2018 Injury Outlooks – Corey Seager; J.D. Martinez
Corey Seager’s elbow condition seems to have gone relatively unnoticed. But in late February, Dave Roberts gave us some very troubling insight into the injury that should have been more concerning. As first reported by Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register, Roberts said that Seager is still limited in the “volume and distance” of his throwing.
What the Injury & Robert’s Comments Mean to You
When a player returns from an elbow injury (UCL sprain), they follow a very regimented throwing program. The program includes many smaller levels of throwing: first from shorter distances, then longer distances, then throwing more times, and later from a mound (if they are a pitcher), etc. A player ‘passes’ from one level of the program to next only if they complete the protocol without pain during the session or soreness within 36 hours. What Roberts said translates to the fact that Seager wasn’t able to pass to the next level because he was either throwing too far or too much, which caused pain or delayed soreness. Not good, not good at all. This very likely means his UCL is likely still injured to some degree.
I understand that he will begin spring training games shortly, but that doesn’t change the integrity of his UCL/elbow. This is still a problem.
When repairing an ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), surgeons often comment on how beat up the torn ligament is. Typically, it would be about as thick as a pencil and very firm, but after an injury, it is only about 50% as dense and frayed everywhere. The surgery rarely repairs the ligament. Instead, it is replaced entirely because of the breakdown mentioned above.
The Bad News about Seager in 2018
Seager enters the season as a very high injury risk, after having an entire offseason to let his elbow rest and heal. While he could play most of the season, I would guess that the loaded Dodgers will take a conservative approach and give Seager at least 1-2 DL stints (a la Kenta Maeda in 2017). The worst outcome is what we saw with Gleyber Torres last season: he attempts to play through the problem, the ligament tears, and bye-bye Seager for 14 months.
The Bottom Line
Estimated Recovery: Opening day, with multiple DL stints very likely.
Fantasy Diagnosis, 2018: 525 PA, .290, 22 HR, 76 R, 75 RBI, 3 SB.
Dynasty Prescription: Hold. Seager is just 23 and will give you a decade of great value.
Martinez finally signed with Boston, but you may recall that awkward week of silence before the contract became official. Details of the deal now include an opt-out after years two, three and four in exchange for medical protection for the Boston Red Sox, presumably related to the mid-foot injury Martinez suffered in early 2017.
What does the injury mean to you?
Admittedly, the dance between the Red Sox and JDM has been awkward from the beginning, but more than likely during the physical one of two things happened. JDM’s foot examination yielded a mid-foot that “wiggled” more than it should (i.e., there is some lingering mild instability) or when they tried to wiggle it, JDM still had some pain.
What’s the Mid-foot and why anyone cares about it
The mid-foot, or lisfranc joint (pictured above) if you want to sound a bit medical, is the middle part of your foot where strong ligaments connect adjacent bones. When these ligaments are damaged, generally they aren’t as tight as before, leading to instability. The mid-foot endures significant stress each time sudden acceleration occurs. Mid-foot instability kills quickness, acceleration, and agility- all important attributes of a ballplayer.
Did I mention that JDM has played more than 140 games in a season exactly once? He’s played just over 120 games three times. Not the picture of health you want at pick 23 in this year’s draft, in my opinion.
The Good & Bad News
JDM gets to play DH most of the time Boston, limiting his exposure to injury. But if the findings were significant enough to modify the contract to include three opt-outs & medical protection, I believe caution is warranted.
The Bottom Line
JDM is still an elite source of power, but 150 games in a season is a tall order for him. Given the signing delay, this could be a trap.
Estimated Recovery: Opening Day
Fantasy Diagnosis, 2018: 550 PA, .300, 33 HR, 78 R, 89 RBI, 2 SB
Dynasty Prescription: Sell-High if you’re impatient or Hold if you’re not, but this is a player that likely has 1-2 DL stints each year.
Dr. Mike Tanner