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MLB 2022 Injury Questions Part 1: Which Former MVP is Set For a Bounce-Back Season?

Sports Injury Central
Championship Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Atlanta Braves - Game Six
Championship Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Atlanta Braves - Game Six / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Pro Football Doc is the FanDuel Official Injury Expert - Check out his home at Sports Injury Central (SIC) where his team analyzes all of the injury news from the MLB, NBA, NFL and more to assist you with your betting and fantasy sports plays.

Below is a preview of key fantasy baseball relevant injuries heading into the 2022 season.

Mookie Betts

The 2018 AL MVP dealt with a concerning hip injury last season and finished with career lows in batting average, RBIs and defensive WAR. 

Mookie Betts hit .264 with 23 home runs in 122 games. His season was disrupted by trips to the IL in July and August dealing with hip inflammation and a bone spur. 

The five-time All-Star right fielder returned on August 26, but hit .239 with 4 homeruns and 18 strikeouts in the season’s final month.

Betts’ absences seemed to come at the exact wrong time as he was hitting .370 with 4 homeruns in July before hitting the IL on July 20.

Unfortunately for Betts and the Los Angeles Dodgers, bone spurs don’t go away without surgery and he told reporters at the end of last season that he did not plan to undergo offseason surgery.

While the 29-year-old has said recently that his hip feels back to normal and he didn’t require any MRIs upon entering camp, he’s still in danger of a flare up. In fact, the ProBaseballDocs believe he would be lucky to avoid at least one flare up during the season.

Betts was also moved to second base for seven games last season to help manage the hip discomfort. That is a very real option this season as well and he likely won’t play in some double headers to limit the “wear and tear” on his hip, according to the ProBaseballDocs.

That could make it tough for the four-time Silver Slugger and five-time Golden Glove winner to return to MVP form this season.

He had a fantastic season in 2020 - his first with the Dodgers - and finished hitting .292 with 16 home runs, 39 RBIs and 10 stolen bases in the COVID-shortened 60-game season.

Betts can still return to that form, but it may be tough if his year is disrupted by hip discomfort caused by the bone spurs.

He made his Spring Training debut Thursday after it was pushed back because of a stomach illness. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters recently that Betts is “full-go” this spring, but they’ll be cautious with him to start.

Christian Yelich

The 2018 NL MVP has been arguably the biggest bust of fantasy baseball drafts the last two seasons. After being drafted in the first round of virtually every fantasy draft the last two seasons, Christian Yelich has hit .234 with 21 home runs combined in 175 games. 

Last season, a back injury sent him to the IL twice early in the season. He missed 19 games starting April 12. His MRI came back clean on April 25 and he returned for one game on May 3, but went back on the IL until May 18 with the lower back problem.

Yelich and manager Craig Counsell told reporters last year that the star outfielder was frustrated with the back ailment and had felt good enough in his rehab stint but just needed extra time to rest it. 

The hope this season is Yelich has done the offseason rehab and strengthening work to put the back issue behind him for this season.

Yelich hit his stride in August last season with a .313 batting average, but that dipped to .221 in September and his power numbers were down all season. 

After hitting 12 home runs in 58 games in 2020, he hit just 9 in 117 games last season. His lefty/right splits also switched from 2020 to 2021. 

In 2020, he struggled heavily against righties (.169 batting average) and crushed lefties (.293 batting average, .638 slugging). In 2021, he struggled against lefties (.187 batting average, .612 OPS) and hit righties well (.271 batting average, .781 OPS).

Throughout his career he’s been better against righties (.298 batting average, .883 OPS) than lefties (.276 batting average, .789 OPS). 

Injuries may have played a role in his slow starts the last two seasons and the Brewers certainly hope Yelich can return to his Silver Slugger days. He signed a nine-year, $215 million deal in 2020 and should be looking to earn every penny of that deal this year for Milwaukee.

Cody Bellinger

The 2019 NL MVP had as rough of an injury year last season as one can have. Cody Bellinger missed time with a fractured left fibula, left hamstring tightness and a non-displaced rib fracture. 

Bellinger played in 95 games, but all those interruptions led him to hit .165 with 10 home runs and a .542 OPS. 

Manager Dave Roberts also said last August that Bellinger was affected by the right shoulder dislocation he suffered in October 2020 and had surgically repaired that November. 

The good news for Bellinger and the Dodgers is that none of those injuries should linger into this year for him. 

Bellinger has struggled the past two seasons, but hit his stride in the playoffs last year. Over 12 games in the NLDS and NLCS, Bellinger hit .353 with a home run, 7 RBIs, 5 runs scored and 5 stolen bases.

With the addition of Freddie Freeman, the Dodgers have plenty of offensive firepower this season. Having Bellinger return to even the .260 batting average territory with at least 25 home runs would be icing on the cake for Los Angeles.

The 26-year-old is also in a contract year and likely wants to earn a large extension with a stellar offensive season.

For more MLB Injury Insights including how the delayed spring training could lead to an increase in soft tissue injuries - check out Sports Injury Central.

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