Top 10 High Risk Veterans — Part 1

Injuries are just the worst.  While, in most leagues, you have the ability to add and drop players on a regular basis, nothing ruins a fantasy season more than when your team gets decimated by injuries.  You may possess the most in-depth knowledge of both baseball and statistics, but when the injury bug makes a run through your team, you can only do so much to keep pace.  In most cases, you simply cannot predict when it’s going to happen to your guys.  Fluke injuries happen all the time.  However, there are, obviously, numerous players out there that have a very visible track record and you need to decide come draft day (or even in a trade) if they are worth the risk.  So here’s a list of the top 10 most injury-plagued major leaguers with some thoughts as to whether you should take a chance or let them be your competition’s problem.  We’ll cover the first half today and then bring you home with the rest tomorrow.

10.  Chipper Jones, 3B  ATL — What kind of an injury risk top 10 list doesn’t have Chipper?  Huge injury risk.  Huge.  He’s had a slew of injuries over the years and has appeared in more than 140 games just once in the last eight seasons.  He’ll be 39 years old by the end of April and is certainly on his way out, taking it year by year these days.  Somehow though, he still finds a way to produce at a high level when he does play.  In fact, for NL-only leagues, his .275-18-70 ranks him eighth amongst third basemen and in the top 15 at the position for mixed leagues.  The lack of depth at third certainly makes him a little more worthy of the risk, but unless you draft a viable back-up as well, you’re taking an awfully big chance with your season.

9.  Joe Mauer, C  MIN —  While he certainly doesn’t have the injury history that most on this list have, Mauer is here for the type of injuries he dealt with last season coupled with the usual concerns we all have when drafting catchers.  It is the most taxing position on a player’s body and given the severity of his back and leg issues, there has to be serious concern regardless of how many games the Twins try to give him at first.  He’s still a top five backstop according to recent ADP results and numerous people think he’ll be the top candidate for AL Comeback Player of the Year, however, you need to look at the big picture.  Yes, his BA/OBP could be great again, but the bottom line is that, along with the serious injury risk,  it is very unlikely that he will  reach the power totals he served up in 2009 and he doesn’t have the same surrounding lineup which cuts down on his runs scored.  So what’s left for fantasy? There will be plenty of lower-risk options to be had later on in your draft and plenty of them will provide equal, if not better, overall production.

8.  Jose Reyes, SS  FLA —  The last three seasons have been a nightmare for Reyes’ owners, not just because of the injuries and downturn in production, but because of where he had been drafted in each of those three seasons.  He was a top 5 pick in most drafts in 2009 and somehow remained a late first-rounder in the following two seasons, all the while, posting mid-round results.  Some will say that last season was one of his best given his .337/.384/.493 slash line, but the fact  remains that he still missed 36 games last year with the same issues that plagued him in the previous two.  So can he be trusted this year?  Forget about the new team, the new contract and the new stadium.  It all comes down to his conditioning.  We know he has tremendous skills; that he’s a great contact hitter, that he doesn’t strike out very often, that there is 15-20 HR power that comes with that speed potential.  But if his conditioning isn’t first-rate, then he’s a liability because he’s going to cost you a high draft choice if you want him.  Track the offseason workouts and hopefully you’ll get the opportunity to watch him in camp before you make such a strong investment.

7.  Carlos Quentin, OF  SD —  The fact that he’s gone from hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular to cavernous Petco Park is almost irrelevant here.  It’s the left-handed bats that usually suffer the most in San Diego anyway.  The problem here is that Quentin has never played in more than 131 games in a given season and has had a laundry list of recurring injuries.  We’re not talking about the fluke wrist injury that ruined what would have been an insane 2008 season (although it was self-inflicted, so perhaps stupidity plays a factor here).  We’re talking about the plantar fasciitis and the lingering shoulder issues that have plagued him over the last three seasons.  We still see the power potential in his numbers, but the limited games played have to be a concern, especially when you know that he isn’t going to be able to DH in the National League, save for interleague games.  He’s got a lot more ground to cover in left field and the every day play is going to likely wear on him.  He may not cost you anything more than a middle round pick, but the risk of losing him for a longer period of time this season seems to be increasing.

6.  Carlos Beltran, OF  STL —  After back to back seasons where Beltran’s knee problems prevented him from playing more than half a year, he bounced back last season and managed to appear in 142 games.  His power was back, his average was up and it looked like he was the Carlos of old.  However, he did miss some time in August after tweaking that same knee and was lost for about two weeks, so the health concerns emerged once again.  Was this little incident just a minor thing or is it a foreshadowing of more consistent problems as we move forward?  The Cardinals seem to feel like he’s ok and have him slated to play regularly in right field, but the market for the soon-to-be 35 year old was pretty thin this offseason, so perhaps, there are some that don’t fully  believe that his knees can continue to hold up.  He can certainly be a fantasy asset when healthy, but using anything more than a 15th round pick could cost you plenty in the long run.

Back tomorrow with the top 5…

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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site,, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at

12 Responses to “Top 10 High Risk Veterans — Part 1”

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  1. Brad Johnson says:

    I’m trying to figure who else is on your list. Let’s see, I came up with a list of 7, I’m sure I’m forgetting one or two…Todd Helton, Chase Utley, David Wright, Rickie Weeks, Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, and Alex Rodriguez. I’m going to say Wright is too mid-risk, mid-reward to make the list and Helton seems more like Chipper than Beltran in terms of risk/reward.

    I’ll say:
    5 – Weeks
    4 – Cruz
    3 – Utley
    2 – A-Rod
    1 – Hamilton

    Is this restricted to position players? Seems like pitchers are by nature more high risk/high reward.

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    • tdotsports1 says:

      I’d assume Hanley is on there.

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    • Brad says:

      If there is one thing I have noticed, it is that a) Brad can’t help but pat himself on the back and b) doesn’t mind making sure everyone knows how damn awesome he is. He is someone who certainly turns me off. I agree with the later poster. Do try to keep your arrogance from interfering with OPs, eh Brad?

      But hey, if it makes you feel better, here’s a gold star for your otherworldly fantasy abilities.

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      • Brad Johnson says:

        What’s wrong with speculating about the other 5 guys on the list? It’s in keeping with the grand tradition of multi-article top X lists.

        If you don’t like that I share my successes when they are relevant to an article, I’m not sure what I can say. Isn’t that the point of the comments section in a fantasy forum? To discuss how the article relates to your fantasy experience? A fantasy article is only helpful if you can take the lesson and apply it to yourself.

        But since you complained, I’ll completely cut the “I have for ” posts from my repertoire. You are right about those posts, sharing that information doesn’t help me conceptualize how I got to that position. Instead, I will focus on how I was able to identify that player’s value in the first place.

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      • Brad Johnson says:

        The quote in paragraph 3 should read “I have ‘player highlighted in article’ at ‘cost.'”

        Didn’t realize that using < around a word without HTML code would still make it disappear.

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    • Congo Hammer says:

      You were damn close.

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  2. jb2010 says:

    Geezzz Brad….. Why don’t you just date his ex? Let him get his article out there.

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  3. Scott says:

    Is this a list of 10 riskiest veterans that are fantasy relevant in increasing order of riskiness? I’m confused a little by what this list is supposed to be measuring….

    Morneau seems like a good candidate too

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    • Howard Bender says:

      Yes, I sort of envisioned this list to be in increasing order of riskiness — the likelihood of more time lost due to injury coupled with how high they will go in drafts.

      Morneau did not make the list as he is not someone I would recommend to anyone. I do not believe he will make any kind of legitimate comeback and the depth at first base gives you little reason to take the chance on him.

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  4. Super Shredder says:

    Hey that’s funny – I swear you copied this straight of my DO NOT DRAFT list for 2012.

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  5. Sandlot Scrub says:

    Great list so far. I’m going to say…
    5. Freddy Sanchez
    4. Ryan Zimmerman
    3. Dustin Pedroia
    2. Josh Hamilton
    1. Nelson Cruz
    Sanchez won’t go too high, but his injury history is awful. I left A-Rod off because I think he might actually be okay this year. Honorable mentions go to Hanley and Josh Johnson.

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  6. Big Jgke says:

    As long as the player produces when healthy and gets DL’d when injured (like Reyes last season) then it doesn’t really matter. You can almost always find good value for a short period of time on the waiver wire for these guys, and in the end you will have above-average production from that roster position.

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