The calendar is about to turn to February and pitchers and catchers will be reporting within a couple weeks. We will soon get a chance to see several players coming back from serious injuries and get a better sense on how well recovered they are and whether their fantasy baseball value will return to pre-injury status. After profiling Carl Crawford and Victor Martinez, this week’s column will focus on former homerun champion Jose Bautista. Joey Bats was a bona fide top ten pick the past couple years, but a serious wrist injury has cast some doubt as to his capabilities. So without further adieu, here is the third installment of the Walking Wounded for the 2013 fantasy baseball season.
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Player Profile: Jose Bautista (OF-TOR).
When Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista exploded in 2010 with 54 home runs, many fantasy baseball pundits were skeptical over whether he was truly an elite fantasy player. Then he slugged an impressive 43 bombs in 2011 and subsequently established himself as one of the best fantasy players around. In 2012, he started off slowly, especially in terms of his batting average. Then the power came back and he was on his way to another 50 home run campaign when one swing ended all of that.
On July 17, 2012, Bautista injured a tendon in his left wrist and was only able to play two more games before requiring season-ending surgery in early September. Nothing scares fantasy owners more about a power hitter than a wrist injury.
According to ESPN.com, Bautista has been swinging a bat for over a month and is also taking live batting practice. He reported that he was pain-free and had a full range of motion in his wrist. That is great news, but take it with a grain of salt because Bautista hasn’t faced live pitching since the surgery.
Bautista has one of the most violent swings in baseball and generates a tremendous amount of power with his hands and arms. It will be very interesting to see whether this injury has any impact on his ability hot for power. But even if you are worried that he may not reach 40 home runs this year, there is still plenty of optimism in drafting him early. Toronto’s offense was already solid, but the additions of Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera will help increase Bautista’s RBI totals and given him plenty of opportunities to hit with men on base.
Another thing to consider with Bautista is the fact that he loses eligibility at third base this year. This won’t have a major impact on his value, but it cannot be understated how advantageous it was to be able to play him at a very weak third base position. Now he is only eligible as an outfielder which is a deep position as it usually is in most seasons.
Most likely, Bautista will slip out of the top ten in a lot of snake drafts. This is because of the injury, as well as the emergence of other players into the upper echelon. If that is the case, don’t hesitate in grabbing Bautista between picks 12-20. You will be getting great value there. If you are in an auction league, it is understandable to think twice before spending $40 on him. But at the end of the day, you won’t regret it if you have to go that high or even a smidge higher.
If you have any comments or questions, please feel free reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter (@FantasyJudgment).
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