Baseball is back, but it will be different. In this post, we will quickly go over some of the changes that will have the biggest impact on this fantasy baseball season:
Universal DH: This is the biggest change of them all and we will go into the impact of the Universal DH in more detail in a separate post. The short of it is that hitters will have more opportunities to play, and National League pitchers will no longer have an inherent edge in ERA over their American League counterparts.
Short Spring: Four weeks is not enough time for the players and fantasy managers alike to prepare for the season. We expect MLB teams to be cautious with their players when the season starts. Starting pitchers will likely have smaller pitch counts, so don’t expect to see any quality starts around the league. Likewise, it will be difficult for fantasy managers to get an understanding of what these pitchers did to change in the off-season. Last season, we saw Robbie Ray take major strides en route to winning his first Cy Young. This season, we will need more time to analyze which pitchers changed their spin rates, velocities, and pitch types.
An entirely separate issue related to a short spring training is the uncertainty of roles as we get closer to Opening Day. For that reason, fantasy managers are likely to be spending more of the FAB budget early in the season this year. Throw in a flood of free agent signings around the league, this season is going to be well underway before we get a grasp of how the middling teams will perform and how their lineups will take shape.
Impact on Free Agency: We have seen some big deals this week, but there are a lot of players still left to be signed. We expect this to hurt the middle-to-low tier free agents if professional organizations decide not to rush signing these players and instead try to win for cheaper. We do expect significant signings to occur throughout the first part of the season, which, again, creates a reason to spend big FAB dollars on players in the earlier part of the year.
Impact of Expanded Playoffs: A 12-team post-season is going to change the way the league does business. With more teams remaining in the playoff hunt, we expect a much less exciting trade deadline, with less big names changing places. This creates even more reason to spend FAB dollars earlier in the season, because once we get an idea of how lineups will look, less will change drastically.
Other Notes: Other changes were contemplated, such as a ban on defensive shifts, adding a pitch clock, and larger bases, but those have all been put on hold until 2023, which is great news for fantasy baseball managers. Preparing for this season in such a short window of time will be hard enough as is.
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