Knowing the player pool is an essential part of draft prep. The more familiar you are with the players, the easier it is to target different statistical categories throughout the draft. Here, we’ll look at players who can pad your runs scored category on the cheap (think post-250 ADP). Whether you’re targeting runs late in drafts, or you’re playing catch-up in the category, all of these players will give you a boost in runs on draft day. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some players who can provide cheap runs for the 2023 fantasy baseball season!
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!
Cheap Runs Targets for 2023
Yandy Diaz, Tampa Bay Rays
Yandy Diaz is the Rays’ primary leadoff hitter and is an on-base machine. He slashed .296/.401/.423 in 558 plate appearances last season. He also hit nine home runs with 71 runs scored, 57 RBI, and three stolen bases to go along with a whopping 146 wRC+. His .401 OBP ranked fifth-best league-wide, and he was one of the few players last season who had more walks (78) than strikeouts (60). Basically, Diaz is everything you’re looking for when targeting runs in drafts.
Diaz smoked the ball last season (48.6% hard-hit rate, 114.3 maxEV), and has elite plate discipline metrics. He doesn’t elevate the ball a ton (career 52.8 GB%). Instead, he hits a hefty amount of doubles – his 33 last season were good for 30th-most in the league.
If you’re skittish about drafting a Rays player due to the team’s platoon-happy ways, don’t be with Diaz. He’s logged at least 540 plate appearances in back-to-back seasons. In fact, his 558 plate appearances last season were second only to Randy Arozarena. Diaz hits at the top of a solid lineup, gets on base, and is a batting average asset. He’s easily one of my favorite sources of cheap runs for the 2023 fantasy baseball season.
Lane Thomas, Washington Nationals
Lane Thomas got off to a sluggish start in his first full season with the Nationals in 2022. But he figured things out in June and came on strong in the second half. In those 261 plate appearances, he hit .264/.330/.434 with a 114 wRC+. He also worked his way up the lineup, batting leadoff in all but one of the final 33 games of the season. During that span, Thomas walked 12% of the time, got on base at a .340 clip, hit seven doubles, four home runs, and stole three bases. Pretty solid.
Thomas should start the 2023 season as the Nationals’ leadoff hitter. He has strong plate discipline metrics, posting an 89% zone contact rate and 29.5% chase rate last season. Thomas also has sneaky speed and could be in line for double-digit steals. He was 8-for-12 last season, with 11 of those attempts coming in the back half of the season.
If Thomas can build on his second half, he should be good for 60-65 runs scored. He’ll also tack on 15-18 homers, 10-12 stolen bases, and a .240 batting average. Thomas’ pop and speed make him a nice source of late runs in 2023 fantasy baseball drafts.
Mike Yastrzemski, San Francisco Giants
In deeper leagues, it’s tough to find a better runs scored contributor than Mike Yastrzemski. Last season, Yastrzemski slashed .214/.305/.392 with 17 home runs, 73 runs scored, 57 RBI, and five stolen bases in 558 plate appearances. He also hit 31 doubles, which ranked 11th among outfielders. Yastrzemski’s slash line isn’t pretty, but our focus here is cheap runs – and he scored 73 of them last season and 75 in 2021. I like it.
Yastrzemski primarily hit out of the top two spots of the order last season. He could continue to do so in 2023. Just keep in mind that his struggles against lefties (.250 OBP) might cost him some at-bats or drop him lower in the lineup. On the plus side, Yastrzemski had no problem making quality contact. He posted a 42.5% hard-hit rate and 11.1% barrel rate in 2022. Additionally, Yastrzemski had a solid plate approach. He walked 10.9% of the time, which helped balance out his 25.3% strikeout rate.
Unlike a lot of other cheap runs options, Yastrzemski plays on a solid offense. Assuming he bats near the top of the order, I like Yastrzemski ‘s odds to score 70+ runs for the third consecutive season. Combine that with a 20-homer bat, a handful of steals, and a .240 batting average, and you’re looking at one of the better bargains for cheap runs in the 2023 fantasy baseball season.
TJ Friedl, Cincinnati Reds
There’s a lot to like about TJ Friedl. He plays in a great hitter’s park and brings both pop and speed to the fantasy table. In 258 plate appearances last season, Friedl hit eight home runs and stole seven bases while hitting .240/.314/.436 with a .323 wOBA. He also posted a minuscule 15.5% strikeout rate, which is consistent with his sub-20% strikeout rates throughout the minors.
Friedl has strong plate skills and a knack for getting on base (.362 OBP in 177 Triple-A games). Additionally, he kicked things up a notch at the end of last season. Not only did Friedl hit exclusively at the top of the lineup in the month of September, but he also hit five of his eight homers that month. A 15/10/.245-.250 season is in the cards for Friedl in 2023. He’s a great source of cheap runs late in drafts, especially in league formats where you have to draft five outfielders.
Tony Kemp, Oakland Athletics
Diving even deeper into the player pool, it’s hard to go wrong with Tony Kemp. As the Athletics’ primary leadoff hitter last season, Kemp slashed .235/.307/.334 with seven home runs, 61 runs scored, 46 RBI, and stole 11 bases in 558 plate appearances. He also posted an elite 12.4% strikeout rate. Kemp’s slash line isn’t great, but scoring 61 runs in one of the league’s worst offenses is pretty impressive.
Kemp has guaranteed playing time, which can be tough to come by late in drafts. Additionally, he came on strong in the second half of the season. In his final 62 games, Kemp hit .278/.342/.426 with a .768 OPS, and 126 wRC+. The offense in Oakland is far from potent, but if Kemp can carry over his second half numbers, he should be a lock for a decent amount of runs scored this season. Kemp is currently going just inside pick 450 on average, making him one of the last reliable sources of runs scored in 2023 fantasy baseball drafts.
For more great analysis check out the 2023 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit!