2020 Fantasy Baseball Injuries – Who Benefitted from the Extended Time Off?

by Mike Sollicito
2020 Fantasy Baseball Injuries

Injuries, it just wouldn't be fantasy baseball without them. However, with the delay of the regular season due to the pandemic, we may see some injured players back and fully healthy in time for the start of the season. Let's take a look at some of the 2020 Fantasy Baseball Injuries.

Several star players were projected to miss the beginning of the season due to injury. But now, these same players may be healthy and able to contribute right out of the gate. It is important to be able to pick out these players, especially the lower-level ones as they can prove extremely beneficial to your fantasy team and you'll be able to get them for fairly cheap.

2020 Fantasy Baseball Injuries

Every year I try to pick a few injured players at the end of the draft. I then stash them on my IL in hopes of being able to activate them once they are healthy again.

Yes, the big-name players who were injured may not be flying under the radar, but there are still some that are. In this article, I will highlight both the big-name players along with a few smaller name players who are potentially flying under the radar.

Helpful Resources

Whenever I take a look at rankings to determine which players I would like to target in drafts, I try to look at an abundance of rankings. Here at Fantasy Six Pack we have our own 2020 Fantasy Baseball Redraft Rankings as well as our own 2020 Fantasy Baseball Dynasty Rankings. I also take a look at the NFBC 2020 ADP Rankings, as you can choose how far back you'd like the rankings to go. You can pick rankings from drafts as far back as November or as close as drafts in June. This tool really helps show you the change in a player's ADP over time.

Free five-minute mock drafts against industry experts and custom analysis for your team with the FantasyPros Draft Wizard.

Key 2020 Fantasy Baseball Injuries

Aaron Judge, OF New York Yankees

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Judge was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right rib that held him out of Spring Training 1.0. Originally projected to miss at least a few weeks of the 2020 season, Judge and the Yankees are optimistic that he will be ready to play when the shortened MLB season begins.

Judge has been hitting off a tee and continuing his rehab throughout the time off. While the rib injury is scary and very painful, Judge has shown a willingness to play through pain in order to help the Yankees win. Now it isn't always the best when a player plays through some kind of injury, as re-injury can definitely happen.

However, if Judge is falling in your drafts because of his injury, I wouldn't let him fall very far. His power is unparalleled to anyone else's in the MLB, and he is an absolute game-changer when in the lineup.

It is not a lock that Judge will be fully healthy for the start of the season, but he seems to be trending in the right way, and I would rather have his power potential than let someone else in my fantasy league have him.

Draft Judge on draft day, however, he is an important name that should be monitored closely until it is reported that he is 100% healthy.

Giancarlo Stanton, OF New York Yankees

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From one injured Yankee to another, trips to the IL seem like the norm for a Yankees team that can't quite seem to shake the injury bug. Stanton is arguably a league MVP when fully healthy, and his power, much like Judge's, is unmatched, especially in Yankee Stadium.

Missing 141 of 162 games last year, he regained that "injury-prone" label after two years of relatively solid health. Stanton strained his calf while working out prior to the start of Spring Training 1.0. He was not a lock to play Opening Day but the Yankees felt he would be back earlier in the season rather than later.

With the start of the season pushed back, Stanton was given ample time to rehab and heal. Manager Aaron Boone has said publicly that he feels Stanton is back to being fully healthy and will be ready to play come the start of the shortened season.

This is great news for the Yankees and fantasy players alike, as Stanton was looking like a steal at his current ADP. As long as he stays healthy, he should be able to produce even in this short season.

Grabbing Stanton at his ADP of around 80 right now is a steal. As long as he is healthy, he will give you a great bang for your buck. Let's not forget that he was a consensus first-round pick not even two years ago. While the injury-prone label was rightly given to him once more, take Stanton and watch his power help your fantasy team.

The shortened season may allow the Yankees to give him more time off to keep him fresh. The extra days off as well as the shortened season could bode well for injury-prone players like Stanton.

Justin Verlander, SP, Houston Astros

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Justin Verlander has been one of the most reliable pitchers in all of baseball since he came into the league. In Spring Training 1.0, Verlander left his start early due to a mild lat strain. While it was thought that he just needed to rest and rehab, Verlander ended up going in for groin surgery on March 17th. He was given a six week recovery period, which would have meant he would miss the beginning of the season.

Thanks to the delayed season, Verlander is healthy once again. He was seen throwing bullpen sessions on Instagram, which is always a good sign. Verlander even told Manager Dusty Baker, that he is fully healthy and pain-free following his surgery.

This is great news for one of the top starters from last year. At age 37, Verlander is a bit old but he has proven to be reliable in the past. There is no reason to think that a healthy Verlander won't be given the green light. Verlander is being drafted as a top-10 pitcher in most fantasy drafts right now. As long as he's fully healthy, there is no reason not to believe that he can finish the season there.

While age is a concern and the groin injury will always be in the back of your mind, do not hesitate to draft Verlander if he is there.

Mike Clevinger, SP Cleveland Indians

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Mike Clevinger had a breakout 2019 season. He was already a great pitcher, but he added velocity and increased his strikeout rate to a 12 K/9 last year. That makes him borderline elite. While training for the 2020 season, Clevinger tore his meniscus, putting his Opening Day status in jeopardy.

Clevinger underwent surgery in February to address the torn meniscus. Clevinger has already told Manager Terry Francona that he felt like his old self again, meaning that he should be all systems go to start the short season.

Because the knee Clevinger hurt was the knee that he kicks with, there is some cause for concern when drafting him. However, Clevinger has said that the knee is no longer a problem, both mentally and physically.

Being drafted as a borderline top-10 pitcher, Clevinger should have all the tools to reward owners with a top-10 starting pitcher finish. Draft Clevinger and reap the benefits of him, I promise you will not be disappointed.

James Paxton, SP New York Yankees

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Prior to the start of the 2020 season, Paxton had back surgery in February to remove a cyst. He was given a three to four-month recovery window, putting his Opening Day status in jeopardy. While he was not expected to miss too much time of the season, the Yankees felt he would miss at least the first month or so.

Throwing bullpen sessions and continuing his rehab is what Paxton has been doing during the time off. General Manager Brian Cashman recently stated that Paxton had been throwing simulated innings in May while Boone also said that Paxton is fully healthy and will be ready to make an impact once the 2020 season gets underway.

Paxton is currently being drafted as SP29, which is ludicrous. When healthy, he is without a doubt a top 25 starting pitcher. Paxton even began to show that in the second half last year, as he changed his pitch mix midseason. Paxton was in a bit of a slump during the middle of 2019 but was one of baseball's better pitchers after he made his adjustments.

The shorter season should result in fewer pitchers throwing more innings, as the backend of most rotations will only throw three to four innings per start as to not burn them out. However, Paxton may be one of the few starting pitchers this year who will not have abbreviated outings.

Draft Paxton with confidence. If he can carry over his second-half success, expect some big things from him in this shortened 2020 season.

Under the Radar 2020 Fantasy Baseball Injuries:

Aaron Hicks, OF New York Yankees

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What do ya know, another Yankees player! Hicks underwent Tommy John Surgery last October and was expected to need 8-12 months for recovery. Hicks was projected to return from the IL around July. Now that it is already July, Hicks is showing us on social media that he is back to full health, and should claim the Yankees starting center field job.

From 2017-2019, Hicks' 162-game average was a .250 average, 31 HRs, and 13 SBs. Those are some very solid stats for someone playing in arguably the best lineup in baseball. Want to know the greatest thing about Hicks? He is basically free at his ADP.

While he may be eased back into action through the DH spot, it shouldn't be too long until we see Hicks return to playing every day.

Draft Hicks now for free before others start catching on. These are the types of values that are important to look out for come draft time.

Michael Fulmer, SP Detroit Tigers

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Michael Fulmer underwent Tommy John Surgery last year, ending his 2019 season early. Health has always been an issue for Fulmer, both in the majors and minors. However, when he is healthy, Fulmer has shown us just what he can do.

On a Detroit Tigers squad that won't be competing this year, Fulmer is a lock to return to the rotation. While his workload could very well be monitored, Fulmer could still return sneaky value. After all, he was the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year.

It has already been confirmed by Tigers GM Al Alvila that Fulmer will be ready to play when the season begins. Being able to grab Fulmer, a 27-year-old who is entering the prime of his career for free at the end of drafts is a great investment. He is even a sneaky and cheap buy-low option in dynasty leagues.

Grab Fulmer with one of your last picks, as you can't beat the upside he very well may bring to the table. Fulmer is one of the forgotten players that could have an impact this season.

Jordan Hicks, RP St. Louis Cardinals

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Yet another victim of Tommy John Surgery, Hicks underwent surgery early in the 2019 season. There were rumblings that he could be back to pitch in the second half of the 2020 season. Now that the season was delayed, Hicks can and very much will be ready to pitch once the season begins. While he may not immediately grab the closer role, he should be pitching in high-leverage situations and could be a great get for holds leagues.

While you are probably drafting Hicks in hopes for some saves, he should have stand-alone value. He should be able to strike out many batters while earning some save chances.

There is one problem with Hicks, and that is the fact that he is diabetic. The Cardinals have already stated they plan on being extra cautious with him. However, as of now, he plans on playing in this shortened season.

Yoenis Cespedes, OF New York Mets

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Yoenis Cespedes. Oh how I have missed you. A great ballplayer, Cespedes has not been able to stay healthy at all over the past two years. Ankle and heel injuries have been his downfall, as he hurt both ankles while on his cattle ranch.

After undergoing double ankle surgery, Cespedes has spent the offseason rehabbing. Hopefully, he will be able to make it back onto the field.

With the extended off time, Cespedes has miraculously made somewhat of a comeback. While his health is not definitively known, Cespedes appears healthier now than he did when Spring Training 1.0 was happening. Brodie Van Wagenen said that he is very "optimistic" about Cespedes' outlook to play this season.

The added DH in the NL will prove extremely beneficial for the Mets and Cespedes alike. He should most likely take over the DH spot for them. This is a great way to keep Cespedes healthy while still being able to get his bat into the lineup.

Cespedes is virtually free right now, going undrafted in most drafts. If you feel confident about your team, take a shot and draft Cespedes. If he is even able to return to half the form he once was, that is a great investment. Crazier things have happened in the MLB.

Be on the Lookout!

With the baseball season beginning to get underway, Fantasy Six Pack continues to provide you with fantasy goodness. Keep an eye out for some more Fantasy Baseball articles on how to tackle this 60 game season from us. Fantasy Six Pack has you covered for all your 2020 Fantasy Baseball needs. Stay safe out there, and if you have any comments, questions, concerns, or ideas for new articles, be sure to hit me up on Twitter @MikeSollicito1.

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