Fantasy Baseball's Walking Dead

There were plenty of tears in 2011 when it came to injuries. Several big name players went down and were left for dead. (Indulge me, as the post title was just a great excuse to work in the name of my favorite television show! And I totally called who was going to be in that barn!)

How confident can you be in that these players will go from Walking Dead to Walking Tall when you are drafting your 2012 fantasy baseball team? Well, let’s talk about them for a second:

 

Buster Posey Bruce Bochy – a former MLB catcher himself – has publicly said that he’s instructed Posey to no longer block the plate. Bochy knows that Posey’s bat is too good to be sitting on the bench because he’s banged up or, worse, sporting another broken leg. So Buster will sport the Carlton Fisk swipe tag while he’s hitting the heck out of the ball. In fact, Nash thinks he’ll be NL Comeback Player of the Year

Ryan Howard I’ll admit my bias: I’ve never been much of a Ryan Howard fan, but I won’t pile on and talk about how his skills have eroded. I think most people understand that he hasn’t been truly elite at first base for a while. The question becomes, “Can I get him for a steal in the draft, but get sneaky good value out of him?” The short answer: Yes. The long answer: Yeeeeeees! 

I just saw Howard go for $6 in a mock auction I was in. With reports saying he should be good to go in May, and factoring in a month to get his groove back, you’re still looking at at least 20 home runs and a gaggle of RBIs. Easily worth $6.

Ike Davis Ike was batting like a champ before colliding with David Wright and injuring his ankle. Ike says his ankle is “good to go.” As it is he’s an excellent choice to fill your Utility or CI slot. Don’t reach for him but if he drops to you don’t be afraid to grab him. Expect a .280(ish) average and home runs in the low 20s. 

Kendrys Morales Another first baseman, another bum ankle. Morales was such a trendy sleeper that he was actually becoming over-valued before he broke his ankle in the freak home run celebration. Now that he’s been out of the game well over a year, it’s hard to figure out how to value him. Never mind that the fact that the Angel’s now have 143 first basemen. 

If he’s healthy – and there is reason to think he will be – he’ll hit, once he knocks the rust off. But it’s been two years now so as much as I’d love to be able to confidently tell you where to draft Kendrys, I’ll be watching Spring Training along with you. My gut does say that he’s several picks above the next guy on this list though.

Justin Morneau Give Morneau bonus points for creativity. At least he’s not a first baseman sporting an injured ankle! Still, the concussion injury gives me pause. If you have experience in listening to what athletes are saying you learn to read between the lines a bit. When Morneau mentions that’s he feels likes he’s a “half second off” I get as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. What do you think a half second means for someone who is trying to hit major league pitching? Yeah. 

On top of that he’s still feeling numbness in his hands, the result of the surgery he had in his neck. How do you generate power when your hands are numb?!?  In fact, he had four surgeries (neck, wrist, foot and knee). It’s tough to be optimistic. A tear rolls down my cheek as I type this, but I think he’s done.

Adam Wainwright I think it should be standard procedure for MLB pitchers to get Tommy John surgery after 4-5 years of service. Just put it right in their contract! “Hey, we’re going to give you a new ulnar collateral ligament, harvested from somewhere else in your body. You’ll feel good as new in a year. Better, in fact, because you’re stretchy new elbow will have years less wear and tear. You’re welcome!” Fact is, Tommy John surgery has a full recovery estimate between 85 and 92%

Don’t draft Adam Wainwright to be your ace and be patient with him early, but he’ll be back and if he falls because of his injury scare, then you’ve just found a draft value.

Josh Johnson Ick. Shoulder injuries. If only doctors could harvest a new shoulder from your body like they do a new tendon for Tommy John surgery! Well, I guess they could transplant your non-throwing shoulder, but then you’d have to throw while facing center field (think about it). 

The point is that shoulder injuries have more uncertainty with pitchers than elbow injuries. But the Marlins didn’t rush him back at the end of last season and don’t seem too concerned going into this one. There is no denying that when Johnson is healthy and on the mound that he is one of the best. If the shoulder scares the other owners away, you jump on Johnson. Just hope that when you jump on him you don’t re-injure his shoulder! Oh!

Johan Santana Remember when Santana was dominate? It was actually the last time we had a leap year. 

Today, he’s expected to be ready for Opening Day, having recently thrown his 2nd bullpen session. I don’t think there is a soul in America who isn’t rooting for a Santana comeback story, but it’s another shoulder injury, and was much more serious than Johnson’s. Draft him as a 21st round flyer, but don’t go reach much higher than that.

Any 2011 injuries I missed? Let’s talk about them in the comments!

Tags: Buster Posey Draft Ike Davis Injuries

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