This season, DraftKings is bringing its popular Best Ball contests to Major League Baseball. This format gives players a chance to draft a fantasy baseball team for a season-long competition that requires no active in-season management but still provides a full season of drama and competition.
You can find all the details, scoring and rules for the format in this overview post along with links to the rest of our season preview content on the MLB Best Ball Hub. It has been a ton of fun to collaborate with my colleague, Garion Thorne, as we’ve gone through Outliers, Rankings for each position, Sleepers & Busts and Late-Round Values.
As Spring Training winds down and Opening Day looms, some of our earlier posts have been impacted by late-breaking news. In this post, we’ll focus on some players whose Best Ball value has been impacted by recent events and discuss how to adjust your draft strategy accordingly.
Rhys Hoskins (knee) expected to miss the season
In one of the most devastating injuries of Spring Training this year, Hoskins tore his ACL in a Grapefruit League contest against the Tigers last Thursday. He will miss the entire season after undergoing surgery. The injury could mean an end to his time in Philadelphia, as well, since Hoskins will be a free agent after the season. Hoskins was ranked in my initial top 30 IF and had a lot of potential to outperform his ADP in the power hitter-friendly Best Ball format. Unfortunately, he now doesn’t bring any value at all in 2023, but his injury impact goes further than just crossing his name off your rankings.
The Phillies are planning to turn to Darick Hall for the majority of the playing time at 1B. The 27-year-old has a very different plate approach than Hoskins, but he also brings plenty of power potential. In his 42 games with the Phillies last year, he smashed nine home runs with a .272 ISO, .343 wOBA and 120 wRC+. He did strike out in 30.9% of his plate appearances while only walking in 3.5% of plate appearances.
There could be an adjustment period before those strikeouts come down, and he may end up in a partial platoon due to his struggles against lefties. That being said, he’s still a very nice get in the later rounds of Best Ball drafts. He hit five home runs in 19 games this spring with a .296 batting average and 1.008 OPS. I wouldn’t draft Hall in Hoskins’ draft slot, for sure, but at his current ADP of 192.1, he could end up being a great bargain. He was most likely on track to take over the job next year, but Hoskins’ injury has accelerated this timeline.
Rookies ready to roll
One of the biggest stories of Spring Training is the emergence of exciting new talent. This year, Anthony Volpe of the Yankees and Jordan Walker of the Cardinals both had very impressive preseasons and earned their way into a regular spot in their teams’ lineups. Both young players have shown plenty of potential to be major impact bats this season and are currently among the favorites for Rookie of the Year on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Unfortunately, those two players aren’t in the player pool for Best Ball, so they can’t be late-round options. However, there are some rookies who did have big springs who are in the player pool to consider. Baltimore’s Gunnar Henderson is currently the favorite for the AL Rookie of the Year. He got off to a slow start in March and was “pressing” according to manager Brandon Hyde. He did get his first homer of the spring last week, though, and still seems to be locked into an everyday role. Currently, his ADP is 110.7.
Another promising rookie who is going about 50 picks later and offers even better upside is Triston Casas of the Red Sox, who earned his spot on the MLB roster and could even end up hitting leadoff. I previewed Casas in my IF Rankings, and if anything, I’d raise him a few spots after his impressive spring. In the Grapefruit League, Casas has hit .327 with three home runs and five doubles over his 19 games. He is still striking out a lot, but in this scoring system, that isn’t penalized as much. He’s a great value at his current ADP and could be a breakout performer this year.
In the National League, the main rookies to consider are Mets’ starter Kodai Senga, who is going around pick 100, and Rockies shortstop Ezequiel Tovar, who could be an interesting late-round flier, as he is mostly going undrafted in all formats. He gets the benefit of playing half his games at Coors Field, and he’s showing his bat is as Major League ready as his oft-praised glove. He’s hitting .308 this Spring Training with a pair of home runs.
Tyler Glasnow (oblique) on the mend once again
Glasnow has been a tantalizing fantasy asset for a few seasons now. Looking extremely impressive when healthy, but never being able to maintain his health long enough to be a significant factor. He looked dominant after being traded from the Pirates to the Rays a few seasons ago, but had Tommy John surgery before returning for just two regular season games last season. This Spring Training, he was in the top 30 of most starting pitcher draft boards, but he sustained a Grade 2 lat strain and had to be shut down.
The only good thing about that injury is that it at least happened early in camp. Since the news broke at the end of February, it has been clear that he won’t be ready for Opening Day, which has caused him to plummet down draft boards. However, he has begun a throwing program and looks like he might be on track to ramp up and return to the team before the end of April.
If that’s the case, and he’s able to be reasonably healthy the rest of the season, his ADP of 146.7 is way too low. He’s currently being drafted as the 53rd pitcher off the board, and he now represents great value at that point with an incredibly high-ceiling. Given his injury history, you’ll just want to be sure to build in plenty of depth around him.
Jose Altuve (thumb) expected to miss two months
Altuve was hit on the hand while he was playing for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic and will be sidelined until at least late May. He could start the day on the 60-day IL for roster flexibility, but that wouldn’t impact his return very much, pushing it to early June.
Altuve’s ADP has dropped to 90.7, and he can make sense as a bench option if you have plenty of other infield depth. Unlike with Hoskins and Phillies, there isn’t a replacement ready to step in at the position. Mauricio Dubon and David Hensley will likely share time at 2B, but the bigger fantasy impact will be in whoever gets to hit leadoff atop the Astros’ lineup.
One of the top candidates is Jeremy Peña. If he claims the job in front of Michael Brantley, who Dusty Baker said is locked into the second spot, his new role could help the sophomore SS to get off to a fast start. He’s going around the same ADP as Altuve, actually, but does offer early-season upside if he gets the leadoff role. You could even consider handcuffing the two Astros, expecting to get boosted production out of Peña until Altuve returns.
Fernando Tatis Jr. looks posied to produce
Tatis has looked great in Spring Training, going 12-for-44 (.273) with two home runs and three stolen bases. He still has 20 games of his suspension to serve, but he’ll be eligible to return on April 20. Prior to that, he gets a 15-day period of eligibility at Triple-A, so he should be ramped up and ready to splash right into action at the top of the Padres’ stacked lineup.
Both Garion and I have been hyping him up in our preseason coverage as an outlier and in my IF Rankings. He’s not really going at much of discount — his current ADP is 32.1 — but he still brings so much upside that he’s, without question, worth a look at that point in drafts. I wouldn’t even hate taking him in the top 20 if you have to, just be sure to build in IF options to cover the first few weeks of the season.
By the time we get to August and September, the fact that Tatis missed a couple weeks in April won’t matter very much, so don’t let that impact your thinking too much.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is z.thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.