Collette Calls: 2023 NL East Bold Predictions

Collette Calls: 2023 NL East Bold Predictions

This article is part of our Collette Calls series.

If you are new to this annual series, the premise for this series is most recently outlined here. I have added Ariel Cohen's ATC projections to the tables below as they became available on Fangraphs last week. The ADP data listed below is from the last 30 days in 23 Draft Champions leagues. 

Atlanta

Michael Harris II (ADP 27, Min 21, Max 38) is not a top-75 player

SOURCE

PA

AVG

OBP

HR

RBI

R

SB

RotoWire

556

.299

.345

23

74

85

23

THE BAT X

608

.269

.323

18

68

82

19

Steamer

611

.276

.327

22

78

84

20

ATC

600

.277

.324

21

87

75

23

First off, let's praise James Anderson's hard work here as he was well out in front of the pack this time last year, ranking Harris II higher than any other dynasty prognosticator by pushing the youngster up to 26th on his rankings with the following reasoning:

I've heard that I'm much higher on Michael Harris than other sites. He checks any box I'd want a potential five-category outfielder to check at this stage of his development. He has much more power potential than you'd guess by his output as a young-for-the level 20-year-old playing half his games in the pitcher-friendly park in Rome. He obviously has the speed to steal 20 bases and his hit tool was as good as advertised.

That said, I'm leaning into the volatility which comes with hitters at this young age. Few hitters have

If you are new to this annual series, the premise for this series is most recently outlined here. I have added Ariel Cohen's ATC projections to the tables below as they became available on Fangraphs last week. The ADP data listed below is from the last 30 days in 23 Draft Champions leagues. 

Atlanta

Michael Harris II (ADP 27, Min 21, Max 38) is not a top-75 player

SOURCE

PA

AVG

OBP

HR

RBI

R

SB

RotoWire

556

.299

.345

23

74

85

23

THE BAT X

608

.269

.323

18

68

82

19

Steamer

611

.276

.327

22

78

84

20

ATC

600

.277

.324

21

87

75

23

First off, let's praise James Anderson's hard work here as he was well out in front of the pack this time last year, ranking Harris II higher than any other dynasty prognosticator by pushing the youngster up to 26th on his rankings with the following reasoning:

I've heard that I'm much higher on Michael Harris than other sites. He checks any box I'd want a potential five-category outfielder to check at this stage of his development. He has much more power potential than you'd guess by his output as a young-for-the level 20-year-old playing half his games in the pitcher-friendly park in Rome. He obviously has the speed to steal 20 bases and his hit tool was as good as advertised.

That said, I'm leaning into the volatility which comes with hitters at this young age. Few hitters have a full major-league season under their belt before the age of 22, as most players that age are still on campus or toiling somewhere in A ball, so Harris deserves all the accolades he's received thus far. He wasn't alone in being so young and making a sizable impact in his big-league debut as several other players of a similar age had at least 400 plate appearances at the big-league level last year. I went back to look at all hitters in any given season over the past 10 seasons who had at least 400 plate appearances and sorted that list by BB-K% in ascending order to get a feel for what type of triple-slash line those players had the following season. Here's what I found after looking at all players whose BB-K% was -15% or worse:

Season

Name

BB-K%

AVG

OBP

SLG

Next Season

AVG DELTA

OBP DELTA

SLG DELTA

2014

Jonathan Schoop

-23%

0.209

0.244

0.354

2015

33%

25%

36%

2017

Ian Happ

-22%

0.253

0.328

0.514

2018

-8%

8%

-21%

2019

Eloy Jimenez

-21%

0.267

0.315

0.513

2020

11%

5%

9%

2015

Addison Russell

-21%

0.242

0.307

0.389

2016

-2%

5%

7%

2022

Riley Greene

-20%

0.253

0.321

0.362

2023

 

 

 

2022

Michael Harris II

-20%

0.297

0.339

0.514

2023

 

 

 

2012

Giancarlo Stanton

-19%

0.290

0.361

0.608

2013

-14%

1%

-21%

2022

Julio Rodriguez

-19%

0.284

0.345

0.509

2023

 

 

 

2016

Rougned Odor

-18%

0.271

0.296

0.502

2017

-25%

-15%

-21%

2014

Nick Castellanos

-18%

0.259

0.306

0.394

2015

-2%

-1%

6%

2019

Victor Robles

-17%

0.255

0.326

0.419

2020

-14%

-10%

-25%

2018

Rafael Devers

-17%

0.240

0.298

0.433

2019

30%

21%

28%

2021

Akil Baddoo

-17%

0.259

0.330

0.436

2022

-21%

-12%

-38%

2022

Bobby Witt Jr.

-17%

0.254

0.294

0.428

2023

 

 

 

2014

Xander Bogaerts

-17%

0.240

0.297

0.362

2015

33%

20%

16%

2018

Gleyber Torres

-17%

0.271

0.340

0.480

2019

3%

-1%

11%

2018

Ronald Acuna Jr.

-16%

0.293

0.366

0.552

2019

-4%

0%

-6%

2019

Ronald Acuna Jr.

-16%

0.280

0.365

0.518

2020

-11%

11%

12%

2021

Dylan Carlson

-15%

0.266

0.343

0.437

2022

-11%

-8%

-13%

2022

Spencer Torkelson

-15%

0.203

0.285

0.319

2023

 

 

 

2018

Amed Rosario

-15%

0.256

0.295

0.381

2019

12%

9%

13%

2017

Cody Bellinger

-15%

0.267

0.352

0.581

2018

-3%

-3%

-19%

 

AVERAGE

-18%

0.260

0.321

0.455

 

0.005

0.033

-0.014

The average player saw a slight batting average bump, more improvement in their OBP, but also a slight slugging percentage decline. The range of outcomes is wide, from Schoop and Devers pushing average on the high end to Odor and Baddoo tanking it on the low end. The one player on the list that I'm most drawn to is the last one: Bellinger. Bellinger displayed much more plate discipline than Harris did as a rookie, but he struggled in his sophomore season despite all the well-deserved accolades in his rookie season. Bellinger was also much better against lefties as a rookie (.903 OPS) than Harris was last season (.649 OPS). I'm not saying that Harris is in any danger of a platoon situation, because that's simply crazy talk, but he could very much be at risk of seeing his spot in the lineup against lefties falling to the bottom third in favor of Ozzie Albies (career .917 OPS vs LHP), which will have an impact on Harris's fantasy production. 

The combined factors of the extreme volatility of young players and his current splits issues bring me to the conclusion to zag away from Harris while most of the market is zigging him up the ADP charts. 

Dylan Lee (ADP 745, Min 704, Max 727) is a top-200 pitcher

SOURCE

IP

K

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

RotoWire

26

31

3

0

2.42

1.00

THE BAT

55

61

2

0

3.26

1.12

Steamer

52

55

3

0

3.65

1.19

ATC

50

56

4

0

3.29

1.15

Lee, currently the 389th pitcher off the ADP boards, is someone I first looked at back in late August as I suggested folks begin to look ahead. Alex Lange ended up leapfrogging Lee late in the season, but Lee still finished with the fourth-highest swinging strike rate in baseball (min 30 IP) behind Edwin Diaz, Andres Munoz and Lange. He did this despite a fastball which has below-average velocity and a mediocre profile because his slider is that damn good. Lee had a 46 percent whiff rate on his slider, and hitters who were looking for it didn't fare much better against the aforementioned fastball:

PITCH

#

BA

xBA

SLG

xSLG

WHIFF%

Slider

360

.211

.220

.356

.365

46%

Fastball

343

.202

.193

.298

.306

24%

His overall numbers were better against lefties, but he was still effective against righties. The Atlanta pen has fellow lefties A.J. Minter and Lucas Luetge in it, so Lee doesn't have to be marginalized against certain lefty situations and has the skills to be this year's version of Tim Mayza. He can vulture wins in middle relief along with good ratios and helpful strikeout totals with enough work. I throw in names like this throughout the series so that even deep single-league format players have someone to target on draft day while giving other format players names to keep on their watch lists during the season. 

Miami Marlins

Jorge Soler (ADP 307, Min 180, Max 381) is a top-50 outfielder

SOURCE

PA

AVG

OBP

HR

RBI

R

SB

RotoWire

428

.217

.308

19

51

48

0

THE BAT X

541

.233

.322

25

73

63

1

Steamer

544

.230

.316

24

69

64

1

ATC

483

.228

.316

22

62

52

1

The 2019 season was a fun one for Soler owners, but the changes in the baseball pretty much ensure that never happens again. That said, did you know Soler had a 99th percentile max exit velocity last season despite playing with lower-back troubles that finally got the best of him by late July and required core surgery to correct? Soler has always been able to punish a baseball and crushed fastballs (.257 AVG, .500 SLG) last year, but he was horrendous against anything else (.153 AVG, .292 SLG). Hitting requires footwork, a healthy core and quick hands, and Soler didn't have the holy trinity functioning simultaneously much at all last season, so his poor production in his first year in Miami can be forgiven. 

Miami's lineup spots are mostly an open audition once you get past the newly-acquired Luis Arraez and the returning Jazz Chisholm, so Soler could hit anywhere from third to sixth in this lineup and a healthy core should cement him in a favorable run-producing spot. It wasn't that long ago that we saw what he was capable of doing with Atlanta after he was acquired for the stretch run and snapped out of the season-long funk he was in during his final months with Kansas City. He's somehow still just 30 years old even though it feels like he's been in the game much longer than that. 

Soler is currently 70th on the outfield ADP rankings, 90 spots outside of the top 50. His barrel rate over the past three seasons is higher than the likes of Rafael Devers, Matt Olson and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Simply put, it's way too early to give up on Soler's power and run-production upside, and if your roster build finds you on the hunt for late-round power, he should be right near the top of your list if not topping it. A safer version of Joey Gallo, if you will. 

Braxton Garrett (ADP 492, Min 168, Max 464) is the highest-ranked Garrett by season's end

SOURCE

IP

K

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

RotoWire

59

59

3

0

3.97

1.39

THE BAT

116

112

5

0

4.30

1.34

Steamer

111

100

6

0

3.99

1.31

ATC

78

74

3

0

3.94

1.29

Fantasy managers have five Garretts to choose from this season, depending on league size: Braxton Garrett, Garrett Whitlock, Garrett Crochet, Amir Garrett and Garrett Cleavinger. Whitlock is currently the highest ranked of the quintet, but Braxton could move to the top of the Garrett rankings despite the fact that he isn't even assured a spot in the rotation even after the recent departure of Pablo Lopez. Garrett is coming off an impressive rookie season, decisions aside, posting a 3.58 ERA and 1.25 WHIP along with an 18 percent K-BB% in 88 innings of work after making seven starts in Triple-A to begin the season.

Garrett throws five different pitches, with his slider now his most frequently used pitch as the Marlins have encouraged him to lean into what he throws best. The pitch is easily his best offering and is used to set up his fastball and not vice versa, as is the case with most other pitchers. His velocity isn't the best, so the more he can leverage the slider and spot the fastball, the better off he is. He also mixes in changeups and curveballs to righties, but the pitches are too inconsistent to be considered weapons. Simply put, this is all about the slider with him and the prediction will live and die off the pitch.

He is currently the 145th pitcher by ADP, so his acquisition price in mixed leagues is low enough that you can stash and dash in the reserves to see what direction Garrett's stuff takes this season. He's made steady progress since coming out of the draft and showed signs last season, so I'm excited to see what's next for him in a full season of big-league pitching.

New York Mets

Tommy Pham (ADP 451, Min 191, Max 483) is a top-60 outfielder

SOURCE

PA

AVG

OBP

HR

RBI

R

SB

RotoWire

554

.231

.321

15

53

75

11

THE BAT X

539

.247

.334

15

55

67

12

Steamer

357

.228

.312

10

41

37

6

ATC

474

.238

.323

13

48

59

8

Pham has landed in a situation which could pay off nicely for him and for fantasy speculators as the season wears on. It appears his role as the season begins is on the short side of a designated hitter platoon with Daniel Vogelbach, as long as the portly lefty can continue to mash as he did once he joined the Mets last season. Pham is certainly suited for that type of role, though he has the bat to be an everyday player if the Vogelbach magic wears off at DH or if the injury bug strikes Brandon Nimmo or Starling Marte as it has done frequently throughout the years. 

Pham is a disciplined hitter at the plate who has one of the more discernible batting eyes in baseball. He rarely chases pitches outside the zone but does have his issues swinging at non-fastballs in the zone. The professional fastball hunter has hit 23 homers over the past two seasons off fastballs with a .275 batting average but has 9 homers and a .170 average against non-fastballs. He's done better against offspeed pitches in previous seasons, but the last two years have been particularly troublesome for him.

The above numbers have all been with his current approach. On a recent episode of Rates and Barrels, Eno Sarris had some interesting comments about Pham (click to listen to the clip), noting how Pham wants to look into pulling the ball more because the current baseball doesn't carry enough for him to continue his opposite-field flyball tendencies, which are rather extreme. He's hit an unusual amount of baseballs to the opposite field over the past two seasons:

Pham is currently 86th by ADP in the outfield. If he can do some more turning and burning, particularly on fastballs, he could indeed tap into some more power and cut down on his opposite-field cans of corn:

Adam Ottavino (ADP 662, Min 464, Max 747) is not a top-350 pitcher

SOURCE

IP

K

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

RotoWire

62

74

6

5

3.34

1.21

THE BAT

65

78

3

1

3.59

1.22

Steamer

64

72

3

1

3.66

1.24

ATC

64

75

5

2

3.53

1.25

This one is a weird fit off the bat because he's already low on the ADP charts at 279 despite the fact he's in the 8th-inning setup role for the Mets. This one is aiming more at the NL-only players tempted to roster the sexy strikeout rate, the 24 percent K-BB% and his 13 wins as a reliever over the past two seasons. I put him here as a cautionary tale about the new rules on controlling the running game because Ottavino has some serious adjusting to do in this new world order. Simply put, the league loves to run when Ottavino is on the mound.

Ottavino has two things going against him: he has a slow delivery to the mound and he throws a lot of sliders. Potential base stealers couldn't order a better recipe for increasing their odds of success, which is why the league has succeeded on 87 percent of their 47 attempted steals against him over the past two seasons. In 2021, Ottavino had more stolen bases attempted against him in 62 innings of work than Dylan Cease did in 165.2 innings. Ottavino and his battery mates allowed more steals than every pitcher in the league except Robbie Ray in 2021. Last season, only Noah Syndergaard and Sandy Alcantara allowed more, but the latter allowed 24 steals in 228 innings while Syndergaard allowed 30 in 134.2 innings. Ottavino had 19 bases swiped off him in 65.2 innings.

Ottavino's battery mates in Queens will now be Omar Narvaez and Tomas Nido to start the season unless Francisco Alvarez forces the issue. Narvaez has a 2.01-second pop time on his throws to second, which ranked 61st among the 84 qualifying catchers last season. Nido came in stronger at 29th on that same list. Of course, the reliever's ability to strike out batters at a high volume helps neutralize potential threats, but that's a double-edged sword. Opposing managers know hitters struggle to square up Ottavino, so they lean toward the steal to move a baserunner to the next base. All of this is to say that I'm very worried about how Ottavino will adjust this year as he is forced to alter how he attempts to slow down the running game now that he's limited in his throws over and will be forced to work more quickly with the pitch clock coming into play. We aren't that far removed from his struggles over the 2020 and 2021 seasons with his walks and ratios.

Philadelphia Phillies

Bryson Stott (ADP 221, Min 169, Max 251) is a top-30 middle infielder

SOURCE

PA

AVG

OBP

HR

RBI

R

SB

RotoWire

235

.238

.299

5

25

29

6

THE BAT X

500

.239

.304

11

49

57

9

Steamer

456

.252

.320

12

51

51

9

ATC

503

.247

.311

13

51

58

11

I don't often re-use players in consecutive bold predictions, but I will do so here. I used this spot to predict a top-25 finish for Stott last year which never materialized, but I'm going back to the well and believing he'll finish the season as a top-30 middle infielder. He's currently the 41st middle infielder off the board, with Vaughn Grissom occupying the 30th spot with an ADP of 169.

Stott has the speed and solid approach at the plate to be a pest near the bottom of the order for a loaded Phillies lineup which is still strong despite the absence of Bryce Harper (elbow) for a chunk of the season. I was impressed with Stott's all-fields approach at the plate and how he improved as the season went on to hit .276 in the second half after a miserable .188 before the break. The increased time on base helped him go 9 for 12 in the stolen base department as well. It's worth noting Scott began the season in the worst of slumps. He was briefly demoted to Triple-A in late April and got to the end of May with a .114/.173/.129 slash line and a 32 percent strikeout rate in 75 MLB plate appearances, but he went on from there to hit .258/.318/.403 with a 17 percent strikeout rate the rest of the way. An early slump like that would have ruined many a young player, yet Stott survived it and went on to finish the season just above league average offensively. 

His plate appearances will be impacted by the fact that he'll likely live in the bottom third of the lineup all season, but this is a former 14th overall pick who has done nothing but rake in college and the minors and began to show those talents as the season wore on in 2022. I believe this is the last draft season for the foreseeable future that he comes at a discount. 

Cristopher Sanchez (ADP 749, Min 679, Max 750) is a top-250 pitcher.

SOURCE

IP

K

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

RotoWire

24

22

1

1

5.63

1.46

THE BAT

54

51

2

1

3.72

1.36

Steamer

31

28

2

0

3.86

1.38

ATC

28

25

2

0

4.30

1.37

Sanchez is 404th on the pitcher ADP list and was the guy Philadelphia got from Tampa Bay for Curtis Mead (thanks Philly!!). The lefty has worked as a starter since being traded over with a strong groundball rate and has missed enough bats around some issues with walks. Sanchez is a sinker/slider/changeup guy who shelves the changeup when facing fellow southpaws, but that pitch has been his best offering at the big-league level. I would expect Sanchez to be the next man up should one of the Philly horses have an injury problem or if the back half of the rotation fails to perform as expected. The bullpen suddenly looks rather crowded, so Sanchez's path forward in 2023 would have to be in a rotation spot because any work in relief would be in the lowest-leverage spots. This is obviously a tip for 50-round draft-and-hold leagues or deep NL-only league formats for now, with watchlist potential in other formats. 

Washington Nationals

Corey Dickerson (ADP 665, Min 528, Max 728) is a top-100 outfielder

SOURCE

PA

AVG

OBP

HR

RBI

R

SB

RotoWire

364

.268

.313

8

35

40

2

THE BAT X

322

.251

.298

7

33

34

3

Steamer

373

.264

.309

9

42

40

3

ATC

370

.261

.305

8

39

38

2

Dickerson falls into that class of veteran players on terrible teams who should get every opportunity to do whatever they can for their club. Dickerson is currently projected to hit in the middle of the Nationals lineup and could even do so on a regular basis, much as he did in 2017-2019. He has previously shown the ability to hit lefties but last year went 2-for-26 in his limited chances for a contending St. Louis club. The Nationals will be out of contention by April 1, so they can offer him the chance to eclipse his career-high RBI total of 70 (set back in 2016), although he might struggle to exceed the 84 runs scored that same season due to the lack of talent behind him in the lineup.

He is a good contact hitter who hits the ball to all fields and is even known to hit balls on the bounce, as he doesn't like accepting too many walks. This prediction is based purely on opportunity. His acquisition cost is nothing but the upside is rather intriguing on a volume play for RBIs and batting average help. The marketplace is currently chasing the younger and more volatile upside of Stone Garrett and Alex Call with what they've done in the minors, but Dickerson is free for the taking with proven major-league production. The Nationals would love nothing more than to be able to flip their $2M offseason acquisition for something of value at the deadline. 

Hunter Harvey (ADP 520, Min 452, Max 644) is a top-150 pitcher

SOURCE

IP

K

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

RotoWire

26

27

1

0

3.12

1.19

THE BAT

62

66

2

3

4.10

1.26

Steamer

62

68

3

3

3.70

1.24

ATC

55

60

2

5

3.52

1.23

Kyle Finnegan would be considered the incumbent here, if 11 saves earns a pitcher such a label. A closer with consecutive seasons of a 1.2 HR/9 rate is living on thin ice, even with a bad team like Washington. Harvey had no saves last season but pitched more effectively over his 39.1 innings of work, missing more bats and doing a better job of preventing homers. Harvey possesses 97th percentile fastball velocity and held the league to a .202 batting average with a 28 percent whiff rate with that pitch, a weapon he throws nearly 80 percent of the time. 

His profile looks much like that of Ryne Stanek. Both have high-velocity, low-spin fastballs and turn to either a heater or a splitter with nearly every pitch. Stanek has had trouble fulfilling the potential closer role because of the opener profile he inherited with Tampa Bay and the incumbents he's dealt with since leaving the Rays. Harvey and Finnegan share similar fastball profiles, but Harvey gets the advantage by Eno Sarris's Stuff+ metrics as a slightly above-average pitcher while Finnegan comes in just below average. Finnegan is going off the charts nearly 300 spots in front of Harvey, so the acquisition cost here is almost nothing. He's an NL-only reserve-round pick or a must-target in draft-and-hold formats if Finnegan ended up as your CL2 or CL3. We've long wishcasted Harvey into a closer role, and 2023 has an opportunity for him as the Nationals hold open auditions in search of any type of success.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Collette
Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999 at RotoJunkie, Fanball, Baseball Prospectus and now here at RotoWire. You can hear Jason weekly on many of the Sirius/XM Fantasy channel offerings throughout the season as well as on the Sleeper and the Bust podcast every Sunday. A ten-time FSWA finalist, Jason won the FSWA's Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year award in 2013 and the Baseball Series of the Year award in 2018 for Collette Calls.
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