One word to describe Andres Munoz: wow. The 24-year-old returned to the MLB with a vengeance and made the San Diego Padres trade look like an even bigger win for the Seattle Mariners. When we acquired Munoz, we knew he was good but I am not sure anyone saw this coming.
We know Munoz is good, but does that warrant a spot on your fantasy team? How should you value him?
What fantasy baseball managers should expect from Andres Munoz
No one should expect anything far different from the numbers he put up last season. His 2022 numbers were fantastic and his splits across the season also reflect consistency. The only outlier was the month of May when Munoz gave up 7 earned runs and a lot of hits.
FanGraphs' Steamer even has him slightly improving:
Draft strategy for Andres Munoz
This is where things get interesting because everyone knows Andres Munoz is talented. How do you value Andres Munoz? Should you draft him?
The type of league you're in will heavily influence the value of relievers. Andres Munoz is not the clear #1 closer for the Seattle Mariners, as far as we know. Last season, Paul Sewald led the team with 20 saves, Diego Castillo finished in second with 7, and Andres Munoz came in third with 4.
With the core members of the bullpen being mostly intact, I would assume the same closer-by-committee strategy for 2023. Andres Munoz is not going to get you as many saves as other notable names. If I were a general manager, I'd take Munoz over Kenley Jansen any day but just from a saves perspective, Jansen is a better pick.
In a points league, non-closer relievers barely have an impact. With Munoz, you would mostly attain points for innings pitched and strikeouts. His ERA isn't directly impacting the total tally of points either. You could argue that over time, he would produce more points indirectly because he doesn't give up as many runs.
There is a second part to consider in your points league: do holds give you points? I have played in a couple of leagues where holds also give you a certain amount of points. If that is the case, Munoz is much more valuable than a saves only league.
Andres Munoz led the Seattle Mariners in holds with 22. Erik Swanson had the second most with 14. For context, the league leaders in holds last season were A.J. Minter (35), and Brad Boxberger (30).
For those that participate in a categories fantasy league, Andres Munoz has a little more value. In most categories leagues, ERA and WHIP are included and Munoz would certainly help those departments in the long run.
With all this being said, Andres Munoz can provide value but probably not as much as you'd expect from someone so talented. However, if your strategy is to scratch starting pitchers and only draft relievers, Munoz should be one of your top candidates after drafting the best big-name closers like Edwin Diaz.
I have taken this reliever-only approach in the past and it was a mixed result. You're essentially giving up on innings pitched and strikeouts with the goal of winning saves every week and competing for wins, ERA, and WHIP. If done right, this strategy can really work and you can leverage certain closers as trade bait with your monopoly of elite relievers.
For those of you questioning that strategy, the overarching idea is that it can be difficult to accurately draft pitchers because some can easily ruin your team. Case in point, Robbie Ray hurt many fantasy managers last season after underperforming. With a focus on relievers only, who already tend to be drafted in later rounds, you can bulk up your offense first.
And finally, with my drafting recommendation, don't follow FantasyPros' rankings unless you're taking the unique reliever-only focus or relievers are going off the board like crazy. FantasyPros has him ranked as the 169th-best fantasy player which seems way too high for me. Eugenio Suarez is 167th, Alex Verdugo is 172nd, and Tony Gonsolin is 175th.
ESPN's rankings are however a bit more reasonable for me. He is ranked 274th surrounded by Cody Bellinger who is 275th, Tarik Skubal is 276th, and Corey Kluber is 280th. In my mind, ESPN still has Munoz too high.
Other things to note on Andres Munoz
The big advice from me is to monitor the closer situation as we slowly approach opening day. If the Seattle Mariners announced that Andres Munoz will take over most of the closing duties, his value will skyrocket.
If Munoz becomes a regular closer, I think he's easily put into the top 10, if not the top 5. The only other closers I would hypothetically draft before Munoz would be Edwin Diaz, Emmanuel Clase, Devin Williams, and Josh Hader. Everyone else can wait in line behind our flame-throwing Andres Munoz.