Fantasy Baseball 2023 Draft Prep: Where consensus outfield rankings are wrong
ECR stands for “Expert Consensus Ranking,” which means the average ranks of the fantasy baseball industry and is typically similar to ADP (which differs from site to site). This will be an ongoing positional series highlighting some big differences between ECR and my own ranks.
Our focus today is where consensus rankings are wrong on outfielders. I've also recently covered five pitcher and five infielder rankings I disagree with.
Outfielders I like more than consensus
Fernando Tatís Jr., San Diego Padres (No. 22 overall player in ECR vs. DDD’s No. 10)
Tatís is coming off multiple surgeries, including wrist and shoulder, and he won't be eligible to play until April 20 because of a PED suspension. But his fantasy upside is second to none. Tatís says he's far healthier now after playing with just one arm in 2021, when he still managed 40-plus homers and 25 steals in just 130 games.
Tatís' 162-game pace before turning 23 years old has him averaging 125 runs, 116 RBIs, 48 homers and 31 steals. He’s younger than Vinnie Pasquantino, eligible at both shortstop and outfield (coming after 5 OF starts) and is simply built different. Tatís is a gift rarely seen available in Round 2 of fantasy drafts.
Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins (No. 22 outfielder in ECR vs. DDD’s No. 15)
There’s no question Buxton is a huge risk with a long injury history, but knee surgery should fix one of his biggest issues. Buxton’s performance on the field (even when playing compromised at times) has been incredible, including a pace of 51 homers and 14 steals per 162 games the past three years. He also has the third-most HR/AB the past two seasons. THE BAT is projecting Buxton for 41 HR/SB in 450 at-bats (while missing 40+ games). Don’t draft afraid; 45-plus homers are coming.
Taylor Ward, Los Angeles Angels (No. 29 outfielder in ECR vs. DDD’s No. 18)
Ward is a late bloomer, but he looked like an emerging star before crashing into the outfield wall last season. Projections believe his breakout was real, as THE BAT X has him posting a top-25 wRC+ among all hitters. It also projects 30 homers/steals in just 140 games, so Ward will be a big fantasy help while hitting leadoff in front of Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. He also gets to play in one of the five most favorable home parks for right-handed hitters the past three years.
Ward isn’t being drafted as a top-30 fantasy outfielder in Yahoo leagues, where his ADP sits at a comically low 135.8 (sandwiched between Anthony Santander and Mitch Haniger). This appears to be the most glaring “what is going on here?” situation of the 2023 draft season.
[Batter up: Join or create a Yahoo Fantasy Baseball league for free today]
Outfielders I like less than consensus
Teoscar Hernández, Seattle Mariners (No. 16 outfielder in ECR vs. DDD’s No. 20)
Hernández almost certainly would’ve put up bigger numbers in Toronto’s new confines if he hadn't been traded to Seattle in the offseason. He gets a real fantasy downgrade with the move. The Mariners played in the game’s toughest pitcher’s park last year, according to Statcast. Hernández has a top-65 ADP in Yahoo leagues, but I’d prefer both Byron Buxton (91.8 ADP) and Taylor Ward (135.8 ADP) straight-up this season in fantasy leagues.
Bryan Reynolds, Pittsburgh Pirates (No. 20 outfielder in ECR vs. DDD’s No. 28)
Reynolds is a very good hitter, but he’s being drafted as a top-20 fantasy outfielder despite still playing for the Pirates; he didn’t reach 75 runs scored or 65 RBIs in 600-plus plate appearances last year, thanks to a weak Pittsburgh lineup. He could be traded midseason, but Reynolds is being drafted aggressively for a 28-year-old who’s in a bad situation (PNC Park also kills power) and has never hit 30 homers or stolen 10 bases in a season.