Injuries happen in baseball, which is why fantasy baseball rosters come with slots for the disabled list. On draft day, however, drafting injured players solely for the purpose of putting them on the DL is a move that could result in a tremendous payoff, at least down the road.
This is because adding a player onto your DL frees up a roster spot, and the waiver wire is full of potential sleepers. By testing new players out and seeing which picks pan out and which don't, it makes for an easier decision once it comes time for your injured player to return.
More importantly, some injured players remain hot commodities. Despite his age, I can name a bunch of fantasy players who would love to have New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter on their teams. He can still hit, so why get scared of an ankle injury?
He isn't the only injured player who can be drafted and saved for a rainy day, so definitely keep him and some other players on your radar as well.
Corey Hart, 1B/OF, Milwaukee Brewers
As of now, Hart is on the 15-day DL after undergoing knee surgery in January. In 2012, he hit .270 with 30 homers and 83 RBI.
The man isn't expected to be back on the field until late May, but that doesn't mean Hart should not be drafted, even if it is in one of the final rounds. He is eligible to play either first base or the outfield, and that type of depth is hard to find in any league.
With a powerful right-handed bat, he is definitely worth the wait.
Derek Jeter, SS, New York Yankees
Jeter is going to be 39 years old in June, and he still plays the game at an incredibly high level. Last season, he hit .316 with 15 homers and 58 RBI. Jeter also led the majors with 216 total hits.
The Yankee captain was also batting .333 in the playoffs before breaking his ankle in Game 1 of the ALCS, and hit .273 in spring training this year before going on the disabled list with ankle soreness.
Granted, Jeter isn't expected to miss a great deal of time with his ankle soreness, and there is no indication that he won't be able to produce at the plate at the same level he did last year. Drafting him means having a lot of patience but if you ask this fantasy buff, the man is well worth it.
Curtis Granderson, OF, New York Yankees
Anyone who drafts Granderson needs to realize that the man is going to be good in three departments: home runs, runs scored and RBI. The notoriously free swinger is a batting average nightmare, but he is still a great power bat to have in a fantasy lineup.
Unfortunately, Granderson won't be on the field until May at the absolute earliest, having fractured his forearm early in spring training. He's the type of fantasy player who tends to be very hot and cold, but his power is hard to ignore in the draft room.
He only hit .232 last season, but managed to smack a career-best 42 homers and drive in 106 runs. If you like your team to be all about power and offense, this is the man for you.
That means drafting him late and playing the waiting game in 2013. If you've got the patience and can deal with taking a hit at batting average, then Granderson is definitely a good pick.
Hanley Ramirez, SS/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers
In recent seasons, Ramirez has not looked like the well-rounded hitter he was early in his career. That could be attributed to him being unhappy on the Marlins, but he got a fresh start with the Dodgers last season and appeared rejuvenated.
With Los Angeles in 2012, Ramirez hit .271 with 10 homers and 44 RBI in 64 games. In this year's spring training, he was hitting .333 with four RBI before leaving to represent his native Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.
It was there that Ramirez tore a thumb ligament, and the surgery the injury required will keep him out at least eight weeks. His slide in recent years may be a red flag, but consider just what Ramirez was able to do earlier in his career.
This is the same man who won a batting title and launched home runs as well as stealing bases. He's still young at age 29, and could definitely make some noise in fantasy baseball.
He'll require some patience from anyone who drafts him, but mark my words. If there's anyone who can be a fantasy force upon his return, it's Ramirez.
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