The always competitive NL West should be no different in 2011. With the defending champion Giants looking healthy heading into spring training they have to be the favorites however they should face stiff competition from the Rockies and Dodgers. Continue reading for a look at the NL West's group of injury returnees and how they could affect your fantasy pennant chase.
Justin Upton - Shoulder problems may run in the Upton family as Justin was sidelined with the same problem his brother BJ suffered from earlier in his career. Upton has superstar potential but he will have to be fully healed from this injury that has nagged him the past couple of seasons to reach his ceiling. The injury sapped his power late last year but he claims to be ready for a breakout in 2011 and he worked hard in the offseason to strengthen the shoulder.
Jarrod Parker - Yet to pitch in a game since undergoing Tommy John surgery, Parker remains a candidate to see time with the Diamondbacks in 2011. Keep an eye on his numbers in the minors and if he is lighting it up you might want to get ready to make a claim on him.
Aaron Harang - The move to Petco should help his numbers but the change from the NL's best offense to one of its worst can't be a good thing. Harang's production is declining but he remains an intriguing case as it's unclear just how much Petco will help. The Padres offense won't help his wins total much and he will need to get his strikeouts back to where they used to be if he wants to regain fantasy relevance.
Rafael Furcal - The veteran shortstop has been hit by numerous injuries the past few years but he hasn't let them slow him down when he's in the lineup. The nicks and strains have to catch up to him eventually but if he looks to be at full strength during spring training there's no reason to think he can't put up a solid season.
Pablo Sandoval - The injury here is the one his scale suffers every time Kung-Fu Panda steps on. Weight is almost as much of a physical issue as an injury and Pablo looks to have finally taken the issue seriously by dropping significant weight during the offseason.
Jonathan Broxton - No injury has been reported but the drop-off in production could point to a lingering arm issue. His control abandoned him in the second half which is another troubling sign. If his control is wonky in spring training it could be a warning sign to a possible DL stint or surgery in his future.
Andre Ethier - The NL's triple crown leader when a broken pinkie took the bat out of his hands. He struggled on his return but found his form in August and looks like a prime bounceback candidate. Bid confidently with this elite slugger.
Huston Street - Street is starting to get labeled as injury prone but he's only 27 and could still have a few good seasons left in his am. He combines a top notch K rate with excellent command and is one of the more reliable closers when pitching. Street plans to spend the spring doing workouts that will help his durability meaning he could be undervalued if he goes the entire year without missing time.
Felipe Paulino - Shoulder issues could mean a move to the bullpen which would hurt his fantasy stock big time. As a starter he could hold value with his blazing fastball that has the ability to rack up strikeouts. If healthy and in the rotation keep an eye on Paulino because he could surprise by becoming a major source of points for your fantasy team.
John Maine - Arm fatigue sidelined the oft injured righthander and he was non tendered by the Mets before signing a minor league deal with the Rockies. He will compete for a spot at the back end of the Rockies rotation but there doesn't look like there is room for him there and he could find himself in the bullpen. Even if he makes the rotation he's a player best to avoid.
Troy Tulowitzki - If there were any questions of whether Tulo was recovered from a broken wrist he put them to rest with an insane September. If he can stay healthy for an entire season he has a chance to be one of the top 5 most valuable players in the game.
Jorge De La Rosa - A torn tendon in his pitching hand caused him to miss over two months of the season but he still managed to put up some nice statistics. The Rockies showed their confidence in JDLR and his health by signing him to an extension. He could be had at a discount after the shortened season and may end up a bargain at the end of the year.
Kyle Blanks - An elbow injury limited Blanks to 120 mediocre plate appearances last year. He is doubtful for opening day and his future as a useful fantasy player is in question. When on a diamond he has amazing strength but it is hindered playing half his games in spacious Petco park. Even when he is healthy enough to play it is best to wait and see how he performs before picking up this potential 30 HR slugger.
Miguel Montero - One of the more hyped catchers heading into last season, Montero was injured at the start of the season and never really got going once he returned. He still has the potential to be a top catcher and he will come much cheaper than last season.
Eric Young Jr - A fractured tibia put Young on the trainer's table for two and a half months. The Rockies don't seem very confident in their second baseman and he will have to earn the starting job this year. The speedster still has some upside to become a solid fantasy producer but his skills are heading in the wrong direction.