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February 3, 2012

Fantasy Beat

Injury Rebound Bargains

by Jason Collette

“Scratch and Dent” sales at stores can present some excellent bargains for shoppers, as you can get fully functional appliances at a discount because some handler was not careful during the delivery process.  We had a hellacious hail storm in the central Florida area in 1994 that caused many local car dealerships to scream in anger as their inventory suddenly looked like the golf balls at a miniature golf course. The dealerships quickly decided to throw their own “Scratch and Dent” sale, releasing cars that were brand new under the hood but with dents from the baseball-sized hail at significant discounts to those willing to overlook the aesthetics of the vehicle and focus on brand new engines and interiors.

Every season, there is a list of players that are thrown back into the draft pool after suffering their own scratches and dents at some point during the previous season. This year, the scratch and dent pile has plenty of models to look at since there were a lot of prevalent injuries during the season. The inventory on draft day will include the following players:

When considering drafting these guys, it might be helpful to see how last year’s “Scratch and Dent” group worked out for drafters. I went back and looked at some of the more prominent players in last year’s draft coming off a 2010 injury, then looked at their 2009 fantasy value in single leagues to see how much of that lost glory the players were able to re-capture coming off their injury issues of 2010.
 

Player

2009

2010

2011

Chris Coghlan

$21

$10

$2

Jason Bay

$25

$10

$12

Jacoby Ellsbury

$39

($1)

$44

Chipper Jones

$14

$9

$16

Russell Martin

$9

$5

$11

Kendrys Morales

$26

$7

$0

Justin Morneau

$18

$18

$0

Joe Nathan

$31

$0

$6

Jake Peavy

$13

$4

$2

Grady Sizemore

$13

($1)

$3

Kevin Youkilis

$25

$20

$14

Carlos Beltran

$17

$4

$26

Brian Roberts

$27

$7

$2

Johan Santana

$17

$16

$0

Jacoby Ellsbury clearly had no problem picking up where he left off in 2009… and then some. Chipper Jones, even at his age, was able to exceed his value from 2009 coming off an injury, and Carlos Beltran silenced the doubters of his knee issues for at least one season by posting a big year heading into free agency. Outside of that group, most of the players failed to recapture their fantasy value of just two seasons ago, and more importantly, some of last year’s “Scratch and Dent” specials are back on the floor again this year. Roberts, Sizemore, Morneau, Morales, and Santana are all players that have gone for at least $20 in drafts over the past four seasons, but they now wear a fragile label that should scare anyone away from paying that price for them again until they prove they can put together 500 plate appearances or 175 innings in a season.

As George Santayana said, those who don’t learn from history are destined to repeat it. Players coming off injury are a risk to get back there. Bill Macey of BaseballHQ ran the numbers a few years ago and found that 38 percent of hitters who were on the disabled list in year one went back on the disabled list in year two (pitchers had a slightly higher risk at 41 percent), and 54 percent of those who were on the list in years one and two went back on it in year three. There is a reason these players come at a discount; their risk has a stronger percentage of outweighing their reward than a healthier player.  But at the right price, there’s value to be had.

Jason Collette is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

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