Instant Fantasy Baseball Reaction: Ian Desmond could have ripple effect on Rockies lineup

This too shall pass.

Rockies first baseman Ian Desmond broke his hand Sunday. Nobody likes to see that.

But as spring training injuries go, it’s only of the three-star variety. Sure, its impact will be felt into the regular season, and so downgrading him in the preseason rankings is entirely warranted. But come midseason, chances are we’ll all have forgotten it even happened.

We’re three weeks away from opening day. The Denver Post has confirmed that Desmond will need surgery on his hand, but the same procedure sidelined Kevin Kiermaier for seven weeks last season. Add another week for a rehab assignment, and that puts him coming back, what, mid-May?

Shoot, most of us are still trying to figure out what we have at that point. The contenders haven’t separated themselves from the pretenders yet. If you’re without Desmond until then, it’ll hurt. But you’ll have plenty of time to bounce back still, and he’ll likely have a big hand in that.

Ian Desmond 1B / Colorado (2016 season)
BA: .285 HR: 22 RBI: 86 R: 107 SB: 21

Of course, if you haven’t drafted yet (and most likely you haven’t), going without Desmond for one-fourth of the season may not even hurt so much because you’ll be getting him at a discount. Simply by virtue of him suffering the most significant injury among high-end players so far, he’ll be radioactive on Draft Day, perhaps even slipping beyond the Dexter Fowler-Adam Eaton range of outfielders. The average Fantasy owners tends to overreact rather than underreact to these sorts of injuries, and while investing in too many of them leaves you with little margin for error, again, this is the first such injury to a player of Desmond’s caliber. Overexposure isn’t a real concern right now.

The most high-end player to suffer an injury of this severity prior to Desmond was actually his teammate, David Dahl, who’s sidelined with a stress reaction in his rib. The concern for him wasn’t as much the injury, though, as the lost opportunity. Dahl, despite his top prospect pedigree and stellar rookie showing, technically had to beat out veteran Gerardo Parra for a starting job this spring. And seeing as we’re still a week from even an update on his status, he may not have enough time to do that.

David Dahl LF / Colorado (2016 season)
BA: .315 HR: 7 SB: 5 OPS: .859 AB: 222

But couldn’t he make it back before Desmond?

I don’t know for sure because the Rockies haven’t provided a timetable for Dahl, and the injury doesn’t have the predictability of a broken bone. But an encouraging update a week from now could have him suiting up for games late this spring, and while beating out Parra may have proven too tall of a task in that length of time, now he’s competing against, who, Mark Reynolds?

“Mark was a big part of this team last year. He makes a lot of sense,” manager Bud Black told the Denver Post.

Mark Reynolds 1B / Colorado (2016 season)
BA: .282 HR: 14 OPS: .806 AB: 393 K: 112

Yeah, he was OK last year, using Coors Field’s BABIP-inflating environment to rebrand himself as a more balanced hitter and not the all-or-nothing type he was for most of his career. But the Rockies only signed him to a minor-league deal. He wasn’t supposed to be a big part of their present, much less their future. Dahl was supposed to be both.

If nothing else, I think it’s safe to assume Parra has a starting job. The Rockies owe him big money over the next two years, and Dahl’s injury already gave them the perfect excuse to play him. Desmond’s injury gives them no excuse not to play him, especially since he got all those starts at first base down the stretch last year. He makes a lot of contact and could theoretically become an extra-base machine in Colorado, but after falling short in his first attempt last year, he’s only on the periphery of the mixed-league discussion.

Gerardo Parra LF / Colorado (2016 season)
BA: .253 HR: 7 SB: 6 OPS: .671 AB: 368

Then, there’s Dahl. I’m not even saying he has to be ready for the start of the season to capitalize on Desmond’s injury, just by the start of May. He was looking like he may already be another Charlie Blackmon-type player, so if the Rockies are serious about contending this year, they’ll want to activate him as soon as they can. It’ll be all the easier if they still have a Desmond-sized hole in their lineup.

Desmond I’m still drafting the higher of the two. A little more predictability there, both in terms of timetable and player performance. The .350 BABIP that seemed unsustainable in Texas last year is par for the course in Colorado, and it was good enough to make him the seventh-best outfielder (since he’s not first base-eligible yet) in both Rotisserie and Head-to-Head points leagues last year.

Reynolds enters the NL-only discussion again, but I wouldn’t endorse him beyond that. Prospect Raimel Tapia, who hit .328 with an .819 OPS between Double- and Triple-A before a late-season stint in the big leagues last year, also deserves a mention here in case Dahl’s injury proves to be more serious than expected, but the Rockies won’t rush him if they know they have Dahl waiting in the wings.

Bottom line, though, is that Desmond’s injury, as weird as it sounds, may end up being more good news than bad if your league hasn’t drafted yet for 2017. Not only do you have a chance to grab Desmond at a discount, but you can also select an already-discounted Dahl with a little more conviction.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Raised in Atlanta by a board game-loving family during the dawn of the '90s Braves dynasty, Scott White was easy prey for the Fantasy Sports, in particular Fantasy Baseball, and has devoted his adulthood... Full Bio

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