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2023 Fantasy Baseball: Five hitters to avoid based on rankings

Fantasy Hitters
(Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports)

2023 Fantasy Baseball: Five hitters to avoid based on rankings

The 2023 Fantasy Baseball season is here! On Thursday, we outlined five pitchers to be so-so on heading into the 2023 season. Today, let’s dive into five hitters, given their current ESPN Ranking.

Gleyber Torres, 2B, Yankees (2B10)

Torres has had a roller coaster last couple of seasons in pinstripes. He had the worst year of his career in 2021 and followed it up with a bounce-back 2022 — it helps playing at your natural position — hitting 24 home runs and 76 RBIs with a .761 OPS (114 OPS+). Torres, who was the head of plenty of trade scuttlebutt this offseason, could be fighting for consistent plate appearances at some point during the season with DJ LeMahieu and maybe even Anthony Volpe, if he gets off to a slow start. He should be an everyday bat, but I’m not sure how short of a leash he’ll have if he’s struggling in May, June or July.

Daulton Varsho, OF/C, Blue Jays (OF16)

Varsho was once a highly-touted prospect out of the Diamondbacks system before getting dealt to the Blue Jays this offseason. In his first full season in 2022, he slashed .235/.302/.433 (109 OPS+) with 27 home runs, 74 RBIs and 16 stolen bases. But his peripherals were concerning, ranking in the 30th percentile or worse in hard-hit rate, expected batting average, expected weighted on-base average, average exit velocity and strikeout rate, according to Baseball Savant. Varsho has multi-positional versatility in the outfield and at catcher, but I’m not super high on his bat quite yet.

Anthony Rendon, 3B, Angels (3B15)

Rendon’s tenure in Los Angeles has been mired by injury, playing just 32 percent of the Angels’ available games over the last two seasons. He’ll also be entering his age-33 season. It’s not worth the risk, even as the 15th-ranked third-baseman, unless you get him very late.

Dansby Swanson, SS, Cubs (SS10)

Swanson went from the 11th-friendliest home ballpark for right-handed hitters to the 8th-worst. That’s not a big drop-off for most players. Though Swanson — who, to his credit, has been durable — has recorded an OPS+ of 90 or better just three times in his career — all coming each of the last three years, including 115 (career-high) last season. Perhaps he steals close to 20 bags this year like he did last year, but for someone who’s not generally a power hitter, I’m still a little skeptical about his ceiling playing half of his games at Wrigley compared to Truist.

Luis Robert, OF, White Sox (OF18)

Robert as the 18th-ranked outfielder might be right around where you slot him. His ceiling as a potential 30-30 player is very enticing, but it’s hard to ignore the recent injury history, playing just 166 games over the last two seasons. If the 25-year-old can stay on the field, he’s prime for a big 2023 season.

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