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MLB Injury Primer – Part Three

The Injury Primer series continues today as we look more toward the future. While Part One dealt with the technical side of injuries, Part Two dove right into trends from the 2022 season. Both of these are important to remember when analyzing injuries for the upcoming season.

Moving forward, it’s key to know where some players stand heading into the new season. Last year, there were players that either played through injuries or were plagued by ongoing injuries that kept them out of action. Whether or not they have an injury history is important in order to see if perhaps there is a trend happening, or if that one season was an anomaly. While some of my thoughts can be seen within the Fantrax Draft Kit, it’s not as thorough of a list as it actually should be. There are plenty of players with a long history of injuries. For a complete listing of any player, I strongly suggest going here, where you can search the injury history of any Major League player.

That said, here are some players whose injury history concerns me heading into 2023.

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2023 Injury-Prone Players

For a complete list, I started this conversation over on Twitter, as a way to help organize my thoughts. While not everyone here is someone who will get hurt in 2023, it is a list of players whose injury history needs to be remembered. This is especially true when it’s embedded within their draft cost. After all, the earlier or more expensive the draft pick, the more reliant owners will be on their output.

Jacob deGrom

If there was ever a player whose health mattered most, it would be Jacob deGrom. After years of missing games with the Mets, deGrom signed a long-term and lucrative contract with the Texas Rangers. It was him that was supposed to anchor the team’s struggling rotation and bring them to the promised land. Instead, after arriving and throwing with his new team, the injury concerns started all over again.

While it’s encouraging that he came back days later to play catch, one can’t help but fear that this is a sign of things to come. Since arriving in the majors, deGrom has missed 243 days of playing time due to various injuries. In fact, due to injuries all over his body, he has been limited to just 224.1 innings pitched since the 2020 season. He has had problems with his forearm, shoulder, and side. What makes it all the more concerning is that the Texas Rangers put a health condition in his contract. The condition kicks in if he were to miss more than 130 days due to right elbow injuries, which includes Tommy John surgery. If that happens, his contract gets extended for one more year.

With a second-round ADP of 29.6, there is a lot of risk involved with drafting Jacob deGrom. Early in drafts, most owners like to feel the safety of their picks and have the ability to leave them in their lineups for the year. If there is an Injured List in your leagues, he’s worth considering at this cost because of how elite he is when he’s healthy. That being said, there is too much risk involved with so much pitching available later in drafts. The juice is not worth the squeeze at this price.

Byron Buxton

I’ve often compared the injury history of Byron Buxton to that of the board game Operation. If we were to pinpoint where he has suffered injuries over his career, it would likely lead to many different spots all over the body. Over his long career, he has missed time due to ailments on his finger, groin, head, toe, wrist, shoulder, hip, and hand. He’s also someone that missed time chewing on a steak. I kid you not.

Coming into the year, the Twins are being very cautious with him. They want to conservatively ramp him back up to where he should be. Furthermore, there are no limitations with him this spring, bringing back a familiar sense of optimism. Will this be the year he finally stays healthy? His 92 games played in 2022 were the highest for him since 2017, but is he just unlucky? He’s suffered concussions by hitting his head on a slide, he’s jammed his hand while trying to make a catch and he’s had his hand broken when hit by a pitch. These are fluky injuries that can’t be predicted. Should we ignore them?

With an ADP of around 88, it’s hard to not feel scared about drafting Byron Buxton. After all, in some leagues without an Injured List, that’s a 6th round pick that could miss almost half of the season. That said, if the draft price were to drop a bit, he’s someone to consider. When he’s healthy, he produces like not many other hitters do. He hits the ball hard and plays with his heart on his sleeve. He’s not someone to reach for, but rather someone to fall back on.

Anthony Rendon

Since arriving in Los Angeles with a major contract, Anthony Rendon has failed to live up to his costly price. Over three seasons with the Angels, he has hit just 20 home runs over 157 games played. For context, Sammy Sosa holds the record for most home runs in one month with that exact same total. Yet, three years into this deal, he remains an injury concern. The question then becomes, how serious of an injury risk is he heading into this season? Perhaps not as bad as one might think. Remembering back when he was activated in September.

It was here that he served his suspension and was able to get back on the field. It’s always a positive sign when a player is able to come back before the end of the year as opposed to waiting for the next season to start. This offseason, he has been rehabbing and strength training while also getting his hip closer to where it was before his 2021 surgery. He’s been visiting physical therapists and doctors that have put the accountability on him to improve. He’s determined to not have any more surgeries and seems motivated to do whatever it takes to make that happen.

While saying all of the right things puts a nice spin on things, actually doing it is a completely different story. He will need to focus on keeping himself healthy, prepared, and ready for all in-game action. While he seems ready to go now, it isn’t uncommon for all players to feel this confident heading into a new season. Everyone feels refreshed, but it’s the onset of a grueling season that will tell the real from the fictional.

Nonetheless, his ADP brings about a new sense of confidence. On average, he is getting drafted around the 221 mark, making him a late option for third base and corner infield. With those being positions of scarcity, he just might be worth a shot here this late. His final season in Washington landed him third in MVP voting and in the All-Star Game. If he comes anywhere close to what he’s capable of doing, he could very well be the best value in this year’s draft.

Quick Hits

Aaron Ashby

A young pitcher with so much potential, Ashby suffered an impingement in his shoulder, which will result in missed time to start the season. While a mid-May return doesn’t seem long, that’s on the condition that everything goes according to plan. He seems like someone to be passed on in redraft leagues as we await more developing news. Even though his ADP of 263 makes it easier to stash, there’s no guarantee he’s back within that projected time frame or doesn’t pitch effectively.

Adalberto Mondesi

Just like Ashby, Mondesi’s best-case scenario seems unlikely, given the injury. Rehabbing from a torn ACL is no easy task, as the risk of re-injury is alarmingly large. That said, he has started baseball activities and has fielded groundballs and run the basepaths. While more updates need to happen first, it’s a safe bet that Mondesi will miss some time. He’s a notoriously slow person when it comes to recovering from his injuries, which can be frustrating for owners. The talent is undeniable, but his ADP of 235 is along the lines of a wait-and-see. For now, he’s worth stashing.

Jack Flaherty

The key words in the above message are “fully healthy”, something that Jack Flaherty hasn’t been in quite a while. Last year at this time, he was getting platelet injections to relieve shoulder pain, and he himself knew that he wasn’t 100% healthy. After coming back and pitching, he said he received advice from a friend who told him to believe in himself and let it all go. His first confident start of the 2022 season came in September in San Diego, which gave him the confidence he needed to believe in his health. Heading into this year, his ADP of 217 leaves a lot to be desired, with many owners having trepidation. Understandably so, he comes with a lot of excess baggage and hurt feelings. That said, he seems like a huge bargain and worth a shot to repeat his past success.

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