Who Can Replace Bryce Harper on Your Fantasy Baseball Roster?
Chances are, you just lost Bryce Harper for the rest of your fantasy baseball season.
On Saturday night, Harper and the Nats hosted the San Francisco Giants on a rainy night at Nats Park. The bases were still wet as the teams played the first inning and, as Harper tried to run out a ground ball to first base, this happened.
Scary moment in D.C. Bryce Harper suffers left leg injury and has to be helped off the field after slipping on first base. pic.twitter.com/rtsxIKOLWr
— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) August 13, 2017
The injury turned out to look worse than it was, and a poorer athlete probably would have torn up his knee. The team said it was a deep bone bruise and put no timetable on his return, other than to say he would be back sometime this season, but it's likely he's out for somewhere between a couple of weeks and a month.
That's great news for Washington, who will need all hands on deck to battle the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Chicago Cubs and the rest of the NL playoff field in October. But for most full-season fantasy owners, they've just lost their best player at the most crucial time of the season.
Through 106 games he was batting .326/.419/.614 with 29 home runs, 87 RBIs and 92 runs scored, with a weighted on base average (wOBA) of .425 and a weighted runs created (wRC+) of 162. His 5.0 fWAR is 6th-best among all Major League players, and that kind of production is going to be impossible to replace.
Still, the Nationals have some players who can fill in ably in Harper's absence. Howie Kendrick, acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies last month, is hitting .348/.399/.486 in 198 plate appearances in 2017. He's been manning left field as the team awaits the return of Jayson Werth, who has been out since early June. He told reporters this week he was close to making a couple rehab starts and re-joining the team.
Prospect Andrew Stevenson played right field in place of Harper on Sunday, their first without the MVP candidate. He's only had 28 plate appearances with the Nats so far this season but in AAA batted .246/.293/.319 in 306 plate appearances there. He did well in Double-A prior to that this season, but the 23-year-old probably shouldn't be counted on for fantasy purposes.
Brian Goodwin could also see some action in right field. He's batted .251/.313/.498 with 13 home runs in 278 plate appearances this season, good for a wRC+ of 104. He's a better offensive option for Washington, but may not play every day while Harper is out.
The Nationals could also turn to Adam Lind to play some corner outfield in a pinch. He's played 15 games in left field this year, so if Lind is in the lineup, it's likely one of Kendrick, Stevenson or Goodwin would move to right field. Lind has hit well in limited action this year, batting .308/.355/.508 with 9 bombs and 39 RBIs in 203 PAs, good for a wRC+ of 120.
Amazingly, the Nationals have already overcome a slew of outfield injuries. They lost Adam Eaton for the year at the beginning of 2017, and Trea Turner, who is coming back from a broken wrist, is a shortstop who played most of last season in the outfield and could have been used there in a pinch too.
Much of this will settle itself out once Werth returns. Then the Nats will feature outfield of Werth, Michael Taylor and Kendrick most days.
Until then, it's mix and match time. And fantasy owners should be tuned into Dusty Baker's lineups each day until that happens.