By Sam McPherson
When players come off the disabled list, it’s very important to note what injuries they suffered in the first place. Sometimes, understanding that injury and its potential impact on performance is the key to grasping whether or not you should even keep a player rostered while they’re on the disabled list. Foot, hand and wrist injuries are very difficult to recover from right away, and they can often have long-lasting effects on players and their ability to produce for your fantasy baseball team.
Use Oakland Athletics right fielder Josh Reddick as an example: In 2012, his first season as a full-time player, Reddick his 32 home runs and drove in 85 RBI for the surprise American League West champion A’s. However, in the first week of the 2013 season, Reddick hurt his wrist trying to make a defensive player in Houston’s Minute Maid Park. He wasn’t the same player in 2013 and 2014, hitting a combined 24 HRs in those two years combined. Now fully healthy again, the A’s right fielder has 10 HRs in just 62 games this season with a career-high average, too: His wrist took a long time to heal properly.
It’s very tempting to grab players coming off the DL before anyone else in your league does; we covered that strategy in this very space earlier this season. Yet noting the type of injury is important, too, as well as how much time was spent on the disabled list—and the minor-league rehab results for the player trying to make the comeback. Keeping your eye on all these things will help you make better roster decisions as you try to improve your team every day/week.
Players to Get Onto Your Roster Now
1. Mitch Moreland, 1B, Texas Rangers: Even when Adrián Beltré comes back from injury, Moreland still will find playing time in the lineup for the Rangers. He’s hitting .300 with eight HRs and 31 RBI through 47 games this season. Joey Gallo may be at third, and Beltré may end up at first, but Moreland has played the outfield before—and he can again. In fact, this is the only season in his six-year career that he hasn’t played in the outfield (yet).
2. Brock Holt, UTL, Boston Red Sox: He may be a trendy pickup because he just hit for the cycle, but grab him anyway if you can. All Holt does is hit: He has a .284 career average, and that’s probably better than most players out there. He doesn’t hit for a lot of power, and he doesn’t steal bases. Holt is a great utility guy to have on your roster, however. Depending on your league rules, he could eligible at as many as four positions right now, and he’s already played seven positions this season—just as he did last season. That’s great flexibility for your roster.
3. Wilmer Flores, SS, New York Mets: If you need some cheap power, here’s the guy for your middle infield. In 167 career games now, he’s hit 17 HRs, and 10 of them have come this season. He’s only going to hit around .250, and Flores doesn’t steal bases, but if it’s pop you need from a shortstop, he can help you. He’s also only 23, so the sky is the limit for Flores.
4. Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins: This top prospect has hit the majors, and Buxton only has two hits in his first five games. That could scare some other owners away; don’t be one of them. Grab him. He hit .296 in the minors over three-plus years with a slugging percentage close to .500, and Buxton will make it work in Minnesota. He has some good speed, too, with 92 steals in the minors.
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
1. Wil Myers, OF, San Diego Padres: His wrist injury wasn’t full healed when he came off the DL, and now he’s back on the injured list after having surgery to remove a bone spur. Don’t risk it; let someone else take the chance when he comes back in mid-August. As noted above, when a player’s wrist is injured and needs recovery time, he has a hard time swinging the bat. Myers will be no exception, as good as he is. Drop him and let someone else suffer at the end of the season when they desperately need stats.
2. Ryan Vogelsong, SP, San Francisco Giants: Hopefully, he wasn’t on your roster anyway, but if he is, drop him. The miracles Vogelsong once sewed in AT&T Park are long gone, and it’s crazy how a guy with a 6.00 ERA took four seasons off and then came back to the majors to be an All-Star in 2011. That player is long gone. He’s somehow 5-5 with a 4.38 ERA, but Vogelsong doesn’t strike out enough batters to keep numbers like that on your roster.
3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington Nationals: This guy was once a machine for the Nationals, but now he’s out with a mysterious foot injury—and that means it’s time to let him go for the season. Everything about his bat was down low this season, and if you kept him around, hoping for a comeback, we don’t fault you. But Zimmerman is done for the year, even if the team hasn’t said as much. His .209 average this year, well below his career .282 mark, tells us all we need to know about that foot problem.
4. Yordano Ventura, SP, Kansas City Royals: One of the darlings of the Royals’ run to the World Series last year, Ventura is giving up too many HRs this year to be effective. Last year, he gave up 14 dongs in just 183 innings. This year, he’s already coughed up seven long ones in just 67 innings. His hits allowed are up, and his strikeouts are down. Ventura may be trying to pitch through an injury, so shelve him for awhile if you can to see if he can work through it.
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball and fantasy sports for many online sites, including CBS, AXS and Examiner.