There are certain things that are important to consider about a player before drafting them. Not only are we the fantasy players putting together a roster of players we project to do well, but we’re also assessing why they will succeed, and putting our faith in their abilities. Things to consider, such as playing time, positional eligibility, position scarcity, and track record are all key factors that should be considered while constructing a roster.
But what if there are players that check the boxes for all of those characteristics at once? That would be special, epic, and downright awesome, wouldn’t it? Looking through the player list for 2023, there are some players that could be considered to be cheat codes. This is because they not only fit the aforementioned mannerisms but will do so in a way that’s unique to them.
In order to be a cheat code, it’s important to consider that these players have some sort of attribute that makes them seem too good to be true. It’s as if we stumble upon their value, position, or situation and see it come together as a sure thing. Let’s dig deeper and see what we can find.
Note: All ADP listed is from November 1, 2022 – December 11, 2022.
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Fantasy Baseball Cheat Codes
Mookie Betts. Los Angeles Dodgers
2022 stats: 35 HR, 12 SB, 82 RBI, 117 R, .269/.340/.533
Already one of the best players in baseball, Mookie Betts comes into the 2023 season as one of the safest players to draft as well. Since his debut nine years ago, he has never hit below .264 in a season and has been a consistent five-category contributor. With multiple All-Star appearances and MVP nominations, he truly is one of the league’s best players. There is no reason to believe it won’t continue.
There has been some discussion recently about the possibility of him playing second base next season. While he is eligible there on some sites, opening this possibility everywhere is exciting. Already being drafted in the first round, a recent possible position switch would make things a little more interesting.
Mookie Betts to 2B in LA?
"He's open to it." And with a certain 62-HR RF available in free agency, "we're keeping all options open," Dave Roberts tells me & @dougglanville
on an amazing new Starkville.
Apple https://t.co/gvxeYkE76O pic.twitter.com/zyxqAj9J6M
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) December 2, 2022
With openness and willingness to play at second base, this change would be a massive upgrade in value for Mookie Betts. Already playing at a position that can become quite scarce later in drafts, having a five-category contributor there is enormous. Additional eligibility opens up the window of possibilities when constructing a roster.
Drafting Betts at positions with limited stability makes the later rounds easier to handle. It’s important to remain flexible when building a team and expanding your approach. After all, not everything in a draft will happen the way you envision. Having Betts at two of the weaker positions gives you the edge should any other players at those positions fall to you. This would allow you to slot Betts somewhere else. Where he plays next year will be key in deciding how much higher his value will be.
Bobby Witt, Kansas City Royals
2022 stats: 20 HR, 30 SB, 80 RBI, 82 R, .254/.294/.428
Bobby Witt is vaulting up draft boards in the early going, as he has a mid-first-round ADP thus far. His tantalizing power and speed combination makes him one of the more enticing options out there, with the added potential for more. While it might be nerve-racking to invest so much in a second-year player, it’s not the profile that makes him a cheat code. Instead, it’s his position eligibility that creates an opportunity for success.
Last year, following the season-ending injury to Adalberto Mondesi, Witt became the everyday shortstop for the Kansans City Royals. By season’s end, he was going back and forth at both positions, which helped him create this year’s opportunity. Heading into next season, he will have both positions listed, making him a dual threat when playing him in fantasy.
Not that anyone needs more reasons to draft Bobby Witt, but his overall numbers aren’t indicative of how good he was last year. After a sluggish start, he became a trusted everyday player that showed increased awareness at the plate. In fact, over the span of June and July, he was one of the league’s best players. Within those two months, he had a .277/.322/.462 slash line with eight home runs and thirteen steals. Not bad for a first-year player!
Heading into next year, there’s some uncertainty as to what position he will play. Adalberto Mondesi should play, but nothing has been said about last season’s corner infield experiment. That leaves Witt for either third base or shortstop, with little to no worries at either. He should easily provide more than enough stability in both home runs and steals, making him incredibly valuable. Plus, with shortstop being so deep this year, waiting to fill that position gets even easier and more profitable.
Tommy Edman, St. Louis Cardinals
2022 stats: 13 HR, 32 SB, 57 RBI, 95 R, .265/.324/.400
Heading into last season, Tommy Edman had not lived up to lofty expectations. His lowered draft cost gave way to opportunity, which paid off in dividends. After an off-season swing change, Edman produced in a powerful way. He became one of the league’s best players over the first month. After cooling off in the summer, he rediscovered his groove and finished the year batting .312 over the final five weeks. Finishing third in all of baseball with 32 steals, he’s a solid contributor up the middle and can be trusted going forward.
TOMMY EDMAN pic.twitter.com/wYCxbWfo3p
— Starting 9 (@Starting9) September 8, 2022
So why is he considered to be a cheat code? While this is a fantasy-site-dependent answer, Edman qualifies all over the field with regard to his eligibility. Last season, he did have eight appearances at third base, giving him that extra layer of value. Despite not qualifying at all sites, he still has second base and shortstop eligibility, making him valuable in his own right. As mentioned, the second base position can be quite shallow later in drafts, so having someone as valuable as Edman is key.
His Steamer projections have him around where he has been for the past two seasons. Edman has consistently shown a knack for getting on base at a respectable rate, stealing bases, and hitting the ball all over the field. His defense at shortstop makes him a real-life asset for the Cardinals and should give him the at-bats needed to make him worth his weight.
MJ Melendez, Kansas City Royals
2022 stats: 18 HR, 2 SB, 62 RBI, 57 R, .217/.313/.393
MJ Melendez might be the biggest cheat code of all for 2023. He started last season in the minor leagues after a transformative year where his mindset and mechanics changed the way he hit. Smashing through minor league pitching, he paved the way for his eventual call-up to the Royals in May. He had his ups and downs all season, and, despite the low batting average, there is plenty of optimism going forward.
His near-elite patience at the plate is encouraging. His 18 home runs are promising and his minor league track record gives hope. Last season with the Royals, the left-handed Melendez had a .193/.299/.365 slash line against right-handed pitchers. In 2021, that same situation produced .274/.378/.635 while in Double-A. His struggles this year seem to be uncharacteristic of who he is and can likely be fixed in the offseason.
Since Adley Rutschman was called up, the only players who have caught in more games are J.T. Realmuto and Cal Raleigh. The only catchers who have played more games (including appearances at other positions and DH) are MJ Melendez and Will Smith.
— Nathan Ruiz (@NathanSRuiz) September 2, 2022
Additionally, he should play every day, despite being listed as a catcher on the team. While Salvador Perez is likely to get most of the time behind the plate, Melendez should continue to play on an everyday basis as he did last year. He finished the year with 25 appearances in left field, 18 appearances in right field, and 23 appearances as the designated hitter. All in all, the Royals want to keep his bat in the lineup.
With an ADP of 113 and the eighth catcher off the board, he provides an incredible amount of potential stability. As someone who may lead the league in plate appearances while also growing at the plate, it’s not inconceivable to think that he hits for power and provides a good batting average. He’s my favorite cheat code in 2023 because he will play and get better.
I like the concept: Sleepers in plain sight.
Would Edward Olivares or Miranda fit the profile?