Reviewing Best Buys and Hot Takes: AL East

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, I did a Roster Review series throughout the fall/winter looking back at the 2021 season for all 30 teams while also including a Best Buy and Hot Take for 2022 (as well as an On the Rise and Off the Radar players, but I’ll probably review those in a separate piece down the line).

Let’s see how it all turned out!


BEST BUY: Giancarlo Stanton

It’s Judge… obviously. Stanton gave you 31 HRs in just 452 PA, but with a .211 AVG.

HOT TAKE: Gleyber Torres has a 30 HR season.

By letter of the law, it’s a miss as he hit just 24, buuutttt he more than doubled his 2021 output of 9 and didn’t give back all the SBs, either, netting his first double-double (24 HR/10 SB) so if the Hot Take moved Torres up on your board, you are happy with the results. I know there have been a billion jokes about his age, particularly when he smashed 38 HRs at age-22, but it’s worth remembering that he’s entering his age-26 season next year. While he might never hit that many again, he has upside at a fair price.


BEST BUY: Brandon Lowe

Three IL stints (2 related to the same lower back issue) limited him Lowe to just 65 games making him one of the bigger busts in the Top 100 last season (83rd ADP in the Main Event). The back seemed to exacerbate his power outage as he had a .203 ISO prior to the first IL stint, down from a .263 career ISO coming into the season, and then just a .119 over the rest of his season (just 133 PA). Backs can linger and wreak havoc across multiple seasons so stay tuned for news on Lowe in the offseason. He is expected to avoid surgery which is an encouraging sign.

HOT TAKE: Wander Franco is a disappointment in 2022.

I was adamant in my Franco disinterest and it was really about paying so much (71st ADP) for a profile that lacked standout fantasy skills. Injury plays a big role in him ending up a disappointment, but even if we generously doubled his output from 83 games, it’s still just 12 HR/14 SB with a .277/.328/.417 line. I am not always averse to betting on the come like this, but he didn’t have a carrying tool that made me comfortable to jump him. I’m not sure the discount will be enough to target him as he will likely remain inside the Top 100 even with the depth at SS.


BEST BUY: Bo Bichette

This one was pretty boring because I tabbed a 1st rounder as the Best Buy and he needed a nuclear September (.406 AVG, 7 HR, 4 SB in 142 PA) to keep himself in 1st-2nd round consideration for 2023. The SB drop-off is a bit concerning, though. After a huge 25-for-26 season last year, he went just 13-for-21 this year. He did have a 75% success rate in the second half and the new rules for 2023 could foster more SBs (pitch clock, pickoff rules, larger bases) so I’m reluctant to go too hard on Bichette for the fall despite having some questions about his speed output in the past.

HOT TAKE: Hyun Jin Ryu 류현진 rebounds with a sub-3.00 ERA season.

After two bad starts in April, forearm inflammation put him on the IL for a month (a harbinger). Upon return he reeled off a 2.75 ERA in four starts, so it turns out I was 100% right. No further questions!

Unfortunately, Ryu had to get Tommy John Surgery after that June 1st start, ending his season and eating up half of 2023. Heading into his age-36 season with a dodgy health record, we might have seen the last of Ryu as a fantasy-relevant arm.


BEST BUY: Anthony Santander

Starting off with a nice win (Baltimore was the first RR I wrote last year)! Santander found that elusive health and clubbed 33 HRs in a career-high 647 PA. Who knows how many he could’ve hit if the Orioles hadn’t extended the LF wall, pushing it back 30 ft. and raising it to 12 ft. (+5). He still managed 15 HRs at home, matching his 2021 total but needing 123 more PA to get there.

HOT TAKE: Trey Mancini hits a career-high 40 HR in 2022.

OK, so 1-of-2 with Baltimore. Perhaps if I had realized that the LF wall move would halve the Camden Yards home run park factor – going from 1st at 153 (meaning HRs are hit 53% more often than average) to 26th with a 77 – I wouldn’t have gotten so bold with Mancini. I could generously double his home output to 20 and it still lands him 12 short of my figure so this never had a chance. Perhaps most disappointing is that he got worse with Houston (77 wRC+) which is the direct opposite of what I thought would happen.


BEST BUY: J.D. Martinez

Even if I had known that power was going to drop severely across the league in 2022, I don’t think it would’ve taken me off Martinez. He is someone I saw as having anytime power, a player who is among the power leaders regardless of the league scoring environment. Instead, his ISO dropped 58 points to .174 which is right in line with the .175 he put up in 2020, but it was largely suggested that the lack of video in-game was behind that fall. He rebounded with a .232 ISO in 2021 which reinvigorated confidence in the 34-year-old, especially as he reacquired OF eligibility, but it didn’t come together.

His Barrel Rate held firm at 12%, but he lost 8 points in Hard-Hit Rate (41%) and 3 mph in Exit Velocity (89 mph). I’m cautious about leaning too hard on composite Exit Velo, but I don’t think it’s out of bounds to point it out when it was a career low. Now entering his age-35 season and once again UT-only, the price will fall, but will it be enough to dive back in? I’ve done a draft already and he went in the late-15th round at pick 221. Even if that’s not where he lands throughout draft season, he is certain to be much cheaper than his 97 ADP from 2022.

HOT TAKE: Jarren Duran gets 25 SBs.

25 on the button! Man, I’m good at this!

What do mean the 18 at Triple-A “don’t count”?? OK, fiiiine… maybe I’d give myself a little more credit if Duran’s pace would’ve reached the mark, but his 7 SBs in 223 PA only paces out to 20 in a full season. There is still some intriguing potential for Duran, but he will have to cut the strikeouts (28% in 2022; 31% in 335 MLB PA) and get his OBP over .300 if he’s going to garner mixed league relevance.

Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and Content Director for OOTP Perfect Team. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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1 year ago

Is W. Franco’s 2022 chalked up to he’s about 12/14/.277 w/o injury or are those figures diminished because he initially played through an injury?

1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Sporer

I suspect it’s when his strong side split catches up that he becomes the monster everyone expected.