Fantasy Baseball: The Impact Of Corey Seager's Season-Ending Injury
It's become commonplace to see news of a Major League pitcher suffering a torn UCL and requiring Tommy John surgery, but one thing you don't expect to see is one of the best young shortstops in the game needing the same elbow ligament replacement surgery.
Today, the Dodgers recalled Breyvic Valera from Triple-A Oklahoma City and placed Corey Seager on the 10-day DL with a right UCL sprain. Seager will undergo Tommy John surgery and will miss the remainder of the season.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 30, 2018
For Seager owners, the news comes as a massive blow, but it's not a huge surprise.
Seager battled elbow injuries all last year, but still hit .295/.375/.479 with 26 home runs, 105 runs scored and a .372 wOBA. He was left off the NLCS roster so he could rest the elbow and returned for the World Series, where he hit .222 in seven Fall Classic games.
Surprise or not, though, what does Seager's absence mean for his fantasy owners?
In 26 games this year (115 plate appearances), Seager batted .267/.348/.396 with 2 homers, 13 RBI, and 13 runs scored. The elbow was starting to sap him of his home run potential, with an isolated power (ISO) that has dropped steadily since his rookie mark of .204. He went from .184 in 2017 to .129 this season, ranking 18th among 27 qualified shortstops. His wRC+ of 110 ranked 10th among shortstops and his .327 wOBA was 13th.
For the moment, it appears as if Los Angeles will replace him at shortstop with Chris Taylor, the versatile infielder/outfielder who hit .288/.354/.496 in his rookie season last year, with 21 bombs, 17 steals and a wOBA of .361. Like many Dodgers players, Taylor is off to a slower start in 2018, batting .232/.271/.424 with just 4 homers and 21 runs scored. But he's an able replacement.
There's also an outside chance that Los Angeles pursues a trade for Baltimore Orioles mega-star Manny Machado. The free agent-to-be would put the Dodgers over the luxury tax, but for a team that came within one win of a World Series title a year ago, they may have little choice. Machado is off to a blisteringly hot start, hitting .361/.448/.676, with 9 dingers, 22 RBI and 14 runs scored in 28 games.
But none of that really helps in fantasy. Both of those players are probably owned in all leagues.
Waiver Wire Potential
As a fantasy owner, how does one replace Seager? Even though his production likely wasn't at the levels one would expect, it does leave a hole to be filled. In standard 12-team leagues, there isn't much available on the waiver wire, as shortstop is one of the positions with the fewest leftovers.
Based on ESPN's ownership percentages, here are some options.
Each of these 11 players have shortstop eligibility and are owned in less than 50% of standard ESPN leagues.
Addison Russell has the highest upside, but -- stop me if you've heard this before -- the results haven't been there. Eduardo Escobar is off to a fine start, as is Daniel Robertson and Nick Ahmed. Those three players have been getting regular playing time and are producing at a level worthy of a roster spot.
But what about trades? There are a number of shortstops opposing managers might be willing to deal, given slow starts or other circumstances.
There's the Cleveland Indians' Francisco Lindor who, through 27 games (126 PAs), is batting .245/.331/.409 with 4 homers, 17 runs, 11 RBI and 5 steals. Among qualified shortstops, his .325 wOBA is just below Seager's .327. An enterprising fantasy owner might be able to snag him from someone panicking over his slow start.
Elvis Andrus is on the disabled list with a broken elbow, but should be back later this month. A fantasy owner with a roster crunch might want to free up a DL spot and be open to dealing Andrus, who has posted a wOBA of .344 each of the last two seasons. He hit 20 homers, stole 25 bases and batted in 100 runs a year ago, so if you can muddle through the next few weeks with him on the bench, he'd be a good option to make an offer for.
The Houston Astros' Marwin Gonzalez is off to a slow start (.302 wOBA) and has only one good season under his belt (last year's .382 wOBA, 23 HRs and 90 RBI). Zack Cozart could also be a slow-start option (.296 wOBA), and Gleyber Torres has played just nine MLB games (albeit, with a .345 wOBA), but perhaps there is a fantasy owner who wants someone with more experience and the potential for more at-bats.
There are some viable options to replace Seager and the production you expected to get out of him in 2018. Be it through the waiver wire or trades, there's some potential. But it will require some creativity and patience in order to make it work.