Baseball is happening in 2022, and information technology is happening in full force. With the excellent news of the lockout ending, we are ready to swoop full steam alee into the fantasy baseball draft flavour!

I have had my head deep in baseball data since before Christmas, so I wanted to come up out with a miniature version of my own draft guide. In this short-ish postal service, y’all will many of the most interesting things I found in my 2022 enquiry, and my strategy and targets for every position.

Let’s take at it!


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General Findings / Tips

#1 – Get Steals Early

Looking at current NFBC ADP and ATC hitter projections, I made the plot below. Information technology shows you how many projected steals are in each circular of the typhoon, assuming a 12-squad league (so picks 1-12 is round 1, xiii-24 is round 2, etc.). Here’s what information technology looks similar:

#three Catch Upwardly in Power Late

Once again this twelvemonth, we find plenty of options after in the draft in terms of finding home runs and RBI. The catch is that you won’t exist getting batting average or steals from these names. The way to counter-act this is to really lean heavily into steals and batting average early on. This is a good idea regardless because those categories become quite parse after yous get past pick 50 or so.

It is okay to be backside in homers and RBI equally y’all enter the later rounds. If yous had to pick somewhere to be behind, that is what I’d pick. Yous tin can make up ground rapidly with some of the names in this besprinkle plot. Here I display every hitter that is projected for 30 or more homers and plot them with their ADP. Check information technology out.

I’ve highlighted my favorites, simply you can hover over to run into who each dot represents. Most of these guys have high strikeout rates, that is just the trade-off you accept to make to get these guys at these prices – so again, it’due south actually important to have a proficient batting average foundation if you’re diving in hither. My absolute favorite names hither are Schwarber, Soler, and Renfroe just because of the strikeout rate improvements they each made last flavour – I really recall they accept information technology in them to not really injure your team’south batting average while belting 35+ homers.

You will notice that the bulk of those names are outfielders, which makes it non so bad of an idea to save an outfield spot or two early in the draft to fill up with some of these names.

#4 Leave an SP Spot Open

This mostly applies to leagues that accept some kind of maximum starting pitchers rostered, which is a scrap rare, simply even so.

What seems to happen every unmarried twelvemonth is that a handful of starting pitchers that don’t become drafted look actually, really good early in the season. They are somewhat easy to identify, and they can actually brand a fantasy team. Think Trevor Rogers, Kevin Gausman, Robbie Ray, and Freddy Peralta terminal yr. They each made a step forward over the offseason and were ascendant pretty much all season long (save the missed time due to injury for Rogers). The sharp owners were picking them upward in Apr, and benefited massively.

This is very likely to happen again in 2022, and you tin really bolster your rotation by identifying and picking up these names quickly. How to identify them? Simple! Subsequently two or three turns through each squad’s rotation, expect for pitchers that meet the post-obit criteria.

  1. A strikeout rate (K%) higher up 27%
  2. A walk charge per unit (BB%) below 7%
  3. (Optional) A ground-ball rate (GB%) in a higher place 45%

If you await at all the names of pitchers coming up in that search, you will see a list of established aces, and probably a few surprising names too. Pick them up immediately.

You cannot easily practice this if you load up on a bunch of later-round deadening pitchers in the typhoon that you might exist hesitant to drop because they’re not bad pitchers. My recommendation is to get five or six pitchers and so terminate and be ready to pounce on these free agents – you will very likely find a gem or 2.

Tips & Picks past Position

Catcher

Yeah, there’due south a pocket-size group of catchers that are expected to admittedly vanquish the rest of the field:

Those 2 dots in the top right are Salvador Perez and J.T. Realmuto. They both give y’all a leg-upwards on the field with their elevated playing fourth dimension and production at the plate (Perez for HR/RBI, Realmuto for a chip of everything, and possible double-digit steals).

However, this is all baked into the cost. We are seeing college ADPs on catchers in recent years equally people hunt these outlier players. I just cannot brand myself do it. I would much rather spend my elevation draft picks and sale dollars on more than reliable positions. I will continue to be one of the terminal people drafting a catcher, peculiarly in a ane-catcher league – which nearly leagues are.

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Priority Targets: None

Avoids: Salvador Perez, J.T. Realmuto, Keibert Ruiz, Adley Rutschman

General Targets: Elias Diaz, Travis d’Arnaud

More reading: Adventures in Scarcity, Catchers Edition

First Base

It is non the shallowest position on the board, but the production hither is nevertheless pretty pinnacle-heavy. We have v names continuing upward in a higher place the residue: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Freddie Freeman, Matt Olson, Paul Goldschmidt, and Pete Alonso.

Given that I don’t programme on using a kickoff or second-rounder on the beginning ii names hither given that I’1000 attacking steals, I’ve constitute myself going hard subsequently the Olson-Goldy-Alonso trio.

I gravitate towards Olson and Alonso more because of their improved strikeout rates last year, too equally the stuff we have seen with the baseball over the last couple of seasons. I put together a Twitter thread hither about this. I looked at various specific combinations of launch angle and exit velocity and saw what percent of the time they went for a homer, compared between 2019 and 2021. What became articulate was that it was indeed harder to striking homers in 2021. Scott White from CBS as well wrote about this here. The takeaway here is that homers aren’t quite as easy to find and nosotros should lean a bit harder into the guys that actually swing the bat hard.

Priority Target: Pete Alonso

Other Targets: Matt Olson, Joey Votto, Bobby Dalbec, Brandon Belt, Nathaniel Lowe

Avoids: Jose Abreu, Jared Walsh, Ty France, Anthony Rizzo

Second Base

This is the 2d-shallowest position (to catcher). Of course, we cannot prioritize every single position, fantasy drafts are a zero-sum game. I can’t sit down hither and say that you should prioritize five difference positions with your first four picks. If everything else is equal, I am trying to get a second basemen somewhat early in the draft.

The pinnacle canis familiaris at the position is Trea Turner, who I would take at #1 in most situations. Afterwards that, you lot have Ozzie Albies and then, in my opinion, a pretty steep drop-off down to Marcus Semien and Whit Merrifield. Y’all will most likely have to utilise a height-two selection to go Albies, only if I would miss on those two I’m probably waiting a bit – but honestly, I’m not likely to miss on one of those two.

Quite possibly my favorite player at the position based on price is Ketel Marte, who frequently gets drafted after pick 70, which really doesn’t make a ton of sense to me. He isn’t likely to steal many bases, but the contact and ability combination he has in his bat makes him one of the college-ceiling players in the game anyways. He could hit thirty homers with a .300 batting average if things suspension the right manner for him.

Priority Targets: Trea Turner, Ozzie Albies, Ketel Marte

Other Targets: Jorge Polanco, Tommy Edman, Luis Urias

Avoids: Marcus Semien, Jazz Chisholm, DJ LeMahieu

Shortstop

By the numbers, shortstop is the deepest position in the game this twelvemonth. Eight different shortstops go in the top l picks, so chances are that you will end upward with a good one. There are plenty of ways to build a team, but you’ll *probably* want to look for some steals here.

I thing you lot don’t want to do is be filling a starting centre infield spot tardily in the draft, because there is really not much going on downward the list in terms of safety or upside. You tin await a chip on shortstop considering of all of the corking options, merely brand sure you have ii or three eye infielders in the first 150 picks or you’re in some problem.

My favorite here is one time again Trea Turner, who is probably everybody’s favorite. Besides him, I’grand really interested in Corey Seager and Willy Adames. I of those iii will be my starting shortstop on about every squad I typhoon.

Priority Targets: Trea Turner, Corey Seager, Willy Adames

Other Targets: Trevor Story, Jorge Polanco, Luis Urias, Gleyber Torres, Brandon Crawford

Avoids: Xander Bogaerts, Javier Baez, Brendan Rodgers

Tertiary Base

This is a danger zone. In that location are shockingly few options at third base later the first few names are off the board. However, if you prioritize a steals source and a second baseman early in the draft, you lot have probably missed the gunkhole. That’s fine, everybody is going to miss a boat or 2 in the draft, only it’s still important to keep in mind the top-heaviness here.

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The superlative tier is clear Jose Ramirez past himself, and then a significant step downwards (because of steals) to Rafael Devers and Manny Machado. Machado is a guy that can slip past pick 25 at times, which makes me gravitate towards him early in circular three if I accept one of the first picks of a snake draft. I have started teams with Trea Turner, an ace pitcher, and then Machado and felt really good about information technology.

I’m fine with missing and hoping for the best though, at that place really aren’t many show-stopping bats here for your opponents to get ahead with.

Priority Targets: None

Other Targets: Manny Machado, Austin Riley, Justin Turner, Luis Urias, Josh Donaldson

Avoids: Adalberto Mondesi, DJ LeMahieu, Ryan McMahon, Matt Chapman

Outfield

Outfield is such a large position that information technology’due south hard to actually drill down on it. There is really no consistency to outfielders either, at that place are power specialists and speed specialists and different histrion types all over the typhoon board.

One affair to note is that things look much dissimilar between three and five starting OF leagues. A 12-team, v OF league will starting time 60 outfielders, which is a crazy big number and that makes your team pretty gross to look at if you don’t go a couple of outfielders somewhat early.

As usual, there are plenty of cheap power sources in the outfield, so I will definitely be reserving a starting spot or two for some of those names that you’ll notice below. Allow’south just get to my targets and avoids.

Priority Targets: I of Luis Robert, Tyler O’Neill, Byron Buxton (probably not two, definitely non all three), Andrew Vaughn

Other Targets: Yordan Alvarez, George Springer, Kyle Schwarber, Jarred Kelenic, Akil Baddoo, Hunter Renfroe, Jorge Soler, Michael Conforto

Avoids: Starling Marte, Christian Yelich, Cody Bellinger, Adolis Garcia, Eddie Rosario, Avisail Garcia

Starting Pitcher

Talked about my general strategy above. I’ll miss the top two tiers of SP more often than not and then typhoon 2-iv names betwixt picks 50 and 100. In that location are plenty of high upside arms late in the draft, but this doesn’t seem similar a great year to put a ton of chips on those names. I’ll take a few, just I really want most of my pitching staff taken care of by selection 150 or so. That probably means depending on the waiver wire for catchers and steals equally I miss the top names as I take hold of up in pitching. Hither are my targets and avoids.

Targets: Aaron Nola, Lance Lynn, Frankie Montas, Charlie Morton, Yu Darvish, Shane McClanahan, Shane Baz, Pablo Lopez, Eduardo Rodriguez, Tanner Houck, Patrick Sandoval, John Means, Sonny Gray

Avoids: Zack Wheeler, Julio Urias, Chris Sale, Max Fried, Jose Berrios, Trevor Rogers, Justin Verlander, Blake Snell, Carlos Rodon, Tyler Mahle, Chris Bassitt, Lance McCullers Jr., Mike Clevinger

Relief Bullpen

For me, this is very simple this twelvemonth. If I’m in a normal league where I tin can option up players every day or calendar week, I’m not spending on relievers. Let the rest of the league employ their valuable picks on the top guys, and just purchase a few cheap guys late and so exist set up to work the waivers to stay competitive in saves.

Targets: Lucas Sims, Scott Barlow, Corey Knebel, Lou Trivino

Avoids: Josh Hader, Liam Hendriks, Raisel Iglesias

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