Injuries are an unfortunate part of the fantasy baseball game. Anyone can build a roster complete with the perfect pieces, only to have it derailed because the players get hurt. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but injuries are incredibly difficult to avoid since they happen all the time. The question then focuses on answering what can be done about it. In order to answer that, a general understanding of injuries is needed.
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MLB Injury Primer
Timeframe of Injuries
When a player gets injured, most leagues have the option to place that player on an Injured List. Doing so usually opens up a slot for a new player to be added to help replace the injured player. There are varying time frames that need to be remembered because they impact a fantasy roster.
When a player gets listed as Day-to-Day, their injury isn’t considered to be serious. Instead, the player or manager believes that a day off will make it easier for that player to be near 100% healthy within a short timeframe. These designations happen all the time in baseball and need to be monitored by fantasy owners.
7-Day Injured List
This takes place for both positional players and pitchers who suffer a concussion. The movements and actions of that player are monitored and he is required to go through a concussion protocol while not playing for at least one week. He must be symptom-free before returning to action.
10-Day Injured List
This takes place for positional players only and is the minimum time that a player will be unable to play. This happens when the Day-to-Day designation is not enough for an injury to heal. It also allows for the team to replace the injured player on the roster.
15-Day Injured List
This takes place for pitchers only and is the minimum time that a player will be unable to play. This happens when the Day-to-Day designation is not enough for an injury to heal. It also allows for the team to replace the injured player on the roster.
60-Day Injured List
This takes place for both positional players and pitchers and is the minimum time that a player will be unable to play. This designation is for injuries that will require an extensive amount of time and treatment in order to get right.
In summary, the difference in time between pitchers and positional players is quite substantial. For any significant injury that needs to be treated, there are an extra five days added for the pitchers. This needs to be accounted for when deciphering adds and drops for a team since two weeks of waiting and stashing can significantly hurt your chances at success. It also makes the notion of having healthy pitching that much more important.
Types of Injuries
The next step that’s important is to understand the injuries themselves. There are different types of injuries that can have various ramifications attached to them. Here is a basic categorization of the types of injuries that can be sustained. The timelines listed are general despite the fact that every athlete recovers differently. There are also many other types of injuries, but these are just the basics.
A contusion is another word for a bruise which is an injury to the soft tissue. It’s one of the quickest injuries from which one can return, and is unlikely to lead to a stint on the Injured List.
A bone bruise is a bruise that happens to the bone itself, and not the tissue. It’s more painful and could require a trip to the Injured List. While not necessarily the most severe of injuries, more serious cases can’t be ruled out of the question.
A fracture is a broken bone, or where there is a chip or crack in a bone. The timeline for recovery is usually up to two months, with a significant portion of that time being having that body part immobilized in a cast or possibly a splint. Once the protection is removed, the athlete needs time to rehab, recover, and regain strength.
A sprain happens when a ligament gets stretched or torn. There are varying degrees of sprains that require different amounts of healing time. A first-degree sprain is a stretching of the ligament is stretched and usually takes up to four weeks for a full recovery. A second-degree sprain is a partial tearing of the ligament or when there are multiple ligaments injured. The recovery time for this type is usually up to six weeks. A third-degree sprain is the most severe of all and happens when the ligament gets completely torn. This type of sprain can take up to three months to heal, with some lasting longer.
A strain happens when a muscle or tendon gets stretched or torn. There are varying degrees of strains that require different amounts of healing time. A first-degree strain is when the tissue tears or there is mild tenderness. A player can usually recover from this within days. A second-degree strain is a muscle tear or where there are issues within the tendon. Here, the pain is more severe and limits what a player can do. This will likely cause a trip to the Injured List. A third-degree strain is the most serious of them all, as the pain is at its peak. The player is very little to no range of motion and surgery is likely the answer.
Preparing for Injuries
It’s one thing to know the types of injuries and how they’re processed within the game. It’s another thing altogether knowing how to handle them during the regular season. After all, holding onto a player who won’t play for a while could be considered a waste of a roster spot. On the other hand, knowing when they’ll return is key to figuring out how to balance things on your team. Here are some tips and tricks on how to manage.
League Size Matters
The smaller the league size, the greater the talent will be on the waiver wire. As an example, cutting an injured closer in a shallow league may allow you to replace him with another closer sitting there on waivers. The deeper the league, the more difficult it may be to not only find someone talented enough to replace an injured player but also find someone who will actually get playing time.
League Format Matters
Having an Injured List is key when deciding to keep injured players. Some leagues have unlimited spaces, while others are capped. Whatever the case may be, it’s best to keep as many of your best players as you can that have a chance to return and impact your team. If someone will be injured for most of the remaining time, decisions need to be made in redraft leagues as to whether they’re worth keeping. Consider the impact they can make on your team as opposed to someone else.
Understand the Ramp-up
Just a friendly reminder that baseball players are human beings. When a player misses significant time, chances are they will need additional time to get back to the way they were. If they are unable to exercise, put pressure on body parts, or use their arms and legs, they will need time away from the game to get themselves ready. For positional players, it’s usually more about timing their swing and fine-tuning their mechanics. They may need time in the minor leagues to revamp themselves and get ready for the big leagues.
As for pitchers, their ramp-up is a bit trickier. If a pitcher is unable to pitch, they may need to start from scratch when they get back onto the field. The process of returning takes time and effort with potentially incremental gains. Pitchers may start by soft tossing a baseball (playing catch) and showing progression in the distance and velocity with which they can do that. From there, they will move towards throwing off of a mound and will eventually move towards pitching to live batters. Once that is complete, then they may pitch in the minor leagues to show that their body can withstand the pressures of pitching. It’s a potentially much longer process than what positional players endure.
Keep up to Date
While the above parts are important to understand, arguably the most important thing to do is to stay informed. Twitter, as an example, is a great place to find information on any player you desire. Additionally, listening to what the manager and the player himself have to say about the injuries is important. They may offer insight into any tinkering that’s happening behind the scenes, plus giving potential returning timeframes. On top of that, following beat writers can be the keys to inside the clubhouse itself. These reporters follow the teams and talk to the players daily. Getting their first-hand views on what’s happening behind the scenes is gold.