There is nothing worse in fantasy baseball than injuries. You draft a great team and it looks like you are going to be a contender in April. Then, out of nowhere, the prized pieces of your fantasy baseball lineup start hitting the MLB Injured List. Your first-place standing quickly becomes a fifth or even tenth-place team, depending on how hard the injury bug might bite. You almost have to take on a little risk with injured MLB players as they often come at a discount in fantasy baseball drafts. The payoff could be great, but taking on too much risk can tank your team before the season even starts. The question comes every season. How do you handle players that are injured when you are drafting fantasy baseball teams? How about players that are returning from mild or even serious injuries? The first step to answering those questions is knowing how badly the guy might have been hurt, or what his outlook is for Spring Training and the 2023 MLB season. Below are the impact players that either ended 2022 hurt or have some question marks coming into this fantasy baseball season. We'll provide some updates on their status and even how you can decide if you want to make them a part of your team as you set out in search of another fantasy baseball championship.
2023 MLB Fantasy Baseball Hitter Injury Report
Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies OF
Harper was severely limited all last season with the elbow injury, but he laid it all on the line and played as much as he could – even to the World Series. Harper was certainly aided by the fact that the National League finally went to the DH rule because he played 90 of his 99 games in 2022 at that position. The outfielder is going to take advantage of that position again this season when he is able to return and that will get him back in Phillies' lineups – and fantasy lineups as well. Harper isn’t expected to even swing a bat until late March after undergoing Tommy John surgery after the 2022 season. While we hear that procedure and cringe for pitchers, it isn’t as big of a deal for hitters.
Not that it is a non-factor, but Harper is far from done for 2023. He will very likely miss the first half of the season with the team shooting for an All-Star Break return. He hit 18 home runs and drove in 65 runs in just 99 games with the UCL issue in his elbow last season. I believe that he will be back to MVP form once he is prepared to get back in the lineup for Philadelphia. I wouldn’t chalk this up to a lost season for Harper, and if you are able to stash him in an IL spot for half the season, that would be great as he should come with a hefty draft discount this season. There are plenty of opportunities for setbacks in rehab, but I would feel confident grabbing Harper at his ADP or at the expected auction value.
Ozzie Albies, Atlanta Braves 2B
A fractured foot cost Albies a big chunk of the season, then he was back for a whopping two days before a finger injury ended his season altogether. I can tell you from experience it was a very frustrating season to have Albies on your fantasy team last year. The news from the injury front is great for him, though. He has had no setbacks from his injury, and he hasn’t had any restrictions on activities this offseason. In fact, Albies was going to try to come back for the NLCS last season if the Braves had made it there. He is still one of the most dynamic players and could come at a slight injury discount. Second base still isn’t a gold medal fantasy position and there is no reason not to grab Albies at his ADP as his injuries last season were not something you could have predicted.
Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox SS
Anderson's season ended in August with a finger injury, but a groin problem also helped limit him to just 79 games last season. He has still stolen at least ten bases in every season but one and had double-digit home runs in five straight years before his 2022 campaign was cut short. Anderson also has hit over .300 in four straight seasons, and we all know how difficult a consistent batting average is to come by. He hasn’t played 125 games in four straight seasons, but the White Sox shortstop is still one of the more consistent players out there and helps you out in two categories (average and steals) that are often difficult to navigate. Don’t let the injury concern make you shy away.
Austin Meadows, Detroit Tigers OF
Meadows was on a rehab assignment set to return from a June Achilles injury, but that was never completed and he finished 2022 by playing just 36 games. There is a long injury history with Meadows as he has played 100 games just twice, and has never played more than 142 in a season. He has 30-homer power and the ability to drive in 100 runs, but will he be able to stay on the field? The Tigers are an up-and-coming team, and Meadows could do some solid damage as he is set to hit in a very productive spot in the batting order. I would have to wait until the back half of the draft or pay a single-digit dollar amount at this point to take a chance on this very talented, but oft-injured outfielder for 2023 – even though he appears to be on track for Spring Training.
Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres SS/OF
Tatis missed all of last season with a shoulder injury, a wrist injury, and then, of course, the 80-game suspension for PEDs. Tatis isn’t eligible to return until April 20th, but that isn't too long into the season. He has been cleared to resume baseball activities as of mid-January and is expected to be ready at the start of Spring Training. The Padres' shortstop definitely has had other injury concerns in the past and, of course, now there will be some lingering doubt if his eye-popping numbers have been aided by performance enhancers. Personally, I am on Team Tatis and am ready to roll with him again in 2023. If he still has shortstop eligibility in your leagues, he will be even more valuable and I still think he can be an anchor of a fantasy lineup. You want to build yourself a little depth at his position just in case the injury bug bites again – and especially for the first few weeks of the season while Tatis is suspended. Still, I am all aboard the hype train for a guy who brings a rare combination of speed and power.
Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds 1B
A torn rotator cuff ended Votto's season in August. It was a disappointing season overall, considering he had just 11 home runs after smoking 36 jacks in 2021. Votto is no spring chicken now as he enters this season at 39 years old and a torn rotator cuff is no joke for a power hitter. He isn’t expected to be ready for Spring Training at this point, but Opening Day isn’t out of the question yet for him. He certainly is not a starting fantasy first baseman as the 2023 season gets closer. Can he provide value for leagues that require corner infielders, or perhaps as a utility play? He is certainly not giving you anything near the batting average he did earlier in his career, and he seemed to be shot in 2018 and 2019 when he combined for just 27 home runs in 187 games. I am skeptical that he is going to come back from this shoulder injury and be the feared hitter again that he was in 2022. I think he is nothing but bench depth at this point in his career as he will turn 40 right before the season comes to a close.
Brandon Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays 2B
Lowe missed the last few weeks of 2022 with a lingering back issue, but there doesn’t appear to be anything holding him back for the start of Spring Training or the 2023 regular season. Coming off of a 39-homer season in 2021, Lowe was only able to appear in 65 games last year. He has been a huge power source recently (14 dingers in just 56 games in the shortened 2020 season) and if he can stay on the field, he should be a massive contributor to your power – although he'll hurt you in batting average. Back injuries are always tough, but there’s no reason to think that Lowe will be hampered coming into this season, and he should be a high-end starter at a tough second-base position.
2023 MLB Fantasy Baseball Pitcher Injury Report
Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox SP
Sale has been very solid the last two years he was on the mound. The huge problem is that he has made just 11 starts in the last two seasons combined. The laundry list of injuries is too long to go through here, but the latest that ended his 2022 season was a fractured wrist in a bicycle accident in August. The good news is that he has started to throw off a mound as of late January, and all indications right now are that he will be ready for Spring Training. Sale is sure to come at a discount for your fantasy pitching rotations, and now you just have to ask yourself if you are willing to roll the dice. There are obviously huge reliability and durability concerns here, but if healthy, you could be getting yourself a near fantasy ace later in drafts or quite discounted in auctions.
Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals SP
A crazy rib/neck injury cut his 2022 season short after just one start, and the water is now extremely murky coming into 2023. We haven’t gotten much news on the injury front from Strasburg other than he is trying to strengthen his neck/core/shoulder area. On top of this concern, he has just eight starts in the last three seasons combined and is now 34 years old. Right now, it would have to be considered a huge long shot for him to be ready to start the season for the Nationals. Honestly, we have almost no idea what to expect from him when he does return. You would have to be in a league with a number of IL spots to consider drafting him coming into the 2023 season as the red flags are just too numerous.
John Means, Baltimore Orioles SP
Means made just two starts before his 2022 season was over with Tommy John surgery. It is likely that Means won’t be ready to go until May or June this season. He isn’t an elite pitcher, but he is still very strong and has pretty good strikeout stuff. The Orioles have vastly improved as a team, and Means’ days of getting no run support should be over. If you are in a league that has a deep bench or several IR spots, it could be worth stashing Means at draft time. Or, worst-case scenario, grab him several weeks before he is set to return to Baltimore.
Tony Gonsolin, Los Angeles Dodgers SP
Gonsolin did make two October starts, but neither lasted more than two innings as he was working back from a forearm injury. Still, it doesn’t appear that there will be any lingering effects heading into 2023. Gonsolin did not require surgery and is not supposed to have any restrictions coming into Spring Training. He was fantastic last season with a 16-1 record and an ERA under 2.20. The Dodgers' starter should be considered a great second arm for your fantasy rotation in 2023.
Kenta Maeda, Minnesota Twins SP
Maeda missed all of 2022 with Tommy John Surgery, but he stated recently that he will have no restrictions this spring. He will soon be 35 years old after the season starts, so there is always a concern about an aging pitcher and if he will need some extra time to get ramped up after Tommy John. The Minnesota Twins just traded for Pablo López but according to the team, Maeda is still set to be one of the team’s five starters. Given his long layoff, it should be more kicking off rust than dealing with any lingering injury concerns in the early part of the season. While Maeda might not be one of the top three starters in your fantasy rotation, he certainly belongs on your team. Don’t expect him to duplicate his dynamite short 2020 campaign, but he will be more than serviceable in 2023.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, Toronto Blue Jays SP
Another aging pitcher returning from Tommy John surgery, Ryu will not be ready for the season as he had the procedure in June. However, there is a strong chance that he returns before the All-Star Break. The dimensions in Toronto got a little more hitter-friendly this offseason, and Ryu was already having trouble replicating his dominating run from 2018-2020. He only had six starts last season but pitched to an ERA north of 5.50. He has decent, but not amazing, strikeout stuff. Still, Ryu also should get solid run support from a pretty potent Blue Jays lineup. He is very far from a fantasy ace at this point of his career, but what are you really picking up off of the waiver wire in late June or early July? Ryu is a long shot to be a draft day stash, but if your team is healthy around Memorial Day and you can afford the IL spot, he is a decent option to grab and hold as you await his return.
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