Injuries are an unlucky a part of baseball, even for among the sport’s finest gamers.
There are various gamers who would doubtless have plaques in Cooperstown proper now in the event that they skilled higher well being throughout their careers. Injuries have taken a toll on a few of immediately’s prime abilities as nicely, together with the crop of eight under. All eight have had their share of success on the Major League stage however have been stalled by well being woes, stopping them from reaching their true potential.
Hope springs anew firstly of each season, nevertheless, and 2023 may very well be the yr every of those gamers finds the well being crucial for them to get again on a path in the direction of the highest of the baseball mountain.
Ronald Acuña Jr., OF, Braves
While Acuña has had brushes with superstardom by way of his first 5 years in the Majors, there is a sturdy sense that he hasn’t reached his apex. The outfielder did file 41 homers and 37 steals as a 21-year-old in 2019, however 5.1 bWAR stays his profession excessive — a quantity 29 place gamers both matched or exceeded final yr alone. Acuña was on tempo to shatter that mark whereas making a run at a uncommon 50/30 season in 2021, however he tore his ACL in July and wasn’t fairly again to his previous self final yr, producing a career-low 114 OPS+ with 2.8 bWAR over 119 video games. As he strikes additional away from his knee surgical procedure, the 25-year-old might have an enormous yr in retailer.
Byron Buxton, OF, Twins
What Buxton might accomplish over a full, healthy season stays one in all baseball’s nice unknowns, although his eye-popping tempo over the previous three years — 51 homers, 14 steals and eight.9 bWAR per 162 video games — supplies some foundation of what which may appear like The ultra-talented middle fielder has been dogged by accidents all through his profession, taking part in greater than 92 video games in a season solely as soon as (140 in 2017). Last yr, a proper hip pressure and a proper knee ailment that required season-ending surgical procedure put a damper on his first All-Star marketing campaign. Will Buxton ever put all of it collectively? Who is aware of. But we are able to dream.
Wander Franco, SS, Rays
With a formidable displaying as a rookie underneath his belt and an 11-year, $182 million contract in hand, final season was supposed to be the yr Franco formally arrived as a megastar. And for a few month, all the things went in accordance to plan for MLB’s former No. 1 general prospect. However, Franco slumped in May and made a pair of journeys to the injured checklist due to a proper quad pressure and a fractured hamate bone in his proper wrist, lacking a mixed 74 video games. His closing numbers have been… tremendous. But he’ll be anticipated to tremendously enhance upon his .277 common, six homers and 117 OPS+ in 2023, his age-22 season.
Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Rays
Glasnow has an electrical arsenal, however he is had restricted alternatives to present it off over the previous 4 years. The 6-foot-8 righty was an AL Cy Young contender in 2019 and 2021, however he bumped into arm issues in each seasons, first happening with a proper forearm pressure after which struggling an elbow harm that necessitated Tommy John surgical procedure. Glasnow regarded unfazed by the lengthy layoff when he made his return late final season, permitting one run with 15 K’s and two walks in 11 2/3 innings, together with 5 shutout frames in Game 2 of the AL Wild Card Series in opposition to the Guardians. He averaged 97.3 mph along with his four-seamer in these outings, barely higher than his 97.0 mph determine in 2021. With Glasnow at full power and Shane McClanahan coming off a sixth-place end in the AL Cy Young voting, the Rays might have the AL’s finest 1-2 punch atop their rotation, offered each pitchers stay on the mound.
Eloy Jiménez, OF, White Sox
Baseball’s No. 3-ranked prospect coming into 2019, per MLB Pipeline, Jiménez is 4 years into his profession however nonetheless hasn’t performed a full season. The solely yr the right-handed slugger did not spend time on the injured checklist was the shortened 2020 marketing campaign, and he is missed extra video games than he is performed throughout the previous two years, struggling a rupture of his left pectoral tendon in 2021 and a torn hamstring tendon behind his proper knee in 2022. When healthy, Jiménez has flashed prolific energy potential, averaging 36 homers and 108 RBIs per 162 video games whereas posting a collective 123 OPS+. If he avoids the IL in 2023, we might see the 26-year-old rank among the many AL’s dwelling run leaders.
Dustin May, RHP, Dodgers
May has already appeared in elements of 4 seasons (and two playoff runs) with the Dodgers, however he is thrown fewer than 150 profession innings, in half as a result of he underwent Tommy John surgical procedure in 2021. The lanky righty pitched to subpar outcomes after returning final yr , struggling along with his management (4.2 BB/9) and posting a 4.50 ERA (94 ERA+) over 30 innings. It’s arduous not to be tantalized by his stuff, nevertheless, notably his nasty curveball and mixture of high-octane fastballs. May appeared to be on his means to a breakout season earlier than happening along with his elbow harm in 2021, registering a 2.74 ERA, a 13.7 Okay/9 and a 2.3 BB/9 by way of 5 begins. The 25-year-old might show to be an X-factor for a Dodgers membership that misplaced a number of key gamers to free company this offseason and stays with out ace righty Walker Buehler (TJ surgical procedure).
Luis Robert, OF, White Sox
Like his teammate Jiménez, Robert has missed appreciable time over the previous two seasons, happening with a proper hip flexor pressure in 2021 and battling a number of illnesses final yr. Still simply 25, he is not that far faraway from his days as one of many prime ranked prospects in the sport, when he was thought-about a possible famous person, with plus instruments throughout the board. Although a profession .289 common with 36 homers, 26 steals and a 122 OPS+ over 222 video games is nothing to sneeze at, he hasn’t fairly met expectations so far, however that might change in 2023.
Fernando Tatis Jr., SS/OF, Padres
Expectations have been understandably excessive for Tatis coming into his age-23 marketing campaign in 2022, however he ended up lacking the whole season, as he suffered a left wrist fracture earlier than Opening Day and was suspended after testing optimistic for a banned substance through the summer time. Tatis led the NL with 42 homers in 2021, has twice completed among the many prime 4 in the NL MVP voting and owns a lifetime 160 OPS+, however he is by no means performed greater than 130 video games in a season. Now at a brand new place after the Padres signed shortstop Xander Bogaerts in December, Tatis has to show he can stay on the sector, however there is not any denying his ceiling is among the many highest in the sport.