MLB Spring Training Standouts

Seager’s Strong Spring A Sign Of MVP Potential

This time of year, everyone’s done with spring training. Fans, players, coaches, execs — we’re all ready for the real thing.

But let’s not look past the preseason too fast. Sure, spring contests generally don’t matter, but we’ve already broken down some spring stats for you to focus on and now it’s time to highlight a few players. Here are four spring training standouts, what their preseason fortune means, and how you can bet on their success before 2023 Opening Day:

SS Corey Seager, Rangers

If you’ve read anything I’ve written this spring, you know I’m all aboard the Seager hype train. The Rangers’ lefty-hitting shortstop was the second-most shifted player in baseball last year, hitting against a modified infield in 68 percent of his plate appearances. It’s not surprising that the 28-year-old had the lowest batting average (.245) and BABIP (.242) of his career.

Most Shifted MLB Players 2022
PlayerTeamPlate Appearances Against Shift
Marcus SemienTEX459
Corey SeagerTEX453
Jose RamirezCLE448
Freddie FreemanLAD417
Kyle TuckerHOU412

With the shift now banned, we’ll almost certainly see Seager’s numbers tick back up closer to his career .287 average and .851 OPS. We’ve certainly seen Seager raking so far in the spring, leading all qualified hitters in OPS (1.147). With MLB’s rules now back in his favor, Seager’s strong spring should be a sign of things to come.

AL MVP: +2500

SS Bo Bichette, Blue Jays

Bichette’s spring stat line isn’t up there with Seager’s, but the importance of his March numbers run a bit deeper. Hitting .302 with a .849 OPS this spring, the Blue Jays shortstop looks eerily similar to his scorching September of last year.

In the final month of the 2022 season, Bichette was utterly unstoppable. He hit .406 with seven homers in 32 games, posting a 1.105 OPS down the stretch. Bo’s torrid tear was enough to win MLB Player of the Month and lift his mediocre season stats back up to his career norms. If he carries anything near that caliber of play into ’23, he will lead the AL in hits, make an all-star team and maybe even push for AL MVP.

MLB Hits Leader: +1000

2B Ozzie Albies, Braves

Last year was a wash for Albies. The Braves infielder fractured his foot in June and then immediately broke his pinky upon return in September. Overall he got into just 64 games and hit only eight homers.

But, entering 2023, Albies is looking to remind everyone what he looks like when fully healthy. In spring training, it’s been all power for the 26-year-old, with four homers, 15 RBIs and a .580 slugging percentage in 17 games.

Over his last three full seasons (2018, ’19, and ’21), Albies has hit at least 24 homers every time, and he looks back to that form in spring.

OVER 20.5 Albies HRs: -115

SP Josiah Gray, Nationals

Josiah Gray was the pitching gem of the 2021 trade package Washington received from the Dodgers for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. So far, Gray hasn’t lived up to the top prospect hype. In his first 41 MLB starts, he has a 5.16 ERA and 5.90 FIP, and led all of baseball in homers allowed last year (38).

But, in 2023 spring training, things have finally gone right. In five starts (16.1 IP), the 25-year-old starter has a 0.55 ERA, striking out seven times as many batters as he’s walked. Most importantly, he hasn’t allowed a homer. According to manager Davey Martinez, the big difference has been throwing strikes and the addition of a new cutter.

“Now he can control both sides of the plate,” Martinez told MASN.

Expectations are Mariana Trench-low for the Nats this year (with a 59.5 win total), but they won’t need too much to go right to surpass them. If Gray establishes himself as the legit top-of-rotation arm we knew he could be, that may be all Washington needs to best its win total this year.

Nationals OVER 59.5 Wins: -130

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