MLB stars want to stay healthy in ’23

Injuries are an unfortunate part of baseball, even for some of the game’s best players.

There are more than a few players who have the potential to have plaques in Cooperstown right now if they experience better health during their careers. Injuries have also plagued some of today’s top talent, including the bottom eight crop. All eight have found success at the Major League level, but have been held back by health issues that have prevented them from reaching their true potential.

However, there is renewed hope at the start of each season, and 2023 could be the year each of these players finds the health they need to get back on a path toward the top of the baseball mountain.

Ronald Acuna Jr., OF, Braves
While Acuña has brushed with superstardom during his first five years in the majors, there is a strong sense that he hasn’t quite reached his peak. The outfielder recorded 41 homers and 37 steals in 2019 at age 21, but his 5.1 bWAR remains a career high — something the No. 29 position player either matched or exceeded last year. Acuña was on pace to break that mark in 2021 by scoring a run at a rare 50/30 season, but he tore his ACL in July and hasn’t quite returned to his old self last year, posting a career-low 114 OPS+ produced 2.8 bWAR over 119 games. As he continues to recover from his knee surgery, the 25-year-old could have a big year in store.

Byron Buxton, OF, Twins
A full, healthy season with Buxton remains one of baseball’s great unknowns, though his eye-popping pace over the past three years — 51 homers, 14 steals and 8.9 BWAR per 162 games — provides some groundwork for what might happen. Lookalike The ultra-talented center fielder has been plagued by injuries throughout his career, playing more than 92 games in a season only once (140 in 2017). Last year, a right hip strain and right knee ailment, which required season-ending surgery, plagued his first All-Star campaign. Will Buxton ever keep it together? Who knows. But we can dream.

Vander Franco, SS, Ray
With impressive performances as a rookie and an 11-year, $182 million contract under his belt, last season was supposed to be the year Franco officially arrived as a megastar. And for about a month, everything went according to plan for MLB’s former No. 1 overall prospect. However, Franco slumped in May and made a pair of trips to the injured list due to a right quad strain and fractured hamate bone in his right wrist, missing a combined 74 games. His final numbers were… OK. 277 average, six homers and 117 OPS+ in 2023, his age-22 season will be expected to improve significantly.

Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Rays
Glasno have an electric arsenal, but have had limited opportunities to show it over the last four years. The 6-foot-8 righty was an AL Cy Young contender in 2019 and 2021, but he suffered arm problems both seasons, going down first with a right forearm strain and then with an elbow injury. was injured, requiring Tommy John surgery. Glasnow looked unfazed by the long layoff when he returned late last season, allowing one run with 15 K’s and two walks in 11 2/3 innings, including five shutout frames in Game 2 of the AL Wild Card Series . He averaged 97.3 mph with his four-seamer in those outings, slightly better than his 97.0 mph figure in 2021. The AL’s best 1-2 hitters are up their rotation, provided both pitchers stay on the mound.

Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox
Baseball’s No. 3-ranked prospect entering 2019, Jimenez is four years into his career, according to MLB Pipeline, but has yet to play a full season. The only year the right-handed slugger did not spend time on the injured list was a shortened 2020 campaign, and he missed more games than he had played in the previous two years, rupturing and rupturing his left pectoral tendon in 2021. hamstring tendon in the back of his right knee in 2022. When healthy, Jiménez showed immense power potential, posting a collective 123 OPS+ with an average of 36 homers and 108 RBI per 162 games. If he survives the IL in 2023, we could see the 26-year-old rank among the AL’s home run leaders.

Dustin May, RHP, Dodgers
May has already appeared in parts of four seasons (and two playoff runs) with the Dodgers, but has pitched fewer than 150 career innings since he had Tommy John surgery in 2021. , struggling with his control (4.2 BB/9) and posting a 4.50 ERA (94 ERA+) in 30 innings. However, it’s hard not to cringe at his stuff, especially his mix of shoddy curveballs and high-octane fastballs. Appeared to be on his way to a breakout season, posting a 2.74 ERA, a 13.7 K/9 and a 2.3 BB/9 in 5 starts before going down with an elbow injury in May 2021. The 25-year-old could prove to be an X-factor for the Dodgers club that lost several key players to free agency this offseason and remained without ace Walker Buehler (TJ surgery).

Louis Robert, OF, White Sox
Like his teammate Jimenez, Robert has missed a lot of time over the past two seasons, going down in 2021 with a right hip flexor strain and battling multiple ailments last year. Still just 25, he hasn’t faded away since his days as one of the top-ranked prospects in the game, when he was considered a potential superstar with tools across the board. While a career .289 average over 222 games with 36 homers, 26 steals and 122 OPS+ is nothing to sneeze at, he hasn’t lived up to expectations yet, but that could change in 2023.

Fernando Tatis Jr., SS/OF, Padres
Expectations were high for Tatis entering his age-23 campaign in 2022, but he ended up missing the entire season after fracturing his left wrist before Opening Day and testing positive for a banned substance during the summer. After that he was suspended. Tatis led the NL with 42 homers in 2021, twice finished in the top four in NL MVP voting and owns a lifetime 160 OPS+, but he never played more than 130 games in a season. Now in a new position after the Padres signed shortstop Xander Bogarts in December, Tatis has to prove he can hold the field, but there’s no denying that his ceiling is one of the highest in the game. Is.

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