2023 Fantasy Baseball: AL Central players to target in drafts

Fantasy baseball analysts Scott Pianowski, Dalton Del Don and Andy Behrens reveal the player they're targeting on each AL Central team. The reason behind their selections could be tied to draft value, a star they want to build around or someone they’re going out of their way to take.

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Cleveland Guardians

An easy and inexpensive way to give your squad a boost in the pitching categories is to park 2-3 elite non-closing relievers in your daily active roster. To that end, you want guys like James Karinchak. He won't cost anything in your draft, his ratios were exceptional last season and he struck out a ridiculous 62 batters in just 39.0 innings. Remember, you have an innings cap in Yahoo default leagues, so you need to concern yourself with K-rate, not total Ks. — Andy Behrens

• Triston McKenzie posted a 31:1 K:BB ratio over his final four starts last year and is a dark horse Cy Young candidate in 2023. The tall righty is equally effective against left-handers and should benefit from new catcher Mike Zunino's strong defense/framing. McKenzie had a historical rookie season and built his innings up to 190+ last year. That said, it may or may not be worth mentioning that he's struggled mightily in spring training, so I've likely drafted enough McKenCY for 2023. — Dalton Del Don

You can draft Cal Quantrill outside the top 200 on Yahoo and outside the top 300 in NFBC, likely because he's outpitched his component stats for two straight years. But he doesn't need to do much to validate those inexpensive buy-ins. Cleveland still offers a plus defense, and I'll consider Quantrill as a late-round depth play in my mixed leagues. — Scott Pianowski

Chicago White Sox

I will be the last occupant of Luis Robert Island, when the rest of you are long gone. Let's turn the page on 2022, OK? He's only 25 years old, his power upside is exceptional and he has speed enough to swipe 20 bags, particularly under the new rules. — Andy Behrens

• Elvis Andrus was quietly one of only 21 players who went 15/15 last season despite playing in one of baseball's best pitcher's parks in Oakland before moving to Chicago. In fact, Andrus hit more home runs for the White Sox than he did the A's last season, despite just 33% of his at-bats coming with Chicago. Andrus is 34 years old and clearly will regress in 2023, but if we prorate his stats with the White Sox over 600 ABs, we'd get: .271-83-30-93-36 (no one went 30/30 last season). Andrus re-signed in Chicago, which has increased homers by 22% for RHB the past three years. He isn't being drafted as a top-35 shortstop in Yahoo leagues. — Dalton Del Don

• Lucas Giolito tested COVID-19 positive early last season and coincidentally or not, his season quickly fell apart. He still has Cy Young upside entering an age-28 season, and the ADP has fallen considerably. I'm back in. — Scott Pianowski

Detroit Tigers

• Riley Greene should be an obvious post-hype sleeper for everyone, just one year removed from a 24-16-.301 season in the high minors. We were fighting over him in drafts last year — and with good reason. — Andy Behrens

• Austin Meadows has averaged 30 homers, 81 runs scored and 98 RBI during odd-number years throughout his career. He is reportedly down 15 pounds while fully recovered from last year's injuries and off-field issues. He's also slated to hit cleanup, is still just 27 years old and should benefit from Comerica Park changing its dimensions in the offseason. Detroit decreased HR for LHB an MLB-high 39% the past three seasons but should be more hitter-friendly after moving in the CF/RF fences. — Dalton Del Don

• Matthew Boyd was a strikeout ace a few years back, and maybe his comeback is worth keeping tabs on. Consider his first nine innings this spring: 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 17 K. When in doubt, follow the K/BB ratio. Boyd is a perfect final-round pick in deeper mixed leagues. — Scott Pianowski

Kansas City Royals

• Vinnie Pasquantino profiles as a guy who should benefit from the new shift rules in a meaningful way. He offers batting average and respectable pop, plus he's the rare baseball player who is an absolute delight on Twitter. I'm in for the full Pasquantino experience. — Andy Behrens

• Brady Singer was a remarkably similar pitcher to last year's NL Cy Young winner, Sandy Alcantara — only, Singer's younger and with better peripherals. He was especially dominant during the second half and should continue to get better with further development of his changeup. Team context certainly does Singer no favors, but at least Kauffman Stadium has decreased homers by 18% over the last three seasons, and recording wins wasn't a problem last year. Singer could emerge as a true ace in 2023. — Dalton Del Don

I'm going to co-sign Dalton's Brady Singer endorsement. I can't believe Singer's ADP is in the 175-200 range. — Scott Pianowski

Minnesota Twins

Minnesota has a roster full of guys we used to be excited about back in 2019. Today, we can at least feel giddy when we land Jhoan Duran, a flamethrowing reliever with some of the nastiest stuff in the history of stuff. He's electric enough that he doesn't need the full-time closing gig to help us for fantasy purposes. — Andy Behrens

There's no question Byron Buxton is a huge risk with a long injury history, but hopefully, knee surgery corrected one of his biggest issues. Moreover, Buxton's performance on the field (even when playing compromised at times) has been incredible, including a pace of 51 homers and 14 steals per 162 games the past three years. Buxton also has the third-most HR/AB the past two seasons. Don't draft afraid; 45+ homers are coming. — Dalton Del Don

• Tyler Mahle is only two years removed from 210 strikeouts, he's presumably healthy again and the Minnesota park and defense is a significant upgrade from what he dealt with in Cincinnati. — Scott Pianowski