Aaron Judge grew up in San Francisco. He told associates of mine at the Winter Meetings that he can still remember which Walgreen’s he was in when he witnessed his first shoplifting. He wistfully remembered, “I was by the breath mints, and this man carried out six boxes of Wheat Thins.” Fond memories for Judge that are going to hard to replicate when he signs a 1-year deal with the Giants in ten years. As we all assumed, Aaron Judge re-signed with the Yankees through his age-39 season. Luckily, Razzball has a time machine at its disposal, and I went forward nine years to take a quick pic of Aaron Judge when he’s in that final year. Here it is:
So, Aaron Judge on the Yankees is more of the same. *claps hands, all done* No? Okay. Not sure how many people heard this, but it was reported the other day that MLB used three different baseballs last year. One of those balls was more batter-friendly. It was found only at the All-Star Game, Home Run Derby, postseason and Yankees games. This sounds like a joke, but the jokes ended with the guy walking out with Wheat Thins. I’m being serious now. Yo, jai alai called, it wants its “this sport is a joke” moniker back. MLB embraces gambling and institutes cheating by way of different balls. It truly is incredible.
Last year, Aaron Judge went 62/16/.311, guys and five girl readers, and that is the best line of all-time. 40/40 is nice; 50/10 is butter; 60/5 is nomnomnom, get in my belly; 62/12? I mean, c’mon. Seriously, c’mon. C’mon, c’mon! C’mon, c’mon, c’mon! It’s ludicrous. It’s mind boggling. Thesaurus, give me another synonym! It’s BREATHTAKING!!! He always had power — he’s a freakin’ giant, of course he has power! — but he’s never hit .300 or stole more than six bags in a season before. Also, being a certified giant (and not a Giant, as was rumored), he’s prone to injuries. That year of 62/12 wasn’t just a career year, it was the career year of career years. How’sever, if he goes 40/10/.280, it’s still very doable and a great. For 2023, I’ll give Aaron Judge projections of 109/41/102/.283/10 in 548 ABs. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this offseason for 2023 fantasy baseball:
Mitch Haniger – Signed with the Giants. When Haniger was signing with the Giants, he was told they were pursuing two outfielders: Him and Judge. Now, he’s going to bat between J.D. Davis and Wilmer Flores, i.e., the Ghosts of Mets Past. Too bad Mets can’t get the Giants to take McCann. “Hey, that’s where’s where my balls were.” That’s Haniger referring to McCann. So, Haniger is a 10-homer, 25-homer or 40-homer guy, depending on which Haniger shows up. The safe bet is staying close to the median. For 2023, I’ll give Haniger projections of 61/23/72/.241/1 in 482 ABs.
Kenley Jansen – Signed with the Red Sox. Finally, a guy to setup Ryan Brasier! With Jansen in Boston, the contract stipulates that he now be referred by a new name. So, Kenmore Jansen will be the closer for five of six months in Boston, being absent his usual one month each year for health reasons. For 2023, I’ll give Kenley Jansen projections of 4-1/3.40/1.10/83, 39 saves in 61 IP.
Masataka Yoshida – Signed with the Red Sox. The 29-year-old lefty outfielder has played since 2016 in Japan. His career stats: 135 homers, 21 steals, .326/.419/.538 in 3251 plate appearances. His high in Japan for any season is 29 homers, 8 steals and .351. Last year: 21/4/.335. Whatevs, he’s gonna hit .350 in Fenway just doinking the monster all day. His main attraction is his bat-to-ball skills, as he only struck out 41 times last year in 508 plate appearances. To do a quick, half-assed comp, think Bogaerts last year: 15/6/.307. Might be more like Starling Marte with next to no speed, so that’s 17/3/.290. Worth a fantasy number three outfielder pick, but it would be shocking to see a guy who hit 21 homers last year in Japan come here and hit 30+. He should slot in behind Verdugo at the top of the order, but I’ve been saying for years Verdugo should be at the top of the order, and Cora keeps batting Enrique there, so who knows. For 2023, I’ll give Masataka Yoshida projections of 81/16/66/.284/4 in 547 ABs.
Xander Bogaerts – Signed with the Padres. This is related, but a side bar that made me absolutely howl. I looked at the Padres’ depth chart after Bogaerts signed, and there was David Dahl at DH. Oh my. Guess you can’t spell Dahl without DH, but you also can’t spell it without HA! So, the Red Sox wanted nothing to do with Bogaerts, apparently, because they have. Dot dot dot. Christian Arroyo? Hope the Red Sox plan on signing Dansby or Correa. Bogaerts landing in San Diego is a pretty good indicator that Tatis is going to be playing outfield when he returns. Or I guess Kim gets railroaded, like in one of Eminem’s songs. Bogaerts’s K-rate and walk rate have been pretty consistent, even as his batted ball profile has declined. He’s slowly turning into Yelich with so many ground balls. His Hard Contact% also has become flaccid. Steamer projections have him down for 19/6/.271 in 149 games, and that might actually be optimistic with his power. He could bounce back, but I don’t think I’m going to be there if it happens with his current ADP. For 2023, I’ll give Xander Bogaerts projections of 87/17/82/.292/7 in 549 ABs.
Taijuan Walker – Signed with the Phillies. Can’t believe the powers that be are insisting I call him The Republic of China Walker. I’d remove this tin-foil hat, but then they’d read my thoughts. So, Taijuan lost a strikeout on his K/9 last year, and had his best ERA in a few (ignoring 2020 season). His xFIP was even near his career best (3.89), and his career ERA is 3.89, so call him a 3.89 ERA pitcher and be done with it, but he’s super home run prone and going from Metco to Philly is worrisome. Love that he’s a safe bet for 160 IP, and his walk rate was better. How’sever, losing strikeouts and needing the ball to stay in the park for success doesn’t sound like a good combo for Philly. For 2023, I’ll give Taijuan Walker projections of 11-9/3.98/1.18/141 in 163 IP.
Jose Quintana – Signed with the Mets. Steve Cohen got all his money wrapped up in formaldehyde sharks or what? Mets gonna get to the postseason and be like: Geez, wonder why our 67-year-old pitchers are tired. Quintana is likely a better real-life pitcher than a fantasy one, even though he has a better career ERA than Taijuan (3.75 to 3.89), and seemed to be reborn last year as a Pirate/Card. Or was he?! Damn, Mr. Reversal Question, freaking me out. His xFIP looked pretty similar last year as to his 4+ ERA years on the Cubs. Seems to be an okay late flyer that is wildly *shrugs*. For 2023, I’ll give Jose Quintana projections of 10-8/3.86/1.29/142 in 171 IP.
Willson Contreras – Signed with the Cards. “They’re big shoes to fill, but I’ve toiled in Yadier’s shadow for six years. It’s time–God damn it, what is Ken Rosenthal reporting?” That was Andrew Knizner. All of those late-night seshs with Yadi and Knizner watching Beaches for nothing. Between sobs, Knizner said, “But I’ve been Barbara Hershey for so long! You can’t sign Contreras!” Historically, Wrigley is better than Busch, but last year it didn’t play that way, and Willson had one of his best years (22/4/.243). He might not have the upside of a Realmuto or Sal P., but he’s about as locked into solid production as you’re gonna find at catcher. Would I draft him? Nope, he goes before I draft catchers, but he’s fine. For 2023, I’ll give Willson Contreras projections of 74/23/68/.247/5 in 422 ABs.
Nomar Mazara – Signed with the Orioles. Nomar Mazara’s career is like the other famous baseball Nomar, if he was never good and we’re only remembering the post-injury, post-Mia years.
Jace Peterson – Signed with the A’s. Financial terms were not known yet, but I have to imagine it included at least one 20% off Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon. Maybe he gave them a discount if they agreed to refer to themselves as the Oakland J-A’s. So, Peterson is the type of guy that the J-A’s will give the worst 500+ ABs you’ve ever seen. Hopefully not, but, then again, what else do they have? For 2023, I’ll give Jace Peterson 51/11/54/.228/14 in 429 ABs.
Aledmys Diaz – Signed with the A’s. Sorry, can’t call you the J-A’s anymore. They’re now the Dee-A’s. Maybe they can just alternate between J-A’s and Dee-A’s. Aledmys is a poor man’s Yuli Gurriel. Call him Lourdes. Ooh, low blow — that’s what she said never! For 2023, Aledmys Diaz projections of 57/14/63/.248/2 in 486 ABs.
Joe Jimenez – Acquired by the Braves. Atlanta has been pretty quiet in the offseason, because they have everyone on their team locked up for 14 years. For 2023, will give Joe Jimenez projections of 5-2/3.21/1.11/78, 3 saves in 61 IP.
Josh Bell – Signed with the Guardians. Solid landing spot with Cleveland, the home of the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. They’ll appreciate him since you can’t have Rock ‘n Roll without more Bell. Cue The Reaper! Don’t fear it, at least. Progressive won’t help Bell, but nowhere was going to with his Launch Angle. Surprising too, because if you’ve ever seen him, he seems to have a pretty upper-cutty swing, but it beats everything into the ground. His career 31.2% FB rate is so blech, and his Hard Contact is almost as bad. It’s a solid landing spot though, because Cleveland doesn’t buy high-priced free agents, so they’re playing him 162 games, if he’s healthy, and in the middle of the lineup. Blue Oyster Cult’s new single about using the Bell, (Don’t Fear) Counting Stats. For 2023, I’ll give Josh Bell projections of 71/19/83/.261 in 563 ABs.
Andrew Heaney – Signed with the Rangers. Rangers are putting together the ultimate crazy ex-girlfriend pitching staff. Won’t be around for long, but it’s going to wreck havoc while it’s there. “Damn, she fine with that 13 K/9…” Looking out the window, “…and now she’s keying my car.” Also, much like a crazy ex, Heaney’s numbers last year are the type that make projections systems trip over their own d**k. They see Heaney and they’re like, “He wasn’t top three in the Cy race? Well, he will be!” Seriously, his projections look better than Alek Manoah. Ya know, an actual ace. Heaney has a career 4.56 ERA, and only one year with more than 130 IP thrown. If you believe the Dodgers fixed him and don’t just cheat to make their terrible pitchers great, then Heaney could be worth a flyer. Will give him the projections of 8-5/3.88/1.26/144 in 124 IP.
Cody Bellinger – Signed with the Cubs.
“I’m signing with the Cubs? Like little bears?” pic.twitter.com/4DzNtAEZPb
— Razzball (@Razzball) December 6, 2022
Cody Bellinger is a big fan of picnics, so this is truly going to be a struggle for him. “Hey, are you my new teammate?” Cody Bellinger standing in the cereal aisle talking to a box of Teddy Grahams. “What position do you play?” Cody talking to a squeeze bottle of honey. Any hoo! As discussed in another blurb, Wrigley didn’t play as offensive as it usually is, but that feels like a small sample size thing. Wind will definitely be blowing out this year, because of Bellinger’s swings and misses. Got heeeeeeeem! Bellinger has a lot more issues than just whether or not the wind is blowing out. He turned a forearm bash, celebrating a home run, into a career-ruiner. There’s the glimmer that he can get it all back, but a change of scenario doesn’t make it so. Dodger Stadium is a great home run park; it just stopped being for Bellinger. For 2023, I’ll give Cody Bellinger projections of 66/21/73/.228/15 in 481 ABs.
Jameson Taillon – Signed with the Cubs. Have a theory on the Cubs’ offseason moves. If they do nothing, the fans will lose their collective shizz. So, the Cubs put together a non-competitive team, but sign a few randoms to make it seem like they’re trying. “Yeah, we lost Willson Contreras, but check out Jameson Taillon! He’s fun, right? Who’s he throwing to? Uh…Cody Bellinger during pregame warm-ups!” Taillon strikes out no one, is home run prone and I wouldn’t go near him in Wrigley. For 2023, I’ll give Jameson Taillon projections of 8-11/4.17/1.16/155 in 181 IP.
Vince Velasquez – Signed with the Pirates. VV might be the only W the Pirates get this year in free agency, and it’s still really just two V’s.