With the football season reaching its final conclusion, fantasy baseball comes to the forefront for all of us fantasy sports zealots. But for Fanatics like myself though, it’s always fantasy baseball season. I’ve got to be honest though, it’s taken me a while to get my NL-Only Fantasy Baseball Rankings into a workable state.
First of all, was it just me or was this the most boring MLB offseason in recent memory? Sure there was some crazy free agent news, but there was little going on the trade front and I kept waiting for the deals to really get going. For now, it looks like rosters may be close to what we’ll see on Opening Day. That means my AL-Only rankings will hopefully have a decent shelf life. As always, I’ll do my best to update these rankings as we near draft day, but I’ve also got to whip my mixed league rankings into shape for First Pitch Florida‘s LABR Draft and Tout Wars later on in New York.
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!
2023 NL-Only Fantasy Baseball Rankings
If you take issue with some of my rankings, I invite you to make the changes you think need to happen. In fact here’s the Excel file that I have the rankings built on. Need something to take with you to your draft? Have at this printer-friendly PDF file.
NL-Only Catcher Rankings
I hate to reach for players because of position scarcity. With that said, the catcher pool in NL-Only leagues is going to reward fantasy managers who roster two of the top 12 catchers. I’m not sure I want to reach early on Realmuto or Will Smith, but if I can pair a Tyler Stephenson or William Contreras with an Austin Nola or Gabriel Moreno, I’m gonna feel pretty good. Once you get past Nola though, there’s really no reason to pass up better players at other positions.
NL-Only First Base Rankings
Fantasy managers will have a pretty nice advantage if they can grab one of those top four bats. For some reason Paul Goldschmidt is the third first baseman off the board according to ADP, yet he’s the best true five-category bat at the position, though Freddie Freeman did steal more bases in 2022. Freeman’s power just seems a bit more inconsistent. If I don’t get one of that top four, I like the bat of Joey Meneses. While he won’t come close to repeating that 25.5 HR/FB percentage, there’s nothing in his profile that says his success was a complete fluke. Carlos Santana is one player further down the ranks I’m taking some shots on. The shift has been traditionally hard on him and in OBP leagues he climbs the NL-Only first base rankings even higher. One big bat that could pay off is the Cubs’ first baseman of the future, Matt Mervis. How long will the Cubs let Eric Hosmer stand in his way? Will they use Mervis at DH if he continues to tear apart the minors?
NL-Only Second Base Rankings
Everybody is in love with Jazz Chisholm and there’s plenty to like, but injuries seem to be becoming a pattern and his swing-and-miss ways can lead to extended cold streaks. Still, how many second basemen could conceivable go 30/30? Do I need to tell you the answer? IN a 12-team league a couple of managers are going to be pretty boring at the position. At my middle infield slot, I will take a chance on Christopher Morel who has a nice little power/speed package and could be a nice value if he can lower that 32.2 K% closer to the numbers he put up in the minors. Rodolpho Castro is not going to hit for average but he did pop 23 HRs last year between Triple-A and Pittsburgh. He could be a bit of a late-round value in the power department, but we’re talking LATE round.
NL-Only Third Base Rankings
My big question here is when the Cardinals are going to let Jordan Walker loose? His position eligibility may be different in different leagues, but he’s a talent you want to roster this year and for the foreseeable future. Like first base, I want one of that top tier if at all possible. I’ll prioritize third base over first base as the talent disappears quickly at the hot corner.
NL-Only Shortstop Rankings
Shortstop actually has better depth than third base. There are high floor/low ceiling values in Willy Adames and Nico Hoerner and some riskier talents like Oneil Cruz and Ezequiel Tovar. Some of the luster has fallen off of CJ Abrams, but he could be a sneaky double-digit threat on HRs and SBs and I do think there’s more upside in batting average than he’s shown. Bryson Stott is another young pitcher with a decent little speed/power combo who may have a little more to offer.
NL-Only Outfield Rankings
Is it me or does the player pool get to be a lot more convoluted earlier this year than it has in a long time? Should I have Michael Harris in that top tier? If you argue just a bit I’ll do it. Sadly, I start getting pessimistic within the top-10 outfielders. At a position where many fantasy leagues start five outfielders, that’s a scary thing. Rather than bemoan all the players I have my doubts on, I’ll highlight a few players I think could surprise in 2023. The projection systems don’t agree, but I think Juan Yepez has 30-HR upside and he’s not going to kill your average. Wil Myers has had problems staying on the field, but the move to The Great American Ballpark could make him look a lot more like the Wil Myers of 2017. The Reds will give him every chance to produce in hopes of trading him for prospects later in the league. If he can stay healthy and get in some kind of groove I like him to be a nice value this year. Brandon Marsh’s numbers aren’t impressive but he did hit .280 in the second half of 2022. If he can come close to that a 15/15 season is very possible.
NL-Only Designated Hitter Rankings
Questions. When can Bryce Harper come back? Where did J.D. Martinez’s power go? Nelson Cruz had offseason eye surgery. Will that counteract his age?
NL-Only Starting Pitcher Rankings
I love Corbin Burnes, but I’m honestly happy rostering any two of the top 18 in my rankings and then adding one from that second tier. Nick Lodolo and Hunter Greene have to deal with a tough ballpark but their stuff is tantalizing. Greene had a 1.02 ERA in 35 second-half innings with 51 strikeouts against just 8 walks. I’m trying really hard not to get excited but I’m this close to bumping him up into that second tier. Dustin May’s ugly numbers in his return from Tommy John belie that the incredible stuff was still there. His command was not where it was pre-injury but that’s to be expected. He’s got a very real chance at jumping into the top tier when we get to 2024 drafts. Two young pitchers who could make huge impacts in 2023 are Andrew Painter and Brandon Pfaadt. Pay attention to their numbers in Spring Training and how they are used. Innings will be an issue, but both could change the shape of the standings in your league. Merrill Kelly gets no hype and lacks a real strikeout pitch but his innings help make up for that. He’s an underrated arm that can help stabilize your fantasy pitching staff.
NL-Only Relief Pitcher Rankings
I hate spending money on closers, but man is there a huge drop-off after those top four. I like Iglesias and Doval, but there aren’t many sure things after that. I want to grab one of those top 10 and then just draft quality arms. The situation in Philly is confusing but Seranthony Dominguez is the best arm. The bullpens I’m prospecting in are in Miami, Washington, and Chicago. I think we might see some surprising names end up with saves for those teams.
Where did Doug go wrong with his NL-Only rankings? Let him hear it in the comments below. For more great analysis check out the 2023 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit!
Hi Doug, great job with the NL rankings. Are you going to add $ values soon? Thanks
Trying to get to those. The weekend trip to Tout Wars really threw me off. When’s your draft? I may be too late to help a lot of people but should be able to whip some together for you.
No Nick Martinez in the top 75 SP?
Not a particular fan of his and I’m not sure he was gonna be in the rotation to start the year. The injury to Musgrove changes things a bit. I’ll try and update these in the next week or so.
🙂 I’ll hold off printing anything ’till then. Can’t wait!
That is a beautiful cheat sheet for my drafts.
Just be sure to double-check for updates. Just yesterday David Peralta and Michael Fullmer were added to the NL pool and will have somewhat prominent roles for fantasy. I’ll do my best to keep the rankings updated, but there’s a lot to do around here 🙂
Thank you so much for NL only rankings. Really well-done and hard to argue with any of your picks.
A small request for next year, though… can we see clear multi-position players in more than one category? Although I can guess, I’d love to see where you’d place Stott & Garcia at 2nd…
Thanks again. I’m gonna print it out, make notes, & use it in my auction.
I wrestle with that every year. My intent is to do it cheat sheet style so you can mark a player off the list and don’t get tricked into thinking they’re still available. Maybe I’ll do my rankings and cheat sheet as separate pieces. Thanks for reading and the suggestion.
I’ll have auction values coming out at some point. Trying to prioritize what to do when.