As you are likely well aware by now, Jacoby Ellsbury suffered a subluxation (partial dislocation) of his right shoulder when Reid Brignac landed on top of him at second base during yesterday’s game. There has been no timetable set yet for his return, but he will likely be out for at least six weeks. This is obviously a huge blow for his fantasy owners and the Red Sox, especially with Carl Crawford still on the shelf, who could have replaced Ellsbury in the leadoff slot. Instead, Mike Aviles and his .317 career OBP has now moved on up. So what’s an Ellsbury owner to do?
The Sox are going with an ugly Cody Ross/Ryan Sweeney/Darnell McDonald trio in the outfield and all three should absolutely be available in shallower leagues. The former two have been starting most of the season, so the real beneficiary is McDonald, who will see a significant boost in playing time. McDonald is already 33 years old, which is crazy to me personally. When I used to collect baseball cards, I remember pegging him as a guy to watch back when he was an Orioles prospect. This was simply the result of looking at the back of his Bowman baseball card and thinking he could provide a nice power/speed combo.
He did show those skills in the minors, but has only received 635 at-bats in the Majors. He has not made enough contact to contribute in batting average, but he has shown respectable power and some wheels. He’s only owned in 1% of CBS leagues, so in deep leagues, owners who lost Ellsbury should absolutely make an effort to pick him up. In an AL-Only, it’s not often you find a guy who will play nearly every day and can contribute a bit in both power and speed. Of course, in shallower mixed leagues, he should still be ignored.
In the shallower leagues, there are a number of players who could potentially give you some power and speed and may be available:
Nolan Reimold (21% owned)- Once a top prospect, Reimold is once again getting a shot at full-time at-bats. He has good power, sporting a career .184 ISO, and has stolen 16 bases throughout his short Major League career. Now leading off for the O’s, he can provide a nice replacement for the boat load of runs scored being missed from Ellsbury.
Alex Presley (33% owned)- Hitting second for the Pirates, sandwiched between Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen, Presley is in a pretty decent, and likely overlooked, slot to rack up the counting stats. The 26-year old wasn’t a well known prospect, but he has some pop and stole 31 total bases last year through the minors and Majors. The projection systems generally believe he’ll go 10/20, which is pretty darn good for a free agent in 67% of leagues. He even has the chance to help you in average.
Michael Brantley (29% owned)- So far over his short career, Brantley hasn’t truly shown the speed he had displayed in the minors. While he has stolen 27 bases over 968 Major League plate appearances, he has stolen 50 bases as recently as the 2009 season over the minors and Majors. He does have the least amount of power on this list, with just a .094 career ISO, but if he can repeat last year’s nearly 6.0% HR/FB ratio or his contact rate rebounds, he could reach double digits in homers.
David Murphy (29% owned)- After Julio Borbon and Craig Gentry confirmed once again that they simply aren’t good enough to be the Rangers everyday center fielder, Murphy is now playing full-time in left field. His career high in at-bats is only 432, and amazingly he has racked up between 404 and those 432 at-bats every season with the Rangers. He has a good chance to eclipse that high this year. He has above average power, with a .168 ISO, and has even stolen 41 bases over his career, which prorated to a 550 at-bat season, results in 12 swipes.