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Fantasy Baseball Sleepers 2023

Posted: 2 days agoLast updated: 2 days ago

Regardless of the league you play in, one of the most critical parts of draft prep is identifying top fantasy sleepers to target.

Picking undervalued players with breakout or rebound potential who outperform their average draft position (ADP) — especially in later rounds — is key to having a successful season.

With that in mind, here are The Game Day’s best fantasy baseball sleepers for the 2023 season.

In addition to choosing our top sleeper at every position, we’ve also highlighted our best fantasy hitter sleeper and best fantasy pitcher sleeper below.

Fantasy Baseball Draft Sleepers 2023

Our staff’s favorite fantasy baseball preseason sleeper targets for 2023 leagues:

PostionC1B2B3BSSOFRPSP
Frank AmmiranteEric HaaseMatt MervisGavin LuxYandy DiazBryson StottEsteury RuizCarlos EstevezKyle Bradish
Pat PickensTyler StephensonSpencer TorkelsonThairo EstradaJosh JungGavin LuxDaulton VarshoJoe BarlowMichael Kopech
Matt WilliamsKeibert RuizCarlos SantanaAdam FrazierJeimer CandelarioLuis GarciaBryan de La CruzTrevor MayRoss Stripling
Michael WaterlooDanny JansenWil MyersMichael MasseyJosh JungJoey OrtizOscar ColasNate PearsonEduardo Rdoriguez
Scott EngelJoey BartJuan YepezEsteury RuizBrett BatyEzequiel TovarBryan De La CruzAlexis DiazAaron Ashby

Fantasy Draft Sleeper Picks: Hitters

Joey Bart, C, San Francisco Giants

The fact that San Francisco got rid of Austin Wynns, and the team did not bring in any significant competition for Joey Bart illustrates that the organization has confidence that he can finally realize his potential this season.

We all know Bart needs to cut down on the strikeouts, which means he and the coaching staff will be working on that as well to ensure that he is a better hitter in 2023. —Scott Engel


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Matt Mervis, 1B, Chicago Cubs

Mervis is a 24-year-old first baseman who hit a combined 29 home runs in 470 plate appearances across Double-A and Triple-A last year.

It’s encouraging to see the strong plate discipline, as he posted a 10.4% walk rate and 14.6% strikeout rate. Mervis has a chance to get at-bats at both 1B and DH. —Frank Ammirante

Gavin Lux, 2B/SS, Los Angeles Dodgers

For the fourth straight year, I’ve got a front-row seat for the Gavin Lux breakout bandwagon. This could be a make-or-break year for the enigmatic Dodgers infielder since he’s likely to be handed the starting shortstop role out of spring training with Trea Turner now in Philadelphia.

Lux has battled inconsistency, both in the field and the plate. He had the third-worst fielding percentage among second basemen who played at least 100 games (.973) but had a career-high .745 OPS, mainly due to the fact he had more triples (seven) than home runs (six) in 471 plate appearances in 2022.

If healthy, Lux should play between 145-155 games, both at second and short. Is an .800 OPS with 5-10 triples, 15-20 homers, and 10-15 steals out of the question? I don’t think so. —Pat Pickens

Jeimer Candelario, 3B, Washington Nationals

Jeimer Candelario led all of MLB in doubles in 2021. Honestly, that seems like a good enough reason to believe in a possible comeback for the 29-year-old.

The third baseman now escapes the massive confines of Comerica Park, where his 11 expected home runs in 2021 (10 in 2022) would have been 25 in Washington (17 in 2022).

Sure, 2022 was a bad season for Candelario. However, with third base being a wasteland in fantasy this season, why not give him a chance with an ADP of 575? —Matt Williams

Ezequiel Tovar, SS, Colorado Rockies

Ezequiel Tovar has already proven he can hit for average with pop and steals at the Double-A level, and when a top youngster shows he can succeed at that level, he will often skip Triple-A ball.

That should be the path for Tovar this year as he will push to be Colorado’s starting SS, and even if he struggles early against MLB pitching, his talent and the ballpark should lead to eventual quality production this season. —Scott Engel



Bryan De La Cruz, OF, Miami Marlins

When you first hear “barrel percentage," it sounds like it may be measuring how many times a hitter makes contact with the barrel of the bat. Instead, the metric measures a specific combination of exit velocity and launch angle.

However, there is a statistic that tells us how often a batter makes contact with the barrel, kind of. It is called the “sweet spot" percentage. The actual definition is how often a hitter produces a batted ball event with a launch angle between 8-32 degrees.

Marlins outfielder Bryan De La Cruz led all of baseball in sweet spot percentage (43.6%), just ahead of Freddie Freeman (42.9%). In addition, the 26-year-old posted 8.2% barrels per plate appearance (tied for 32nd) while carrying an impressive .287 expected batting average (top 4% in MLB) and .498 expected slugging percentage (top 6% in MLB)).

De La Cruz should get plenty of run this season in the Marlins’ outfield and could make a significant jump if he is able to turn his expected statistics into reality. —Matt Williams

Esteury Ruiz, OF, Oakland Athletics

Ruiz is a speedster who is slated to be the everyday centerfielder for the A’s. He has huge stolen base upside, swiping 48 bags in 309 plate appearances at Triple-A last year.

Oakland is a rebuilding team, so there will be plenty of opportunities for Ruiz. There’s also a chance that he emerges as the leadoff hitter, which would provide more at-bats with chances to rack up runs and steals. —Frank Ammirante

Fantasy Draft Sleeper Picks: Pitchers

Michael Kopech, SP, Chicago White Sox

Stuff has never been a problem for Michael Kopech, but health and a consistent role have been. Kopech lost two full seasons to Tommy John surgery and by opting out of the 2020 pandemic-shortened season, and he has still only pitched 203 MLB innings despite making his debut in 2018.

Kopech should be the White Sox’s No. 3/4 starter and could be poised for a larger role if there’s an injury or he cleans up his command. Kopech had a 102/57 strikeout-to-walk rate in 119 innings, and his 11.5% walk rate was in the bottom 8% in baseball.

The White Sox were 16th in MBL and eighth in the AL in team ERA (3.92) last season, and will need more from all their starters if they’re going to get back to the playoffs in 2023.

Kopech should have plus-matchups as the No. 4 starter, especially early in the year. With Chicago’s dominant bullpen, a breakout season with 10-15 wins shouldn’t be out of the question. —Pat Pickens

Eduardo Rodriguez, SP, Detroit Tigers

Wins are nice, but we know they don’t matter when we are discussing how good a pitcher is. Eduardo Rodríguez parlayed his high-win totals in Boston to a five-year deal with Detroit last offseason, and while we expected some regression, we still drafted him as an SP3 inside the top 200.

Then, 2022 happened. Rodríguez made just 17 starts for the Tigers and posted just five wins and a much lower K%. But outside of that – which could be explained by an extended mid-season absence – not much has changed skills-wise from E-Rod.

Rodríguez won’t lead your staff, but he can give you those SP3 numbers that you want, especially with his NFBC ADP upwards of 300. —Michael Waterloo

Nate Pearson, RP, Toronto Blue Jays

OK, so we are going deep here, but that’s OK when it comes to sleepers.

Nate Pearson has always been able to light up the radar gun in the minors, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy, throwing just 33 innings since making his debut in 2020. While the Blue Jays still hope to have him as a rotation piece, they haven’t ruled out using him in the bullpen.

The 26-year-old had a 36.4 K% with a 9.1 BB% in 12 Dominican League innings this offseason. Not only was he featuring his slider and curveball and hitting triple-digits, but he stayed healthy, too.

Toronto has a full bullpen, but if Jordan Romano is unable to repeat his success of the last two years – we know how inconsistent closers are year to year – then I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see Pearson take over the ninth-inning role. —Michael Waterloo

Trevor May, RP, Oakland Athletics

I follow the Chad Cordero rule when it comes to closers.

In 2005, Cordero led MLB in saves for the last-place Washington Nationals.

Why? Because bad teams tend to win their games by fewer runs, which can lead to plenty of save opportunities.

Granted, the Nationals went 81-81 that season, and the Athletics will be lucky to win 65. However, the philosophy still stands.

Trevor May is a year removed from having an xERA, xBA, and xwOBA in the top 10% of all pitchers while posting a 31.2% strikeout rate. If the veteran right-hander can stay healthy, he could be a solid value at the end of drafts. Even in deep formats.

Just be sure to trade him before the A’s do. —Matt Williams

Author

Matt Williams

Matt Williams is the Lead MLB Editor for The Game Day, formerly of The Athletic and NBC Sports. Matt is the former host of the Turn Two Podcast and champion of both Tout Wars and the Kings Classic fantasy expert leagues. He has been nominated for an FSWA award and is known for his analytical breakdown threads on Twitter.

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