Spring training action continues to roll along as we inch closer and closer to MLB Opening Day. We know you're eager to draft your squads and get to regular season action, which is why we're continuing our series of looks at the 2023 Rotoworld Baseball Draft Guide. We last highlighted our top fantasy prospects for the upcoming season. Instead of focusing on players, rankings or tiers, we're looking at arguably one of the season's most important storylines and fantasy game-changers: MLB's new rule changes. Whether you're a fan of the early returns or remain skeptical, there's no denying the massive implications they have for the fantasy landscape. Our Draft Guide is the perfect companion for any manager aiming to identify draft targets who can benefit from the most impactful changes.
This jam-packed edition has all the information and features you need to prepare for every single draft. Equipped with in-depth player profiles, positional rankings for multiple scoring formats, projections, tiers and positional reports, managers can feel confident navigating the 2023 fantasy landscape. Plus, the draft guide features exclusive columns from our experts, in addition to mock drafts, statistics, scoring leaders and more.
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The 2023 MLB season is going to be an experiment in real time. Many of the new changes are aimed at creating more action and improving pace of play, but there are also fantasy repercussions to be found. With bigger bases and fewer throw-overs, speedsters could reach new heights. The shift ban, however, has the chance to change player's entire outlooks. We've went ahead and selected eight of the top 15 most-shifted LH batters from 2022. In the full Draft Guide, you can see the top 15. Our very own D.J. Short reviews every rule change and how they could alter fantasy lineups.
See his analysis for the shift ban below and eight potential beneficiaries. Let's dive in:
What's Going On?
Extreme shifts increased exponentially across MLB in recent years, but they are now a thing of the past. As part of the new shift restrictions, teams must have all four infielders within the outer boundary of the infield cut-out as well as two players on each side of the second base bag before a pitch is thrown. No more four-man outfields with a floater in right field to combat an extreme pull hitter. In addition, players are not allowed to switch sides of the infield during an inning unless there's a substitution.
Why It Matters
Even with the addition of the designated hitter to the National League in 2022, the league batting average finished at .243, the lowest in MLB since the famed “Year of the Pitcher” in 1968. This downward trend has come with an uptick in strikeouts, but consider that the usage of four-man outfields have increased nearly six times since the start of the 2018 season.
The new shift restrictions will reward athleticism, whether it's hitting a baseball with an exit velocity north of 100 mph or being a middle infielder with excellent range and a strong throwing arm. How weird is it to watch a game on TV and see a hard-hit ball up the middle be gobbled up easily by an infielder? In theory, the aesthetics will be different.
When you are looking at some of the included charts, consider that the numbers don't account for the fact that some of the grounders were hit to where a fielder might have traditionally been positioned anyway. This is an aesthetic change as much as anything, where the players most likely to benefit will be the extreme lefty pull hitters. In pure volume, Corey Seager stands out as a player who could have benefitted last year, but Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Schwarber also jump off the page. This shouldn't dominate your thinking on draft day, as some of these players might have benefitted from positive regression anyway, but it should at least be a piece of the puzzle in your broader strategy.
Most shifted LH hitters by percentage of plate appearances in 2022 (min. 250 PA)
Source: Baseball Savant
José Ramírez- 93.9%
Vinnie Pasquantino - 94.2%
Corey Seager - 92.8%
Kyle Tucker - 90.9 %
Cody Bellinger - 90.5%
Kyle Schwarber - 90.5%
Max Muncy - 89%
Seth Brown - 88.6%
If you want to see the full list of most-shifted batters and the D.J.'s deep dive into every rule change, in addition to everything else the Rotoworld Baseball Draft Guide offers, be sure to purchase your copy today for $19.99 here. And don't forget to take advantage of our special Draft Guide Bundle offer where you can get ALL THREE draft guides -- Baseball, Football and Basketball -- for $44.99. Check it out here!
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