Let the overreaction to Spring Training numbers begin! Gregory Polanco went 3-for-3 with 2 stolen bases in his debut — 115 SB prediction for Polanco! Jason Castro went 2-for-2 with a HR in his first game — 60 HR for Castro! Shelby Miller allowed 2 runs, 3 hits over 2 innings — that is actually pretty on-brand for Shelby Miller. Do not trust Shelby Miller! Health is really what you’re looking for in Spring Training and these guys are failing that test so far…
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Michael Bourn, BAL, Broken Ring Finger.
The shell of Michael Bourn is competing for the 4th OF role in Baltimore and just broke his finger playing catch with a football. Since 2013 he has totaled 65 stolen bases. In 2011 he had 61 SB alone. ‘Member him?
Zach Britton, BAL, Oblique Discomfort.
Britton is saying that he’s not worried about his oblique and that it’s improving and I’m apt to believe him because I’m sure he has my interests in mind. Zach Britton’s 0.54 ERA (not a typo) in 2016 will lead him to be one of the first closers off the board. With over a month of rest and recovery time — Britton should recover just fine and even if his ERA doubles (it has to rise — right?!) he’ll still be the #1 closer in the game.
Francisco Cervelli, PIT, Sore Right Foot.
Cervelli is that catcher you take in the 25th round when you turn spiteful that you missed out on the 3 catchers that matter. He’ll barely hit home runs, he’ll accidentally steal 1 base, but a career .280 average and .361 OBP means he won’t kill your team there. Born in Venezuela, but playing catcher for Team Italy based on his name alone, the World Baseball Classic will be a good test to see if this boring catcher should be your last overall pick.
Tyler Collins, DET, Strained Left Lat Muscle.
Battling Mikie Mahtook, JaCoby Jones and Anthony Gose for the Tigers starting center field gig, Collins took a step back in the running when he suffered a strained left lat muscle. However, Collins is still able to DH and pinch run in Spring Training. However, having your manager say, “The injury doesn’t help for sure,” is never something you want to hear.
While Collins stole 20 bases in one season in the minors and hit 23 home runs in another, he hasn’t really put it all together in the majors. In 383 at-bats over parts of the past 3 seasons has only put together a .709 OPS. You should be hoping one of the other three outfielders takes the job and runs with it, specifically Gose who stole 23 bases in 2015, or Jones who has shown some power/speed ability in the minors. That’s if you can trust another outfielder with the name JaCoby with or without the misplaced capitalization.
Lucas Duda, Both Hips.
Originally it was reported that The Duda was scratched from the Mets first Grapefruit League game due to his lingering back issues. Now, we’re finding out he had cortizone shots in both hips. This situation is turning into a big ol’ box of nope for anyone thinking of drafting Duda, but that’s just like my opinion, man
Todd Frazier, CWS, Oblique Strain.
New White Sox manager Rick Renteria has described this injury as mild. Frazier’s .225 average from last season is going to scare some owners away so if this mild injury scares Frazier down in your draft a bit more — you need to pounce on him, especially if you miss out on the big four third basemen in the first round. Smart owners like you will recognize that Frazier’s craptastic average in 2016 was a fluke.
First, he had a .240 BABIP — the lowest of his career and 41 points lower than his career. Second, in a 20 week fantasy season — if Frazier had only 1 extra hit per week his average would’ve been about .260. Pair that with his 40 HR and 15 SB and you have a second round pick. Third, Frazier is likely to be traded to a contender before the trade deadline this season so he could easily push 100 runs and RBI in a better lineup. Buy with gusto.
Adrian Gonzalez, LAD, Tennis Elbow.
The textbook example of your average first basemen, Gonzalez, says he is now pain-free from tennis elbow that plagued him in mid-February. Since joining the Dodgers in 2012, Gonzalez has been hitting in arguably one of the best line-up slots in the major leagues. Now, hitting clean-up behind Logan Forsythe (.347 OBP in last 2 seasons), Corey Seager (reigning ROY and .374 career OBP) and Justin Turner (.364 OBP in last 3 seasons), A-Gon and his career .323 AVG and .544 SLG with runners in scoring position should continue to post elite RBI totals.
Jung Ho Kang, PIT, DUI.
Kang admitted to his third DUI charge since 2009 on February 22nd. Kang has still not reported for Spring Training due to his pending legal issues and there is no timetable for his return. David Freese looks to benefit most from Kang missing camp and his likely suspension from the Pirates. Kang hit 40 HRs in the Korean Baseball Organization before coming over to the Pirates in 2015. While that level of power hasn’t emerged, he has put up 36 HRs over 2 injury filled seasons. A full healthy season of Kang could’ve produced his first American 30 HR season — which translates as a 80 HR season with the Korean exchange rate.
Jason Kipnis, CLE, Strained Right Rotator Cuff.
Kipnis has been shut down for 4-5 days with this injury. This injury news dropped as I was writing this article so there isn’t much of an update yet. Kipnis throws with his right arm so there is some obvious concern there. Kipnis should be penciled in as one of your top 2B targets for this year. Hitting at the top 3rd of the best line-up in the big leagues he is guaranteed 100+ runs.
Hunter Pence, SF, Tweaked Oblique.
Hunter Pence isn’t the spring chicken with its head cut off we remember from when he debuted with the Astros 10 years ago. Now, turning 34 with a Fuller House IMDB credit to his name, Pence has missed 170 games over the past 2 seasons and you have to wonder if his frantic herky-jerky style of play is finally catching up to him. The 20 HR power and .280 average potential remains, but the speed is probably a distant memory. If you’re a Pence fan saddle up for a bumpy decline as he fades away. There are better OF options available to you with far less risk.
Eduardo Rodriguez, BOS, Tweaked Right Knee.
This knee injury dates back to late December winter ball. Rodriguez is battling with Steven Wright and Drew Pomeranz for the 4th and 5th starter slots for the Bean Town Sawx. Pomeranz and Rodriguez should win the roles with Wright filling the Red Sox Tim Wakefield Memorial Knuckleballer slot of spot starter/long reliever. However, Rodriguez also has minor league options remaining which could lead to him making his debut later this season or as an injury replacement.
Max Scherzer, WAS, Throwing Ring Finger Stress Fracture.
Scherzer threw only his secondary pitches in a bullpen session on February 25th. He cannot throw his fastball without pain. He might miss Opening Day at this point — but should be ready to dominate after that. Let him fall in your draft and enjoy his elite stats at a discount.
Stephen Strasburg, WAS, Partially Torn Pronator Tendon in Throwing Elbow.
Strasburg was shut down at the end of last season due to this injury, but is now throwing to live hitters for the first time. Look, we all know Strasburg has elite ace potential if healthy, but at this point you have to anticipate him only making 20 starts. The pronator tendon aids in the rotation of your forearm and Strasburg attributes this injury to his use of a new slider in 2016. He is now saying that he will abandon the pitch in 2017. That leaves Strasburg with an upper-90’s fastball, a change-up and a curveball which still can put some stress on what remains of his pronator tendon. When I have to use the phrase “what remains” in a sentence about a professional athlete’s body — you should want no part of that player.
Charlie Tilson, CWS, Stress Reaction in Foot.
Take a look at Tilson’s Baseball Reference page and it looks pretty Moonlight Grahamian. Tillson had 2 at-bats in his big league debut on August 3rd, 2016, then unfortunately tore his hamstring while chasing down a fly ball on the warning track. Tillson is the front runner for the White Sox starting CF position and lead-off spot. Tillson stole 50 bases as a 22-year-old in the Cardinals minor league system in 2015. The White Sox are hoping he’ll give them the same white-boy speed that Scott Podsednik gave them in the mid-2000’s.