We’ve arrived at the final week of the 2023 regular season, and what a wild season it’s been. As we’ve seen, the new rules have boosted offense, particularly batting average and stolen base totals, and the new draft pick compensation has allowed us to see more prospects earlier than ever before.
Luis Arraez (.354 average) is on his way to winning another batting title, but he’s probably one of the few batters who didn’t need the shift to boost his stats. Corey Seager (.333 average), on the other hand, is loving the banned shift (.245 average in 2022).
We got to see a full year of Gunnar Henderson, and he’s rewarded O’s management with a 98/27/81/.260/.329/10 line. The likely AL ROY is a big reason the Orioles have clinched a postseason berth, and a strong postseason may boost his draft stock in 2024 drafts even further.
Trea Turner‘s strong second half brings his season slash to 100/26/76/.263/.317/29, and looks worthy of a first-round selection next year. Notably, he has not been caught stealing all year. While I may not have signed Trea to an 11 year deal last year, I think Turner builds on his 2023 season as he looks to settle into a groove in Philly.
On the injury front, we’ve lost Gavin Lux, Oneil Cruz, and Trevor Story for the majority of the year, but these players are major talents who should get back to their production as they are further removed from their various maladies.
Speaking of injuries, Royce Lewis has been the ultimate “good when healthy player.” Royce ranks among the best players per game value, but unfortunately is lost for the remainder of the regular season due to yet another injury, this time a hamstring issue.
Elly De La Cruz has 11 homers and 33 steals in 363 at-bats, albeit with a .231 average and .298 OBP. As he’s only 21 and far from a finished product, we can only dream of what’s to come if those K’s incrementally come down the next couple of years.
Gleyber Torres has remained a steady player for the Yankees, turning in a 85/25/66/.271/.343/13 line. Gleyber’s long been the subject of trade rumors, so it will be interesting to see where and what lineup Gleyber ends up in.
Max Muncy‘s been who he always is: great counting stats and OBP, coupled with no batting average and no stolen base value. At least you know what you’re getting!
Ha-Seong Kim was probably the biggest non-prospect breakout, he’s seen time all over the infield and has produced an 81/17/58/.264/.358/36 line. His gains have been legitimate and the Padres lineup should be better than what 2023 showed.
Razzball sleeper Thairo Estrada has been a player worthy of the preseason hype, delivering on a 62/13/48/.274/.317/22 line. Whether he takes the next step in fantasy value probably depends on if the Giants upgrade their lineup, and if youngsters Marco Luciano and Luis Matos can take the next steps forward.
As we turn the page from 2023 to 2024, Jackson Holliday, Jordan Lawlar, and Marco Luciano represent part of the next wave of exciting middle infield talent. I’m sure there will be some offseason articles written about these guys at some point.
At the end of the day, given the significant depth of middle infield, probably the only place you could go wrong is if you drafted Javier Baez, Jazz Chisholm Jr., and Carlos Correa. If Jazz and Correa somehow return to full health, they’ll be viable players, but Javier Baez looks cooked, unfortunately. Non-existent power coupled with a .220 average and a .268 OBP ain’t cutting it, especially in this increased offensive environment. Early indications look like stolen base and batting average need to be prioritized in drafts next year.
Good luck to everyone in the hunt for fantasy glory, and much thanks to Grey, Truss, the rest of the Razzball crew, as well as the all the readers (both commentators and lurkers) for a fun year. Enjoy playoff baseball and have a great offseason!