Risk/Reward is Key in Evaluating Injured Players

by Eddie Mayrose

Stand outside the draft room of any Fantasy Baseball League and you’ll run into him when it’s all over.  He’s in every league; we all know him.  He’s the guy who selects an All Star team from two years prior but, because of injuries, starts every scouting report with, “If he stays healthy…”

Truth be told, there is room for but one or two comebacks on any successful Fantasy Baseball team.  More than that and you’re pushing the odds that are stacked against you.  And, like your buddy who’ll spend the winter telling anyone who’ll listen that, “If my guys hadn’t gotten hurt…” you’ll be at the bottom of your standings.

Here at FantasySportsDirt.com, there’s an opinion on  guys at each position that are trying to return to form.  Some, we’d stay away from at all costs while with others, we’d roll the dice.  Keeping in mind that, no matter how much we like any of them, there’s no way in the world we’d take more than two.

Catcher- You can make the case that Joe Mauer will be the most undervalued player in Fantasy Baseball this year.  Mauer’s power display in 2009 has inflated his draft value over the last two seasons, but his injuries have likely driven him down to the middle rounds for 2012.  Even without the HR, this is a three time batting champ who will score an inordinate amount of runs for a catcher and drive in more than 70.

First Base- It’s always tough to pass on an all time favorite like Justin Morneau.  But, pass we must as the status of the Twins’ first baseman is still unclear. He struggled through an abbreviated 2011, seemingly sti dealing with the effects of the concussion that cut short a wonderful 2010.  Even if he looks good in camp, we’d still look somehere else. Concussions can be dicey and this one’s not worth the gamble.

Second Base- The days of Chase Utley at the top of the draft are gone, as the Phils’ 33 year old second sacker has experienced a decline over the last three years due to what seems to be a chronic knee problem. We still view Utley as a mid round option with a high ceiling, but don’t overvalue.

Shortstop- When the draft winds down to its final rounds, a reliable middle infielder can be your best friend.  To that end, we give you the always undervalued Stephen Drew. Returning from a broken ankle that ended his campaign, Drew is a late round option that will provide double digit HR with a strong possibility of 70 RBI in a much improved D’Backs’ lineup,

Third Base- We’ve reached the point where we have to categorize certain injuries as “steroid induced”. Such is the case with Alex Rodriguez, whose joints seem to be a deteriorating. When evaluating a player, we often talk about ceilings.  In A-Roid’s case, the more important discussion is the floor.  With 500 AB he can reasonably be expected to provide 30 HR and 100 RBI. Not bad for a mid-round pick.

Outfield- With Josh Hamilton, injuries are part of the equation.  He’s almost guaranteed to miss time every year.  However, he puts up huge numbers while he is on the field, making him worthy of a second round pick. Let everyone else in your league focus on Shin Soo Choo’s disappointing 2011 while you focus on his two consecutive 20-20 .300 seasons in ’09 and ’10.  While he did miss a huge chunk of last season with a thumb injury, he didn’t seem to have any lingering effects when he returned in September.

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