Would You Draft Justin Morneau?

This could be the end of the line for Justin Morneau. Morneau, who suffered from a concussion during the 2010 season, was shut down early last season after experiencing recurring symptoms. When healthy, Morneau has been one of the top fantasy performers at first base. But he’s missed so many games recently, that he’s become one of the most questionable picks in fantasy leagues. Unless he can overcome his injury, Morneau may not be worth the risk this season.

If you were thinking Morneau was a nice sleeper pick in the late rounds of your draft, his comments this week may put a damper on that strategy.

Well, I don’t think there will be a career if it’s something I’m dealing with. That’s the reality of the whole thing. I’m obviously not going to continue to mess around with this if it continues to be a problem. There comes a point where you can only torture yourself for so long.

That should shed some light on how serious this situation has become. Even though Morneau also claimed that he hasn’t experienced symptoms in over a month, he’s still taking the injury very seriously. Morneau has every right to be concerned, as his recovery from his injury has been similar to former Minnesota Twin Corey Koskie — who had to retire due to a concussion.

Even with those risks, Morneau’s previous level of performance makes him a player that you can’t completely write off. It’s been a long time since Morneau was healthy, but he was putting up phenomenal numbers before he went down with his injury. In just 348 plate appearances, Morneau was worth 5.1 WAR, easily his best season as a pro. His .345/.437/.618 line was unsustainable and aided by a crazy .385 BABIP, but it was an impressive performance none the less.

It’s that performance that still makes Morneau a relevant fantasy asset. Yes, he was awful last season, when he hit just .227/.285/.333, but overcoming concussions are no easy task. While there’s no guarantee he’ll be fully recovered entering this season, it’s at least promising to know that he’s been symptom-free for a month.

Obviously, Morneau’s performance in Spring Training will dictate whether he deserves a spot on your team’s fantasy roster. If he’s ready for game action, and plays often, that will be the first step towards recovery. Of course, he did that early on last season, and still managed to succumb to his injury, so his performance will also need to be good. Last season, Morneau was awful during the spring, and that should have been the first sign that things weren’t right with the slugger.

A solid spring would be a big boost to Morneau’s current value. Unless he gets off to a strong start during the spring, Morneau’s time as a useful fantasy asset could be over. It’s sad to see a player drop this far due to such a debilitating injury, but that’s what seems to have happened to Morneau. While dreams of his past performance might make him look like a desirable sleeper, it would be really tough to waste a draft spot on him unless he actually shows that he’s over his symptoms.




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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.


16 Responses to “Would You Draft Justin Morneau?”

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  1. shane says:

    I don’t see it and I don’t think the Twis do either given the acquisition of Doumit. They are also looking for yet another bacup catcher meaning Mauer and Doumit might (will) get alot of play at DH and first between them. Twins be in troubllllllle!

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  2. No. Even if he’s healthy, he’s been off for so long that his usually scorching first half could severely hamper his overall line by enough that he’d only be around the 10th best 1B in an AL only.

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  3. David says:

    Strictly as a late round flier. No way do I draft him for a position of need.

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  4. Chris says:

    I was happy to trade him for Brandon Beachy in my dynasty league.

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  5. Brad Johnson says:

    He’s a reasonable speculative pick. He could be this season’s Lance Berkman. Or he could this season’s Manny Ramirez. If the bidding gets above $3, I’m out.

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  6. Kyle says:

    In ottoneu? For a dollar? Maybe.

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  7. geo says:

    And yet, MLB Network proclaimed him the 9th best first baseman “Right Now.”

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    • Ziggy Stardust says:

      Dude, you watch those shows? Brian Kenny thanks you at least.

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      • Jay29 says:

        Clubhouse Confidential is the best show they have on MLB. I may not agree with every conclusion Brian Kenny (or his team) makes, but it’s better than watching Harold Reynolds and Larry Bowa argue whether the sacrifice bunt is a great strategy or the greatest strategy. It’s just refreshing to see that sabermetrics (and FanGraphs!) gets some attention from a major sports news organization.

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  8. Sean says:

    No, not worth the headache.

    zing

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  9. adohaj says:

    Well I guess Since no one will draft him I’ll take him in the later rounds. Here’s to laughing when he wins the MVP this year!

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  10. Owell says:

    Nope. Who gets more plate appearances this year, Morneau or Brain Roberts?

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  11. Wade8813 says:

    If I take him with my last pick in the draft, and he starts off hot then stops playing after 2 months, I can pick up whoever I would have had, and now I got 2 months of value.

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    • Jay29 says:

      Agreed. At some point late picks become low-risk, high-reward, especially with deep rosters. Sure, if Morneau doesn’t play you might miss out on another great sleeper, but Morneau’s upside is at least as high as any rookie’s.

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