We are now less than a week away from the Midsummer Classic. I hope Fantasy owners have been listening and taking my advice in regards to staying afloat with potential waiver wire pickups and trades over the last few weeks, because before you know it, the stretch run will be upon us.
It is never easy to deal with injuries to star players. It is even tougher dealing with injuries to star players in AL-only Fantasy leagues, and when it comes to one of the best players in all of baseball, it is not an easy pill to swallow.
Detroit Tigers’ superstar first baseman Miguel Cabrera was placed on the 15-day disabled list, amazingly for the first time in his career with a Grade 3 left calf strain. Initially, the hope was that he would be able to return shortly after Tuesday’s All-Star Game, but the severity of the injury will force Cabrera to miss around six weeks.
Now, there is no replacing a Top 3 MLB player, but Fantasy owners can at least attempt to put a band-aid on the situation. Scanning the waiver wire, there are a few realistic options out there for owners.
I have mentioned Texas Rangers’ first baseman Mitch Moreland seemingly every week for the past two months, but again, he would be my top option to replace Cabrera. He is available in 44 percent of Fantasy leagues (per Yahoo) and has been the fourth-ranked first baseman over the past two weeks.
Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins is another solid option. He is hitting .375 over the past two weeks, yet is owned in just 44 percent of Fantasy leagues. He is not the superstar he once was, but Mauer can still spray the ball all over the field.
Two other notable names that are likely available off the wire and can be used as potential Cabrera replacements are Brandon Moss and Billy Butler of the Cleveland Indians and Oakland Athletics, respectively. If owners want to think more outside the box, then I would recommend Chris Colabello of the Toronto Blue Jays, who is hitting .273 with three homers and six RBIs over the past 14 days.
All of those recommendations have been Top 25 options at first base through the past two weeks of play.
Not all injury news is bad news, as there are a few players who have recently returned from the disabled list or will be returning, and owners need to make sure they are back in active lineups.
Ervin Santana of the Minnesota Twins returned from his 80-game suspension in fine fashion on Sunday. He looked to be in midseason form going eight innings and striking out eight in a no-decision. Santana may be the best pitching option off the wire this late in the season. He is available in 49 percent of Fantasy leagues, and owners mustn’t hesitate to pick him up.
Santana should be considered a well-known name, and a few other well-known names are ready to return as well. Jacoby Ellsbury and Andrew Miller of the New York Yankees will be activated on Wednesday. Then, on Thursday, Kansas City Royals’ pitcher Yordano Ventura will make his return to the mound.
Each of those players is worthy of being inserted into starting lineups immediately.
The last player returning from injury who I would like owners to draw attention to is a potential sleeper. Delino DeShields Jr. of the Texas Rangers was productive through 50 games this season before suffering a hamstring injury. DeShields posted a .275 batting average with 13 stolen bases, 12 RBIs, and 35 runs scored in 153 at-bats, showing he can contribute in at least three Fantasy categories.
The Rangers’ outfield continues to be a question mark, mainly due to the unknowingness of Josh Hamilton’s ongoing status. If DeShields continues from where he left off before the injury, owners can safely assume he will be playing close to everyday, making now a good time to increase his ownership total (13 percent) in Fantasy leagues.
Before I sign off, I of course have not forgotten my Player of the Week. One of the players who will need to step up for the Tigers during Cabrera’s absence is J.D. Martinez, and he has gotten off to a nice start.
Over his last seven games, Martinez is batting .444 with four homers, 10 RBIs, and eight runs scored. He is the top Fantasy option during that span, and while I feel he will continue to produce throughout the duration of the season, it actually may not be the worst idea to dangle him as trade bait.
Of course, if owners want to utilize that option, I highly recommend aiming for a king’s ransom in return.