Fantasy Baseball: What's the Impact of Ian Desmond's Injury?
It has not been a good week for the Colorado Rockies.
First, outfielder David Dahl suffered a rib injury that could force him to miss Opening Day. He's been shut down for two weeks and will be re-evaluated then, with no specific timetable for his return set. Starting pitcher Chad Bettis found out his testicular cancer has spread and will need to step away from the team to undergo chemotherapy (thankfully, Bettis said doctors caught it early and he's expected to be fine).
And now, this happened to their prize free-agent acquisition of the offseason, Ian Desmond.
Awful development for the @Rockies. Ian Desmond broken hand. Seeing. Specialist Monday. @DenverChannel pic.twitter.com/2UACuOEpXL
— Lionel Bienvenu (@lionelbienvenu) March 12, 2017
That pitch from Cincinnati Reds right-hander Rookie Davis (yes, that's his real name) broke Desmond's left hand and will cost him about a month's worth of action. Not a good development for the player to whom the Rockies gave a five-year, $70 million contract to play first base, a position he's never played before.
There is a potential backup plan in place, however. Colorado signed first baseman Mark Reynolds earlier in the winter to a minor league deal and he could fill in at first while Desmond recovers. In 441 plate appearances with the Rockies last season, he hit .282/.356/.450 with 14 home runs and a wRC+ of 99. Our numberFire projections see him batting .249 with a .749 OPS and 9 dingers in 216 plate appearances. He would be the very definition of a replacement-level player.
As for Desmond, while there was skepticism about his move to first base -- among other things -- the loss of a player who hit .285/.335/.446 with 22 bombs, 86 RBI, 21 steals and 107 runs scored is a devastating blow.
Luckily, it happened in Spring Training, which should only keep him out of action for the first few weeks of the regular season.
According to our projections, Desmond is the 43rd-best position player in fantasy with a numberFire fantasy score of 4.59. His ability to hit for average, power and steal bags makes him a different kind of fantasy first baseman. Also getting the benefit of playing at Coors Field this year will likely help his numbers, too.
We project a .274 average with .794 OPS, 24 homers, 85 runs, 77 RBI and 14 steals. Colorado is likely hoping he can outperform those numbers by not watching his production fall off a cliff from the first to the second half like it did in 2016.
According to FantasyPros, Desmond is the 51st overall player, 37th among hitters and the 16th outfielder being taken in season-long drafts. He'll primarily be at first base in 2017, but will carry eligibility at both positions well into the fantasy season.
But because of his hand injury, and the fact that he'll likely start the year on the disabled list, his average draft position will likely drop quite a bit. It's a bad break (no pun intended) for a player who was looking to prove himself at a position he'd never played before in what could be one of baseball's most potent offenses.