One of the most significant injuries of the young 2011 baseball season took place in Detroit on Tuesday afternoon, as outfielder and reigning American League MVP Josh Hamilton of the visiting Texas Rangers suffered a broken arm, likely sidelining him for six to eight weeks.
Clinical Notes - Josh Hamilton's Broken Arm
Tuesday April 12th, 2011
After driving in teammate Michael Young via a triple in the first inning of Wednesday's game, Hamilton attempted to score on a foul popout by cleanup hitter Adrian Beltre. The foul ball was pursued by both Detroit third baseman Brandon Inge and catcher Victor Martinez, leaving the plate temporarily unguarded and prompting Texas third base coach Dave Anderson to send Hamilton home via a tag-up. Martinez raced back to the plate and tagged out Hamilton, whose head-first slide led to the freaky injury.
According to the Associated Press, Hamilton's injury was revealed to be a "non-displaced fracture of the humerus bone" and will leave him unable to begin swinging a bat for approximately one month.
Texas general manager Jon Daniels defended Anderson's aggressive move in sending Hamilton, and the injury was somewhat ironic because Hamilton, who has some history with injuries, was slotted as the designated hitter on Wednesday to help alleviate some of the physical stresses of playing the outfield.
From a fantasy perspective, the loss of Hamilton could dig an early hole for owners who were counting on the slugger to carry their batting average and power categories for a full season, but his injury may open the door for other fantasy contributors. Outfielder David Murphy, who was mostly splitting duty in the outfield rotation in Texas, should get much more playing time in left field as a result of Hamilton's injury, and starting centerfielder Julio Borbon could also see some additional time.
Murphy, a left-handed hitter, often takes the bench against lefthanded pitching and has served mainly in a platoon role for Texas, but he's shown the ability to play every day and even managed a respectable .272 average against lefties in 2010 (along with a .298 mark versus righties). He also tallied 12 home runs, 65 RBI, 14 stolen bases, and a .291 overall batting average in 467 plate appearances last season, showing some fantasy value in all major categories. Murphy is already off to a solid start in 2011, and he'll likely benefit the most fantasy-wise from Hamilton's absence. He may still struggle against tough lefties from time to time, but David Murphy has the potential to be a five-category fill-in and should now be owned in most fantasy formats.
Borbon is the best defensive centerfielder on the Rangers and, with Hamilton out, will likely see less rest time than usual. Borbon stole 15 bases in 22 attempts in 2010, though those numbers were somewhat disappointing after his 19 steals in just 47 games back in 2009. Borbon brings little fantasy help beyond stolen bases, though his batting average is usually passable (he hit .276 last year). He should see a bit less bench time as a result of Hamilton's injury, but until he begins hitting better, his fantasy contributions are borderline.
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