Over a long season, a player’s injuries can impact their output. It’s important to remember that there are factors that come into play before deciding if someone’s performance is injury-related. A player’s track record, for one, is something to look at, since having “done it all before” shows that they could probably “do it all again”. Injury reports and updates are essential as well because knowing how a player is dealing with their ailments can help decipher why they may have struggled in the first place. Finally, playing time is key in determining if they were getting the opportunities to produce, or if they were sitting out games to rest up and heal.
Here are three hitters from the American League who were injured in 2022 but are in line for a bounce-back season in 2023.
Note: all ADP listed are as of Sunday, November 20, 2022
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American League Injury-Related Bounce Backs
Brandon Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays
2022 stats: 65 GP, 266 PA, 8 HR, 25 RBI, 31 R, 1 SB, .221/.308/.383
Injuries: stress reaction lower back, bruised right triceps, lower back discomfort
Total days missed: 86
Steamer projections: 134 GP, 585 PA, 27 HR, 82 RBI, 76 R, 4 SB, .241/.323/.457
Brandon Lowe entered the 2022 season after hitting a career-high 39 home runs a year earlier. He was supposed to be a stable and powerful option for the Rays. Instead, he battled injuries all year and clearly wasn’t the same hitter at the plate. Back injuries are fickle and the recovery from them can be difficult to predict. Lowe had PRP injections throughout the year to help subside the pain, but nothing seemed to work. He was ultimately shut down in late September in order to get a head start on recuperation for next season. It remains to be seen if he will need offseason surgery to repair the problem, but for now, rest is considered to be the best preparation.
Heading into 2023, a healthy Lowe looks to be a prime candidate to bounce back in a big way. His track record of success suggests that he should be in line for at least twenty home runs, which is valuable at second base. Last season, he still managed to maintain a walk rate similar to his career numbers, and drop his strikeout rate to a career-low. In reality, he just couldn’t get his back problems under control, thus limiting his output when he did swing. His current ADP puts him as the tenth-second baseman off the board. At that cost, there is value to be had. If gets even closer to his 2021 form, he could outproduce his Steamer projections.
Trevor Story, Boston Red Sox
2022 stats: 94 GP, 396 PA, 16 HR, 66 RBI, 53 R, 13 SB, ..238/.303/.434
Injuries: bruised right hand, bruised left heel
Total days missed: 60
Steamer projections: 149 GP, 642 PA, 23 HR, 82 RBI, 77 R, 17 SB, .239/.312/.426
Trevor Story’s arrival in Boston was a big deal. The Red Sox had hoped to have the duo of him and Xander Bogaerts up the middle be one of the best in baseball. Unfortunately, so many players in Boston got hurt this year, and Story was no exception.
Story’s career has not been one that is filled with injuries, as he’s been able to remain quite healthy throughout the years. In fact, outside of a mini ten-day stint on the Injured List in 2021, he hadn’t been injured since June of 2019. Additionally, the start of his season was something that he himself cited as the craziest week of his life which exhausted him beyond belief.
Next season is a pivotal one for him and the team. While in the second year of his new contract, it will be time for Story to show Boston that they made the right decision to bring him aboard. This year was a learning curve of a new hometown and position. He should be able to feel more comfortable and able to produce in the way that he has many times before. And while he won’t play half of his games at Coors Field, his Steamer projected stats make him an underrated value at his current ADP. He should outproduce his projected stats next season, making him one of the game’s best middle infielders.
Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox
2022 stats: 98 GP, 401 PA, 12 HR, 56 RBI, 54 R, 11 SB, .284/.319/.426
Injuries: Covid-19, blurred vision, light-headedness, sprained left wrist
Total days missed: 32
Steamer projections: 139 GP, 614 PA, 25 HR, 86 RBI, 78 R, 13 SB, .284/.330/.477
Luis Robert was drafted in the second round of drafts last season, with the hopes of blossoming into a five-category contributor. He had missed time due to injuries the previous year but had also shown flashes of what he was capable of doing. Owners everywhere anticipated the next step forward in his progression.
Unfortunately for him, Robert’s 2022 season looked more like a game of Operation. He had so many ailments that resulted in him not only losing days on the Injured List but also his Day to Day status of sitting due to maintenance and healing. Last year, Robert missed an additional 39 non-Injury-Listed days during the season. These were due to aches and pains in his hand, wrist, leg, groin, and an illness, all of which were day-to-day designations. Even when he took time off to become a father, the team refused to put him on any sort of Paternity List but instead went with a shortened roster.
Luis Robert won't be placed on the paternity list, because the White Sox love the challenge of playing short-handed https://t.co/kCzPDHOV5n
— Razzball (@Razzball) September 1, 2022
All that being said, Robert begins next season with a fresh clean slate, and there is some reason for optimism. Down the stretch, it was obvious that he should not have been playing. However, the team had limited options and felt obliged to put him out there. Having an injured wrist is one of the biggest pitfalls to a hitter’s production, and Robert was no exception to this rule. With no home runs or steals in his final 25 games played, this injury-related output was nowhere near what we should expect to see from him next season. One has to assume that he will be healthy to begin the year next season. If this is the case, a healthy Robert is still a great option.
While his ADP might be a bit high, it’s close enough to be a good fair price for a 20/20 option with a good batting average. While it’s always great to get value in your draft picks, sometimes fair market value for the categorical contributions you need is good enough. That said, he does come with some inherent injury risk.