Cleveland Indians, Fantasy Baseball

Francisco Lindor injury hurts Indians, fantasy owners

Francisco Lindor is expected to miss extended time with a calf issue, so what should the Cleveland Indians and fantasy baseball owners do now?

With spring training approaching, the Cleveland Indians have been dealt a significant blow. According to Zack Meisel of The Athletic, shortstop Francisco Lindor suffered a strained calf while working out recently and is expected to miss 7-9 weeks.

The timing of the injury, as much as something positive can be found in it, could be a lot worse. Lindor will not be able to participate in spring training under that timetable, but he shouldn’t miss many regular season games. The nature of the injury invites aggravation though, and it could become a lingering issue if Lindor is not fully recovered.

Lindor has become an indispensable player for the Indians, playing at least 158 games in each of the last three seasons. He has hit 71 home runs over the last two seasons (33 in 2017, 38 last year), while playing shortstop at a high level. In 2018, he finished fourth among American League position players in WAR (7.9, Baseball Reference version).

There’s no replacing Lindor, even for a few games, but the Indians will now have to see what’s available. Jose Iglesias and Adeiny Hechavarria are two sort of name-brand options who can be signed to fill in, and Michael Martinez spent parts of three seasons (2015-2017) as a utility player for the Indians before apparently being out of baseball last year.

Lindor has also become an elite fantasy shortstop over the last couple years, with a 30-20 campaign in 2018 (25 stolen bases) to go with a league-leading 129 runs scored. His consensus average draft position sits at No. 4 overall right now (via Fantasy Pros). At minimum without a full spring training before Opening Day, Lindor is now a risky pick and it’ll be interesting to see how that ADP is affected in the coming weeks.

From a certain perspective, even though a repeat of last year has been difficult to foresee even if he was healthy right now, Lindor could now become a relative value in fantasy drafts and auctions. It’s not like he’ll suddenly be a fifth-round pick, as long as his outlook remains on track, but a missed game or two in April is not a great detriment to anyone’s fantasy value. Missing games in early April could easily come strictly by playing home games in Cleveland, where bad weather can be a factor.

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All in all, as long as his early timetable holds, the Indians and fantasy baseball owners shouldn’t be without Lindor completely for all that long. But a slow start at the plate seems likely, and that would hurt both his team and his fantasy owners.

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