It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
It was the age of 60-day DL moves,
It was the age of activations and promotions,
It was the epoch of balancing playing time options,
It was the epoch of dropping part-time players
Unless you’re playing in a head-to-head league, moving your ratio stats ahead of the other teams is tough with only two weeks remaining. With that in mind, this week’s version of the injury report is all about next year’s possibilities.
Cesar Hernandez, Phillies: Surgery to repair a ligament in his left thumb has sidelined the infielder — who is eligible at second base and the all important shortstop spot — for the remainder of the year. It was a bit of a surprise when he was named the starting second baseman over long-time Phillies star Chase Utley, but Hernandez responded well enough. The 25-year-old hit a respectable .272/.339/.348 in 452 plate appearances, translating to a 91 wRC+ and .306 wOBA. He was reliant on a .342 BABIP however, and his 23.8 percent Hard% contact rate was six percent lower than league average. If you were on the fence about targeting Hernandez, I would steer clear of him, even with his solid speed.
Joe Panik, Giants: The West Bay team was forced to place Panik on the 60-day DL after back inflammation continued to hamper him. The second baseman repeated his partial season breakout of 2014 this season, hitting for a cool .312/.378/.455 in 432 PAs. Panik isn’t one to count on for counting stats as he doesn’t offer a ton of power nor speed, however I’m mostly a believer in his rate stats. I’m not prepared to call him a .300 hitter going forward, probably closer to .280, but he hits No. 2 in a solid lineup and he strikes out about half of the league average rate.
Brandon Belt, Giants: The defending world champs have lost Belt to a concussion for at least a handful of games. He was officially diagnosed with a concussion, not just concussion like symptoms prior to Saturday’s game. It is Belt’s second concussion in as many years, with last year’s costing him 46 games. The Giants are 10 games of the second Wild Card spot with 14 games remaining and are just about mathematically out of the race. They have no reason to rush Belt back, so I’d expect him to not see any game action until spring training. The 27-year-old set personal single season bests in both home runs and RBIs at 18 and 68 respectively, along with the second best walk rate and batting average. Assuming he’s healthy next year, I’m looking forward to trying to grab him after the top tier first baseman are off the board.
Troy Tulowitzki, Blue Jays: Tulo is still dealing with a cracked left shoulder blade, though hopefully the team will get a clear picture of an expected recovery time in the coming days. The team sent him to a specialist and he’s been making progress, however it still seems unlikely he’ll contribute to fantasy teams this year. Despite the down year, Tulo’s bat still rates about league average. I am a bit concerned about his elevated strikeout rate — prior to this season’s 21.5 percent K rate his highest in any season with at least 450 PAs was 17.8 percent back in 2009. Unsurprisingly his 9.4 percent swinging strike rate is also the highest of any of his qualified seasons, and his contact rate is the lowest. I’ll be betting on a bounce-back campaign for him next year, as his talent and surrounding offense is just too good too pass up, even with the injury risk.
Jung-ho Kang, Pirates: Speaking of middle infielders who are done for the year, the Korean import saw his season end after a tough take out slide near second base. Kang tore the MCL in his left knee and the follow up surgery recovery time is an estimated six to eight months. If he manages to get back into action on the low end, Kang should be ready to begin spring training, though the high end of the estimate could force him to miss some of ST, or even part of the regular season next year. Unless Kang is going to be out for a significant amount of time next season, I’d draft him or keep him without much worry. He cracked a modest 15 home runs, yet he contributed a strong .287/.355/.461 line in 467 PAs in his major league debut season. I’ll happily take that from my shortstop.
Desmond Jennings, Rays: His disappointing 2015 season is at an end given his left knee issue and surgery performed on a tooth. Since 2012 where Jennings nabbed 31 bags, his seasonal total has dropped each season to 20 in 2013, 15 in 2014 and a mere five steals this year. With an uninspiring bat, most of Jennings’ value comes with his legs and if he isn’t running, he’s probably best left to the waiver-wire. Come next season I’ll be keeping an eye on him as a late-round or low budget pick, but it’s possible in shallow mixed leagues he goes entirely undrafted. SAGNOF candidate? I’d say so.
Joe Kelly, Red Sox: The Sawx have shut down the 27-year-old for the season, but the good news is there is no structural damage to his throwing shoulder. The right-hander tossed a career high 134 1/3 innings this year, and after speaking with the Boston Globe, general manager Dave Dombrowski believes Kelly will stick in the rotation and not be moved to the bullpen. Kelly is a bit of a fring-y or stream guy in all but the deepest league, though he did post a solid 2.21 ERA in his final seven starts, but the shiny ERA was attached to a 3.86 FIP and 4.09 xFIP.
Matt Shoemaker, Angels: The right-hander is set to make today’s start against the Twins. After dealing with forearm tightness and missing a pair of starts, Shoemaker is looking to settle in the Angels rotation for likely at least a pair of starts this season. He’s allowed 22 homers in just 131 2/3 innings, translating to a 1.50 HR/9 rate, 12th highest in baseball (minimum 100 innings pitched). Shoemaker is a pretty extreme fly ball pitcher, so the dingers are going to happen, but both his swinging strike rate and strikeout rate dipped this year. I still see him as at minimum a stream starter, and he’s probably one to roster in anything deeper than a 12-team mixed league.