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March 23, 2013

Fantasy Forecast: Ramirez injury will have major draft impact

In what will be sure to be counted as another strike against the still-fledgling World Baseball Classic, we had a major player struck by a significant injury in the tournament’s title game earlier this week.

Hanley Ramirez suffered a thumb injury in the Dominican Republic’s championship victory over Puerto Rico in San Francisco. After further examination, it was determined that Ramirez tore a ligament in the thumb and will need surgery and miss at least eight weeks.

Obviously, this is a big blow to the Los Angeles Dodgers — but it may be just as big a blow to fantasy owners.

Ramirez is still currently the second shortstop being taken off the board, going on average in the early third round with an average draft position of 28. It’s hard to now justify drafting the mercurial Ramirez in the top 30, given he’s probably not going to be back in the Dodgers’ lineup until at least June and possibly could miss even more time. Plus, it’s hard to believe that he’ll come back and start raking right off the bat.

Who knows what his conditioning will be when he returns? And who knows if he’ll be able to hit for power with that thumb injury?

If I were to recommend other options at shortstop, I’d look hard at Ian Desmond, who has an average draft position of 68.6 in standard Yahoo! leagues. Desmond hit .292 with 25 home runs, 73 RBI and 21 steals and 150 hits in a solid Nationals lineup.

Later in drafts (if you can take a hit in batting average), Asdrubal Cabrera of the Indians regressed some last year, but still hit 16 homers with 68 RBI. And he’s just a year removed from stealing 17 bases to go with 25 home runs and 92 RBI in 2011. He’s certainly worth considering, given his current average draft position of 99.5.

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