Here we sit at the All-Star break of what has been an injury-filled first half of the season. 17 of the top 25 players in the RotoWire preseason rankings have spent time on the disabled list or missed multiple games with an injury. With the injury bug so determined to shape the landscape of the fantasy world, I present to you the 2011 MLB All-"Scar" teams.
NL - Buster Posey
After winning the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year and helping lead the Giants to a World Series title, Posey was considered by many as the top option at the catcher position. Unfortunately, his season ended in late May following a collision at the plate. Posey suffered a fractured fibula on the play and ultimately needed surgery to repair torn ligaments in his ankle. He was recently cleared to return to light workouts but is nowhere near returning. Unless you own Posey in a keeper league, it looks like you are going to have to chalk this one up as a lost season.
AL - Joe Mauer
Like Posey, Mauer was considered to be the cream of the crop at his position, despite offseason knee surgery. However, Mauer was slow to recover and eventually placed on the DL after suffering weakness in both legs. His numbers since returning have been very underwhelming, including a .243 batting average. New position eligibility could help his stock but should the Twins fall further out of the race, Mauer remains a likely candidate to be shut down.
NL - Ike Davis
Davis was off to a hot start, hitting seven homers while batting .302 in just 36 games. However, he suffered a sprained ankle and accompanying bone bruise in May and has yet to return to the field. There have been encouraging signs as Davis reported no problems while running during a recent workout, but there is some minor cause for concern. The team was considering microfracture surgery for the injury just several weeks ago and will likely exhibit extreme caution going forward.
AL - Justin Morneau
Morneau missed the entire second half of the 2010 season recovering from symptoms associated to a concussion. This year hasn't proved any kinder as shoulder, wrist, and neck problems have limited the former MVP to 55 games. The surgery to repair a bulging disc in his neck went well and early reports suggest he could be back at some point in August. He could prove to be a valuable stash-and-play option to a team solidified in the rankings and hoping to add some potential pop to their lineup. However, it remains a very big gamble given his recent track record.
NL - Chase Utley
Utley makes the squad because news of his patellar tendinitis did not surface until after a majority of fantasy owners completed their drafts. The nagging knee injury held Utley out of Phillies' first 46 games after some utilized early picks on the former Silver Slugger. However since returning, Utley has played well and been surprisingly active on the basepaths, swiping eight bases already. He's a solid buy-low target for owners looking to shore up a generally weak position.
AL - Brian Roberts
Roberts came into spring training hoping to bounce back from a back injury that cost him most of the previous seasons. The back flared up shortly before the season began but Roberts was able to most past the injury. He put up decent numbers in April, batting .262 and driving in 19 runs. A slow May was worsened by a concussion that has kept him out of Baltimore's last 49 games.
NL - Rafael Furcal
This comes as no real surprise as Furcal has struggled to stay healthy over the last few seasons. However, two separate injuries, a strained oblique and broken thumb, sent the veteran to the DL twice in the first half alone. The injuries hurt almost as much as his paltry .185 batting average.
AL - Derek Jeter
A calf injury derailed his quest for hit number 3,000 but the Yankee captain is back in action after missing 19 games. He makes the team because calf injuries tend to nag, particularly aging veterans that play shortstop. Jeter may be able to put this behind him but Jimmy Rollins owners are well aware of the troubles associated with an injury of this kind.
NL - Ryan Zimmerman
Zimmerman suffered a strained groin in spring training, which was later determined to be a sports hernia. The Nationals were without his services for over two months while he recovered from the surgery needed to repair the injury. He recently sat out a game after experiencing soreness in the same area, raising several red flags about his health status for the remainder of the season.
AL - Alex Rodriguez
A-Rod underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee that had been bothering him for some time. He is expected to miss four-to-six weeks, however, he could be facing a tougher road than most. Rodriguez is just two years removed from surgery on his right hip and his new injury could disrupt an already weakened kinetic chain. Problems in one joint of an extremity can become an issue for the other joints in the chain. As Rodriguez rehabs his knee he must pay attention to his hip as well as to not exacerbate any previous problems or create new issues in the hip. Look for the Yankees to focus on having A-Rod healthy for October, much to the chagrin of fantasy owners.
NL - Jason Heyward, Carlos Gonzalez, and Chris Coghlan
Heyward has failed to capitalize on an outstanding rookie season, missing a good chunk of time with a shoulder issue. The hard-hitting youngster developed inflammation in his right shoulder, located around the fibrocartilaginous ring known as the labrum. The injury was maddening for fantasy owners as he yo-yoed in and out of the lineup. The shoulder may still be an issue as Heyward has hit just one home run since April 29.
Gonzalez has missed a handful of games with a myriad of injuries including a stiff back, an aching groin, and a bout with the flu. However, it's his recent injury that lands him on the All-Scar team. Last year's breakout fantasy player suffered a deep wrist contusion after colliding with the outfield wall. He has since aggravated the injury despite only being inserted into the lineup for defensive reasons. The Rockies are currently developing a course of treatment for their young star, which should keep him out for the first series or two following the break.
After a solid 2009, Coghlan suffered a torn meniscus last season during a post-game celebration and has never really been the same. A shoulder injury has limited him this season but he recently returned to the DL after his surgically repaired knee began giving him problems. A lengthy stay in the minor league system seems likely.
AL - Josh Hamilton, Shin-Soo Choo, and Carl Crawford
Hamilton failed to hit a home run in the first 11 games of the season, and then missed the next 37 games after fracturing the upper portion of his humerus. However, the reigning AL MVP has bounced back and fantasy owners that withstood the early struggles and injury could benefit from a big second half.
Choo has had a rough season so far struggling with on-the-field injuries and off-field drama. An elbow injury bothered him early in the season before a DUI arrest brought him unwanted attention. The worst was yet to come, as Choo suffered a displaced fracture in his thumb after being struck by a pitch. The surgeon had to reduce and fixate the shattered pieces of the digit and the outfielder is expected to be out until mid-August.
Crawford is poised to return from a hamstring strain after missing a month of action. A strain of this kind can be very problematic for players dependent on their speed and I would anticipate Boston to limit his aggressiveness on the basepaths until he proves he's 100 percent. Hamstring injuries also have a high incident of re-injury so Crawford owners should have a backup readily available.
NL - Josh Johnson
Johnson narrowly beat out St. Louis' Adam Wainwright for this dubious distinction. At least Wainwright owners are certain he will miss the entire season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow. Meanwhile, Johnson owners are left to stir in the breeze as the Marlins' ace continues to progress slowly through rehab for a shoulder ailment. A recent MRI revealed no structural damage, but the team has yet to put forth a definitive timeline for his recovery.
AL - Phil Hughes
Hughes' early-season dip in velocity and erratic command was attributed to "dead arm" syndrome that forced him to the 60-day DL. His time off would allow him to regain his velocity but his first outing did not go as smoothly as expected. He gave up two runs in five innings on six hits and two walks. Hughes remains a high-risk, high-reward player going forward.
NL - Jonathan Broxton
Broxton had seven saves in 14 appearances before heading to the DL with a bone spur in his pitching elbow. A recent setback ensures Broxton will not resume throwing for another week or so.
AL - David Aardsma
Offseason hip surgery slowed the Mariners' closer right out the gate and then a sprained ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his elbow pushed his return back even further. With Brandon League pitching well and collecting 23 saves for Seattle, don't expect Aardsma to immediately return to the closer role when he finally gets healthy.