There was a great feeling of relief on April 7 when the MLB season finally got under way, a week after its planned start on 31 March.
Luckily, the lockout by players was resolved and this has led to the issues of compensation of young players being resolved as well as measures being taken to avoid the sort of tanking that the sport has seen in the past.
It’s also been achieved without losing any of the 162 games planned for the full season.
As always, there has been great activity in the world of fantasy baseball with many new participants joining those who are seasoned players of the game. All are surely looking for the standout players who could prove to be big points scorers for their teams. So here are ten that are definitely ones to watch.
Will Smith of the LA Dodgers, not to be confused with his World Series-winning namesake in the Atlanta Braves, has had stints at first and third bases before final securing the role as the team’s No.1 catcher. He’s also pretty useful with the bat so we can expect to see several more home runs coming from him over the season.
Joey Votto of the Cincinatti Reds is like a fine red wine himself – simply seeming to get better and better as the seasons go by. Now 38 he is surely pressing for a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Last season he made a strong case for himself with no less than 36 home runs.
Ozzie Albies of the Atlanta Braves won both the Heart and Hustle and Silver Slugger Awards for last season, his fifth with the Braves. Scoring 30 home runs, another stat to impress was that at 83.4% he swung at more pitches in the strike zone than any other MLB player. This season promises to be even more successful for him.
Wander Franco of the Tampa Bay Rays would be the first to admit that he’s not the greatest player in the league – yet. But he has the drive and determination to get there. Still only 21, already he’s made his mark this season by becoming the Rays’ youngest ever player to have a multi-home run game, a feat he achieved against the Boston Red Sox when they met on April 22.
It’s to the Red Sox that we look for our third baseman in the form of Rafael Devers. He’s something of a baby-faced assassin whose 38 home runs last season give a pretty good idea of his power. He was a first pick for last year’s All Star Game, no doubt something that’s helped him clinch an $11.2 million contract with the team.
Nick Castellanos of the Philadelphia Phillies is distinctly left field himself. Famous for pulling fans into post game interviews, his batting record has been a very respectable .292/.346/.571 since he moved from Detroit in 2019. In March 2022 he signed a 5-year $100 million contract with the Phillies. They look like they’ll be getting their money’s worth.
When you’re looking for a big hitter a prime candidate has to be Luis Robert of the Chicago White Sox. At over 6’ and very powerfully-built he can almost send a baseball into orbit. This makes him a supremely exciting player to watch and we wonder if he can beat his almost 500 ft home run hit he achieved last season against the Raiders.
Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals is another player with real attitude as he struts and shuffles in the batter’s box – a sure way to unnerve the most experienced pitchers. But he can back it up with real talent that, at 23, is certain to go on getting better and better as the seasons progress. So, get NLCS tickets earlier to watch players like this live on the field.
We’re going for the New York Mets’ great pairing of Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom on this one. Individually they’re great. Used in combination they’re awesome. It’s the latter’s 100 mph+ fastballs that soften the batters up and Scherzer’s emotive theatrics can finish them off.
Finally, let’s turn to Nathan Eovaldi of the Red Sox. It was back in Game 3 of the 2018 World Series that his career really took off. And, apart from a few injury niggles, he hasn’t looked back. Firing in 97 mph pitches, plus a number of other variations, his strike rate is very high – and set to get higher still.
So pick any one of these players for your fantasy baseball team and you should see your weekly points total start to head in the right direction. Choose the right combination and it could be as dramatic as one of Luis Robert’s home runs!