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Fantasy Baseball Strategy: Dealing With Injuries

With players dropping like flies during Spring Training, Cam gives some tips on how to approach injuries in fantasy baseball.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 25: Gerrit Cole #45 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Texas Rangers during their game at Yankee Stadium on June 25, 2023 in Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

There aren’t many things worse than playing fantasy sports and hearing that one of your players is injured. It can be demoralizing, and it can ruin your team, depending on how serious the injury is. Of course, the timing of an injury can affect how bad it is for your fantasy team. A six-month injury in Week 15 of the football season isn’t nearly as important as that same injury in Week 5. A six-month injury to your top starting pitcher on Labor Day isn’t nearly as bad as if it happened on Memorial Day.

But what if the injuries occur during Spring Training? How will it affect your draft? If you’re in a Keeper league, depending on the severity of the injury, it could determine whether or not you keep the player. And, depending on when in Spring Training the injury occurs, you could be stuck with an injured player who never ever appeared for your team.

In my long-standing AL-Only 10-team Keeper league, which is in its 27th season, our draft is on Saturday, March 23rd, and our keepers are due on Saturday, March 16th. Once the keepers are in, if someone gets hurt, too bad, tough luck, your loss. Timing is everything.

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Theoretically, a player getting hurt today is far better than a player getting hurt next week. In a Redraft league it doesn’t matter as much. In that situation, you’ll have to decide how much less to bid on a player in an auction or how many rounds to drop a player down your draft board. You may determine getting that player for only part of the season makes them not worth drafting at all. In a Keeper league, at least you can plan for the long game and plan to have a player at a discount for 2025.

There is also the added risk factor of an injury reoccurring, depending on how serious it was to begin with. Players that start the year injured, even if their injury is only minor, are often much more likely to eventually miss a large chunk of time. Only you can decide how much risk you are willing to take.

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One of the way to reduce risk if you do roster an injured player is to do whatever you can to snag that player’s replacement. In the case of a pitcher, target the team’s swingman, who may grab a few spot starts. If it’s an outfielder, grab the team’s fourth OF, who will most likely see his production increase. Also, make sure to pay close attention to the team’s minor league system. An injury can give a minor leaguer the opportunity to get the call and make a name for himself … think of Lou Gehrig and Wally Pip.

This Spring Training has seen an inordinate amount of injuries. We will all have to make decisions on how to value these injured players as we get closer and closer to our drafts. Here are 16 high-end major league players who are all either questionable to start the season or have already been ruled out for Opening Day.

  1. Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta Braves — right knee irritation: Questionable for the start of the season
  2. Aaron Judge, New York Yankees — general soreness: Questionable for the start of the season
  3. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Toronto Blue Jays — bruised left knee: Questionable for the start of the season
  4. Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees — elbow inflammation, MRI, second opinion: Questionable for the start of the season
  5. Kevin Gausman, Toronto Blue Jays — shoulder fatigue: Questionable for the start of the season
  6. Lucas Giolito, Boston Red Sox — elbow surgery: Out for the year
  7. Josh Jung, Texas Rangers — left calf strain: Questionable for the start of the season
  8. Josh Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays — hip inflammation: Questionable for the start of the season
  9. Cedric Mullins, Baltimore Orioles — right hamstring: Questionable for the start of the season
  10. Devin Williams, Milwaukee Brewers — MRI on back, seeing a spinal specialist: Questionable for the start of the season
  11. David Bednar, Pittsburgh Pirates — lat tightness: Questionable for the start of the season
  12. Sonny Gray, St.Louis Cardinals — tight right hamstring: out until at least March 28th
  13. Nathaniel Lowe, Texas Rangers — right oblique: out until at least April 7th
  14. Jose Abreu, Houston Astros — right knee: Questionable for the start of the season
  15. Lars Nootbaar, St. Louis Cardinals — fractured ribs: out until at least April 7th
  16. J.P. France, Houston Astros — shoulder inflammation: Questionable for the start of the season
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