Throughout a six-month MLB and fantasy season, each player’s luck tends to even out. After all, with 600+ plate appearances or 150+ innings, the ebbs and flows of lucky or unlucky streaks tend to eventually wash away. However, some players manage to ride the extremes for the entirety of the campaign. And the players listed below can, unfortunately, count themselves as the unluckiest players of 2022.
Fantasy managers should give themselves a mulligan if they drafted a few names on this list, and they should be aware that these players will be excellent bounce-back candidates next season.
Kepler is finishing up a disappointing year that includes a .227 average, a .666 OPS and just nine homers across 446 plate appearances. But Statcast has ranked him as one of the unluckiest players in several areas, assigning him a solid .267 xBA and a .340 xwOBA. Kepler has had balanced splits this year, and there is a chance that he bounces back in 2023 to hit 20 homers. But I would hesitate to predict a massive rebound in his batting mark, as the southpaw slugger has hit below .230 in four of the past five seasons.
Mountcastle initially appears to have been felled by the fence changes at Camden Yards, as he has compiled just 21 homers and his year-over-year OPS has dropped more than 70 points. But a closer look reveals that he has been better at home than on the road, and according to Statcast, he has earned a respectable .275 batting mark and .357 wOBA. Mountcastle could approach the 30-homer plateau next year.
Seager is in the midst of a solid season from a fantasy perspective, having produced a career-best 29 homers. He should also finish with his second-highest lifetime totals in runs and RBIs. But he has declined this year overall, as his .779 OPS is roughly 75 points below his career mark and more than 100 points lower than his .915 OPS from 2021.
The good news is that Seager could be even better next year, as he has earned a .286 xBA this season which is in line with his career levels. With shortstop as one of the deepest fantasy positions, I envision Seager falling in drafts and being a value pick next year.
Christian Walker (1B, Arizona Diamondbacks)
Walker is similar to Seager, as someone who has been effective this year but perhaps could have been even better. The slugger ranks ninth in baseball with 32 homers, but his value has been dragged down by a .237 average. Looking deeper, we can see a .258 xBA which is an encouraging sign that Walker could be a more balanced contributor in 2023.
Yordan Alvarez (OF, Houston Astros)
Alvarez is perhaps the most exciting name in this article. After all, what more can Alvarez do after ranking third in baseball in OPS this season? Well, according to Statcast, he should have been even better this year, as evidenced by his .324 xBA which is the highest mark of any qualified player. Of course, the biggest variable for Alvarez’s fantasy value will be his ability to make a full recovery from a lingering hand injury that decimated his skills during the second half of this season.
Josh Hader (RP, San Diego Padres)
Hader is going to be one of the most polarizing players of 2023 drafts. After all, the southpaw was terrific for 5.5 seasons before falling apart during his final weeks with the Brewers and initial weeks as a member of the Padres. Statcast has assigned him a 3.75 xERA that is not nearly as high as fantasy managers would like but is still much better than his actual 6.12 mark.
Kevin Gausman (SP, Toronto Blue Jays)
Gausman presents an interesting dilemma. Having allowed a .371 BABIP that is higher than that of any other qualified pitcher, he definitely seems to belong on this list. That being said, Statcast has pegged him with a 3.49 xERA which is very similar to his actual mark. In the opinion of this writer, Gausman and his outstanding plate control (179:24 K:BB ratio) could be in Cy Young contention with a little more BABIP luck next year.
Jose Berrios (SP, Toronto Blue Jays)
Berrios is equally interesting to Gausman. One of the most disappointing fantasy assets this year, the right-hander has a FIP (4.77) and xFIP (4.11) that are much lower than his 5.23 ERA. He has suffered through one of the highest marks in BABIP (.322) and HR/FB rate (15.5 percent) of any qualified pitcher.
All of that being said, Berrios has a long way to go to return to fantasy relevance, and even though his ERA indicators are better than his actual mark, they still aren’t very good. I would draft Berrios late next season as a bounce-back candidate, but I wouldn’t invest any serious draft capital in him.