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2024 Fantasy Baseball: Injury Risk at Third Base

When assessing the future stats of a player, it’s imperative to consider player health when speculating on playing time. After all, getting onto the field and being given a chance to succeed only happens if the player is healthy enough. That’s why looking at a player’s track record of health and future injury risk gives credence to whether someone is worth drafting. A fantasy team could have all the talent in the world, but if they’re on your Injured List or bench, they lose a ton of value.

We are moving toward draft season, and all eyes will be on the top players at each position. Knowing of any inherent risk to drafting someone can help teams in the long run. That’s why today will be a part of positional examinations of injury risk. I will be assessing the injury risk of the top players at every position and making notes of their healthy or troubled pasts. Seeing trends in their health could help determine any future problems.

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Fantasy Baseball Injury Risk at Third Base

The players listed below will be separated into one of three categories: red light, yellow light, green light. The timeframe that will be examined will primarily be from 2021 to 2023, though looking into the distant past might also take place.

Red Light: any players listed here have an extensive and/or concerning injury history that seems likely to come into play in the future. The potential for injury outweighs their production on the field and their selection could lead to roster problems down the line. The reoccurrence of a particular injury or multiple injuries also creates the need for a red light. Fantasy owners should be wary of drafting these players because the risk for injury is high.

Yellow Light: any players listed here have had their injury problems before, but they’re not necessarily prone to injury. These players here have situations to monitor, especially during the off-season and Spring Training, but it’s not necessarily as bleak as it could be. The types of injuries could also be freakish or due to bad luck with events leading to it being out of the ordinary. Fantasy owners should be aware of the injury history, but know the possibility for health is there too.

Green Light: any players listed here have had minimal problems and their future doesn’t appear to be in any jeopardy. There is nothing from their past that would indicate an injury-prone future. While injuries could happen at any time, there are no red flags in this player’s history to suggest it will lead to another one. Fantasy owners can feel safe in drafting these players.

Things to remember:

  1. The players listed are in the general order of how they’re being drafted.
  2. The level of confidence has to do with their health and nothing to do with their abilities on the field.

1. José Ramírez – Cleveland Guardians

Ramírez suffered all of his long-standing injuries earlier in his career. Since the end of the 2019 season, he has yet to miss more than ten games in a season. He’s also racked up well over 600 plate appearances in each of the last three seasons. He did have off-season surgery after playing through a thumb injury down the stretch during the 2022 season. He bounced back this past season by being consistently elite in a position of weakness. Draft with confidence.

2. Austin Riley – Atlanta Braves

Riley is one of half of the corner-infield duo in Atlanta that seemingly plays every day. Much like Matt Olson at first base, Riley has been healthy and plays in games even when the team has their playoffs solidified. Other than a torn ligament in his knee to end the 2019 season, there aren’t many blemishes on his résumé. Draft with confidence.

3. Elly De La Cruz – Cincinnati Reds

De La Cruz accumulated 427 plate appearances this past season, despite not getting the call up until June. He should play every day when he is up with the team, though there is some concern about playing due to a crowded clubhouse. His only real injury concern took place while he was still in the minor leagues when a hamstring injury took away some time. Otherwise, when he was with the Reds he had no worries whatsoever. Draft with confidence.

4. Rafael Devers – Boston Red Sox

Devers has been a steady contributor at the plate for many years now, and part of that has to do with his health. Over the past three seasons, he’s had one trip to the Injured List, and that was a minor stay for a hamstring injury. Other than that, he’s been in the lineup every day and playing at his elite level. He has had well over 600 plate appearances in each of his last three seasons. Draft with confidence.

5. Gunnar Henderson – Baltimore Orioles

Henderson had a successful first full season with Baltimore where he logged 622 plate appearances. His only blemish was missing a handful of games due to lower back pain twice. Otherwise, he has a history of long seasons in the minors too, where he accumulated almost 1000 plate appearances in two developmental seasons. Draft with confidence.

6. Royce Lewis – Minnesota Twins

Lewis comes into the 2024 season as a highly drafted player but with even higher injury concerns. He has torn his ACL twice and missed a ton of time as a result. He also injured his oblique and his hamstring last season, so his durability comes into question. His talent is elite, but his inability to stay healthy is a major red flag. He will be 25 years old next June, but he only has 280 career plate appearances under his belt. Draft with caution.

7. Manny Machado – San Diego Padres

Machado comes into the 2024 season with some lingering questions. He had off-season surgery on his elbow to help repair an ailing bout of tennis elbow. Some reports say that he had been battling this condition for months, while others have said that his elbow has been hurting for years. Whatever the case, his five-to-seven-month recovery timeline puts the beginning of his season in jeopardy. While he is expected to return at full strength, the question of when looms large. Assuming no setbacks, he still needs to ramp up and get himself acclimated with some spring or minor league at-bats. There’s a chance that he missed about a month even without setbacks. Draft with attention.

8. Ha-Seong Kim – San Diego Padres

Kim has not been placed on the Injured List over his three seasons as a Padres player. Two of his injuries this year (knee and shoulder) were both thought to have been more serious than they ended up being. Perhaps that’s a testament to his strength and durability. Draft with confidence.

9. Nolan Arenado – St. Louis Cardinals

Arenado comes into the season after posting his third consecutive season of 600+ plate appearances. His only trip to the Injured List in that period happened at the end of the season, with the hope and belief that the team’s position in the standings had something to do with the decision to shut him down. There are some potential concerns, however, that need to be addressed. First, his output at the plate was his worst in years, and possibly his career. From an injury perspective, he’s missed games here and there with injuries all over his body. He will be 33 years old next April, and the possibility of those injuries turning into trips to the Injured List alongside diminishing play needs to be considered. Until he shows us otherwise, it’s fair to trust. Draft with confidence.

10. Josh Jung – Texas Rangers

Jung has had three major injuries of note in his short career. In 2021, he suffered a stress fracture in his foot. He then suffered a torn labrum in 2022 and missed most of the year, and followed that with a fractured thumb in 2023. While it’s fair to give him the benefit of the doubt for misplaying a ground ball, the fact is he will be 26 in February and have only 617 plate appearances under his belt. He should be the team’s everyday third basemen and will likely play most days, but be wary of him getting injured. Draft with attention.

11. Alex Bregman – Houston Astros

Bregman has been quite the healthy player for the past two seasons. He led all third basemen in plate appearances last year with 724. Most of his health issues took place earlier in his career, but none of them were overly concerning. He will play every day and has been able to stay off of the Injured List. Draft with confidence.

12. Spencer Steer – Cincinnati Reds

Steer has shown the durability and versatility to play consistently around the diamond for the Reds. He had a scare with a minor knee injury to begin the season, but overall there doesn’t seem to be much to worry about here. His minor league track record looks filled with games played and opportunities to hit. Draft with confidence.

13. Noelvi Marte – Cincinnati Reds

Marte came to the Reds via trade for Luis Castillo and delivered mightily on his first crack in the big leagues. Injury-wise, he did suffer a fractured nose due to an errant ball, but otherwise, he’s remained healthy. Throughout his minor-league career, he was relatively healthy, minus a minor finger injury that he played through during last year’s Arizona Fall League. This offseason he suffered a hamstring strain while playing in the Dominican League. He is fully expected to be ready for Spring Training. Draft with confidence.

14. Alec Bohm – Philadelphia Phillies

Bohm has had one trip to the Injured List over his short career, and that was a minimum stay of ten days missed. He suffered a sore wrist while in the minor leagues, but it wasn’t anything significant. Other than that, he has been relatively healthy, even with everyday at-bats over the past two seasons. Draft with confidence.

15. Jake Burger – Miami Marlins

Burger has had two injuries that have cost him time over the past two seasons. He was diagnosed with a non-displaced wrist fracture in 2022 that cost him about a month of playing time. This past season he returned quickly from an oblique injury and went right back to work. He seems to be locked into the Marlins’ lineup and should get everyday at-bats. The hope is that he can remain on the field and give the team what they hope he can deliver. Draft with confidence.

16. Max Muncy – Los Angeles Dodgers

Muncy has an extensive injury history that cannot be ignored. Over the past three years, he’s been on the Injured list with ailments on his oblique, torn UCL, and hamstring. There were murmurs about him missing extended time this past season as well, but he returned quickly, with some speculation that he was playing through the pain. It’s unclear if his body can withstand the rigors of a full season, though he has played in at least 135 games in each of his last three seasons. All that being said, it’s hard to trust him to remain healthy all season long. Draft with attention.

17. Ke’Bryan Hayes – Pittsburgh Pirates

Hayes broke out last season by doing what he’s been asked to do for years and elevate the ball. That being said, his injury history is somewhat concerning. In 2021, he suffered through a wrist injury that cost him a significant amount of time. In 2022, he suffered a lower-back injury that he revealed after the season plagued him all year long. Last season, those back injuries returned in the summer, but it was upon his return that he was a different player. Whether or not that translates into consistency in 2024 remains to be seen. Draft with attention.

18. Isaac Paredes – Tampa Bay Rays

Paredes is the second Rays player on this list to break out. His health is not concerning, despite missing one month of playing time two years ago with a strained hip. He will play as often as the Rays let him. Draft with confidence.

19. Ryan McMahon – Colorado Rockies

McMahon is as steady as they come when it comes to health. He has played in 456 games over the last three seasons and is a fixture for the Rockies. What he does on the field while playing half of his games at Coors Field is another story altogether. Draft with confidence.

20. Junior Caminero – Tampa Bay Rays

Caminero has nothing in his Major or Minor League Injury History to consider going forward. Draft with confidence.

21. Maikel Garcia – Kansas City Royals

Garcia has nothing in his Major or Minor League Injury History to consider going forward. He did miss a handful of days due to an upper-body injury this past September, but that could have been due to the wear and tear of a 162-game season. Draft with confidence.

22. Jeimer Candelario – Cincinnati Reds

Candelario comes to the Reds this year with a moderate history of injuries. He has been on the Injured List on six separate occasions over his career for non-COVID reasons. While most of those incidents took place earlier in his career, he has missed time for injuries all over his body over the past three seasons. Additionally, he has just two seasons in his career where he has posted more than 600 plate appearances. Draft with attention.

23. Matt Chapman – Toronto Blue Jays

Chapman has been banged up a lot over the last three seasons, though he’s only been on the Injured List once. He suffered a sprained middle finger that resulted in inflammation and subsequently lost about a month of playing time this past year. Otherwise, he’s been on the field consistently. Draft with confidence.

24. Eugenio Suárez – Arizona Diamondbacks

Suárez has been quite healthy over his career, despite missing time with a fractured right index finger late in the 2022 season. Last season, he bounced back with a full 162-game season and 694 plate appearances. Draft with confidence.

25. Luis Rengifo – Los Angeles Angels

Rengifo showed some consistency in 2023, by posting almost identical numbers to his 2022 season. This showed some promise for growth that ended too quickly last September. He ruptured his biceps tendon and missed the final month of the season. He is expected to be ready for Spring Training. Draft with confidence.

For more of the great fantasy baseball rankings and analysis you’ve come to expect from FantraxHQ, check out our full 2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit! We’re here for you all the way up until Opening Day and then on into your championship run.

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