Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Outfielders to Avoid

February 28, 2019 | insideinjuries | No Comments

One of the most-overlooked aspects of drafting a strong fantasy baseball team is determining which players are worth the risk. Inside Injuries is here to make sure you avoid some players that come with a High Injury Risk due to current and past injuries. We will break down each players’ injuries with analysis on why we don’t think they are worth a pick at their current ADP. 

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Yoenis Cespedes NYM

IRC: High – 53%
HPF: Below Average – 58%
Significant Injuries: surgery on both heels, multiple hamstring strains, quad strain

Over the last two seasons Cespedes has played just 119 total games due to various injuries. In 2017 it was a series of hamstring strains that plagued him. Then in 2018 it was both heels along with a few lower body muscular strains that were related. In July he finally decided to shut things down to address the heel problems that were leading to all of these injuries. Cespedes underwent two serious surgeries and faces a 12+ month recovery.

Cespedes believes he will be able to play at some point in 2019, but the uncertainty that he might not get cleared is enough of a reason to avoid him in drafts, even as a late round flier. He plans to be 100% recovered before he returns so he can return to his 2015 form where he hit 35 homers, 105 RBIs and had a .291 average.

At 33 and coming off of two serious surgeries, this expectation is unrealistic. He remains a very High Injury Risk and is never going to be the same player he once was. Sure, his many muscular strains were caused by his heel problems. But despite fixing the heel issues, he remains more susceptible to future strains that could lead to a lengthy absence. Stay away.

AJ Pollock ARI

IRC: High – 36%
HPF: Above Average – 74%
Significant Injuries: thumb avulsion fracture, groin strain, elbow fracture

Pollock is a tempting player to draft when you take a look back at his healthy years. Unfortunately we can’t forget the thumb, groin and elbow injuries that have lead to just 237 games over the last three seasons. Pollock comes with a lethal combination of power and speed when healthy, but at 36% Injury Risk he is almost certain to suffer a serious injury at some point this season. With an ADP hovering around 100, he isn’t worth the risk unless he falls in drafts.

Now, if Pollock ends up being available later than expected (around the 10th round of 12 team leagues), he could be worth it. Consider him a high risk – high reward player in 2019. Hitting at the top of the Dodgers stacked lineup there will be plenty of opportunities for runs, steals and even RBIs and home runs, but an injury could quickly put a halt on his season. Have a backup plan ready to go if he is on your roster.

Bryce Harper FA

IRC: High – 39%
HPF: Above Average – 67%
Significant Injuries: left knee bone bruise and calf strain, groin tightness, left thumb strain

Despite playing 159 games in 2018, Harper remains a High Injury Risk. That should tell you something about all of his injury problems before last season. Harper missed 51 games in 2017 and always seems to be battling some sort of injury. The most serious one was a knee bone bruise and calf strain that year, but he has also had groin, thumb, foot, elbow, neck and hamstring problems since 2016. If Harper wasn’t an early round pick, he might be worth the risk as he has avoided the surgeries and season-enders that can derail a player’s career. But he’s always dealing with something, and he typically struggles to produce when he’s playing hurt.

Harper remains a free agent and is reportedly seeking a 10-year, $300 million deal. Based on his risk, he really shouldn’t get the long-term deal he is looking for. Not only is he going to be a risk for whatever team he lands on, but he’s going to be a huge risk for his fantasy owners as well. Over the last four years, he has posted a low batting average of .243 and a high of .330. His stolen bases from 2015 – 2018 have been all over the board as well (6, 21, 4, 13). You just don’t know what you’re going to get from Harper, and on top of that we still don’t know where he is going to land. Let someone else take the risk on Harper this year.

JD Martinez BOS

IRC: High – 36%
HPF: Above Average – 74%
Significant Injuries: lower back tightness, Lisfranc sprain in right foot, right elbow fracture

Oh, how quickly some have forgotten about Martinez’s 2016 and 2017 seasons. Thankfully for you, we haven’t. Sure, Martinez had a great year in 2018, hitting .330 to go along with 43 home runs and 130 RBIs. It was an exceptional season, but the risk remains. Martinez is going to hit for power and drive in runs as long as he is hitting in the Red Sox lineup, but if he’s hurt he won’t have any value. In 2016 and 2017 he suffered a series of injuries that included back, foot and elbow injuries. Going forward his back will be the biggest concern as these injuries, even the minor ones, tend to recur.

It rarely pays off to take such a big risk on a player like Martinez in the first round. Yes, he has plenty of upside as one of the best hitters in the game, but so do a lot of other players that are potential first round picks. Don’t be the sucker that just looks at Martinez’s 2018 season and gets optimistic that he will repeat.

George Springer HOU

IRC: High – 34%
HPF: Above Average – 66%
Significant Injuries: multiple quad strains, thumb sprain, wrist fracture, concussion

Springer followed up an impressive 162 game season in 2016 with back-to-back 140 games seasons. In 2018 he struggled with a .265/.346/.434  slash line and hit 22 home runs, a big drop off from the 34 he hit the previous season. Springer’s power was sapped by a thumb and quad injury in the second half. His quad was also a problem in 2014 and 2017, so this is an injury that could flare up at any moment. He also missed time in 2015 with a right wrist fracture and a concussion. That’s a lot of injuries for a guy who 29 years old and is supposed to be in his prime.

So what should we expect from Springer in 2019? He’s always good for 100 runs, even in the years where he missed a chunk of the season. Springer’s power should be back now that he has had the offseason to heal all of his injuries, but he will need to stay healthy if it’s going to last throughout the season. Expect 25-30 home runs depending on how many games he is able to play to go along with a .265 average, but don’t expect him to contribute many steals. Those numbers just aren’t good enough for a guy whose ADP is hovering around the top 50. There are quite a few other players with a lower Injury Risk but the same upside that could still be on the board (Cody Bellinger, Starling Marte, Rhys Hoskins, Whit Merrifield).