Welcome to the 2023 Fantasy Baseball Overvalued Outfielders.
Another week has passed as we continue our journey to the beginning of the 2023 MLB season. Fear not though, if you can't wait for opening day, we can get our feet wet with the World Baseball Classic starting on March 7th. It's setting up to be quite the tournament.
*This post was originally published on February 12. WBC was amazing.
If you've had the chance to read my previous article on 2023 Fantasy Baseball Undervalued Outfielders, I previewed a trio of outfielders who I thought had great potential this year and were likely to exceed their 2023 ADPs.
On the other hand, that means we have a chance to examine and analyze 2023 Fantasy Baseball Overvalued Outfielders as well. I invite you to continue reading on as I take a look at a trio of outfielders that are being snagged in drafts much earlier than they deserve.
All ADPs referred to within this article are sourced from FantasyPros, which averages ADPs from ESPN, CBS, Yahoo, RTS, NFBC, and Fantrax.
2023 Fantasy Baseball Overvalued Outfielders
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Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox (ADP 81)
"Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time" - Paulo Coelho.
The following are reported injuries for Eloy Jimenez since 2019 -
2019 - 4/26/19 Ankle, 7/16/19 Elbow, 8/22/19 Hip
2020 - 7/26/20 Light-headedness, 9/24/20 Foot, 10/1/20 Foot
2021 - 3/29/21 Pectoral, 7/28/21 Groin, 9/7/21 Knee
2022 - 4/13/22 Ankle, 4/23/22 Hamstring, 7/13/22 Leg, 8/19/22 Undisclosed, 8/23/22 Elbow, 9/1/22 Leg
In Jimenez's case, everything that happens 15 times will surely happen a 16th time.
Jimenez played 55 games in 2021 and 84 in 2022. In 2023, Jimenez played __ games. You tell me, how many games would you expect your 6th-round pick to play during 2023? Ideally, we all want 162 but give me 140+, minimum. Jimenez will come nowhere near 140 and you'd be lucky to have him play 120.
Death, taxes, and Jimenez on the IL. This is an absolute guarantee. When will it happen? You and I cannot predict that, however, it will happen. You'll get that fantasy notification on your phone and simply shake your head in frustration.
Why waste your time even selecting Jimenez anywhere near the 6th round? He's simply going to get hurt. So much is said about his xRC+ and advanced statistics when he plays, but he needs to play!
Don't talk to me about wRC+ when you're talking about a guy who will end up on the IL two or three times this year in a best-case scenario. And definitely don't be that guy who adds up multiple sub-100 game seasons to get a 162-game average for Jimenez's offensive production. What a complete twist of numbers that strategy is.
Clearly, I am not big on the oft-injured White Sox outfielder and certainly not at pick 81. If you want to grab him later, go ahead. He's a well-known injury risk and that is not changing anytime soon.
Whit Merrifield, 2B/OF, Toronto Blue Jays (ADP 173)
Merrifield is a two-time all-star dating back to his 2019 and 2021 seasons with Kansas City, but I'm one to think that his career has begun its decline, especially when it comes to Fantasy Baseball. He's currently ranked as 2B15 and OF42. Both of those are too high.
Don't get me wrong, Merrifield used to be a staple in most lineups while he was leading the AL in at-bats, hits, and steals (not all at the same time) just a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, I think that time has come and gone as he's also 34 years old.
Merrifield's OBP, SLG%, and OPS+ have all been in a steady decline every year since 2018. with each year lower than the previous.
He's simply not producing like he used to and one of his specialties, steals, completely dropped off last year as he finished with 16 on 21 attempts. He stole 40 bases on 44 attempts in 2021.
There isn't much to get excited about with Merrifield in 2023. All counting stats, you know, the ones that actually matter in H2H or Roto leagues have completely deteriorated. His power is non-existent, his OBP is on trend to be below .300, and his OPS will be lucky to see .660.
Is there value?
I've never been big on drafting players in fantasy just because they have a high average. I need more than that. I need production in more than just one category.
At least when you draft a one-dimensional home run hitter, they are going to provide you with not only home runs, but RBIs and Runs as well.
High average-only players really do not provide much value in fantasy lineups. See Luis Arraez's ADP. It's actually lower than Merrfield's and Arraez was the 2022 AL Batting Champion and a Silver Slugger award winner. Drafting a player for his average only is not the best strategy. You need something else.
Look elsewhere if you're thinking about drafting Merrifield this year. There is some intriguing young talent below his ADP and a lot of players who are providing much more than batting average. Take a look at Oscar Gonzalez and Thairo Estrada, for example. They both won't kill your average but will provide at least a semblance of power for your lineup.
Christian Yelich, OF, Milwaukee Brewers (ADP 115)
I tried my absolute best the past three years to be on the Christian Yelich "bounce-back year" wagon, but unfortunately, I think this is another player whose time has come and gone. And this one hurts.
Yelich was the NL MVP in 2018 slashing .326/.402/.598 with a 1.000 OPS. He then dominated in 2019 with a runner-up finish in the NL MVP race, slashing even better than 2018 with a .329/.429/.671 line and a 1.100 OPS.
Since then, his batting average has not come anywhere near the .300 mark and his highest since 2020 was actually last year when he hit .252. His OBP, SLG%, and OPS are all unrecognizable compared to his MVP and runner-up MVP years.
In 2023, he's projected to slash .242/.345/.383 with 14 home runs and 13 steals. Is that good enough for a ninth or 10th-round pick for me? No way. That's a stat line that I actually don't even want on my team. It just screams MLB average, at best.
You want to be able to have some upside with pre-season projections and that's where I think you're better off going with some younger and newer talent than Yelich.
Alternatives to Yelich in that 115 ADP area would be Andrew Vaughn, Ian Happ, and even Hunter Renfroe. All of these players are projected to significantly outperform Yelich in 2023. Vaughn, Happ, and Renfroe are projected to put up higher numbers in the .AVG and power departments this year, but are currently going below Yelich in drafts.
Dig around long enough and you'll find plenty of outfielders are going to exceed Yelich's 2023 season. Some young, some old, but they're out there.
I think Yelich still has some believers which is why his ADP seems to be a bit higher than others with similar projections. Could he surprise in 2023? Maybe, but don't count on it. I think he's trending down for yet another average year for Milwaukee. Count me out for this year.
Be prepared for the upcoming season by checking out all the 2023 Fantasy Baseball content on Fantasy Six Pack.