As the 2023 fantasy baseball season comes to a close, it is important to recognize some of this year’s top performers.
Injuries to top stars such as Mike Trout, Aaron Judge and Shohei Ohtani often pull focus, as fantasy players lament over what could have been, but those who are preparing to hoist the championship trophy as early as next week have plenty of others to whom gratitude should be offered.
Whether they are stars who perform like stars or they proved to be fantastic bargains, we should always acknowledge their efforts.
Catcher: Jonah Heim, Rangers. He batted .278 with 16 home runs and led all catchers with 88 RBIs. Heim was likely a waiver claim in most leagues. Though he wasn’t the primary star of the team this season, he was certainly a fantasy stud for many.
First base: Matt Olson, Braves. Heading into the weekend, Olson is leading all of baseball with 54 home runs with 136 RBIs. Add in a .281 average with a .387 OBP and you’ve got fantasy gold in the early rounds.
Second base: Nico Hoerner, Cubs. There were several second basemen deserving of the honors. Hoerner, an afterthought in most fantasy drafts, stole 43 bases, fifth-highest in the majors. Imagine punting the position on draft day and winning the title because of steals.
Third base: Austin Riley, Braves. Though Jose Ramirez’s power-speed combo is coveted by all, it is difficult to turn away from Riley and his 37 home runs. He also kicked in a .282 batting average and led the position with 96 RBIs. Like Olson, he is a great example of a stud doing studly things.
Shortstop: Bobby Witt, Royals. The second-years superstar delivered every step of the way with a .273 average, 29 home runs and 49 RBIs. He gets the nod at shortstop, his primary position, but his added third-base eligibility made him a superior draft pick.
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Outfield: Ronald Acuña Jr, Braves; Jose Rodriguez, Mariners; Corbin Carroll, Diamondbacks. The outfield nods were easy. Acuña and Rodriguez came in with powerful numbers across the five major fantasy categories. NL Rookie of the Year Carroll also crushed across the board with 24 home runs and 52 steals. These three likely will be locked in among top five fantasy picks in all 2024 drafts.
Pitcher: Blake Snell, Padres. On the mound we’ll applaud NL Cy Young favorite Blake Snell with his 14 wins, 11.70 K/9 and 2.25 ERA. His first half was dominant, but he was even more impressive after the All-Star break. Honorable mentions to Justin Steele and super-bargain Michael Wacha.
Closer: David Bednar, Pirates. He may have had five fewer saves than league-leader Emmanuel Clase, but expectations for Pittsburgh were not high, and Bednar delivered in impressive fashion.
Congratulations to you if any or all of these players helped lead you to a fantasy baseball championship. It is truly a marathon of a season and those who perform at this level, both the players and as fantasy managers, are impressive.
Enjoy the MLB playoffs, may your offseason be filled with excitement, and we’ll see you all again in February.
Howard Bender is the head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on X @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to Fantasy-Alarm.com for all your fantasy baseball advice.