I try to advise waiting to draft until right before the start of the regular season. That can be very difficult for many, but at least it avoids the late spring training injuries that can happen.
This year is no different as many players lost their value from the beginning of March until now. Here are the top injuries heading into the regular season.
San Diego Padres Shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.
The biggest injury scare in the fantasy world this month involved Tatis as he left a game due to discomfort in his left shoulder. The shortstop is a top-three draft pick, with the talented infielder first overall in some leagues. The team downplayed the injury, and Tatis returned to the lineup two days later and hit a home run. Tatis has apparently dealt with this injury in the past and would have played through it during the regular season.
I hate seeing injuries linger, which this apparently has, but it doesn’t seem like it’s that huge of a deal. I have always felt Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. should be the first overall pick, and I still believe Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout is sliding too far in drafts, but Tatis is definitely locked into having a monster season.
Toronto Blue Jays Outfielder George Springer
This is a weird situation as Springer has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 left oblique strain, but the team keeps insisting the outfielder will be ready by Opening Day. I don’t buy it. This injury tends to linger and can last a month or longer. Springer still has an average draft position in the 40s, but this feels like a trap. For those who drafted him, you have to hope for the best and that the team isn’t lying.
If you haven’t drafted yet, I would avoid Springer. There’s too much unknown and I don’t want to be caught having to replace a high draft pick in the first week of the season.
Chicago White Sox Outfielder Eloy Jimenez
This was the most impactful injury in the month of March, as Jimenez is basically sidelined for the entire season. The outfielder tried to rob a home run in a spring training game and ended up with a torn left pectoral tendon. The power hitter will miss 5-6 months. The White Sox hope they end up fighting for a playoff spot, so they won’t rule him out for the season. However, for fantasy purposes, Jimenez is completely off the radar. This is a shame, too, as Jimenez was poised to hit close to 40 home runs in 2021.
New York Yankees First Baseman Luke Voit
The slugger has a partially torn meniscus in his left knee and will be sidelined for at least the first month of the season. Voit led baseball with 22 home runs in the shortened season and was being drafted this spring as a hitter with expectations of hitting 50 home runs.
I cautioned fantasy owners early in March that this was one of the traps from the shortened season. However, after this injury, Voit has gone from a sixth-round draft pick to a ninth-round pick and now is even a double-digit-round pick. Voit was being overdrafted a week ago and now he can arguably be considered a value. If fantasy owners have built a strong core through the first 10 rounds, I have no issues with drafting a slugger like Voit and hoping he’s back by the first of May.
Arizona Diamondbacks Starting Pitcher Zac Gallen
This falls in the category of injuries that could have been prevented if baseball decided to institute the designated hitter in both leagues like they did in 2020. However, since pitchers will once again bat in the National League, Gallen suffered a hairline fracture in his right forearm swinging a bat.
Gallen was being drafted in the early rounds after a 2020 season that saw him finish with a 2.75 ERA. The most optimistic timeline suggests Gallen could return in the middle of May, but it appears it could be a few weeks after that.
This is a tough blow for fantasy owners who drafted early in the month as Gallen was being drafted as their ace. At this point, this is a full avoid and let someone else stress about when the right-hander returns.