Last week, I talked about players from the American League and the National League that looked to be prime candidates for a bounce-back season in 2023, due to them all getting healthy and producing in ways we are more accustomed to seeing. This time, I will be looking at deep league injury-related bounce-back players with a higher ADP.
These are players that have had a track record of success in the past, but also a history of injury concerns. The confidence level in them performing well isn’t as high as it would be for others. Also of note, nobody listed here should be slotted in as your fantasy team’s first option at that position. That said, the potential reward for them returning to their for selves is there and could help you win your leagues.
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Deep League Injury-Related Bounce Backs
Note: all ADP listed are as of Sunday, November 27, 2022.
2022 stats: 15 GP, 54 PA, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R, 5 SB, .140/.204/.140
2022 injuries: torn ACL
Steamer projections: 123 GP, 515 PA, 14 HR, 57 RBI, 55 R, 29 SB, .234/.280/.385
Thinking positively about Adalberto Mondesi for 2023 can be difficult. Over the past two years, he has missed time due to his hamstring, oblique, and ACL, which have led to discouraging results. The frustration for fantasy owners has been because of the use of a high draft cost leading to minimal results.
Off the field, Mondesi’s disappointment stems from the immense amount of offseason preparation that went into his work. This was the plan that the team had for him heading into last season. The Royals invested time, resources, equipment, and more to ensure that the talented Mondesi had a chance to succeed.
Heading into next season, tracking Mondesi’s progression is important. If he is healing well, the recommended nine-month recovery timeline for a torn ACL would have expired before the season begins. He recently tendered a contract with the team’s new manager, which indicates some belief that he is in their long-term plans. One would have to believe that a similar offseason plan to keep Mondesi healthy and on the field would also be in place.
If all of the above remains true, then it’s worth investing in Mondesi for next year, for many reasons. First, stolen bases are always difficult to accumulate, and Mondesi is a known base-stealer. Second, his 2018-2020 seasons indicate a track record of success when he is actually on the field. Finally, the cost of a pick this late is worth taking a shot on someone bouncing back and producing almost elite speed numbers.
2022 stats: 36 GP, 147 PA, 0 HR, 11 RBI, 9 R, 0 SB, .250/.347/.328
2022 injuries: vertigo, Covid-19, multiple strained Achilles, mental health
Steamer projections: 123 GP, 560 PA, 20 HR, 60 RBI, 72 R, 6 SB, .247/.325/.436
Since being dealt by the Pirates, Austin Meadows has had two very successful seasons in the Major Leagues. In both of those years, he played at least 138 games and hit for power with good plate discipline. The other two years weren’t quite successful as they were riddled with injuries. Unfortunately for him, 2022 was one of those seasons.
Meadows came to the Tigers as a solid bet to play every day in the outfield with the potential to produce. His season started off disastrously as an ear infection, a bout with vertigo, and a second Covid-19 infection kept him off the field for a while. If that wasn’t enough, he suffered an injury in both Achilles, causing him to miss extended time on the 60-day Injured List. Later in the year, we learned that on top of everything else, mental illness was a lingering factor in his delayed return.
— Austin Meadows (@austin_meadows) September 2, 2022
Mental illness is not something that should be taken lightly. While unique to everyone involved, it can affect every aspect of an individual’s livelihood and needs attention to be treated. It was obvious that last season, Meadows was going through a lot both on and off the field. Through the hard work of the team, his family, and medical officials, it sounds like Meadows is on the right path.
If he can get back on the field and have his body hold up, Meadows needs to be remembered during drafts. Over the years, he has sacrificed some of his bat-to-ball skills in order to be a more powerful hitter. His 70 Major League home runs are almost double what he hit across seven Minor League seasons. The outfield can become barren later in drafts. Having someone like Meadows, who could hit 25 home runs, might be a great pick in the mid-to-late rounds.
2022 stats: 4.31 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 39.2 IP, 34 SO, 19.3% K-rate, 11.9% BB-rate, 8 SV, 2 BS, 4 HLD
2022 injuries: back, right shoulder inflammation
Steamer projections: 4.17 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 66.0 IP, 71 SO, 24.8% K-rate, 10.0% BB-rate, 20 SV, 7 HLD
This season didn’t start out well for Matt Barnes. Many fantasy owners invested a lot of draft capital to roster him, but it was obvious that something wasn’t right. After suffering a minor back injury in early April, his velocity didn’t quite return to its normal self early on. The results showed as he was never able to get himself going to start the year.
This drop in velocity led to lowered pitch quality. Coupled with a rotating closer carousel among the team, Barnes could never get his footing into the season. By the time he went on the Injured List in early June, his numbers were ridiculously awful: 7.94 ERA, 1.71 WHIP in 17.0 innings pitched. It was his shoulder, which needed time to heal and get itself back to normal. Once he returned in August, it was a new and improved Barnes.
Over his final 24 games played, Barnes posted a 1.59 ERA with 20 strikeouts over 22.2 innings pitched. What made it even more impressive was his increase in whiffs over that span. Barnes’ second-half profile featured a strikeout rate of 21.1% and a walk rate% of 9.5%. This is the polar opposite of his first half where he posted a K% of 17.3% and a BB% of 14.8%.
Matt Barnes rediscovered his All-Star form in the second half.
He had a 1.59 over his 24 games and recorded six saves in that span.
A repeat of that in 2023 would be huge for the Red Sox.
— Jamie Gatlin (@JamieGatlin17) October 26, 2022
Heading into next year, the Red Sox have given the impression that their bullpen is in a state of chaos. For some reason, it feels quite linear, and here’s why. Both Garrett Whitlock and Tanner Houck have been both bullpen and rotation pieces for years now. This was due to team injuries and a lack of options within the organization, forcing Boston to reshuffle. Next season, it looks like Whitlock will be thrust into the rotation, and he could develop into a better option after a year of further stretching out. Houck, coming off an injury himself, could be an option to close games, but he has been a starter too.
Matt Barnes is set to make $8.25M this season, which would be a lot of money to not pitch in a key role. He was initially paid to close, and if healthy, will likely close again. The second half of last season should quell any injury concerns. While it’s important to monitor anyone’s offseason progression, Barnes’ is one to especially monitor to see if any reoccurring injuries pop up again. Additionally, at that ADP, he is more than worth the gamble now before any official announcement is made.