Winker or Ozuna: Who will shoulder the load?

Whether it’s a pitcher or a hitter, shoulder injuries are some of the most frustrating to deal with in fantasy baseball. Velocity drops, power limitations, and intermittent DL stints… ooh the horror! Today I’m going to talk about two outfielders coming off of shoulder surgeries for whom my outlook is very different. I am not a medical expert; my recommendation for Jesse Winker and Marcel Ozuna is very much ADP driven.

Marcell Ozuna OF St. Louis Cardinals
Fantrax ADP: 78th Overall and 19th OF

I suspect that Ozuna’s ADP could be much higher depending on the site you use. Yahoo, for example, has him pre-ranked in the top 60. Now, before we dive into the numbers I think my general philosophy concerning injured players is relevant to share. Why draft a player, coming off injury, who isn’t getting an injury discount? It applies to why I don’t love Bregman at the end of Round 1, why Carlos Correa is a reach in the top 50, etc.., So, you can love the player and the skills, but I think it’s unwise to be in the habit of paying retail prices for players who only generate real value at their ADP if it is slightly faded because of their injury designation.

Marcell Ozuna’s first year in St. Louis was fine. He battled nagging shoulder injuries all season and had offseason surgery. The Cardinals claim he will be ready for opening day, however his Spring Training will include a limited throwing program.

The 2017 Marlins version of Marcell Ozuna was an absolute monster. He jettisoned up draft boards last season after posting a 144 wRC+ buoyed by 37 HR and 124 RBI. However, his ISO dropped from .237 to a minuscule .153 in 2018. His walk rate fell from 9.4% to 6.1%, but he also cut his strikeouts to 17.5% from 21.2%. His hitting profile completely changed in 2018, which certainly can and will be attributed to his shoulder injury. However, I think this can be predictive. He played through the season, missing time here and there, and is still not quite 100% coming into 2019. If Ozuna repeats his 2018, he’s not a Top 100 draft day value.

If you dig deeper, there are certainly some positives in Ozuna’s profile. He maintained his GB and FB percentages, while increasing his Hard Contact % to a career high. The key though is the HR/FB rate. The magical 2017 campaign included a Javier Baez like 23.4%. Projection systems and other season averages put him closer to 14%. Therefore, this is a 25 HR player with plate skills that are not elite being drafted as if he’s completely healthy. I believe in the talent and I like the lineup, but Marcell Ozuna has very limited upside in my view and a ton of downside.

  • My Advice

Don’t panic for your OF2 spot. I wrote about Conforto and Nimmo as OF 2 and 3 options last week. There are a number of other outfielders, such as Aaron Hicks, Eddie Rosario, David Dahl, and Joey Gallo, that I like more than Ozuna who are going 3 rounds later in some cases. My issue with Ozuna is about context. Wait for players with a more valuable ADP that are not coming off a shoulder surgery and I think you’ll profit more so than taking Ozuna in the top 75. And, if you are going to take a player coming off of shoulder surgery… read on for another man crush of mine.

Jesse Winker OF Cincinnati Reds
Fantrax ADP: 217th Overall and 49th OF

If you love something, set it free? I assume that’s what all of you are doing, and it explains why Jesse Winker is going after pick 200 in 2019 drafts. Do you even know what love is? Jesse Winker is the kind of player profile I love in fantasy baseball.

First, the shoulder injury. Winker had been dealing with his shoulder injury for the past 3+ years , which actually coincides with a power floor in the minors. If Winker put up the numbers he did while injured, imagine what he could be if he’s finally healthy in 2019? I’m just going to say it. This is Joey Votto folks. His plate skills are elite and the power could arrive as soon as this year. This is a case where I’m actually encouraged that the injury was addressed and Winker can now put this behind him. And, if it’s not, he’s going AFTER PICK 200!

The 25 year old outfielder walked more than he struck out in 2018. 14.7% to 13.8%. With just a .132 ISO, Winker still managed a 128 wRC+. Winker’s profile could lead to .280/.370/.430 as a floor. However, a healthy shoulder in a hitter friendly ballpark could lead to .300/.400/.500. Winker had an abysmal 8.9% HR/FB rate last season which should normalize closer to 13% in 2019. Many projection systems are calling for 16 HR from Winker in fewer than 600 plate appearances, and I think there is certainly room to grow within that range. Winker’s batted ball skills are just ridiculous. He had an 11% soft contact, over 40% Hard Contact, and a 24% Line Drive rate in 2018. He actually would be better off in fantasy if more of his line drives turned into a fly balls, more of which should be sailing over the fence in 2019. Check this out:

Batting Average On Base% HR/FB% FB% LD% Soft% Hard % BB% K%
Joey Votto 2017 .329 .454 19.7% 38% 23% 10.4% 36.3% 19% 11.7%
Jesse Winker 2018 .299 .405 8.9% 33.9% 24% 11.8% 43.9% 14.7% 13.8%

2017 is peak Joey Votto. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take Votto’s line there, but I think this illustrates how unique Winker’s skill set truly is. If he continues to gain power, as 25 year old’s do, not to mention the impact of a healthy shoulder – more fly balls will translate into a monster fantasy season.

  • My Advice

Winker’s ADP is influenced by a lack of season long stats as well as playing time concerns. But at this price, you need to draft the skills. The Reds know a Joey Votto when they see one. I do not see Matt Kemp and Scott Schebler blocking Jesse Winker’s plate skills over the course of an entire season. Will he lose 50 at bats? It’s very possible, but I don’t think it matters.

In a points or OBP format, I’m taking Winker as a starting caliber hitter. OF3 or utility, I’m looking at Winker any time after pick 160. In standard formats, Winker should be viewed as a high upside play in the later rounds, just like Brandon NImmo who I chronicled last week. He has no stolen base upside, but don’t sleep on this lineup. If you are able to get Winker as your last bench bat, you should be ecstatic. Two words: Joey Votto.


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Colin Dinsmore

Written by 

Avid Fantasy Baseball player, Yankees fan, amateur gambler, dog-lover. @AssemblyColin

2 thoughts on “Winker or Ozuna: Who will shoulder the load?”

    1. I don’t think his value changes too much in that context, but any league that rewards walks (yours does twice) his value increases by a few rounds. In an OBP league, I think he jumps up to about Round 10 so maybe Round 12-13 in your context. That format really depresses the value of pure speed guys for example

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