy who hit .242 or Sexy Dr. Pepper just is extraordinary at taking pitches? Like a teamster, I’m leaning on the latter. Since 2000, Pepper is the only guy, besides Bonds, to have more than one top 13 walk rate. Joey Votto only has one year (2015) in the top 13 walk rates. Sexy Dr. Pepper only just turned 24. Guess what I’m getting at is we still don’t even know what he’s capable of. This ranking is betting on the talent over the results, because, besides the walks, everything else has been all over the map, and the ceiling for power and steals is looking closer only in a sideview mirror. Last year’s batting average even bottomed out, but without the shift and a turn around on his BABIP (.249), well, I could see Sexy hitting .350 this year. I could also see him hit 40 homers. Anyone who’s seen him hit a home run should be able to imagine 40 homers. Sometimes he gets into one and hits it 600 feet like en be dee. The talent is there in all its glorious beauty. One of these years we could get a 45/15/.330 season, and articles will be written about how he’s finally gotten just aggressive enough. Please, let those articles be written this year. 2023 Projections: 91/34/102/.287/7 in 518 ABs
13. Manny Machado – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Freeman. I call this tier, “Corey Feldman and Corey Haim filming Dream A Little Dream.” In 1989, an American fantasy-romcom was released with two of the greatest actors of their time, Corey Feldman and Corey Haim. When filming began, they could’ve been the next Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks and some non-Toms too, instead they fell back to earth, literally, as that’s what happens when someone is doing very hard drugs. Dream A Little Dream could’ve been a dream for everyone, instead it was a nightmare. This tier is when the Coreys were still filming Dream A Little Dream. Reality hasn’t set in yet. Hopefully it won’t until after this season.
This is completely irrelevant for Machado (like the rest of this shizz is relevant), but I found it funny so here it is: Machado’s expected homers last year in Texas? 41. In Tampa? 39. In Toronto? 39. In Houston? 41. Even if all his home runs were hit at home, in San Diego, he had 37 expected homers. In Baltimore? 23! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA–breathe, Grey, breathe! God damn it! We’re losing him! *eyes roll into the back of my head* Dying words, “What did the Orioles do to their park?” Sorry, but that is some deliberately daft shizz by Baltimore. They moved the fences back to pre-WWII stadiums when fields wouldn’t have a center field fence, the ball would just roll forever, except they did it with left field. Any hoo! Trying to distinguish Machado’s projections from Kyle Tucker minus ten steals. Squinting hard. Giving self a headache. Yeah, I see no real difference. Machado’s got 3rd base eligibility and Tucker’s got more speed. Otherwise, they’re essentially the same. Last year, Machado hit .298, but that looks buoyed by a high BABIP (for him), and he actually got way more aggressive at the plate (are you paying attention, Soto?), which could lead to Machado going from his best batting average year (minus 2020, but that wasn’t a real year) to his worse. Hopefully not, though, and why — ACTION! — I can still Dream a Little Dream. 2023 Projections: 94/30/106/.266/8 in 569 ABs
14. Bobby Witt Jr. – I know just about every player’s stats within a margin of error. I don’t tell you that to brag, because, honestly, who’s impressed by that? A nerdy 12-year-old? It’s not cool. I don’t know if Mr. H2H hit 30 homers last year or 33 or 27, but I know it’s around there. I tell you this now because I thought Bobby Witt Jr. hit way more homers last year. I likely would’ve guessed 25 or 26 homers, and he hit 20. Royals are getting rid of Kauffman Stadium and it can’t happen soon enough. They should just do like the Orioles, but in its inverse and move the fences in 75 feet. Who cares if it makes every game a 15-14 game? Not like I’m invested in Royals pitching, well, besides Brady Singer. Think about how fun would it be if all Royals had 50 homers by August. “It will be interesting to see if Nicky Lopez can keep up this pace, the same pace Mickey and Maris were once on.” That’s an announcer in August if the Royals move in their fence to just past the 2nd base bag. Any hoo! I came into this expecting to like Bobby Witt Jr. a lot, and I don’t hate him, but I also can’t figure out how people are drafting him in the top 10 overall. He is not Julio Rodriguez. If his steals come down, and his .294 OBP (holy woof) could lead to that, and a .250-ish average and a terrible stadium. I could see getting in on Witt if he falls this far, but that’s likely lip service and I’m out this year. The people who are drafting BWJ over guys like Soto and Vlad Jr. are just trying too hard to be cool. 2023 Projections: 91/24/77/.257/24 in 586 ABs
15. Freddie Freeman – If Freeman were a James Bond villain, he’d be called Chompers, because of his pearly whites. Mah gawd, every picture of him I see, and I’m reminded of a different Corey Feldman movie, Stand By Me, but instead of hearing, “Chopper sic balls,” I’m hearing, “Chompers sic balls.” Chompers does, indeed, sic balls too, as his Statcast is one of the prettiest sights. In today’s game, it’s not often you see a guy who is clearly a .300 hitter. Captain Woo Cubano, Treat Urner and Freeman. That’s about it for .300 hitters who aren’t “only” .300 hitters, like Kwan, McNeil or Arraez, and, let’s be honest, Treat Urner might be more pie-in-the-sky .300 than a rock-solid bet to get there. Freeman and Woo are your .300 hitters, who aren’t slapdoink hitters. That’s incredible. Good for Freeman, or rather Chompers does sic balls. The problem that might lead to a Dream A Little Dream nightmare scenario is *leans into the mic, whispers, feedback* Where’s the power? His Launch Angle wasn’t bad last year, which actually worries me more. I’d like to point to a more-flat swing, but instead he’s just kinda slapdoinking a little too much like the attorney offices of Kwan, McNeil & Arraez. Dodger Stadium isn’t a bad power park, and he’s not crazy old. I could see one more year of 25 homers, which is quite bleh, if it wasn’t coming with a .300 average. If we get a 25-homer, .280 season though? Then rumors from the set of Dream A Little Dream are true, and we’re gonna need extra insurance waivers. 2023 Projections: 106/25/91/.309/10 in 591 ABs
16. Pete Alonso – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Devers. I call this tier, “Perfume-spraying skunk.” For whatever reason, the guys in this tier give people the wrong impression. Like they’re looking at them, and they’re immediately worried they’re gonna stink like a skunk, but then they spray out an Eau de Toilette that is so beautiful, you’re like, “Is that lavender? I love that skunk’s spray. Can you hold the skunk up so it sprays right into my armpits? Thanks, now let that skunk spray my wrists, then I will rub that skunk juice on my neck. Gosh, it’s so beautiful. I’m glad I didn’t judge that skunk by its skunkiness.” That’s these guys, don’t let preconceived notions scare you away.
As for Albombso, there’s no one who hits more homers and nothing but homers. Or does he?! Damn, Mr. Reversal Question, you nearly gave me whiplash! There’s a certain rumor circulating through the four corners of mother’s basements everywhere that has infected fantasy baseball. No, not that if you part your hair to your left you look five years younger. It does nothing for you. No, to the right doesn’t help either. No! The rumor is that Albombso does nothing but homer. He’s a .261 hitter in 1963 career at-bats. 1963?! Was Pete on the grassy knoll? How does Pete feel about presidential parades? Hmm…hmm…hmm! A .261 career hitter isn’t an average drag, when the league average is .243. Pete’s a consistently solid .260 hitter who is about as close to a 40-homer lock as you’re gonna find. 40/.260 brings with it 110 RBIs, easily. That should give us 90+runs, and that leaves us with a handful of steals. How is that dramatically different from Yordan? Gonna give you a little hint. Lean in so I can whisper it. Screams in ear, “It’s not that different!” 2023 Projections: 92/40/111/.263/3 in 581 ABs
17. Austin Riley – Guess it’s the steals why people are turning their noses up to Austin Riley. I can only assume, because I see his ADP of 30 and, honestly, I see no other explanation. Let’s just go on the assumption that Pete Alonso wasn’t a crazy ranking. Maybe you thought it was crackers, but you were swayed. You were like, “Grey you got the answers, I was Sway’d.” Okay, how is Riley different than Albombso? Maybe I’ve fallen down into the pitfall like Harry of just comparing everyone to Pete Alonso, when Alonso is wrongly ranked, but methinks not and metalks like a leprechaun. Albombso is Captain Woo Cubano minus some average, and Riley is Albombso minus what? One steal? Riley’s actually a better bet on average — top 4% in Exit Velocity; top 3% on MaxEv; top 4% on wOBA; top 5% on HardHit%. This might sound bizzonkers, but I very nearly put Riley above Freeman as he looks way more like the Freeman replacement in Hot ‘lanta than Olson. 2023 Projections: 96/37/104/.276/2 in 589 ABs
18. Rafael Devers – Okay, reverting to my ‘All things are varying degrees of Captain Woo Cubano and Albombso’, so how does Devers compare to Riley? There’s something to a 35-homer, .280 hitter in a great park, especially when that’s a guy’s floor. Yes, I know his floor was lower for power last year, but Devers was dealing with injuries. He had lower back issues that culminated in a hamstring strain. How does a back culminate in a hammy? No blurbs should be treated as medical advice but maybe favoring one thing led to the other? I don’t know, all I know is his 2nd half was terrible, and completely uncharacteristic, so he must’ve been hurting. It’s one of those downturns that can be almost entirely written off, and, since the newly-cheap-AF Red Sox signed him to an 11-year deal they think last year can be written off too, which is reassuring or Confirmation Bias. One of those. 2023 Projections: 94/34/108/.286/5 in 572 ABs
19. Corbin Burnes – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until here. I call this tier, “Fritos feet.” Fritos feet is when your dog’s feet smells like Fritos. This is a real thing. Google it, and you’ll see article after article about how to get rid of Fritos feet if your dog suffers from it. An article I am searching for is, “If your dog doesn’t have Fritos feet, how do you give it to them?” Because Fritos feet sounds wonderful. The tier name refers to me ignoring the draft while a pitcher gets drafted in the top 20, and googling for a How To on Fritos Feet. If you’ve been following my rankings for a minute, and not an actual minute, but an Urban Dictionary minute, which is actually a long time, you know I’d never draft a starter in the top 20. So, yes, I’ve chosen to only rank one starter in the top 20 this year, and this is more to point out how I would not draft him. If you want to bemoan my low ranking of this one starter, then bemoan away. Just remember, a bemoaner sounds a bit to me like, “U be a boner.” Here’s what I’ve said previously about ranking starters in the top 20, “Before you say, ‘Grey, you’re handsome AF, and super smart. You rub-a-dub places I thought only ladies could rub and/or dub. Yet, you say you’d never draft a starter in the top 20, but you’ve ranked Corbin Burnes in the top 20. Should I not draft Burnes if he’s available? Thank you for your time, you are a real pleasure.’ This always drives me crazy. Not the compliments, those are nice. If you’re following my rankings, Alonso, Riley, Devers, Vlad Jr., Bichette, and more are ranked higher than their ADP and where others are ranking them (for the most part; there’s exceptions, obviously). So how on earth did you get to pick 19, and have no one else available to you but Burnes? Are you in a league with eighteen me’s? Otherwise, there’s guys available to draft I like more than Burnes. A companion piece to this question is the guy (and, let’s be honest, it’s always a guy), who says, ‘Only players available were Burnes and Devers and I didn’t want to draft Devers, so I went with Burnes.’ So, you don’t want to listen to me on who to draft in regards to Devers, but you want me to say it’s okay to draft a guy I’ve ranked later who I’ve said not to draft? Okay…*places traffic cone on head, kneels down in driver’s ed course, gets slammed by pimple-faced teenager’s Sebring* So, why even rank Burnes 19th overall if I wouldn’t draft him here? I gotta rank him somewhere! What, I’m gonna rank him 450th overall next to Sean Manaea?” And that’s me quoting me! I changed some names and numbers from last year to this year, but that’s still completely applicable, so please appliqué! By the way, last year, the name I said was at 450 was Miles Mikolas, which is again just pointing out how much pitching there is and why you shouldn’t draft Burnes. You could’ve had a top 30 starter at 450th overall!
As for Burnes, I love him. Have absolutely no qualms with anything to do with Burnes. If we’re talking about drafting pitchers, I’m actually surprised he’s being drafted after some other starters in some leagues. Burnes is a chef’s kiss from the top of Gheorghe Muresan’s head to the bottom of Muggsy Bogues’s toes. Doesn’t matter, ignore him. 2023 Projections: 14-5/2.56/0.95/256 in 206 IP
20. Fernando Tatis Jr. – This is the last tier of the top 20 for 2023 fantasy baseball. This tier is called, “Psalmbody once told me.” The tier is play on the song All-Star by Smash Mouth. The tier name is if God came down from heaven and started singing Smash Mouth. May the heavens bless your forehead with ash on a Wednesday, and this year is the blessed year 23 after 20 that will allow you to draft Fernando Tatis Jr. the latest you will be able to draft him ever again until he’s washed-up at 30. So, it is, so it has been said. By God, singing Smash Mouth. So, last year you were all in on Acuña in the top 10, when he had such serious surgery that he’s still recovering from it, but this year you don’t see the glorious discount that is Fun the Jewels? Are you high?! Appropriate since he’s coming back on 4/20! Much like Tildaddy, Fun the Jewels also had surgery, but he has been on the mend and relaxation since mid-October. Sure, his barrel% last year was 0% because the barrels in question were the ones he tried to jump on his motorcycle when he wiped out and needed surgery on his wrist originally back in March. Evel Knievel, Fun the Jewels is not, but hopefully he’s learned his lesson. This isn’t without some risk. Maybe he’ll get to May and realize the wrist is not going to hold up and his entire career is derailed. My better-than-likely case scenario here is Jewels is fine, and he comes back hoping to prove the world wrong, and does. I don’t want to believe a 24-year-old Jewels is washed. No way, no how. It’s going to be a 35/20/.280 mammoth and everyone’s gonna be like, “I can’t believe I didn’t draft Tatis when he was available,” just like they thought that this past year with Judge. Will Jewels’ comeback be better than Jewel’s? Yes, and he will save your soul. “No, it’s me, actually.” That’s God answering Jewel’s question, Who Will Save Your Soul? 2023 Projections: 88/34/81/.286/19 in 461 ABs