Hitters Who Need Replacement At-Bats

I’m finally at the point where I need to start working in replacement level production into my projections. Today’s focus is on hitters will miss a set time frame or just assume will miss some time. I’m not going to work in players who will miss time here and there (e.g.the Ryan Braun special) for this or that nagging injury. Instead, I’m focusing on batters who can be DL’ed and someone else can take their place.

To evaluate these players, their time off needs to be determined (my goal today) and then replacement level stats can be added in for these off weeks. The replacement level stats will be an average of the available waiver wire batters. While these replacement level players aren’t great, they will provide some production until the rookie/injured/suspended player returns. With every league being unique, owners are going to need to find this talent level for their own league.

And remember, these are my estimates (link to on-going updates). Each owner should make their own adjustments for their own risk tolerance.

Injured with a known time frame

Gregory Polanco: He had shoulder surgery in mid-September and had a seven to a nine-month recovery time frame with a mid-April to mid-June return.

The latest news from Polanco has him not returning in June.

One worry I have is he’ll struggle like Daniel Murphy did last season and the replacement level hitter is a better option. I’ll assume Polanco is on track with his comments and go with a late-May return.

My split
Polanco: 67%
Replacement: 33%

Didi Gregorius: He’s returning from Tommy John surgery with a return date in mid-July or August. I’m going conservative and give him 1.5 months of playing time so he’s three-quarters replacement level player.

My split
Gregorius: 25%
Replacement: 75%

Yoenis Cespedes: He’s returning from two heel surgeries and initial reports had him with an All-Star Game return. Now, the team doesn’t expect him to return at all this season.

I’m not counting on him at all except in leagues with tons of DL spots where I may take a chance on an early return.

My split
Cespedes: 0%
Replacement: 100%

Corey Seager: While Seager should be 100% recovered from Tommy John surgery, he also had August hip surgery which may not have him ready by opening day. Here’s the latest report.

“[C]autiously optimistic”. I’m adding a month of replacement level just on that statement.

My split
Seager: 85%
Replacement: 15%

Shohei Ohtani: From other valuations, I’ve read or heard on the Ohtani situation, I’m completely out on him. Here’s the latest report:

So, no chance for opening day. I’ll take two months off right there without any updated news. The other issue with Ohtani is that I’ll only give him 60% playing time once returning since he needs to go through the recovery’s throwing aspects.

My split
Ohtani: 45%
Replacement: 25%
Lost at-bats in weekly leagues: 30%

Alex Bregman: Some talk exists of a slow recovery and I’ll take the bad news and bump back his season stary back by a couple weeks.

My split
Bregman: 95%
Replacement: 5%

Addison Russell: Well, the jerk has already served 11 of the 40 games he’s suspended from so he’s out at least 18% of the 2019 season. And how much will he play once back? Full-time? I’m betting on Russell being Zobrist’s backup. The part-time production may make him unplayable in weekly lineup leagues.

My split
Russell: 41%
Replacement: 18%
Lost at-bats in weekly leagues: 41%

Rookies

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. : I don’t think they are going to screw around with him any more and have him up after the first couple of weeks. He’s not going to get close to the Super-2 date.

My split
Guerrero: 90%
Replacement: 10%

Eloy Jimenez: I have a feeling the White Sox would like to keep Jimenez down until Super-2 if he “needs” more work. He may also just hit lights out and force their hand out of spring training. I’m going to split the difference between the two-week wait for the extra year of service time and the Super-2 date around June 1st.

My split
Jimenez: 80%
Replacement: 20%

Nick Senzel: I figured Senzel would get the Guerrero treatment and stay in the minors for the whole season working on a new position. Instead, the Reds are looking like they are going for a playoff spot. If they want to make the move, they’ll need Senzel to be productive. I think he as a great chance of being called up early.

My split
Senzel: 80%
Replacement: 20%

Keston Hiura: Every time I look at the Brewers depth chart and see Hernan Perez and Cory Spangenberg at second base, I just assume the Brewers will call up Hiura. It’s not 100% likely like the other above three but it does seem like he’ll get called up at some point.

My split
Hiura: 50%
Replacement: 50%

Perpetually injured: Owners assume some hitters will miss extended parts of a season. These are a few who some owners will expect to miss some time.

Miguel Cabrera: I’m not betting on any kind of health from him especially with a bad back. I’m not taking a chance until he shows he can stay healthy.

My split
Cabrera: 50%
Replacement: 40%
Lost at-bats in weekly leagues: 10%

A.J. Pollock: I don’t have any faith Pollock will play a whole season with the Dodgers. The problem is that he’s on the Dodgers and they’ll try to give him off days to stay healthy and no replacement will be available in a weekly lineup league. I can’t give Pollock a full season of at-bats but also can’t factor in any replacement stats.

My split
Pollock: 80%
Replacement: 10%
Lost at-bats in weekly leagues: 10%

Troy Tulowitzki: I’m going with maybe a third of a season. Maybe, it seems high. I’ll go with a quarter.

My split
Tulowitzki: 25%
Replacement: 65%
Lost at-bats in weekly leagues: 10%

Josh Donaldson: I don’t think he’ll be healthy no matter the reports. I’m worried I’m biased because I was burnt by him in several leagues last year and may be too conservative with him?

My split
Tulowitzki: 50%
Replacement: 40%
Lost at-bats in weekly leagues: 10%

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Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Moate
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Moate

“Addison Russell: Well, the shit bag has already served 11 of the 40 games he’s suspended from so he’s out at least 18% of the 2019 season.”

As a Cubs fan, I appreciate this description of Russell. Well done sir.