These left-handed hitters are ready to feast after MLB’s new shift ban

Of all the MLB rule changes that will impact fantasy leagues this year, the limitations on defensive changes might be the hardest to predict. This is a rule change that will impact every player differently, as some hitters have faced extreme changes more often than others in recent years. Additionally, some hitters might try to alter their batted ball profiles in response to new defensive alignments, while others will keep things the way they were and hope their batted balls will hole up with greater consistency.

Never one to back down from a challenge, here are my best guesses as to which players will see their batting averages increase due to shift limitations.

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NOTE: You’ll notice that every name on this list is that of a left-handed hitter, as those who hit from the left side and fired a lot of balls were greatly impacted by the opposition’s ability to charge on the first base side. diamond.

Of the players who faced more than 1,000 shots last year, none encountered the turn more than Pasquantino (93.8%). Despite overloaded defenses, the left-handed slugger hit .295 in 2022 thanks to an exceptional strikeout rate of 11.4%. Managers don’t need much imagination to see how he could lead the Majors in batting average this year.

The good news: Seager hit a career-high 33 homers last year. The bad news: His average of .245 was more than 20 points below his mark from all previous seasons. Seager’s strikeout rate remained consistent last year, and his .283 xBA showed he deserved better luck. Better fortunes and limitations on shifts could lead to an average increase of more than 50 points year over year.

Of the players who faced 2,000 pitches, only Seager encountered substitutions more often than Tucker. The 26-year-old is on one of baseball’s best rosters, hitting 30 homers in two straight seasons and recording a career-high 25 interceptions last year, meaning he’s averaging at bat to be a top-five fantasy. asset.

Kepler was a fantasy star during the ball juice season in 2019 (36 HRs, .252 BA) but showed just average power (37 HRs in 284 games) while batting below .230 in all three last years. The left-handed slugger consistently faced extreme change in that streak, and his xBA in each of those three seasons was over .250. A late reflection this year, Kepler could soon be back on the shallow league radar.

After a 46-home run, 194-R+RBI season, Schwarber could take his game to even greater heights now that defensive changes have been limited. There is a scenario where Schwarber collects more base hits and becomes the equivalent of the Mets slugger Pete Alonsowho is drafted in the second round this year.

Yordan Alvarez (OF, Houston Astros)

Already in the discussion of baseball’s best hitter, Alvarez could be even better now that teams can’t roll out big changes against him. The left-handed batsman ranked seventh in baseball with an average of .306 last year, but Statcast thinks he should have been even more productive, awarding him a .329 xBA. There’s a chance we’ll be talking about Alvarez as the #1 overall fantasy option in 2024.

Those willing to give Kelenic another chance will be happy to know that in each of his two disappointing MLB seasons, he faced numerous changes and recorded an xBA more than 30 points higher than his actual mark. The bad news is that his xBA stats were still horrible. Even so, the 23-year-old once held high prospect status and could reward those who caught him at the end of their drafts.

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For Lowe, the most important factor in his fantastic 2023 output will be overcoming the back issues that limited him to 65 games last year. And those willing to bet on his health improving will be happy to know that shift limitations should propel Lowe to the 0.258 average he posted from 2019 to 21.

When he’s not ruining your batting average, Muncy is a valuable power hitter who boasts an elite walk rate and collects both runs and RBIs in clusters. Unfortunately, the 32-year-old has hit under .200 in two of the past three seasons while constantly dealing with heavy defensive changes. Muncy will be a fantasy star in 2023 simply by becoming just a light middle drain at bat.

Joey Gallo (OF, Minnesota Twins)

Although I’m unlikely to write Gallo, I felt the need to include it in this article. The .199 career hitter has faced a lot of changes in recent years and likely still has 40 home runs (he only hit 19 home runs in 2022), but he’ll need to make some big gains in batting average to become a fantastic asset.

A career .271 hitter heading into 2020, Rizzo has batted .234 while dealing with many extreme changes over the past three seasons. The 33-year-old went deep 32 times last year and could be invaluable on the Yankees roster if shift limitations help push his average back toward his lifetime mark of .265.

Olson is yet another player in this article who is a high batting average away from being an elite fantasy asset. He’s had 73 home runs and 214 RBIs over the past two seasons, and his .255 average over that two-year span isn’t an embarrassing mark. After dealing with a lot of changes in these campaigns, Olson now has the potential to collect even more tally stats by providing more base hits.

Tellez is one of my favorite sleepers in the second half of Yahoo’s drafts, as the 0.219 average he posted during his 2022 breakout campaign was well below his solid 0.252 xBA. I’m excited about the tally stats Tellez could rack up hitting .250 while repeating his 35 long balls from a year ago.

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