What Did We Learn in 2022 Fantasy Baseball?

The 5 Biggest Takeaways From the 2022 MLB Season

by Taylor Cochran
What Did We Learn in 2022 Fantasy Baseball?

The 2022 fantasy baseball season took us for a wild ride. It was a fantastic season, but the question remains, what did we learn in 2022 Fantasy Baseball?

Albert Pujols and Justin Verlander turned back the clock, while Julio Rodriguez and Michael Harris II were barely legal enough to properly celebrate their astonishing seasons.

As fantasy baseball sets sail through the offseason and into 2023, it is important to remember what we learned from the 2022 season and how it will shape next year.

What Did We Learn in 2022 Fantasy Baseball?

Shohei Ohtani is King

The Fantasy Baseball king is in fact a unicorn. If there was ever any doubt, Ohtani needs to be the first pick of EVERY daily league in 2023 where he acts as one player. As if 2021 wasn't enough, this phenom decided to run it back with an unbelievable season.

Leading off for the Los Angeles Angels, Ohtani hit .273/34/95 to go with 11 steals. This was good enough to help him finish as the 20th overall hitter in ESPN's standard player rater.

As a pitcher, the reigning MVP had a 2.33 ERA with 219 strikeouts in 166 innings pitched, placing him as the 6th overall pitcher in the same scoring system.

Despite Aaron Judge's historic season, Ohtani still finished 2022 as the No. 1 overall player when his pitching and hitting values are combined. What he did just isn't real. If you're not lucky enough to snag the first overall pick in next year's draft, there's nothing wrong with offering a king's ransom for the best player on the planet.

Rookies Rule

Every year there are top prospects who have their names murmured before the season begins. However, they are often deemed too risky or not worth stashing. Well, the 2022 fantasy season taught us that rookies are definitely worth the risk.

Julio Rodriquez, Bobby Witt Jr. and Michael Harris II are prime examples. These three young guns all finished in the top 50. Rodriguez and Harris II even took home ROY honors in the process.

Finding young gems can be the difference maker for a Fantasy Baseball championship run. Next season, it will be important to remember names like Anthony Volpe, Gunnar Henderson, Josh Jung, Francisco Alvarez and more. Taking the risk and stashing guys who aren't projected to start with the team might be to move that carries your team throughout the year.

Relievers are like Tight Ends... Wait on Them

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Warning, Fantasy Football reference incoming.

Emmanuel Clase and Edwin Diaz are basically just Mark Andrews and Travis Kelce. Listen, relievers are a vital ingredient to a winning recipe, but sometimes you don’t need to pay that much! Last season, several of the top 20 relief pitchers went undrafted. Guys like Daniel Bard, Clay Holmes and Ryan Helsley sat on the waiver wire after drafts but ended up as key assets.

Unless you’re getting a top option, it’s better to just wait and see how bullpens settle. Injuries, rookies and trades open up opportunities that can save you the regret of a high draft pick. Don’t waste an opportunity at a good bat or starter pitcher.

Statcast. Statcast. Statcast.

Exit velocity and sabermetrics aren't just for Billy Beane. Last season, exit velocity was a great tool in finding waiver wire adds and trade targets. Squaring up on the ball and hitting it with authority on a consistent basis can easily project how a player will perform down the stretch.

This is especially beneficial when the player is struggling with a low BABIP. Comparing low BABIP with a high average exit velocity or Brls/PA% is a great way to find some nuggets that are overlooked for their current performance.

Here are the top 15 players in average exit velocity last season compared with where they finished the fantasy season.

PLAYERAverage Exit VelocityBrls/PA%Fantasy Ranking #
Aaron Judge95.915.21
Yordan Alvarez95.213.917
Giancarlo Stanton*95.011.3131
Kyle Schwarber93.311.429
Joc Pederson*93.29.977
Rafael Devers93.18.330
Shohei Ohtani92.910.820 (hitter only)
Matt Olson92.98.749
Byron Buxton*92.99.7114
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.92.88.423
Teoscar Hernández92.69.755
Austin Riley92.510.226
J.D. Davis*92.48.8217
Yandy Diaz92.23.685
José Abreu92.26.942

Of those 15 players, nine finished the season in the top 50. If it wasn't for injuries, Byron Buxton, Giancarlo Stanton and Joc Pederson could have ended up in there too. Even Yandy Diaz and J.D. Davis were valuable fantasy players down the stretch. Keep your eye on statcast when targeting hitters.

Remember Positional Depth

In 2022, outfielders and first basemen were deep... catchers and third basemen were not. While 42 outfielders and 21 first basemen ended up in the top 150 overall, only three catchers and 13 third basemen did the same.

If we learned anything in 2022, it is that it will be vital for fantasy managers to snag a top catcher or third basemen next season. Outside of Will Smith, Daulton Varsho and J.T. Realmuto, the backstop position is a dart throw.

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The third basemen landscape is just as thin. This is going to be a position that managers will want to snag early in order to feel safe. If you're not getting Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado, Austin Riley, Rafael Devers, and Bobby Witt Jr, the position is questionable.

On the other hand, first base and outfield was deep in 2022. A ton of value at these positions was found later in drafts last season. It could be much of the same next year.


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3 comments

Ryan H November 17, 2022 - 4:38 pm

Love the take. Well written taking this advice into the 22-23 season

Reply
Richard November 17, 2022 - 6:00 pm

Actually learned a lot from this. Thanks Taylor

Reply
Geoff T November 17, 2022 - 6:07 pm

Great read. The more I think about it, the more I realize that tight end comparison is so true! This guy really knows his stuff. Can’t wait to read more of his articles leading into next year!

Reply

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