Happy Wednesday, everyone! The day has almost arrived! We are now less than 24 hours away from opening day and I couldn't be more excited for the 2023 season. Yes, at first all I could feel was numbness (as a Mets fan after that World Baseball Classic), but since then I've convinced myself to feel nothing but pure optimism for what's to come. So please, no one send me that Family Guy clip about the Mets.
Today we're going to cut right to the chase and we have a little bit of everything. We'll feature bold predictions from the Fantasy Baseball Today staff (plus the Welsh!), we'll look at Scott White's players you can still add to your rosters now (and should be stashed on every one of your benches) and we'll wrap up with Chris Towers' best picks from every round. If you are like me, you have one final draft tonight and those plays should be applied. If you're already through your draft season, well then you can at least enjoy looking at the players you selected who our team is highest on.
Also, if you still have drafts coming up, make sure you didn't miss out on The Fantasy Baseball Today Printable Draft Guide. It's absolutely, 100% FREE.
The guide includes top-300 rankings sortable for both Roto and H2H formats. Each top 300 includes every player's ADP and our auction/salary cap values for said player. You'll get tiers for a tiers-based drafting system. You'll also get position-by-position rankings, a lineup chart where you can fill out your rosters as you go for snake drafts and a salary cap tracker for cap drafts. And the best part -- it's all printable.
If you click the link above, you'll find a widget where you can type in your email address and get the printable guide sent directly to your inbox. Please reach out to me on Twitter (@DanSchneierNFL) if you type in your email and do not receive the guide. I'll work to get it to you ASAP.
Bold predictions from FBT
If you're looking for bold predictions, award picks, division winners, World Series picks, and more from the FBT team, you've come to the right place. You'll also get a look at who Chris Welsh is predicting the biggest breakouts for and more. You can find all of that here in an epic 4K piece curated by Towers that is sure to get the juices flowing.
What I'm here to do now is point to some of the most fun bold predictions our FBT staff had. So let's go ahead and let those rip:
The Bold Fantasy Prediction Is ...
Oneil Cruz finishes as the No. 1 SS in Fantasy
"If MLB did a Punt, Pass, and Kick-type competition, Cruz might take down the whole dang league. He had the hardest hit ball in the history of the Statcast era with a 122.4 mph batted ball last season, he had the highest-velocity throw tracked by an infielder at 93.9 mph, and he had the 12th-highest average sprint speed at 29.9 feet per second. Now, turning all of that into a complete, fully actualized baseball player rather than a collection of intriguing talents is the hard part, of course, but Cruz might actually be a once-in-a-generation type of talent, and that skill set makes betting on outlier results a pretty smart proposition. Maybe he never gets there. Or, maybe it all comes together quickly and he emerges as a legitimate first-round caliber player. It's well within the realm of possible outcomes."
"David Peterson is the third most valuable starting pitcher in the Mets rotation. That would require him to pass both Carlos Carrasco and Kodai Senga, who's going well behind in ADP. Last year Peterson improved his slider usage and it's a great pitch, posting a 47.9% whiff rate and a .175 batting average against. He followed that up by allowing one hit in 12 innings this spring."
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"Graham Ashcraft leads the Reds in strikeouts. Ashcraft underwhelmed as a rookie, but his 100 mph cutter hinted at latent potential that a new slider grip may have unlocked this spring. He wrapped up the exhibition season with 25 strikeouts (to just two walks) in 17 1/3 innings, which had folks on the Reds beat asking who has the brighter future between him, Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo."
The Bold MLB Prediction Is ...
Shohei Ohtani wins MVP and Cy Young
"There are those who will ask, "Well, should Ohtani win MVP every year that he is healthy?" And … yeah, maybe! It took a historic season from Aaron Judge to (rightly) beat him out last season, but Ohtani should be viewed as the favorite for MVP every season he is healthy and doing what he's capable of on both sides. Now, because he pitches every sixth day instead of every fifth day, Ohtani is almost always going to be at a disadvantage in the Cy Young race, so he probably needs something to go wrong for one of the other contenders to win. Gerrit Cole's homer issues may keep his ERA inflated enough to overcome the volume edge he's likely to have, and Alek Manoah and Dylan Cease's ERAs both seem more likely to inflate from last year's marks than Ohtani's. Ohtani might just be the best pitcher in the AL on a per-inning basis already, and if he puts up another low-2.00s ERA mark for a playoff-bound Angels team, voters may not be able to avoid the appeal of granting a historic award to this historic player."
"Three players exceed 50 steals this season. We haven't seen one player accomplish this feat since 2017 but with the new rules in play, stolen bases will be on the rise. As a bonus, I'll give you the three names that do it: Trea Turner, Corbin Carroll and Esteury Ruiz."
"Multiple players steal 50 bases, and someone breaks 60. The league introduced new rules to promote more base-stealing this year, and if the effect at the major-league level is proportional to minor-league trials, the league's own estimates have stolen bases returning to early 2000s levels. It's sure to impact base-stealers at the high end (as predicted here) but perhaps even more of those previously on the fringes."
World Series Predictions ...
Chris Towers: Padres over Astros – I would love to see the Padres rewarded for being so aggressive at a time when so many teams hug their prospects and worry about their 2029 payroll. I also just think the Padres might be the best team in baseball, though their rotation depth is a little lacking.
Frank Stampfl: Braves over Mariners
Scott White: Braves over Mariners
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Players you can still add now
Scott White is always grinding the waiver wire for gems. It's early, but Scott sees a slew of players who you can still add to your leagues now (based on CBS roster ownership percentages) and you can find them all here.
These are the players who I have been rushing to my wire to see if they're available ever since I read Scott's piece:
If you're in a two-catcher league ...
Blake Sabol, OF/C, Giants
Would prefer to ... Travis d'Arnaud (73%), Keibert Ruiz (45%), Joey Bart (32%)
"Seeing as he's a Rule 5 pick, the Giants have to keep Blake Sabol on the major-league roster all season to retain his services. He made it easy for them by being arguably their most impressive player in camp, showing a knack for getting on base with power and even an element of speed. His at-bats are more likely to come in left field and at DH, but he retains catcher eligibility for Fantasy purposes (and should continue to play there some as well)."
Elehuris Montero, 3B, Rockies
Would prefer to ... Yoan Moncada (52%), Isaac Paredes (41%), Patrick Wisdom (33%)
"What's most appealing about Elehuris Montero is where he'll be playing his home games, but there's actual hitting talent here. He batted .310 with 15 homers and a .933 OPS in 65 games at Triple-A Albuquerque last year, after all. His stint in the big leagues didn't go as well, with him striking out 32.4 percent of the time, which is why it's notable he struck out just 19.4 percent of the time this spring. What's also notable is that the Rockies have a history of opting for veteran retreads over up-and-comers, and yet they seem set on Montero at third base even with Mike Moustakas performing well this spring."
If you need saves upside ...
Scott McGough, RP, Diamondbacks
Would prefer to ... Brusdar Graterol (54%), Carlos Estevez (49%), Giovanny Gallegos (38%)
Michael Fulmer's spring performance wasn't particularly notable, but some media chatter, particularly an article outlining the Cubs' recruitment of him this offseason, seemed to establish him as the favorite for saves, at the very least narrowing it down to him and Brad Boxberger. Likewise, the Diamondbacks haven't made any formal declarations regarding the ninth-inning role, but given Scott McGough's closing experience in Japan and his performance this spring, it's reasonable to presume he'll get the first crack at it.
Best picks in every round
You can find all of Towers' favorite picks by round here.
Here are a few of the late-round picks that stood out most to me:
Favorite Round 13 pick
Reid Detmers (ADP: 157.42) – Detmers' price has risen, but it remains more than reasonable given that he had a 3.04 ERA and 26% strikeout rate from July 8 on last season and then got a velocity spike this spring. He might be able to top that second-half run now that he's consistently throwing in the mid-to-high 90s.
Favorite Round 16 pick
Jose Altuve (ADP: 187.43) – When Altuve went down with his thumb injury, I expected a late-May timetable and dropped him to around 100th overall in my rankings. Apparently everyone else dropped him quite a bit more. Obviously it's less than ideal for a player to miss two months of the season, but Altuve is a legitimate difference maker at a position that is pretty shallow on those. It is worth noting here that NFBC tends to be 15-team leagues with no IL spots, so it's harder to get away with drafting a guy you know will miss time, which is why Bryce Harper also tends to get drafted around here in these leagues. I'd take either of them 50-60 spots earlier.
Favorite Round 18 pick
Edward Cabrera (ADP: 210.08) – Cabrera has limitations, from injury concerns in his past to command and control issues in his present. But man, there's a lot to like about his profile, as a big righty with high-90s heat and a changeup and slider that could both be plus weapons. If Cabrera can keep the walks to under 4.0 per nine, he could be excellent for 150 or so innings. It might all come down to fastball command, but if he can figure that out – like teammate Sandy Alcantara did – he could be great.