In the third installment of our “Injured Players Draft Guide”-Dr. Jesse Morse takes a look at injured or recovering second baseman entering the 2017 season.
Josh Donaldson, now 31 years old, who the Toronto Blue Jays essentially stole from the Oakland A’s a couple years ago, has been a monster at the plate since arriving in the T Dot. Hitting 41 HRs in 2015 and 37 HRs last year, to go along with 122 runs in each year, posting a .270s ISO. Last year he posted a career-best walk rate, and has a chance to be even more important to the Blue Jays this year after E5’s departure to Cleveland. Donaldson injured his right calf on February 17th of this year while running sprints. He was diagnosed with a mild calf strain and miss about 3 weeks before ramping up his activity recently. The good news is that Donaldson is expected to make his spring training debut this week, and as long as everything goes ok and he doesn’t experience and setbacks, he should be on track to start Opening Day.
Donaldson is a fantasy beast and a first-round selection, currently being drafted as the 4th 3B behind Arenado, Bryant and Machado, with an ADP of 10. After three consecutive top-10 MVP finishes, despite being the eldest of the four elite 3B, his calf injury shouldn’t set him back, so be prepared to lock-and-load and draft him with confidence.
It seems like some guys simply just don’t age, and Adrian Beltre seems to be one of those guys. Beltre debuted in 1998 at 19-years-old, and for the most part has been an above average third basemen for quite a while now. Heading into his age-38 season, the future Hall of Famer posted an impressive 10.3% strikeout rate in 2016, with 32 HRs, .300 BA and 130 wRC+. Steamer has Beltre slowing down a little bit, with him hitting 21 HRs, hitting .294 BA and 116 wRC+, which is still a very solid season. Like the aforementioned Donaldson, Beltre suffered a Grade 1 calf strain early in March but it hasn’t seemed to really impact him at all.
Beltre is currently being drafted as the 8th 3B off the board, with an ADP of 66, which is in the same region as Carpenter and about 20 picks before Bregman. 3B is deep this year, and is justifiably 20 guys deep, depending on how you feel about guys like Lamb and Healy. Personally I’d prefer Carpenter over Beltre primarily due to versatility, or reach for Bregman, who I think may tear it up this year. Don’t get me wrong, Beltre is a solid veteran and you know what you will be getting with him, but if you want a guy with upside, look elsewhere. Beltre’s calf injury shouldn’t affect him, as he’s one of the most durable players in baseball, and has played in at least 143 games in each of the last 5 seasons.
Martin Prado is one of those valuable real-life baseball players but fantasy-wise he’s not quite as valuable. At 33 years old, Prado is very consistent at being mediocre; he doesn’t strike out much, and has a great contact rate. He will likely hit 10 home runs, steal a couple bases and hit around .300, that’s Martin Prado for you. Prado suffered a Grade 1 right hamstring strain, and is also dealing with discomfort in his right calf, which will likely hold him out for Opening Day. Prado is currently being drafted as the 33rd 3B, with an ADP of 308, placing him in the Pablo Sandoval, Yulieski Gurriel, and Eugenio Suarez range. Do yourself a favor, avoid Prado and his lack of upside. Draft somebody like Gurriel who could surprise people as the Opening Day first basemen for the Astros, or Pablo Sandoval, who has been raking at Fenway South in Spring Training.
Mike Moustakas is the 28-year-old 3B for the Royals who suffered a major knee injury (tore his ACL) in May 2016 after colliding with Alex Gordon. Moustakas started off with a bang in 2015, posting a career best .817 OPS, and then last year his power was on display, as he showed off with a .260 ISO. The knee sounds like it is 100%, which it should be, Moustakas could be in for a very solid walk-year, as Steamer projects him to hit 23 HRs, .201 ISO, with a 111 wRC+. Moustakas is currently being drafted as the 22nd 3B, with an ADP of 227. That represents a nice buy-low as your UTIL or CI for your team. He may even be able to hold down your 3B slot if everything falls into place for him. He’s being drafted in the same area as Castellanos, Healy, Hernan Perez, and Jose Reyes. Moose has more power than all of those guys, and you should feel comfortable rolling the dice on him this spring in your draft.
Pablo Sandoval has the potential to be a sneaky bargain this year. After failing to rise to the occasion entering the 2016 debut season with the (my) Boston Red Sox. Sandoval only played in 3 games before spraining his shoulder, eventually leading to season ending shoulder surgery by the famous Dr. James Andrews. Sandoval took his rehab seriously, dropping a significant amount of weight, changing his diet up, even working with a boxing trainer in Miami. He looks like a new man this spring training, as he hit 2 monster home runs last week in a game (one almost cleared the whole ballpark). It is still early enough to turn his Red Sox career around, despite a low walk rate and absolutely no speed. He can be useful in deeper leagues, but I wouldn’t draft him as your starting 3B in a 12 or 15 team league. With no one really threatening to take the job from him, Sandoval can prove the doubters wrong. Currently being drafted as the 31st 3B, with an ADP of 304, it’s worth rolling the dice on Sandoval and his surgically-repaired shoulder. Regardless of where he hits in the lineup, he will have a chance for plenty of RBIs.
David Wright has had a rough go of it the past couple of years, playing in fewer than 40 games in each of the past 2 seasons. He lost the majority of 2016 with his third major back injury, requiring spinal fusion surgery for a herniated disc. Anyone who has needed three separate back surgeries, especially as a professional athlete, does not have luck on his side. Although there was optimism going into the 2017 season, Wright is unlikely to appear in a Grapefruit League games. He has advanced his rehab to running and fielding grounders, but getting into a game has yet to be determined. When healthy, Wright has the ability to provide near-elite offense, but Steamer does not expect much out of him this year. Projecting him to play in 53 games, with 6 HRs, 3 SBs, a .252 AVG and a wRC+ of 101. In the majority of re-draft leagues, he is not even being drafted. In the right league, Wright could be worth a gamble in the later rounds if you have the bench depth or DL room for him. Unfortunately, you should not expect much out of Wright this year.