Should Fantasy Owners Worry About Jonathan Lucroy?

There are few things in fantasy baseball worse than a hamstring injury, the worst words obviously being “Dr. James Andrews.” Hamstring injuries are very tricky, and even if the actual injury takes only four to six weeks to heal properly, it can still can act up for up to a month after that point. Seeing Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy pull up lame with a hamstring injury leaves some fantasy owners with confliction. On one hand, it is not a serious injury, and he will be back in plenty of time; on the other hand, he plays a position that could cause that hammy to act up again. So, the question is how seriously fantasy owners should take this injury.

Lucroy had a fantastic 2014 season being the most valuable fantasy catcher in baseball. Lucroy showed improvements in all the right areas such as limiting the swings outside the zone from his career 31.3% to 27.8%. Yes, it looks like a small change, but that does add up. Limiting these swings brought his walk rate up to 10.1% and reduced his strikeout rate to a very acceptable 10.8%. He also had an almost even K/BB rate, which is very impressive.

While the power was down from his 2013 season, 13 homeruns is still very acceptable, and so are the 69 RBI’s, though fantasy owners would like to have seen that higher for a guy who bats in the middle of the order. The best part about Lucroy is that many of the stats he improved on have been trending positively for the last few years, hinting that what he did last year has a high chance of happening again. The bottom line is that Lucroy was such a nice bonus to anyone that took him in the fourth round that he paid back his owners quite well.

This injury to Lucroy has caused some problems for fantasy owners looking to draft him. While this does not drop him in the rankings very much, Lucroy does drop to maybe second or third best in the draft since owners need to keep that injury in mind. Lucroy would normally cost an owner roughly a third-round pick. Mock drafts do not yet fully get a feel for that, but the injury makes him drop to a late fourth-round pick. The bottom line here is that when it comes to the draft, if an owner liked Lucroy before the draft, this injury does not really change much, and owners should just draft him as normal  although a backup catcher could be a wise investment -- or at least one that is eligible for both first base and catcher just in case.

Owners should draft Lucroy like normal with little concern as to why there is even an article about it. Really, it is the nature of the injury that owners should be cautious of and what affect it could have on his play throughout the season. Hanley Ramirez was well-known by owners for his on-again, off-again relationship with hamstring issues in 2014 that benched him for almost two months' worth of total games.

Hamstring injuries are tricky and linger for up to a month after the rehab. In fact, reports and articles from players who have suffered from a bad hamstring injury say that sometimes it just never feels right again. Luckily, Lucroy’s injury seems to be a mild strain and should not affect him much during the season. If any owners feel like taking Lucroy, it would definitely be a wise idea to grab a stable backup that, if all goes well, can either keep or use at bait to trade to another team that needs a good catcher.

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