For those who don’t know me, my name is Eric Stashin and I’m the former owner/operator of the Rotoprofessor website (the site was up for about 12 years). It’s an honor to join the Fantrax team and I look forward to sharing my thoughts and opinions! As my first assignment, I’ve been tasked with finding a couple of buy-low hitters for 2023 fantasy baseball drafts.
The season is not here yet, but why not get a head start and jump in a Fantrax Classic Draft contest? Get a jump on the season with a Best Ball league or maybe a Draft and Hold. Or put some green on the line with a new season-long league to try and conquer. There’s no better time than now to get your baseball on!
2 Buy-Low Hitters for 2023
While it’s easy to strike gold early in our drafts, it’s the home runs in the later rounds that can lead to fantasy success. We all expect to get first-round talent from our first-round pick, but being able to buy low and find a Top 50 player in the last few drafts brings home fantasy titles. Let me help you identify the gambles worth taking, kicking things off with a pair of hitters:
Ramon Urias – Baltimore Orioles
Urias played in 118 games, totaling 445 PA, in 2022 as he missed time due to injury. He still produced 16 HR, 51 RBI, and 50 R, solid numbers for a middle infielder. While a .248 average drags things down, there are reasons to believe that he can fully break out at 28 years old.
His .287 BABIP would indicate that there’s more upside in his AVG, especially given his 46.5% HardHit% (which placed him 36th among 205 players with at least 400 PA in ’22). Couple that with a solid approach (11.2% SwStr%, 30.0% O-Swing% over 768 career PA), and things point in the right direction.
Any additional power would only further benefit him, and that’s realistically in the cards:
- The changes to Camden Yards prior to last season didn’t have a negative impact
- His average home run distance of 404 feet tied him with some impressive sluggers (Rafael Devers, Bryce Harper, and Pete Alonso, just to name a few).
With a full slate of AB, would a 25-HR campaign be a surprise (he was on pace for about 23 HR if he had 600 PA)? Given that, when coupled with the approach and likely improvement in BABIP, a .260/25/70/70 season is not out of the question (with 70 R being the biggest reach). Do you know how many 2B met that stat line last season? Only one (Brandon Drury hit .263 with 28 HR, 87 RBI, and 87 R), though Marcus Semien (he hit .248) and Jose Altuve (with 57 RBI) were close, though their SB numbers make up for it.
Those three players were three of the top four most valuable players at 2B according to CBS Sports last season. How about being able to get a player with similar potential in the final rounds of your draft? That’s fantasy gold and the stuff buy-low hitters are made of.
Ke’Bryan Hayes – Pittsburgh Pirates
Is Hayes a Buy Low Candidate or a Post-Hype Sleeper? It’s semantics, but Hayes was once a heavily hyped player who fantasy owners appear to have either given up on or grown fatigued of. Whichever it is, the opportunity is there to grab significant value.
As is Hayes provides value with his ability to steal bases at a position that you rarely get them from. Last season he swiped 20 bases, one of only five third basemen to do so. Of course that came with little else, as he hit 7 HR with a .244 AVG. Third base is generally viewed as a power position, so you’d better be hitting .300 or racking up 50 SB if you aren’t going to provide it.
While this may be a little bit of a leap, would it be surprising to see Hayes find his power stroke? Scouts always felt that there was more power for him to tap into. While we are still waiting to see it, part of the lack of growth is likely tied to some injuries. In October the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review revealed:
“Hayes, however, admitted that the hip and back issues have hurt his swing. “
Back issues have a way of zapping a player of his power. However, this doesn’t appear to be something that should hang over him from year-to-year. An offseason to get healthy, after fighting to stay on the field, should do wonders.
Couple that with a small adjustment, and it’s easy to envision the upside. A 5.2-degree launch angle put him near the bottom of hitters last season. Was that due to the injury? Maybe. Could it be youth/inexperience? Maybe. His average exit velocity of 91.0 mph, which placed him inside the Top 40, brings hope. So what if, with better health and more experience, he makes the change?
Even if he just got to 15 HR, with his SB potential and impressive approach (8.2% SwStr%, 30.0% O-Swing%), you have the makings of a special player. Considering the potential is there for 20+ HR, to go along with 15 SB, what’s not to like? While there’s some risk, as a buy-low hitter isn’t there always? There’s far too much upside to ignore him as he continues to slide on Draft Day.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Savant
Are you buying in on Eric’s buy-low hitters? Check out our 2023 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit for all the latest strategy and analysis you need to dominate your drafts and conquer the coming season.