Fernando Tatis Jr. leads the headlines for MLB’s most polarizing players

As a general rule, we can use the average draft position as a pretty solid measure of public opinion about a player’s predicted fantasy value. But ADP obviously has its limitations. A simple average doesn’t really tell us anything about the range of opinions that exist about a given player – and with certain players the range of opinions is outrageously wide.

Each year we can identify a few names in the player pool that some of us consider likely league winners and others consider radioactive. A manager’s early-round target is another manager’s unavailable toxic asset. Today, our mission is to review the ins, outs, and various unknowns of three of fantasy baseball’s most polarizing hitters for 2023. We only consider early rounders, top 50 picks here – players who carry a non-trivial cost at the draft table. You can miss any number of selections in the double-digit rounds without ill repercussions, but you’d better not bully anyone who goes as early as these guys.

Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, San Diego Padres (ADP 22.5)

If you’re fired up about picking Tatís because you see a player with top-of-draft skill available for a magic source midway through the second round, I completely understand. The case is made easy. He’s an elite talent with a career OPS of .965, just a year away from 42/25. Also, Tatis just turned 24 in January, so there’s a good chance we haven’t seen him at his best yet.

Basically, the only issues you have to overlook with Tatis are the fact that he’s incarcerated through April 20 for violating the PED. And he’s had three surgeries since he last played in a big league game And He had a very quiet spring. If you don’t see any red flags there, cool.

Tatís was ranked 7th overall and (which is wild) 55th in NFBC drafts, so the controversy over him in fantasy circles is huge. Players hardly become more polarizing. Personally, I haven’t put Tatis in any leagues because there’s always another artist who sees him as something very close to the uninjured pre-PED version of himself. And hey, maybe the artist is right. I happen to think the reduced price for Tatis is reasonable given that he’s guaranteed to miss the first three weeks of the season and it’s at least possible (perhaps likely) that he won’t return immediately as a five-category superhero Fantasy Monster. I’m open to taking him to ADP if I’m ever given a space for him.

If you need a more ruthless, aggressive version of Tatis, Dalton Del Don has got you covered 👇.

Michael Harris II, OF, Atlanta Braves (ADP 33.1)

Harris had low-level hype last season, which then snuffed out expectations when he reached the majors. He fully earned his Rookie of the Year hardware by hitting 19 home runs, stealing 20 pockets, hitting .297 and playing elite defense at center. No question he was great. A delight in the imagination; a pleasure to watch in reality.

He’s also a screaming candidate for regression with a few notable holes in his game. Harris isn’t exactly a walker (4.8BB%) and he didn’t hit any lefties last season (.238), plus he’s found a level of success in the majors he hasn’t equaled at any minor league stop. His high batting average was enhanced by a .361 BABIP, which may or may not stay.

And yet… well, wow. Harris was a lot of fun last year. Defense will keep him on the field through any cold stretches at the plate. And he’s only 22, so gains in power aren’t out of the question. His ability to steal bases is perfectly legit, so he’s a lock to be a serious asset in at least one standard fantasy category. If he gets 600+ plate appearances in the Braves’ lineup, it’s hard to believe he won’t give us a 15/30 season of plenty of run production. His average seems likely to slip – every projection system puts him in the .270s – but he won’t be a clear burden on any statistic.

I’ll never get Harris drafted, but that has very little to do with my expectations of him and everything to do with my enthusiasm for it Randy Arozarena And Kyle Schwarber. I won’t roll my eyes if you want Harris in the middle of the third. A certain amount of regression is burned into his ADP.

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Luis Robert Jr., OF, Chicago White Sox (ADP 45.6)

Robert was a disastrous fantasy bust last season, like so many other key players on the White Sox roster. It was a cheerless team that underperformed and had little fun from spring through fall. Injuries have been a constant concern for Robert for many years, but none of us are particularly good at predicting health. His OPS collapsed in 2022, losing 200 points year-on-year. Without question, there will be thousands of fantasy managers who feel like they were sabotaged by Robert last season and think it’s best to make a clean cut.

On the other hand, Robert can do things like that…

…and he’s hit .307 with 25 bombs and 17 steals in 166 games over the past two years. If he can manage to remain largely healthy for an entire season, it’s perfectly clear that he has the qualities necessary to dramatically exceed his ADP. He’s only 25, so like Tatis and Harris, we shouldn’t think of him as a finished product.

I should really back off from any debate about Robert because Monday night I gave him $41 in an ottoneu draft (salary cap) with no regrets. ($400 budget, lots of held players, inflation, etc.) Seems like I’m a sucker for punishment. Or tools. Or both.

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