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Valuing Injured Fantasy Baseball Players Returning in 2023

Fernando Tatis Jr. - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, MLB Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

The 2022 season had its fair share of devastating injuries. Especially those who make a significant impact on the field. If we were to compose a list of every notable injury, things would get ugly.

Now that we've mentioned injuries, which is quite a broad term, here are the most valuable players returning in 2023. Despite the season being months away, players like Fernando Tatis Jr. and Adalberto Mondesi are eager to jump back into it.

Here is a complete breakdown of what you should expect from these returning players.

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Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres

When Fernando Tatis Jr. is injury-free and abides by the PED precepts, he is one of the most talented players in the game. He isn't eligible to return until mid-April, but that doesn't erase his fantasy eligibility. The 80-game suspension certainly reduces his ADP, which sits at 21.75, according to NFBC, but the upside he brings to the table remains. However, drafting him at his current ADP would not be too clever.

In 2021, where he still managed to miss 32 games, the Dominican native slashed .282/.364/.611 with a .975 OPS. He accumulated a league-leading 7.3 WAR as well as a career-high 157 wRC+. With Xander Bogaerts taking over at shortstop, Tatis will employ an outfield position. It may be his secondary position, but that certainly does not mitigate his offensive attributes. If he keeps off the injured list, the superstar is projected to display a slash line of .283/.365/.574 with 47 HRs and a 163 wRC+. But don't forget, those numbers are the best-case scenario considering his injury track record.

Just to throw it out there, Tatis hasn't even broken the age of 25. In more simple terms, he is 23 and is nowhere close to the age of decline. We tend to forget that he's only been here for three seasons. A lot has occurred over that three-year span, but one takeaway from all of this commotion is that Tatis has a full career ahead of him.

 

Kris Bryant, Colorado Rockies

The likes of Kris Bryant did not make much of an impact in his first year as a Colorado Rockie. He made just 181 PAs before an apparent foot injury knocked him out for the season. In those 181 PAs, Bryant slashed an impressive .306/.376/.475. The 30-year-old is expected to make a full return for the 2023 season.

Bryant has been on an unusual trajectory, and it is difficult to gauge how he will perform in 2023. Steamer gives him a 1.7 fWAR, which may come true depending on what form of Kris Bryant we get. If he resembles the likes of the 2016 NL MVP, then it is definitely possible for him to accumulate a seven WAR. Although considered the low output of WAR since his 2016 season, it is quite unlikely for such a formidable goal. Since 2017, Bryant has not eclipsed a seven WAR, which is largely attributed to his injury history.

NFBC gives Bryant a 127.57 ADP, which is right in front of William Contreras and Jake McCarthy. Contreras is coming off a career year and was recently traded to the Brewers, while McCarthy had quite a fruitful year in Arizona. This is a comfortable place to put him, but it wouldn't be a stretch to bump him to 125 (right before Carlos Correa) if he channels his inner MVP.

Ozzie Albies, Atlanta Braves

It seemed as though Ozzie Albies was having one of those years until a gruesome injury knocked him off his tracks. He missed considerable time due to a fractured foot, only to return to a fractured pinky three months later in September. The Braves are hopeful that Albies will have a healthy 2023 season without any setbacks.

Let's not forget who Ozzie Albies was before he got plagued with injuries. The 25-year-old is a two-time All-Star with unformidable power and three seasons of 20-plus HRs under his belt. Although one glaring drawback is his health. Over his six-year career, Albies suffered 10 significant injuries. Yet despite his injuries, the Curacao native continues to play a vital role as the Braves second baseman. Assuming that he is healthy, Steamer projects Albies to smack 21 dingers, which is certainly attainable given his home run track record. A 3.1 fWAR may be an overshoot, but he has surpassed that in the past.

The second-baseman made just 269 PAs in 2022, yet NFBC affords him a grimacing 53.91 ADP, which is ahead of Julio Urias and Zach Wheeler. Taking Albies that early may be a risky move given his history, but it is quite possible for him to have a healthy year. Although regardless of Albies' status, Kris Bryant would still be the better option assuming he remains healthy.

Jazz Chisholm, Miami Marlins

Jazz Chisholm has every tool and intangible that a player can imagine if he keeps on the field. Since joining the pros in 2020, Chisholm has done the complete opposite. He barely scratched the surface this past year and appeared in just 60 games. His age is certainly not a source for such a volatile start to his career, but the Marlins hope to get Chisholm right for the 2023 season.

The Marlins seem to fully endorse Chisholm's employment as their second baseman and is considered a centerpiece for their future. The 24-year-old is entering his fourth year as a pro, and it's worrisome to see such early health problems. He sustained a stress fracture in his lower back, which sidelined him for the season, and had also been playing on a torn meniscus in his right knee. Chisholm's upside is worthy to offset these early health issues and there is no doubt that he is a 25-25 player. Steamer gives him 28 HRS and 26 swipes for 2023, which is certainly in the picture if he can stay on the field.

His 50.03 ADP is four slots ahead of Albies, but both players share the tendency to get injured. Both Albies and Chisholm would be ranked higher if their plate appearance numbers increased.

Anthony Rendon, Los Angeles Angels

Anthony Rendon now owns the record for most appearances in an injury-related article. His career has been plagued with injuries and he isn't getting any younger. The 32-year-old suffered a wrist injury in 2022, which was the cause for his minimal playing time. He hasn't made more than 250 PAs since 2019, and it appears that he is slowly regressing. The Angels will have their fingers crossed the moment Rendon steps onto the field in 2023.

The Houston native was evolving into a superstar in his prime year as a National, but the switch to Los Angeles brought unprecedented consequences. The long-term deal seemed to pay off in the 2020 shortened season when he slashed .286/.418/.497 with a 2.5 WAR. Ultimately, everything went downhill after that and Rendon has only been a liability. The best-case scenario for 2023 would be a minimum of 400 PAs when you factor in his delicate body over the past few seasons. Although paradoxically enough, Steamer gives him a 3.3 fWAR with 566 PAs and a 122 wRC+. If Rendon manages to meet those numbers, then there is a fair chance for his resurgence.

The ADP that Rendon gets isn't much of a surprise and shouldn't be tumultuous to anyone. As of now, it sits at 248.10, which is just before Alex Cobb and Christopher Morel. Cobb is a right-handed veteran toward the end of his career, while Morel has barely scratched the surface of his Major League career. There surely isn't any reason to put him any higher, but fantasy managers surely hope to employ him at full capacity. What version of Rendon will emerge in 2023?

 

Dustin May, Los Angeles Dodgers

Just a few years back, Dustin May was a top-three prospect for the Dodgers. He was in shouting distance for the 2020 NL Rookie of the Year and is yet to stay on the mound for a full season. He has maxed out at 10 starts since joining the majors in 2019 and we still wait for his true potential to emulate. The 25-year-old is arguably the hardest throwing starter in the game, and Dodgers expect May to play a big role in the 2023 rotation.

Across four years in the pros, May has made just 25 starts while posting a 3.25 ERA. His average fastball in 2022 was 98.1 mph, which ranked fourth among all starting pitchers. If he adds 0.9 of a mile to his fastball, it would give him sole possession of the hardest average fastball for a starter. You get the point. May is a perennial talent barring any setbacks. He was given a 164.56 ADP, which is understandable given his inability to stay healthy, and it may even be an overshoot. Time will only tell if May can meet his projected 2.1 fWAR.

Adalberto Mondesi, Kansas City Royals

Out of all the aforementioned players, only two of them missed the entirety of the 2022 season. Adalberto Mondesi is one of them. The speedster played just 15 games before suffering a season-ending torn ACL. Mondesi has landed on the injury list quite frequently, and it is seemingly impossible to keep off it. He is now a seven-year veteran and hasn't played more than 100 games in any season aside from 2019 (102 games). When he returns to the action in 2023, Steamer gives Mondesi a .234/.279/.384 line with 28 swipes and 14 HRs. However, the 27-year-old has only had one season where he produced over 10 HRs.

Mondesi currently has a 282.99 ADP, which is ahead of Eric Haase and Jared Kelenic. Haase is an average catcher at best, while Kelenic is not guaranteed any playtime in the majors this season. Mondesi would serve well as a utility man if you forgot to prepare for the last few rounds, but don't get your hopes up. Who knows if the LA native will serve up a healthy season?

 

Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox

Chris Sale is one of those pitchers that sticks around through thick and thin. Sale has completely fallen off the map over the past few years and his intangibles seem to be deteriorating. It feels like yesterday that Sale was mowing down batters left and right, but his recent injury report is not too promising. Regardless if he stays in Boston or not, Steamer projects a 3.47 ERA, 26 starts, and a 28.4 K% with a 3.24 FIP.

Throwing 151 innings would be a realistic threshold for Sale just a few years back, but those days may be gone. As of now, his ADP is at 175.21, which puts him ahead of Oscar Gonzalez and Jeffrey Springs. Sale is obviously capable of displaying Cy Young numbers, but if we want to rationalize his expectations, you cannot draft him at his current ADP.

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