What might have been
By Thomas J. Harrigan, Fantasy Sports Writer
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It's too bad games 24-108 didn't go as well as No. 162 did for Rays third baseman Evan Longoria.
Longoria belted three solo homers Wednesday against Baltimore, giving him five round-trippers combined in the last two regular season finales.
With the three bombs, Longoria gave fantasy owners a glimpse of what they missed when he was out three months with a torn hamstring. It was a bittersweet display for Rays fans since the team likely would have made the playoffs with Longoria healthy for a full slate.
Instead, Tampa Bay will go home while other teams play on, and I'm sure many fantasy owners met the same fate, watching their season come undone without their first-round pick.
Longoria finished with a .289 average, 17 homers and 55 RBIs in 74 games. Those numbers average out to 37 home runs and 120 RBIs in 162 games, both of which would have been career highs for the Rays third baseman.
The abbreviated season comes a year after Longoria played just 133 games, so fantasy owners are going to have to keep that in mind when drafting the third baseman next season.
Longoria wasn't the only fantasy superstar that had his season cut short by injury; plenty of other top picks went down, leaving fantasy owners searching for answers and giving us something to consider next season when the draft rolls around.
Let's take a look at other stars who were bit by the injury bug and try to predict how their draft stock will be affected next season.
Matt Kemp, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers - Like Longoria, Kemp was also derailed by a hamstring injury, one that stopped short what could have been an all-time great season. When he went down in mid-May, Kemp was hitting .359 with 12 homers and 28 RBIs. An attempt to return at the end of the month led to him aggravating the ailment and cost him another month and a half. Kemp still finished with a .303 average, 23 homers and 69 RBIs in just 106 games, which comes out to 35 and 105 over a full season. Kemp was drafted with the second overall pick on average in Yahoo! leagues and I think he can only drop from there. More durable superstars such as Ryan Braun and young sensations like Mike Trout will be picked ahead of him next year.
Jose Bautista, 3B/OF, Toronto Blue Jays - I strongly believe that Bautista would have made a run at 60 homers if he didn't go down with wrist inflammation -- he had 27 in 90 games when he left a game in mid-July after hurting his wrist during one of his typically hard swings, including 24 in his last 67. Though he played only two games the rest of the season, the injury he suffered isn't something that is going to linger after having surgery and also isn't enough to get him labeled as "injury-prone." I suspect fantasy owners will still grab him in the first half of the first round.
Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado Rockies - Here's where it gets hairy. When healthy, Tulowitzki is by far the best shortstop in fantasy baseball. The problem: he only played 101 games in 2008, 122 in 2010, 143 in 2011 and 47 this year. His latest issue was a groin strain that didn't improve enough before he was dispatched on a rehab assignment and eventually had to be repaired via arthroscopic surgery. It's difficult to see Tulowitzki going anywhere close to his 2012 ADP (Y! ADP: 5.4) next year. What good is having the best fantasy shortstop if he can't stay on the field?
Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds - A meniscus tear did something opposing pitchers couldn't: stop Joey Votto. Votto was so good when he was on the field that he still tied for seventh in the MLB in doubles and third in walks even though he only played 111 games. A surgically-repaired knee isn't something that will affect Votto next season, so look for owners to take him close to his 8.5 ADP from this year.
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Boston Red Sox - Here's our first big faller of the bunch. While owners will still have incentive to take Tulowitzki next year due to his position, there won't be the same temptation regarding Ellsbury after a 2012 season cut short by a sublaxed shoulder. Outfield is the easiest position to fill, with plenty of solid options becoming available during the season (just look at Josh Willingham, Jason Kubel and Alex Rios this season) even if you don't round those spots out during the draft. Plus, unlike the other players on this list, Ellsbury was terrible when he was on the field, hitting .271 with four homers, 26 RBIs, 14 steals and a .682 OPS in 74 games. He has missed big chunks of the season in two out of the last three years and will likely drop to the late second or third round in 2013 drafts.
Roy Halladay, SP, Philadelphia Phillies - Halladay was seemingly invincible in going 77-37 with a sub-3.00 ERA from 2008-11, but Doc made fantasy owners sick in 2012, missing a month and a half with a lat strain and underperforming otherwise. In 25 starts, Halladay went just 11-8 and his 4.49 ERA was his highest since he had a 10.64 ERA in 67 2/3 innings in 2000. There's no way he'll be taken third among pitchers again in 2013, and he may even fall out of the top 15.
Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Miami Marlins - Stanton has 50-homer (and 500-foot) power but he was plagued by a knee injury and an oblique strain this season. He still jacked 37 balls out of the park and drove in 86 runs in 123 games and will only be 23 when next season starts. That should be enough to push him higher than a 27.6 ADP next year.
10/04 16:54:44 ET