Fantasy Baseball 2023: NL West players to target in drafts
Fantasy baseball analysts Scott Pianowski, Dalton Del Don and Andy Behrens reveal the players they're targeting on each NL West team. The reason behind their selections could be tied to draft value, a star they want to build around or someone they’re going out of their way to take.
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Los Angeles Dodgers
• Evan Phillips is very much in the closing mix for one of baseball’s best teams, but his stuff will make him fantasy-relevant regardless of his bullpen role. He struck out 11.0 batters per nine innings last season with a WHIP of 0.76. If he ends up the primary closer in L.A., he might just finish as fantasy’s No. 1 RP. — Andy Behrens
• Dustin May struggled with command as most pitchers do when returning from Tommy John but was sneaky good last season. He should be even better now, another six months removed from surgery. May's workload will be somewhat limited, but many similarly questioned Corbin Burnes' ceiling two years ago, and he proceeded to win the Cy Young with a dominant 165 innings. May possesses some of the best stuff in baseball, is finally healthy and is in a terrific situation for fantasy. — Dalton Del Don
• The early rounds of a fantasy draft are often as much about floor as they are about upside. So I ask you, dear reader: When have you ever drafted Mookie Betts and regretted it? He’s my destination pick if my selection falls in the second half of the first round. — Scott Pianowski
San Diego Padres
• I’m buying a bounce-back season from Trent Grisham, a 26-year-old player with clear 20/20 potential. His glove will keep him in the lineup, and he should benefit at the plate from the new shift rules. He had no luck on balls-in-play last season (.231 BABIP); it wouldn’t be much of a shock to see his average jump 40-60 points. — Andy Behrens
• Ha-Seong Kim posted a lowly 70 wRC+ in his first season in the majors but bounced back (105 wRC+) last year while providing terrific defense. He’ll be San Diego’s starting second baseman with Jake Cronenworth moving to first, so Kim is a fantasy sleeper who might be the cheapest middle infielder (who’s also 3B-eligible) capable of posting a 15/15 season. — Dalton Del Don
• Joe Musgrove is making steady progress from his broken toe and should be ready to pitch for the Padres early in the season. Now that he has slipped outside the top 100 in ADP, Musgrove is a screaming value. — Scott Pianowski
San Francisco Giants
• Thairo Estrada should hit at or near the top of the lineup, offering respectable power and speed along with eligibility at three roster spots. This is the sort of player you need in any league with a short bench. — Andy Behrens
• Kyle Harrison is baseball’s best left-handed pitching prospect who’s ready to contribute sooner rather than later. The Giants’ rotation looks deep on paper, but it’s not a group strong enough to hold back a prospect who just struck out 186 batters over 113.0 innings as a 20-year-old.
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Harrison won't pitch deep into games, but ZiPS is projecting a 10.6 K-rate that would’ve been the sixth-best among starters last season. San Francisco also made a point of improving its defense over the winter and still has a climate that prevents baseballs from traveling far (unless you’re the GOAT). — Dalton Del Don
• I like to bet on the pitchers the Giants bet on, so I’ll consider Ross Stripling outside of the top 200 as a lottery ticket. I should also mention that Thairo Estrada is on most of my rosters, so I’ll co-sign the Behrens endorsement. — Scott Pianowski
• Arizona’s roster is full of exciting young players (and a few odd rehab projects), with Corbin Carroll the most interesting among them. He’s a 22-year-old, every-tool outfielder having a terrific spring, and the team has already locked him up long-term. Carroll went 24/31 with a 1.036 OPS over 93 games in the high minors last season, earning plenty of prospect buzz. He has the potential to be a future fantasy first-round option. — Andy Behrens
• Ketel Marte continues to trade terrific seasons with disappointing ones and enters 2023 motivated, coming off a down 2022. His durability concerns are less of an issue given his ADP, which is currently the 23rd second baseman off the board in Yahoo leagues. Marte doesn’t offer a ton of power/speed upside but remains in his prime and is a sneaky bet to score 100-plus runs hitting atop Arizona’s lineup.
Coming off a season that included the lowest collective league batting average (.243) since the 1960s (and one of the lowest in MLB history), Marte’s ability in that category could be huge. His .318 BA from 2019 to 2021 led the National League and was second-best among all hitters before last season’s injury-riddled campaign (only nine hitters posted a .300 BA over that three-year span). — Dalton Del Don
• Lourdes Gurriel battled a wrist problem last year, and it sapped his power, though his average (.291) and OBP (.343) were fine. He’s entering an age-29 season, and the Snakes figure to play him regularly. Gurriel has never had an OPS+ under league average, and he’s 17% above the mean in that stat since reaching the majors. In short, this is a professional hitter. Scoop Gurriel up at a friendly Yahoo ADP of 239. — Scott Pianowski
• Deep-league fantasy managers, don’t forget about Charlie Blackmon. The vet still gets to do his home hitting in the friendliest possible park, and he was among the hitters victimized most frequently by defensive shifting last season. He’s an obvious trade candidate, which is a small concern, but he’s generally available as a final-round draft flier. — Andy Behrens
• Regression was already coming for Daniel Bard, who has shown decreased velocity throughout spring. Dinelson Lamet is free in fantasy drafts, but there’s a real chance he quickly emerges as Colorado’s best option to close in 2023. — Dalton Del Don
• The Rockies didn’t sign just Jurickson Profar for depth; they probably need to give him regular playing time. Profar still has excellent OBP skills, and Colorado is forever an offensive undertow. He’s a good target in the later rounds. — Scott Pianowski