Fantasy Baseball 2023 Draft Prep: Where consensus infield rankings are wrong
ECR stands for “Expert Consensus Ranking,” which means the average ranks of the fantasy baseball industry and is typically similar to ADP (which differs from site to site). This will be an ongoing positional series highlighting some big differences between ECR and my own ranks.
We kick things off with a look at five infielders.
Infielders I like more than consensus
Jazz Chisholm Jr., Miami Marlins (No. 4 second baseman in ECR vs DDD's No. 2)
Chisholm isn’t going to help batting average with his high strikeout rate, but he’s poised to be a fantasy monster even while playing in Miami. He racked up 32 homers and 35 steals across 677 at-bats in the past two injury-shortened seasons, including an impressive 139 wRC+ last year before he suffered a back fracture. Chisholm is set to hit leadoff for the Marlins, and he’ll soon gain OF eligibility in fantasy leagues with his move to center field.
THE BAT X projects Chisholm to record the second-most steals in baseball this season, which is the trickiest (toughest to acquire) among the hitting categories. Chisholm and Aaron Judge were the only players with 12-plus stolen bases and a 16%+ barrel rate in all of baseball last season, so a special 2023 fantasy campaign could be in store. Chisholm would be my top-ranked fantasy second baseman if Mookie Betts weren’t also eligible in Yahoo leagues.
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Rowdy Tellez, Milwaukee Brewers (No. 15 first baseman in ECR vs DDD's No. 9)
Tellez has a chance to have an even better season than last year’s breakout and should be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the no-shift rules. He'll continue to be greatly helped by Milwaukee’s park, as Tellez’s home/road splits last year were dramatic: 22 HR/13 HR, .537 SLG/.391 SLG, 137 wRC+/85 wRC+. THE BAT X projects him to hit the second-most homers per plate appearance, yet Tellez is barely being drafted as a top-15 fantasy first baseman.
Jeremy Peña, Houston Astros (No. 16 shortstop in ECR vs DDD's No. 9)
Peña was a star as a rookie when he was playing healthy. He’ll rack up counting stats no matter where he bats in Houston’s loaded lineup, and a 25/20 type campaign looks well within reach. Peña comically isn’t being drafted as a top-15 shortstop in Yahoo leagues, despite a profile that’s similar to players going in the second round of fantasy leagues.
Infielders I like less than consensus
Adley Rutschman, Baltimore Orioles (No. 5 catcher in ECR vs DDD's No. 8)
Rutschman is going to be incredibly valuable to the Orioles, with a high walk rate and outstanding defense, but he’s being overvalued drafted as a top-five catcher (and in the seventh/eighth round). Among catchers, THE BAT X projects Rutschman to finish top-three in WAR but not top-10 in homers or batting average — and not top five in runs scored, RBIs or stolen bases. Camden Yards does him no favors, either. Tyler Stephenson is going almost 100 picks later in Yahoo leagues, but I have him ranked higher thanks to his home park and volume via the DH.
Xander Bogaerts, San Diego Padres (No. 9 shortstop in ECR vs DDD's No. 16)
Bogaerts is being drafted as a top-10 SS and a top-75 pick, despite suffering a major downgrade in parks moving from Fenway (which leads the AL in boosting BA and runs scored the past three seasons by wide margins) to Petco (which leads the NL in decreasing BA and runs scored over that span) after signing a $280 million contract as a 30-year-old. Moving to an extreme pitcher’s park and without a ton of power/speed upside (23 HR/SB combined over 630+ PAs last year in a much better hitting environment), Bogaerts is being overvalued in 2023 fantasy drafts.