Typically during MLB spring training, stars are gradually worked into game condition, and Fantasy baseball owners don't get the luxury of seeing the game's best players giving it maximum effort. However, with dozens of baseball's biggest names having participated in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, we got an extended look at studs like Trea Turner, Shohei Ohtani, Manny Machado and Francisco Lindor. But the tradeoff to seeing high-intensity baseball was that the MLB injuries piled up.
Jose Altuve will miss 8-10 weeks after being hit in the hand with a pitch in a quarterfinal matchup, and Nolan Arenado was also hit in the hand with a fastball in the semifinals. But a reliable set of live-updated 2023 Fantasy baseball rankings can help you navigate those injury speedbumps while also helping identify potential 2023 Fantasy baseball sleepers, breakouts and busts. Before going on the clock in any 2023 Fantasy baseball drafts, be sure to see the Fantasy baseball rankings 2023 and cheat sheets from the proven computer model at SportsLine.
Last season, SportsLine's Projection Model identified several top Fantasy baseball sleepers, breakouts and busts, including Reds first baseman Joey Votto. The team at SportsLine was all over Votto as a Fantasy bust from the start after a resurgent 2021 season that saw him going as one of the top 12 first basemen off the board in 2022 Fantasy baseball drafts. After slashing .266/.375/.563 with 36 homers and 99 RBI the year prior, Votto slashed .205/.319/.370 with 11 home runs and 41 RBIs in 2022. He finished outside the top 45 players at his position and anybody who followed SportsLine's advice avoided a major headache.
Their model is powered by the same people who powered projections for all three major Fantasy sites. And that same group is sharing its 2023 Fantasy baseball rankings and cheat sheets over at SportsLine, helping you find Fantasy baseball sleepers, breakouts and busts long before your competition. Their cheat sheets, available for leagues on many major sites, are updated multiple times every day.
Any time more MLB news comes out about the updated 2023 MLB schedule or Fantasy baseball injuries, the team at SportsLine updates its projections. Go to SportsLine now to see these proven Fantasy baseball cheat sheets.
Top 2023 Fantasy baseball sleepers
One of the 2023 Fantasy baseball sleepers the model is all over: Pirates third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes. The former consensus top-15 prospect finished sixth in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2020 despite playing in only 24 games. That's because he slashed .376/.442/.682 with five home runs and 11 RBI during that span. Unfortunately, he hasn't quite lived up to the buzz he created for himself in the two years since, posting a .671 OPS during that span.
However, Hayes just turned 26 years old, and the former first-round pick does have some upside as a hitter and a base stealer. He's hit three home runs already this spring, and the Pirates will be hoping that is a sign that he is tapping into the slightly above-average raw power that he's struggled to get the most out of thus far. And as a .279 career hitter in the minors, the model is also hopeful that he'll further develop his hit tool, which is why it ranks him ahead of Gunnar Henderson and DJ LeMahieu, who are being drafted at least three rounds earlier on average.
Top 2023 Fantasy baseball breakouts
One of the 2023 Fantasy baseball breakouts the model is jumping on: Reds starting pitcher Nick Lodolo. He threw 103.1 innings last season, posting a 3.66 ERA and 1.25 WHIP while striking out 131 batters. Lodolo finished with a 4-7 record for the disappointing Reds during those starts, but he should have even more opportunities this season.
He is expected to serve as the No. 2 starter for Cincinnati in 2023 under manager David Bell, who has him slated to start the second game of the regular season against Pittsburgh. Lodolo was the top ranked prospect in the Reds organization in 2021 and had a sparkling 1.84 ERA across 44 innings at the Double-A level. Lodolo induces a high ground-ball rate and has elite strikeout numbers, making him one of the breakout candidates this season.
Top 2023 Fantasy baseball busts
As for players to avoid, the model has pinpointed Brewers starting pitcher Corbin Burnes as one of its biggest 2023 Fantasy baseball busts. Burnes followed up his 2021 NL Cy Young Award with a 2.94 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 243:51 K:BB in 202 innings, with the strikeouts and innings totals representing career highs.
However, Burnes struggled down the stretch last season, allowing at least four earned runs on five occasions in his final 13 starts. The Brewers also lost several quality defenders this offseason, including Kolten Wong and Jace Peterson that could lead to more runs on the scoreboard. Burnes is currently being drafted as the SP5 in 2023 Fantasy baseball drafts, but the model is much less bullish and has him outside the top 15 at the position.
How to find proven 2023 Fantasy baseball rankings
SportsLine's model is also high on a surprising starting pitcher who lands in the top 10 of its positional rankings. This player is barely going off the board in the top 125 picks, but is projected to outperform starters such as Aaron Nola, Shane McClanahan and Brandon Woodruff. This pick could be the difference in winning your league or going home with nothing. You can only see who it is here.
So which 2023 Fantasy baseball busts, breakouts, and sleepers should you target or fade in your drafts? Visit SportsLine now to get 2023 Fantasy baseball rankings for every single position, all from the model that called Joey Votto's disappointing season, and find out.