Shifting the fantasy baseball narrative on players who struggle against the shift

Anticipating future player performance in baseball (both fantasy and real-life) is already a challenge. For the past few seasons, several new wrinkles have been introduced, rendering the process even more difficult. After the 2019 season, the chore was discerning how hitters and pitchers were influenced by the rabbit ball. The truncated 2020 campaign was replete with outlier production subject to regression, along with quirks like regional scheduling. Last season featured a mid-season league mandate policing grip enhancers, not to mention deploying two different baseballs.

Fortunately, most projection systems utilize a three-year baseline, so 2019 can leave the building. However, there are more nuances to factor into the mix this season. Whether it is the type of ball being used or humidors in all 30 parks (or both), baseballs continue to incur more drag than in previous seasons. There are still complaints pertaining to the slickness of the ball. If it were guaranteed that these conditions would repeat next season, neutralizing the numbers would not be an issue. However, there is no guarantee the ball will travel in a similar manner in 2023 – or even for the rest of 2022.

Complicating things further is the advent of a more balanced schedule for 2023. Currently, each team plays the other teams in their division 19 times with only 16 interleague affairs. Next year, only 14 games will be played between division rivals. Clubs will then play six games against each of the other squads in their own league, plus a three-game interleague set against all of the teams in the opposite league, save for their designated “rival” against whom they’ll square off in a pair of two-game sets.

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