Will that doofy smile be cheesing in 2014?
Photo Credit: Keith Allison
Diehard players know that among all the fantasy sports, baseball is the true test of an owner's skill and dedication. Whether it’s the long season, huge player pool or myriad of stats to pore through, fantasy baseball rewards knowledge and preparation. Some of the most difficult things to prepare for are injuries, and the more knowledge you have, the better prepared you will be. Injuries WILL play a major role in the success of real and fantasy teams alike.
Not all injuries are created equal. Knowing which players are worth the risk can pay huge dividends on draft day. As a practicing physical therapist with extensive experience in orthopedic rehabilitation (and a fellow fantasy nutjob), I have the skill-set to steer you in the right direction. I’ll be discussing a number of players with injury concerns entering the season and whether or not I “trust” them to stay healthy and/or produce at expected levels. Basically, will you get what you pay for on draft day? Players I don’t trust get a spot on Don’s Do Not Trust List (DDNTL). If there’s a player I didn’t address that you want to read about, feel free to email me (email@example.com) or leave a comment. I’m here for you.
All ADP data courtesy of MockDraftCentral.com (MDC) and rankings courtesy of Yahoo! default ranks, current as of this writing.
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I will refer to Mark Teixeira as “Tex” because typing Teixeira is annoying. Tex is coming off a season-ending right wrist injury that limited him to fifteen games last season. The injury occurred initially in March, while preparing for the World Baseball Classic, then re-aggravated in June, and in July he underwent surgery to repair the extensor carpi ulnaris (ECU) in his right wrist. As of this writing, the Yankees will ease him into Spring Training with the expectation that he’ll be good to go for the start of the season.
While this injury is somewhat uncommon there are a few examples we can turn to for comparison: Jose Bautista, David Ortiz, Rickie Weeks, Sam Fuld, Mark DeRosa and Nick Johnson. Bautista, in particular, is probably the best comparison as he entered last season coming off the same surgery. Bautista ended up playing in just 118 games last year (hip injury) but still managed 27 homeruns; the wrist wasn’t the issue. It’s also worth noting that Bautista entered the season seven months removed from the surgery. Teixeira will be nine months removed from surgery Opening Day, giving him an extra two months of recovery time.
I left Bautista off my DDNTL last season, and while he missed time due to injury, it wasn’t his wrist that was the issue. I feel the same way about Teixeira this year. While he’s an aging slugger who’s seen his production decline for five straight years, I think his wrist will be healthy enough to hold up. His current ADP of 222.26 (23rd among 1Bs) certainly shouldn’t scare anyone off. He still hits in a very favorable home ballpark (in a division full of favorable ballparks) and will have a spot in the heart of an above-average lineup. The days of 30-plus guaranteed homers might be over and he’s become a batting average liability, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him hit 20-plus homers with respectable counting stats. I’m not suggesting you reach for Tex or think you’re getting the 2009 version, but if you’re looking for some run production around the 20th round of your draft, you have my blessing to pull the trigger on him.