One of the most essential parts of drafting players is knowing their playing time. If someone doesn’t get the opportunity to be on the field, then they also miss out on chances to produce. Depending on health, suspension, or other factors, a player that misses time casts a hole in your roster, making it difficult to maintain stability. Luckily, as it stands, we know the status of some big-name players heading into the season.
The season is not here yet, but why not get a head start and jump in a Fantrax Classic Draft contest? Get a jump on the season with a Best Ball league or maybe a Draft and Hold. Or put some green on the line with a new season-long league to try and conquer. There’s no better time than now to get your baseball on!
Big Names to Miss the Start of the Season
There will be some important names missing time to begin the season, which could cause problems for fantasy owners. Here are some updates and reminders on the names that you need to know.
Note: all ADP listed are from December 1, 2022, and onward
Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres
ADP – 20.17
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Fernando Tatis Jr. on the baseball field, and once the season begins we will have to wait some more. Not having played since the end of the 2021 season, owners everywhere are anxiously waiting for him to return. However, a lot has happened to the Padres’ superstar since he last took a professional at bat.
During Spring Training last year, it was announced that Tatis had a fractured wrist and would miss significant time. Later that year, he was suspended for the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs, ending his campaign to return in 2022. He then had surgery performed on his shoulder, which is something that had been bothering him for quite some time. All in all, it was a tumultuous year for the cornerstone of the franchise.
Fernando Tatis Jr. has been cleared to resume baseball activities this weekend, per @dennistlin pic.twitter.com/1QoXFVNkc6
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) January 6, 2023
The good news is that there is an end in sight for Tatis Jr., as he can resume baseball activities. Physically he seems to be fine and almost fully recovered from what was a horrible year. That being said, because of his suspension, he cannot return until at least April 20, 2023, which will result in some problems for fantasy owners.
For one, he is being drafted in the second round, and having someone not play for the first 20 games can be conflicting. However, just like Ronald Acuna Jr. in 2022, having an early-round draft pick miss time to start the season is by no means unmanageable. The difference now is that since he is suspended, he cannot be placed on any Injured List, so it’s essentially an empty roster spot.
Second, after having two surgeries on his wrist, it’s unclear how quickly he will be able to return to his elite status. There could be some time needed to ease into his at-bats, causing even more time without his production. Finally, while things seem good right now, we won’t know for certain how he will produce. Not only did his wrist have surgery, but he will also be coming off of major shoulder surgery, which could cause him to start slowly as well.
All of the above cannot be ignored, and his mid-second round ADP seems to ignore all of the aforementioned red flags. Fantasy owners who draft Tatis Jr. need to be cognizant of these factors and plan appropriately. While he does have MVP upside, it may take a while for him to get anywhere near that, causing owners in the first few months to scramble for alternative options.
Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies
ADP – 174.25
Last year was a troublesome year for another superstar, as slugger Bryce Harper suffered two major injuries en route to a World Series appearance. Both a broken thumb and elbow injury turned an MVP-like season into a painful reminder that anything can happen to anyone. Later in the offseason, it was revealed that Harper would require Tommy John Surgery and would miss a major chunk of the 2023 season as a result.
#Phillies Beat Report. We talk about Bryce Harper's various timelines to recover from Tommy John surgery, and the best way for the team to make up for his absence in the lineup. pic.twitter.com/t9EvxseJ3E
— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) November 30, 2022
Here’s where the tricky part of the assessment takes place; how much time will he end up missing? The Phillies are playing it very conservatively with their post-All-Star Break projections, and justifiably so. After all, he is their long-term investment superstar and his health needs to be protected. On the other hand, Harper has been a quick healer in the past while being able to play (and produce) through the pain. It begs the case as to whether or not he’ll be able to do the same next year.
Listening to Todd Zolecki in the clip above, he makes a ton of sense with respect to timelines and past player similarities. Using Shohei Ohtani as a guideline, he was able to return well ahead of the schedule set out for Harper. Sure, every player is different, but both he and Ohtani have this larger-than-life alpha-male enigma that can’t be ignored. Additionally, when he does return, Harper will be exclusively a designated hitter, limiting any damage to his elbow. This could result in an accelerated and early return.
Anyone drafting Harper needs to be aware that as of now, there is a wide range of outcomes. He could go anywhere from an early return in June as a superstar to a post-All-Star Break slow start. Nevertheless, with an ADP that high, he remains a moderate-risk roster spot. In leagues with an Injured List, he should definitely be stashed on the chance that he returns early. For those leagues without one, the risk of having a dead roster spot is high, given the uncertainty of a return date. That said, with elite upside and guaranteed playing time when he returns, it’s worth a shot this late. Just remember, he should be any roster’s OF3 at best, given the situation.
Trevor Story, Boston Red Sox
ADP – 84.07
Coming off an injury-riddled debut with the Boston Red Sox, Trevor Story entered the offseason with renewed hope for a revival in 2023. In fact, he was listed as an American League Bounceback player for next season, as optimism surrounding him showed promise. It wasn’t until recently that all of that hope came to a crashing halt, as Story would require surgery.
Trevor Story underwent UCL surgery with an internal brace on his right elbow — in other words, modified Tommy John surgery with a quicker return date.
Generally speaking, players miss four to six months following the surgery.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 10, 2023
In surprising news, Trevor Story had surgery on his elbow resulting in a significant amount of time to be missed this season. While an exact timetable is not yet known, there is some speculation that it could lead to him missing the entire year. The team has indicated that they’re not banking on him coming back, but haven’t ruled out a return either. The suggested timetable for him to return is four-t0-six months, which would leave him with a comeback in July. This is obviously not good news.
As for fantasy, this is one of the pitfalls of drafting teams so early in the offseason. Prior to the injury, Stroy’s ADP was a robust 84.07, indicating faith in a successful season. Since then, that ADP has massively plummeted well past the 400-mark, and justifiably so. Right now, there is just not enough known to give anyone a reason to trust in Story’s health for this year. For all that we know, the Red Sox may not want to rush him back if they’re already out of contention.
Going forward, Story is someone to take late in drafts as a dart throw, but only in leagues with Injured List spots. When healthy, he has moderate five-category appeal and could provide some power and speed in the second half of the season. That said, with what we know now, that’s a lofty thing to expect, since missing the entire 2023 season is still a consideration.
Liam Hendriks, Chicago White Sox
ADP – 41.62
Surrounding Liam with love. 💚 pic.twitter.com/XLPLabZCPj
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) January 10, 2023
It was announced earlier this month that Liam Hendriks would undergo treatment for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. More important than anything, his health and well-being are crucial here. It is the hope of everyone that he can not only recover from this but come back as strong as ever. As for fantasy implications, the team itself has said that they won’t have any updates on his condition until Opening Day. It is not out of the realm of possibility that he misses all of the 2023 season while he fights this. The current state of the team’s bullpen seems open for the role of the closer. Kendall Graveman seems like the first option to get saves, while Reynaldo Lopez remains a dark horse candidate. It is also plausible that the team trades for or signs someone to be their closer.
John Means, Baltimore Orioles
ADP – 691.94
John Means underwent Tommy John Surgery last year and is expected to miss a big chunk of the 2023 season. After having surgery on April 27, 2022, the lefty is expected to be out of action until at least the All-Star Break. This would put him at around the fifteen-month mark, which is about an average timeline for Tommy John recovery. Even still, the Orioles tend to be cautious when it comes to protecting their future assets, and Means is definitely one of them. That said, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him back on the mound by August, giving fantasy owners everywhere two months of action. He’s worth stashing on an Injured List in the hopes that he returns and succeeds, similar to how Tyler Glasnow did last year.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, Toronto Blue Jays
ADP – 748.82
#BlueJays starter Hyun-Jin Ryu says he is right on schedule in his rehab from elbow surgery and is targeting a July return. He underwent Tommy John operation in June. Spent the past month or so in Korea with his family and will now continue his rehab in the U.S. #NextLevel
— Jeeho Yoo (@Jeeho_1) December 28, 2022
The Jays’ pitcher recently announced that he is targeting this July as a return date from Tomm John Surgery. This would be a very advantageous goal for him, since he had surgery last June, giving him a thirteen-month recovery period. While this is something to be considered, one has to wonder if it would be too much too soon for him. After all, he will be 36 years old before the season begins. For now, with such a high ADP, he remains a long-distance dart throw, but the announcement feels more like what Ryu hopes for rather than what’s possible. With impending free agency, this might be him wanting to showcase that he has something left in the tank while he pursues another contract next off-season.