There's upside hidden at all points of fantasy baseball drafts, not just the first and second rounds. Some guys have the potential to be ranked among those early picks; they just haven't shown it yet. Their being underrated is a good thing for savvy fantasy managers, though. Here's the All-Underrated team of 2023.
C: William Contreras, Milwaukee Brewers
What if I told you that William Contreras had some of the highest expected power numbers among all hitters — let alone catchers — in 2022? He had to split time at catcher in Atlanta last season; he wasn't an every-day player, but that fear should be dashed this season in Milwaukee. Speaking of which, Contreras should enjoy an even higher power boost in the Brewers' hitter-friendly confines.
Speaking of expected numbers, Mountcastle was a Statcast darling in 2022; there's a lot of red on his page from last season. I'm expecting a bigger year from the 26-year-old in 2023, especially in the batting average department. There's 35-homer, 80 & 100 upside here.
2B: Andrés Giménez, Cleveland Guardians
The Gimenez bandwagon isn't exactly on fire, but it has picked up speed this draft season. There's a lot to like about his profile; it's not a reach to say Gimenez could hit 20 homers and steal 30 bases at his ceiling, especially with the new bases in MLB. Even with a bit of regression in the batting average department, Gimenez could pay off his ADP (currently near pick 100) at a tricky second-base position. Here's to hoping the Guardians realize it should be Gimenez, not Amed Rosario, batting in the top three of the Cleveland order.
3B: Yoán Moncada, Chicago White Sox
Moncada being drafted in the 250s is kind of wild to me. He'll turn 28 after the first month of the season, so it's not like he's washed; he has just dealt with injury. There's 25-and-15 upside here, with Moncada an integral part of a White Sox lineup that can only go up from their abysmal 2022. I'll take that at the end of my draft.
Peña could've won AL Rookie of the Year if not for Julio Rodriguez. What I love most about Peña is he got better as the season went on, even after pitchers adjusted to him in July and August; always a good sign for rookies. Then he became a near-juggernaut in the playoffs. I don't really mind reports of him dropping in the Astros lineup; it's one of the few in baseball with no real weaknesses. If he runs a bit more (and who wouldn't in 2023?) and maintains a respectable lineup slot, there's four-category juice here.
The former NL MVP is tearing the cover off the ball this spring, already hitting three homers with a ridiculous .308/.436./1.000 slash line in 13 at-bats. He's looking healthy, and still just 31 years old and playing half his games at Coors Field? Yeah, sign me up.
SP: Cristian Javier, Houston Astros
Framber Valdez and Luis Garcia have gotten most of the headlines at the top of the Astros rotation, but count me in the "Cristian Javier is the true ace of Houston" club (if that's a one-person club, so be it). Javier was excellent all season and in the playoffs last year, and even his expected ERA and FIP were top-level. Innings pitched could be an issue, but I have a feeling he surpasses 150 in 2023.
I know, I know — trying to decipher the Rays bullpen is akin to making sense of the Bermuda Triangle. Even while sharing closer duties with about 83 other relievers, Fairbanks collected eight saves last year, but that's not really what I care about with him. What I care about is that Fairbanks was arguably the best reliever overall in 2022; just take a look at his expected and advanced numbers — they're hilariously good. I want him on all my fantasy pitching staffs in 2023.