The 2013 major league baseball season is about to begin, so now is a great time to touch on two topics that are in the news on a daily basis – injured players and those that might be guilty of PED use.
WORKING WITH THE INJURY BUG
All those players have significant injury concerns that will cost them one, possibly two months of the season (maybe even more in the case of Tex). The general reaction is to run away from those players immediately and not even bother looking at them on draft day. Is that the right way to look at this situation? Let’s use the case of HanRam.
Hanley was injured while playing third base in the World Baseball Classic (another reason to get rid of the event?). He tore a ligament in his right thumb and will be out of action two months as he needs surgery. Gone are his chances at being a top-25 player this season as he will miss a third of the season. So we just forget about him, right? Not so fast. Follow me here.
HanRam will likely be able to play 2/3 of the season this year. Let’s assume last year’s numbers are his baseline. Ramirez hit .257 with 24 homers, 92 RBIs, 79 runs scored and 21 steals, numbers by the way that are his worst in a full season at any point in his career. He played 157 games last season. Let’s say he plays 105 games at that level this season. If he were to do that here would be his fantasy line: .257-16-62-53-14. Those numbers still wouldn’t be awful for a shortstop if you were in a 12 or 15 team league, and they would certainly be solid for a middle infield option. But remember this salient point – while Hanley is out of action you will have an open spot in your lineup to fill. Let’s say that you roster Alexei Ramirez who you plan on starting until Ramirez returns. Let’s say that Ramirez plays 50 games for you while Hanley is shelved. Per 162 games in his career Ramirez has gone .276-17-77-77-14. How does that pro-rate over 50 games? Take a look: five homers, 24 runs, 24 RBIs, four steals
Let’s put the two players together.
HanRam (105 games): .257-16-62-53-14
Alexei (50 games): .276-5-24-24-4
* The batting average is the .257 average of HanRam from last season and the .276 career average of Alexei giving 105 games to Hanley and 50 to Ramirez which equates to 156 hits in 594 at-bats.
That’s darn near a 20-90-80-20 effort.
Make sure you don’t discount players too quickly just cause they are injured. You still might be able to get strong numbers from a position if you are smart about what you pay for the assets that will fill those spots.
ACCUSATIONS – SHOULD THEY CHANGE YOUR OPINION?
I don’t know who will break the law tonight.
I don’t know who broke the law in the past.
I don’t know who is cheating or has cheated.
Neither do you.
I bring this up cause I get the question every single day, multiple times, about when to take Ryan Braun. My response is always the same, even if it’s misguided – he’s the #1 guy on my board. ‘But Ray, didn’t you read Jeff Passan’s piece about how major league baseball is targeting Braun in what seems to be a very aggressive and over the top manner?’ Of course I read the article. I wouldn’t have linked to it otherwise, and it does disturb me that MLB appears to be on a witch hunt to get Braun. But for now I’m not going to draft based on fear. I KNOW there are players in the majors right now who are cheating. You know it too. The problem is we don’t know who those players are. Do you pass on drafting a guy who gained 12 lbs of muscle over the winter? Do you pass on a guy because some vague/unsubstantiated rumor suggests that there is a possibility that something may have happened in the past? You certainly can choose to do that. However, as I led off this section with, none of us knows what is going on behind closed doors.
Maybe a guy is doing recreational drugs.
Maybe he boozes too much.
Maybe he beats his wife.
Maybe he’s going through a painful divorce.
Maybe his child is sick.
Maybe his parent died.
Maybe he’s got an illness that he’s hiding.
On, and on, and on…
The point is, playing the “what if” game gets us nowhere. We all have to admit that every player, every single one of them, comes with risk. If you feel Braun is too much of a risk because of the PED cloud, then pass on him. Realize though that Miguel Cabrera has an alcohol problem. Mike Trout can’t repeat what he did last year and has one season of big league experience. Robinson Cano is without Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira. Matt Kemp & Joey Votto are coming off surgery… they all have issues folks.
* Don’t forget to pick up your copy of the 2013 BaseballGuys Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide which is now available. Nearly 150 pages of insight to help you dominate the competition in 2013.
By Ray Flowers