Injuries are an unfortunate part of baseball, even for some of its best players.
There are plenty of players right now who could leave plaques in Cooperstown if they’d experienced better health over the course of their careers. Injuries have also taken their toll on some of today’s top talent, including the following eight. All eight have had success at the major league level, but have all been held back by health issues that have prevented them from reaching their true potential.
However, hopes are reinvigorated at the start of each season, and 2023 could be the year that each of these players finds the necessary health to return to the top of baseball.
Ronald Coinage Jr., OF, Warriors
While Acuña has brushed shoulders with superstardom in his first five years in the majors, there’s a strong sense he hasn’t reached his prime. The 21-year-old outfielder did hit 41 homers and 37 steals in 2019, but his 5.1 bWAR is still a career high — the 29th-ranked player either met or surpassed last year alone. Acuña broke that record in a rare 50/30 season in 2021, but he tore his ACL in July and hasn’t quite returned to last year’s form, posting a career-low 114 OPS + 2.8 bWAR over 119 games. As he moves further away from knee surgery, the 25-year-old could be in for a bumper year.
Byron Buxton, OF, Twins
What Buxton can accomplish in a full, healthy season remains one of baseball’s biggest unknowns, despite his incredible pace — 51 home runs, 14 runs per 162 games — over the past three years. Steals and 8.9 bWAR — provides some groundwork for what he might look like. The talented center fielder has been plagued by injuries throughout his career and has only once played more than 92 games in a season (140 in 2017). Last year, a right hip strain and right knee disease required season-ending surgery, which overshadowed his first All-Star break. Will Buxton put it all together? who knows. But we can dream.
Wander Franco, SS, Rays
With a stellar performance as a rookie and an 11-year, $182 million contract, last season should have been the year Franco officially became a superstar. For about a month, everything went according to plan for MLB’s former No. 1 prospect. However, Franco slumped in May and was placed on the injured list twice, missing a total of 74 games due to a strained right quadriceps muscle and a fractured hamate in his right wrist. His final numbers are…well. But expect his 2023 season averages of .
Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Rays
Glasnow has an electric arsenal, but he’s had limited opportunities to show it off over the past four years. The 6-foot-8 right-hander is a 2019 and 2021 AL Cy Young contender, but he has had arm issues in both seasons, first with a right forearm strain and then an elbow injury, Needed Tommy John surgery. Glasnow looked unfazed by the long hiatus when he returned late last season, allowing one run and two walks for 15Ks in 11 2/3 innings, including in Game 2 of the AL wild-card series vs. The Guardians have been eliminated five times in the game. His four-seamer averaged 97.3 mph in those races, up slightly from 2021’s 97.0 mph. With Glasnow going all out, and Shane McClanahan finishing sixth in AL Cy Young voting, the Rays could get the AL in their 2019-20 season if both pitchers stay on the mound. Best 1-2 punches in rotation.
Eloy Jiménez, OF, White Sox
According to MLB Pipeline, Jiménez entered 2019 as the third-ranked rookie in baseball and has four years into his career but has yet to play a full season. The only year the right-handed slugger isn’t on the injured list is a shortened 2020 season in which he missed more games than he’s played in the past two years, with a ruptured left pectoral tendon in 2021 and a torn left pectoral tendon in 2022. Hamstring tendon behind right knee. When healthy, Jimenez has shown prolific power potential, averaging 36 home runs and 108 RBIs per 162 games while posting a total of 123 OPS+. If he avoids the IL in 2023, we could see the 26-year-old join the ranks of the AL’s home run leaders.
Dustin May, RHP, Dodgers
May has appeared in four seasons (and two postseasons) with the Dodgers, but has pitched fewer than 150 career innings, in part due to the Tommy John surgery he underwent in 2021. The lanky right-hander has pitched sub-par since returning last year, 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 be drawn to his stuff, especially his combination of annoying curveball and high-intensity fastball. Before going down with an elbow injury in 2021, May appeared to be on the verge of a breakout season with a 2.74 ERA, 13.7 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in five starts. The 25-year-old could be the X-factor for the Dodgers, a club that lost multiple key players to free agency this offseason and remains without ace right hand Walker Beale (TJ surgery).
Louis Robert, OF, White Sox
Like his teammate Jimenez, Robert has missed considerable time the past two seasons, suffered a strained right hip flexor in 2021 and battled multiple ailments last year. Still only 25, he’s not far off from becoming one of the game’s top-ranked forwards when he was considered a potential superstar with all-around tools. While his career average of . 289 in 222 games with 36 home runs, 26 steals and 122 OPS+ should not be underestimated, he hasn’t quite lived up to expectations so far, but this situation May change in 2023.
Fernando Tatis Jr., SS/OF, Parents
Expectations were understandably high for Tatis entering his 23-year-old season in 2022, but he ended up missing the entire season as he fractured his left wrist before Opening Day and was released after testing positive for a banned substance over the summer. suspension. Tatis leads the NL with 42 homers in 2021, finished in the top four in NL MVP voting twice and has a 160 OPS+ lifetime score, but he has never played more than 130 games in a season. After the Padres signed stopper Xander Bogaerts in December, Tatis is now in a new position where he has to prove he can stay on the field, but his ceiling is undeniably the highest in the game.