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Injury Risk in the Outfield for 2024 Fantasy Baseball (Part One)

When assessing the future stats of a player, it’s imperative to consider player health and injury risk 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 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 going through the Injury History 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.

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.
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Injury Risk in the Outfield (Part One)

Once you get done here make sure to check out the entire Injury Risk Series.

1. Ronald Acuña Jr. – Atlanta Braves

Acuña comes into this season after posting his first healthy season in years. He finished with well over 700 plate appearances and only one minor issue, which was a late-season calf ailment. He excelled with the new rules and ran wild, which was great to see a year removed from his torn ACL injury. This likely means he is someone to draft with confidence, but his past cannot be ignored. Before 2023, he only exceeded 500 plate appearances once and had many situations arise where he needed a day or two off. This won’t be a popular way to begin the list, but his past and style of play cannot be ignored. His upside is beyond elite but be prepared to play without him at some point in 2024. Draft with attention.

2. Julio Rodríguez – Seattle Mariners

Rodríguez enters his third season with a minor history of injuries. His one major scare, which was a back injury late in 2022, popped up again in 2023. The good news is that his latest back issue didn’t require a trip to the Injured List. His minor league track record is somewhat clean, though he did suffer a hairline fracture in his wrist in 2020. All in all, he’s someone to count on again this season. Draft with confidence.

3. Corbin Carroll – Arizona Diamondbacks

Carroll is one of the most exciting players in baseball, but his injury history is concerning. In 2021, he underwent season-ending surgery on his shoulder to repair a posterior capsular avulsion and a labrum tear. Two years later, he swung a bat in a game and seemingly hurt the same shoulder, causing panic in the fantasy community. While he didn’t go on the Injured List, he did miss some time. He said himself that his arm went numb as his shoulder shifted on him. The team acknowledged that they dodged a bullet because the injury could have been a lot worse and significant. He did stay healthy for the remainder of the season, but this is a major red flag. It almost feels like he’s destined to reinjure himself, but it’s hard to bank on it. For now, he’s someone to monitor, given that he finished out the season unhurt. Draft with attention.

4. Mookie Betts – Los Angeles Dodgers

Betts will be the team’s primary second baseman in 2024. Despite having played in 412 games over the last three seasons, he has a bevy of injuries to speak of. His 2021 season was filled with injuries all over his body that culminated in long-term hip problems. The past two years have seen him return to a healthier version of himself. Entering his age 31 season at second base, there is a small fear of wear and tear, but he remains one of the best players in the game. Draft with confidence.

5. Kyle Tucker – Houston Astros

Tucker has been a workhorse for the Astros and for fantasy players alike. His only time away from the team happened during the 2021 season with two Covid-19 ailments. Otherwise, he has missed only a handful of games here and there with illnesses and a bruised foot. He’s slated to play every day and will be a focal point of anyone’s earliest round selections. Draft with confidence.

6. Fernando Tatis Jr. – San Diego Padres

Tatis’ injury history is quite large with a glimmer of hope at the end of it. He suffered through a plethora of shoulder injuries and lower back issues, some of which resulted in surgery. He also missed time due to an off-season wrist injury that required surgery as well. He didn’t play the entire 2022 season because of injuries and suspensions, leading to some confusion to begin the 2023 season. All he did was go out and play 141 games of injury-free baseball, minus a minor ankle injury in July. His new position in the outfield might be what’s best for him physically, and he finished the season as one of the game’s elite players. While it’s hard to ignore his past, it’s also a testament to him that he had such a successful season in 2023. Draft with attention.

7. Aaron Judge – New York Yankees

Judge had some serious injury concerns early in his career. As of late, however, those concerns have been non-existent. In the two seasons of 2021 and 2022, he missed only nineteen games due to minor physical ailments that required a day’s rest. He also went to the Injured List once because of contracting COVID-19. Otherwise, he seemed to be turning a corner and trending in the right direction. Unfortunately last year he sprained his hip early in the season and then his big toe after crashing into a wall in the summer. The latter of the two injuries cost him almost two months of the season, though it’s hard to call him injury-prone for a hustle-type injury such as this. Judge will continue as one of the game’s best players and should be considered an everyday player with minimal injury risk. He’s done a lot to maintain his status as a non-concern, though another season of missing significant time isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Draft with confidence.

8. Juan Soto – New York Yankees

Soto is the only outfield-eligible player who played in all 162 games last season. He is two years removed from his last trip to the Injured List, and even that wasn’t anything major. He has missed just twenty games over the last three seasons and is showing no signs of slowing down. He is a major addition to the Yankees and should play every single game if healthy. Draft with confidence.

9. Yordan Álvarez – Houston Astros

Álvarez has hit at least 30 home runs in each of the last three seasons despite having never eclipsed 600 plate appearances. He has missed a lot of games because of his hand and it has become quite worrisome. Not only did he miss an extended amount of time with a hamate injury in 2022, but he came into Spring Training with more left-hand pain in the winter of 2023. While he was able to start the season on the field, it’s still a scary situation. Later in the season, after returning from an oblique injury, Álvarez missed more time for his hand after slamming it into a door while at home. The good news out of all of this is that whenever he is on the field, he is an elite hitter. He is a must-roster player, but owners need to be prepared for Plan B during at least one point in the season. Draft with attention.

10. Luis Robert Jr. – Chicago White Sox

Robert has quite a complicated injury history, but there might be a bright light at the end of that tunnel. As a member of the White Sox, he’s been under scrutiny for a while for his inability to remain on the field. Over his first three seasons in Chicago, he played a combined 222 games and eclipsed 400 plate appearances just once (it was at 401). For the better part of that period too, his DTD injuries would pile up with the team’s indecisiveness on how to treat him getting in the way of common sense. Luckily for everyone involved, his 2023 season was a massive success and he was able to remain on the field for most of it. Robert played in 145 games last season and broke out in a big way. He showed the world what he’s capable of doing when he can stay on the field. The question that remains is if he can do it again. Draft with attention.

11. Michael Harris II – Atlanta Braves

Harris had a tough start to his 2023 season with a back injury. He had some issues to end the 2022 season, but nothing substantial enough to warrant a trip to the Injured List. He missed three weeks to begin this season, but once he returned he was relatively healthy. Draft with confidence.

12. Adolis García – Texas Rangers

García has been an under-appreciated stud on the field for the past three years. His only real injuries came this season when he suffered a hand injury and then weeks later when he injured his patellar tendon. In the playoffs, he also hurt his back, but he is fully expected to be at 100% health come Spring Training. Overall, he is someone to be counted on for playing time and results. He has three consecutive seasons of well over 600 plate appearances. Draft with confidence.

13. Randy Arozarena – Tampa Bay Rays

Arozarena has quietly been a steady force on the field for the last three seasons. Other than time away from the team because of COVID-19 in 2021, he has been relatively healthy and in the Rays’ lineup daily. He has posted three seasons in a row of 600+ plate appearances and is looking to repeat that in 2024. Draft with confidence.

14. Cody Bellinger – 

Bellinger had an injury-riddled 2021 season where three different body parts required time on the Injured List. While the last two years have been much healthier, he did miss about one month this past season with a knee injury. His resurgence in 2023 should warrant him everyday at-bats in 2024, and it remains to be seen if his body can hold up for at least 600 plate appearances. Draft with attention.

15. Nolan Jones – Colorado Rockies

Jones had himself a successful breakout season in Colorado, but his injury history has some hiccups on it. In 2021, he suffered a high ankle sprain late in the Minor League season and required surgery to repair it. A few months later his return to baseball was delayed because of some back pain, but that episode didn’t produce anything substantial. As a member of the Rockies, he made his debut late in May and didn’t look back. Draft with confidence.

16. Jazz Chisholm Jr. – Miami Marlins

Chisholm Jr. is one of those players that you can safely say “If he were healthy, he would be a first-round pick”. Unfortunately for him, that’s an impossible statement to say. In his career, he has eclipsed 400 plate appearances just once. He has suffered injuries all over his body and has shown a knack for being a slow healer. He has spent 208 days of his career on the Injured List and is already recovering from off-season toe surgery. While he is fully expected to be ready for Spring Training, there is no guarantee that he will stay that way. Draft with caution.

17. Mike Trout – Los Angeles Angels

Trout has been on the Injured List for extended visits for quite a while. The last season where he played anywhere close to a full season was the pandemic year where he was in 83% of the team’s games. Since then he has been in the lineup for only 49% of the Angels’ games. In 2022, he was diagnosed with costovertebral dysfunction, which is a rare disease that causes back pains. Since then he broke a hamate bone in his hand and missed extended time with a fractured wrist. The concerning part of that injury was that it happened on a swing and not with abrasive contact by a pitch. It almost feels like his body is falling apart, yet when he is on the field, he performs at an elite level. The hope is that he can stay healthy, but he is a worrisome subject for 2024. Draft with caution.

18. Christian Yelich – Milwaukee Brewers

Yelich has bounced back in a big way since his injury scares in 2021. Still recovering from a fractured knee cap in 2019, the former MVP also suffered a major back injury that dates back to his Minor League days. Hitting coach Andy Haines has said that Yelich has had chronic back pains stemming from an injury he sustained back when he played in Class-A Greensboro. Since then, most years of his career have been plagued with these injuries. This past season, he missed significant time down the stretch of the season with back pains, though he was never officially placed on the Injured List. This is something that fantasy owners will need to learn to absorb if they want to roster him. Draft with caution.

19. Josh Lowe – Tampa Bay Rays

Lowe has nothing in his Major or Minor League Injury History to consider going forward. He just finished a season with 501 plate appearances, and the number was only that low because he plays for the Rays. Draft with confidence.

20. Kyle Schwarber – Philadelphia Phillies

Schwarber has seen a resurgence in his health after some early-career problems. Over the past two seasons, he has missed only nine games, and none of them have been for anything but some bumps and bruises. While it’s hard to overlook his early career problems, which included a nasty injury in 2016, it’s safe to say he is past those days and has been a steady source of playing time and power. The hope is that he can stay that way. Draft with confidence.

21. Bryan Reynolds – Pittsburgh Pirates

Reynolds has a checkered past, but one with good results. He’s spent time on the Injured List with injuries all over his body, but none have been for very long. He seems like a quick healer, which is important in fantasy. He has three consecutive seasons of at least 600 plate appearances and looks to repeat that in 2024. Draft with confidence.

22. Nick Castellanos – Philadelphia Phillies

Castellanos has a wide array of injuries that have cost him time over his long career. As of late, he has missed time on the Injured List for a fractured wrist as well as a strained oblique. Despite these ailments, he posted three consecutive seasons of at least 550 plate appearances and a full season of games played in 2020. The hope is that his injury history is well behind him and that he can continue being a consistent presence in the Phillies’ lineup as he has now for two seasons. Draft with confidence.

23. 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.

24. Lane Thomas – Washington Nationals

Thomas has become a fixture in the Nationals’ lineup for two straight seasons. His health has been an integral part of him getting everyday playing time. He had a serious injury in 2019 where he fractured his wrist, but has otherwise been able to stay on the field. He just finished a 156-game season despite some back pains late in the year. Draft with confidence.

25. Seiya Suzuki – Chicago Cubs

Suzuki has had some difficulty remaining on the field. In his two years with the Cubs, he has yet to eclipse 600 plate appearances in a season. He has missed time due to an oblique injury and a sprained finger, both of which lasted longer than the minimum ten-day window. Still, when he does play, he can be one of baseball’s best, as evidenced by his second-half stats in 2023. The hope is that he can adjust to being on the field every day and continue that growth. 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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