Welcome to 2023 Fantasy Baseball: This Year's Thairo Estrada.
Yet another week has passed as we steadily approach the 2023 Fantasy Baseball season. This week marked the start of the 2023 World Baseball Classic taking place between 20 of the world's best teams. Thankfully, this will be exactly what we needed to tide us over until the beginning of the 2023 season.
Moreover, general managers across the world are collectively holding their breath hoping that none of their premier talents succumb to injury during the tournament.
Power and speed are two key factors in the success of a fantasy baseball roster in today's game. Unexpectedly in 2022, Thairo Estrada was able to provide you with a bit of both. Over 140 games, Estrada slashed .260/.322/.400 while hitting 14 home runs and stealing 21 bases. This production was quite a surprise.
Throughout Estrada's first three years in the MLB, he never played more than 52 games (35 in 2019, 26 in the 2020 COVID year, and 52 in 2021). However, once he played a full season in 2022, things took off.
What are we looking for in This Year's Thairo Estrada? Well, it's a tough comparison to make as Estrada was undrafted and went on to have a fantastic year.
So, to summarize, we're looking for three players going undrafted in 2023 who are either aging, forgotten about, or simply underperforming. Taking all of that into account, these players can still give you 14 home runs and 20 steals.
2023 Fantasy Baseball: This Year's Thairo Estrada Candidates
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Ha-Seong Kim, 3B/SS, San Diego Padres
HA-SEONG KIM Home Run #10 of the season
Ha-Seong Kim blasts a solo shot off the first deck of the Western Metal building...and a curtain call!
Padres lead 3-0 in the 4th! #TimeToShine pic.twitter.com/Es6IX10VFO
— San Diego Strong (@PadresStrong) September 21, 2022
In 2021, Kim made his MLB debut as a third baseman and shortstop for the San Diego Padres. He played 117 games in 2021 and 150 in 2022.
His first year was subpar. He slashed a measly .202/.270/.352 on his way to hitting eight home runs and stealing just six bases.
Kim upped his slash line to .251/.325/.383 in 2022 to go along with 11 home runs and 12 stolen bases. That's quite an upgrade from his debut in 2021, which is where his candidacy for this article began. More so, his current ADP sits at 287, which is right in our range.
A near 50-point increase in batting average year over year shows you that he changed something. Now, what exactly did he change? Not sure. But it worked. I'm not looking for another 50-point increase that's for sure, but I am looking for a similar, if not better performance from Kim in 2023.
He resides in the 79th percentile in sprint speed in the MLB and this isn't something I see decreasing year over year, especially for someone his age.
Most projections have Kim stealing around 10-12 bases this year, however, I'm one to think he can do more. He's still going to be an everyday player for San Diego and I believe his uptick in his on-base percentage is going to give birth to much more stolen bases attempts.
In the power department, projections have Kim hitting between 11-13 home runs this year which I think is more than doable. He hit 10 in 2022 and that was with his HardHit% in the 12th percentile and Barrel% in the 14th percentile. If Kim can further his offensive improvement for one more year, I think 14 home runs and 20 steals are no problem at all.
Garrett Mitchell, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
6⃣ RBI@Brewers No. 4 prospect Garrett Mitchell is raking in the Cactus League. pic.twitter.com/8NPIBnZy0I
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) March 7, 2023
Mitchell made his MLB debut for the Brewers in August of 2022 and went on to play 28 games during the 2022 campaign. He did not disappoint.
In Mitchell's 28-game sample size, he slashed .312/.373/.459 with 2 home runs and 8 stolen bases. It's a small sample size, so the slash line is most likely inflated, but this shows he was by no means overpowered by big-league pitching.
Mitchell currently has an ADP of 314 in fantasy drafts this year, but I am uncertain how long this will last. He is tearing the cover off the ball in spring training (for what that's worth) and you'd rather see him continue to hit than show up and whiff all Spring. Things are looking good.
2023 projections currently forecast Mitchell for nine home runs and 17 stolen bases. Both seem low to me. In relation to these projections, the consensus seems to be around 375 at-bats for Mitchell this year.
If Mitchell can take over CF/RF for the entire season, his at-bat total will be way higher which in turn ups both my home run and stolen base prediction for him. All he must do is beat out either Tyrone Taylor or Brian Anderson. I'm certainly comfortable trusting Mitchell to do exactly that.
I really like what I've seen from him both on the scorecard and the field. He's comfortable and you can see it. Mitchell finishing with 14 home runs and 20+ steals is something I'm very confident projecting at this moment.
In the end, Garrett Mitchell is my favorite to be 2023 Fantasy Baseball: This Year's Thairo Estrada.
Elvis Andrus, 2B/SS, Chicago White Sox
Elvis Andrus - Chicago White Sox (12)
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) September 9, 2022
Elvis Andrus made his MLB debut in... never mind. You know exactly who Andrus is. He's been playing baseball since before the first Avatar movie came out (2009 if you were wondering). Introducing Andrus feels a bit repetitive, so we'll just get down to business.
The veteran is currently being drafted at ADP 317. He's not making it on most people's teams and is probably not on yours either.
Sure, you know Andrus' name, and this is a Thairo Estrada comparison article, but I do think he fits. He's going undrafted and could easily give you a 14 home run, 20+ steal year. Does he fit Thairo's "unknown" status of 2022? No, but he does fit the surprise "production out of nowhere while being undrafted" status. And that's exactly why Elvis appears in this article.
Andrus could be getting his second (or third) wind in Chicago, and they are not shy about letting him run. If he continues to get on base at a low .300 OBP rate, he is going to accumulate those steals. Sure, he could get thrown out ten times this year, but he will run.
After hitting just three home runs in each of his last two seasons, Andrus exploded with 17 in 2022. What happened?
Well, one of two things most likely happened. His strategy at the plate could be changing and he could be focusing more on hitting for power versus average or a complete swing change (one with more lift).
Either of the above changes could have made a substantial change to Andrus' power numbers and I don't see it going away anytime soon, well, unless he retires.
Dare I say Andrus puts up a 20-20 year at age 34? If he stays healthy and plays every day, I say yes.
2023 Fantasy Baseball: This Year's Thairo Estrada
Esteury Ruiz, OF, Oakland Athletics
Luis Rengifo, 2B/3B/SS, Los Angeles Angels
Ruiz lacks the power aspect of this article while Rengifo lacks the speed. Could either of these players have 14 home runs and 20+ steals? Sure, just unlikely.
But, you never know, Thairo Estrada did it.
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