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MLB Top 10s: Best of the injured? Tulo, Marlins phenom Fernandez

by | Baseball Writer
Jose Fernandez was on his way to a K/BB ratio of 5.38 before his Tommy John surgery. (Getty Images)
Jose Fernandez was on his way to a K/BB ratio of 5.38 before his Tommy John surgery. (Getty Images)
In the Eye On Baseball Top 10, here's what we do: rank players according to criteria. Those criteria change depending upon week and whim, but the Top 10 will always be informed by some angle or another, painfully contrived or otherwise.

And that brings us to this week's guiding query: Who are the best players currently on the disabled list?

Yes, it's 2014 -- the Year of the Injury (not really, perhaps, but anecdotally it seems that way), and grim recent news regarding core contributors like Garrett Richards and Manny Machado is still fresh in our minds. As such, we're here to name-check the best players who are laid up in sick bay as the stretch drive looms. Needless to say, there's much from which to choose.

Criteria? Besides presently being hurt, we're looking for players who would have produced the most value in 2014 had they been fully healthy. In a couple of cases, the injuries aren't major, so we're going largely off their work to date this season. In the cases of those players who have missed significant time, we're making some educated assumptions as to the kind of healthy seasons they would have enjoyed. As for position players, defense and base-running are very much part of the calculus.

Omissions? Hobbled names like Derrek Holland, Patrick Corbin, Homer Bailey, Matt Garza, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Joakim Soria, CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Sean Doolittle, Carlos Quentin, Prince Fielder, Chris Owings, George Springer, Adam Eaton, Shin-Soo Choo, Brett Lawrie, Michael Saunders, Shane Victorino, Jose Iglesias and others didn’t quite pass muster. It's a crowded, highly competitive field, after all.

And now let us recite baseball names for the dual purposes of SEO and making you angry. Feel free to brandish your incorrect opinions and make idle threats in the comments section.

Weapons-grade complaints and spleen-venting? By all means, reach out to the author at hotmail@hotmail.jpg.

1. Troy Tulowitzki, SS - Colorado Rockies
Fantasy Ranking by Position: 1
Jose Fernandez Excellence leavened by injury -- that's the almost annual refrain for Tulo. So it is in 2014. His season's over thanks to hip surgery, but before he went down, Tulo put up a line of .340/.432/.603 with 21 homers in 91 games. That's of course in addition to his top-shelf defense at short.
Key Stats: 315 AB, 21 HR, .340 AVG, 52 RBI, 71 R, 1 SB
2. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B - Arizona Diamondbacks
Yu Darvish Goldschmidt has overcome his early-career platoon issues and evolved into one of the best right-handed hitters in the game. He's batting .300/.396/.542 (158 OPS-plus) on the year, but a broken right hand has likely sidelined him for the remainder of 2014.
Key Stats: 406 AB, 19 HR, .300 AVG, 69 RBI, 75 R, 9 SB
3. Yadier Molina, C - St. Louis Cardinals
Fantasy Ranking by Position: 31
Matt Harvey The Cardinals' catcher and philosopher-king is of course very much missed thanks to torn thumb ligaments. Not only is he the best all-around defensive catcher in baseball, but he's also a useful hitter these days. This season, he owns a line of .287/.341/.409, while the average catcher is batting .247/.312/.382.
Key Stats: 303 AB, 7 HR, .287 AVG, 30 RBI, 30 R, 1 SB
4. Joey Votto, 1B - Cincinnati Reds
Fantasy Ranking by Position: 13
Masahiro Tanaka One of the best on-base threats in baseball, Votto has endured two DL stints because of quad problems. The customary power hasn't been there, but he?s still running a .390 OBP and 126 OPS-plus.
Key Stats: 220 AB, 6 HR, .255 AVG, 23 RBI, 32 R, 1 SB
5. Manny Machado, 3B - Baltimore Orioles
Fantasy Ranking by Position: 13
Anibal Sanchez Another season, another knee surgery. Machado when healthy is perhaps the best defender in baseball today, and at the time of his most recent injury he was strongly trending upward with the bat. Alas, it remains to be seen what kind of health the 22-year-old can muster going forward.
Key Stats: 327 AB, 12 HR, .278 AVG, 32 RBI, 38 R, 2 SB
6. Yan Gomes, C - Cleveland Indians
Fantasy Ranking by Position: 8
Garrett Richards Gomes has developed nicely behind and at the plate. He's presently sidelined because of post-concussion symptoms, but here's hoping his absence is brief. On the season, he's batting .284/.324/.477 with 17 homers in 109 games. He produced at a similar clip in 2013.
Key Stats: 384 AB, 17 HR, .284 AVG, 53 RBI, 52 R, 0 SB
7. Ryan Zimmerman, LF - Washington Nationals
Fantasy Ranking by Position: 45
Kris Medlen Here are Zimmerman's career per-162-games numbers over the course of his career: .286/.352/.476 (121 OPS-plus), 25 homers, 40 doubles. He's not the defensive wiz he once was, but he's been a remarkably consistent hitter when healthy. This season, though, he's played only 53 games.
Key Stats: 195 AB, 5 HR, .282 AVG, 36 RBI, 24 R, 0 SB
8. Matt Wieters, C - Baltimore Orioles
Michael Wacha That Wieters was pegged for stardom from the moment he was drafted has caused many to overlook that he's been a useful player for a long time. He was off to an outstanding start to 2014, his age-28 season, before his elbow gave out. Perhaps that long-awaited big season will happen in 2015.
Key Stats: 104 AB, 5 HR, .308 AVG, 18 RBI, 13 R, 0 SB
9. Carlos Gonzalez, LF - Colorado Rockies
Fantasy Ranking by Position: 20
Matt Moore CarGo's numbers disappointed this year before knee problems ended his 2014. A lingering finger problem also likely hurt his performance earlier in the season. That said, the two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner owns a career OPS-plus of 122, and he's also a plus base-runner. When healthy, of course.
Key Stats: 260 AB, 11 HR, .238 AVG, 38 RBI, 35 R, 3 SB
10. Brandon Belt, 1B - San Francisco Giants
Fantasy Ranking by Position: 35
Cliff Lee Belt owns a 125 OPS-plus across parts of four big-league seasons, but in 2014 he's been limited to only 51 games because of a broken thumb and then back-to-back concussions. His absence has hurt the Giants' offense in a big way.
Key Stats: 186 AB, 11 HR, .237 AVG, 24 RBI, 25 R, 3 SB
1. Jose Fernandez, SP - Miami Marlins
Jose Fernandez To the chagrin of all who enjoy great pitching, Fernandez underwent Tommy John surgery this season. The 22-year-old with the blazing fastball and the wipeout curve (in addition to other plus offerings) owns a career ERA of 2.25 after 36 starts. This season, he was on his way to a K/BB ratio of 5.38.
Key Stats: 51.2 IP, 4-2 W-L, 0 SV, 2.44 ERA, 70 Ks, 13 BB
2. Yu Darvish, SP - Texas Rangers
Fantasy Ranking by Position: 111
Yu Darvish Darvish, who's presently laid up with elbow inflammation, is perhaps the elite bat-misser in the game. After parts of three seasons in the bigs, Darvish has struck out more than 30 percent of the batters he's faced. He's also pitched to a 3.27 ERA despite calling Arlington home.
Key Stats: 144.1 IP, 10-7 W-L, 0 SV, 3.06 ERA, 182 Ks, 49 BB
3. Matt Harvey, SP - New York Mets
Matt Harvey Harvey hasn't pitched in 2014 because of Tommy John surgery in October of 2013. He's 25, and over 36 career starts he owns an ERA of 2.39 (153 ERA-plus) and a K/BB ratio of 4.58. A high finish in the NL Cy Young balloting seems like a reasonable assumption for a healthy Harvey in 2015.
Key Stats: 0.0 IP, 0-0 W-L, 0 SV, 0.0 ERA, 0 Ks, 0 BB
4. Masahiro Tanaka, SP - New York Yankees
Fantasy Ranking by Position: 40
Masahiro Tanaka This season's marquee pitching import lived up to the press clippings and then some: 2.51 ERA, 153 ERA-plus, 7.11 K/BB ratio after 18 starts. The splitter is a true wipeout pitch, and Tanaka, if healthy, is a true ace. On the other hand, he has a partially torn UCL ...
Key Stats: 129.1 IP, 12-4 W-L, 0 SV, 2.51 ERA, 135 Ks, 19 BB
5. Anibal Sanchez, SP - Detroit Tigers
Fantasy Ranking by Position: 42
Anibal Sanchez The under-appreciated Sanchez has pitched to a 3.09 ERA since being acquired by Detroit, and in 2013 he paced the AL in ERA and ERA-plus. He's having another fine season in 2014, but he hasn't pitched since Aug. 8 because of a strained pec muscle.
Key Stats: 125.0 IP, 8-5 W-L, 0 SV, 3.46 ERA, 102 Ks, 30 BB
6. Garrett Richards, SP - Los Angeles Angels
Garrett Richards We know what happened with Richards: out for the next 6-9 months after undergoing knee surgery. Prior to the knee injury, he was having one heck of a breakout season. Armed with improved velocity and nasty stuff, Richards ends his 2014 season with a 2.61 ERA and only five home runs allowed in 168 2/3 innings.
Key Stats: 168.2 IP, 13-4 W-L, 0 SV, 2.61 ERA, 164 Ks, 51 BB
7. Kris Medlen, SP - Atlanta Braves
Kris Medlen Medlen stands as the best of many Atlanta pitchers lost to injury. Lost to a second Tommy John procedure in March, Medlen entered his lost 2014 with a career 132 ERA-plus and an ERA of 2.96 as a starter. One hopes he'll be able to rediscover those skills.
Key Stats: 0.0 IP, 0-0 W-L, 0 SV, 0.0 ERA, 0 Ks, 0 BB
8. Michael Wacha, SP - St. Louis Cardinals
Fantasy Ranking by Position: 68
Michael Wacha Wacha, buoyed by an unconventional approach, caught everyone's attention down the stretch last season and in the playoffs. He was off to an excellent "sophomore" campaign in 2014 (2.79 ERA in 15 starts) before shoulder woes shut him down in June. He could still contribute in September, though.
Key Stats: 90.1 IP, 5-5 W-L, 0 SV, 2.79 ERA, 83 Ks, 26 BB
9. Matt Moore, SP - Tampa Bay Rays
Matt Moore Let's not forget that Moore was generally more ballyhooed than his fellow 2012 rookies Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. Moore's command has been spotty, but the shutdown stuff is as advertised. Coming off a 2013 season that saw him finish ninth in the AL Cy Young balloting, Moore lasted just two starts this year before undergoing Tommy John.
Key Stats: 10.0 IP, 0-2 W-L, 0 SV, 2.7 ERA, 6 Ks, 5 BB
10. Cliff Lee, SP - Philadelphia Phillies
Cliff Lee One of the great command specialists of this or any era, Lee has since his Cy Young campaign of 2008 notched an ERA of 2.93 and a K/BB ratio of 6.10. He?d been largely free from arm trouble until this year.
Key Stats: 81.1 IP, 4-5 W-L, 0 SV, 3.65 ERA, 72 Ks, 12 BB

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