To a certain extent, every player is an injury risk. They are grown men, playing a game, throwing their bodies around with reckless abandonment. They get hurt. That’s just fact. But obviously, there are some that are riskier than others and for all intents and purposes; Josh Hamilton is the riskiest of them all.
Hamilton has been in the major leagues now for five seasons, this being his sixth. It obviously seems longer, but since we can, pretty much, dismiss those first few years as a member of the Rays organization – I mean, hey, if he can’t really remember them, why should we? – as he never played on the major league level anyway. That first year with the Reds, he was a nice feel-good story. A bad kid gone good, if you will. Then he moved onto Texas and the flashes of power we saw the year before suddenly became a stark reality. He missed just six games that season, ripped it up with a .304 average and then smacked 32 home runs racked up 130 RBI. Overnight he became a sensation and subsequently a first-round draft choice in almost every fantasy league the following season.
And then that’s when the wheels started to fall off the wagon…
Ouch. Wait. Pardon the pun there. Completely unintentional. I’m talking about the rash of injuries.
Since his first year in Texas, Hamilton has failed to play an entire season. His assortment of dings and dents, from shoulder problems to back issues to random illnesses has kept him in check these past few years, not quality pitching. He missed 73 games his second year with the Rangers. Just 28 the year after that. Last season it was 41 and now, this year, he’s already missed seven due to some “unspecified” illness that had him in the hospital these past few days. In the grand scheme of things, seven games doesn’t sound like a lot, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Maybe it’s just seven games now, but with Hamilton, you have to expect that more will follow.
So as a fantasy owner, what do you do? When healthy, the guy is just an animal. After last night’s 3-for-5 with a home run and all the fixin’s, Hamilton has 22 home runs with 64 RBI, half a dozen stolen bases and a .332 average. I mean, those are numbers you hope to get out of most of your fantasy players for a full season, let alone two and a half months worth. But the risk for injury is so prevalent it makes you crazy, just wondering when the other shoe is going to drop. Sure, Hamilton’s raking, but when is that next injury coming and for how long will it put him on the shelf?
It’s obviously a little late to talk about drafting Hamilton. What’s done is done. If he’s on your team, you probably invested heavily but have been reaping the benefits all season. You’re probably just relieved that it was only a few days in the hospital and now it’s back to business. So instead, let’s talk “buy, sell or hold.” Personally, I’m all about selling Hamilton. I just don’t like the risk involved. Yes, he can do the work of two or three men -- if it were Festivus, I would never challenge him to the Feats of Strength – but when you have a player like that, you rely on certain totals. When you lose those totals to injury, it throws everything off. Not only do you need to find a somewhat half-decent replacement at the position, but you have to start making adjustments to the rest of your roster to help compensate as well. It becomes a domino effect that, unless you play in a fairly shallow league, leaves you strapped in some way or another.
However, if you sell Hamilton, you can easily build up the rest of your squad to make it more well-balanced with a much lower risk for major injuries. If it’s a keeper league, then some bottom-feeder in your standings is just licking his chops, waiting for you with open arms and an assortment of players. The bounty you could pick up would be tremendous. If it’s a re-draft league, then you have to be a little more savvy with whom you dump off this beast-like outfielder. You need to find someone lacking in power but full of good depth. If you can find a match like that, then take some time and filkl the holes on your active roster. Upgrade that third baseman. Get that front-line starter you crave. Add a closer with decent job security. Whatever it takes to give you a solid lineup worthy of any championship run. And in a month’s time when you’re back here reading this column and hear that Hamilton is on his way to the DL with a back issue, you can consider it a job well done and write me a quick note of thanks in the comments section below.
|Logan Morrison, OF MIA||3-4, R, 2 2B, HR, 5 RBI|
You’d think with everything you just read that Hamilton would get the nod for his solid night last evening, but I’m throwing it Logan Morrison’s way here. Tuesday was his fourth multi-hit performance in his last eight games, his third home run of the month and the five RBI are a season-high. Sure, he’s still struggling with consistency and I can’t stand the juvenile Twitter crap of which he always seems to be a part. But I think there’s a tremendous amount of skill there that just needs to be harnessed and re-channeled. What he needs is a mentor on that team. He needs a veteran that can guide him and help him see both his positives and his negatives. If he were to have someone to help teach him a little maturity, I think the sky’s the limit with this guy.
|Josh Hamilton, OF TEX||3-5, 3 R, HR, RBI, 2 SB|
|Jose Bautista, OF TOR||2-4, 3 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB|
|Andrew McCutchen, OF PIT||3-4, R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, BB, SB|
|Albert Pujols, 1B LAA||2-3, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB|
|Brandon McCarthy, SP OAK||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.43 WHIP, 5 K|
Here’s a question for you: Is this the most boring leaderboard of the season here or are we all relieved to see that all the studs are being studly at the same time? It works for me, particularly today, because…what am I going to do? Give you some insightful analysis here? Tell you that you should be starting all of these guys on a regular basis? Duh.
I can simply give a quick not, show some appreciation that Brandon McCarthy’s arm hasn’t fallen off with this latest shoulder issue he’s endured and be on my merry way…
|Dan Uggla, 2B ATL||0-4, 4 K|
|Justin Maxwell, OF HOU||0-4, 3 K|
|Carlos Quentin, OF SD||0-4, 3 K|
|A.J. Ellis, C LAD||0-3, 2 K|
|Aroldis Chapman, RP CIN||L, BS, 54.00 ERA, 6.00 WHIP|
And as far as these guys go, well, off-days are to be expected. I do find it a bit troublesome that Aroldis Chapman has been struggling so much lately. Six runs over his last six appearances (5.1 innings)? I don’t care how hard you throw the ball, if you’re not getting the job done, you’re not getting the job done. We’ll see how Dusty mishandles this one. I’m sure it’ll be a doozy.
Dustin Pedroia, 2B BOS – thumb (questionable)
Johnny Damon, OF CLE – back (questionable)
Carlos Gonzalez, OF COL – knee (questionable)
Jose Valverde, RP DET – wrist (questionable)
Joe Mauer, C MIN – quad (questionable)
Mark Teixeira, 1B NYY – heel (doubtful)
Yoenis Cespedes, OF OAK – hamstring (questionable)
Matt Joyce, OF TB – back (questionable)
Mitch Moreland, 1B TEX – hamstring (questionable)
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over ten years on a variety of web sites including his own, The Fantasy Baseball Buzz. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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