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How to deal with an overflowing DL

Josh Donaldson has played in just nine games this season after going in the first round of many a fantasy baseball draft. Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

When we draft our teams each year, we count on the higher-ranked players to be more productive, more reliable and spend more time on the field than on the disabled list.

It's a valiant expectation. But history shows that the level of attrition among baseball's top players is extreme. Of the players ranked in the top 300 since 2009, the number who have lost playing time due to injuries, demotions and suspensions has ranged from a low of 44 percent (2010) to a high of 53 percent (2014).

The eight-year average is 48 percent. That's 144 of 300 players who have provided fewer plate appearances and innings than we all projected. The primary driver? Injuries. In fantasy terms, about 10-12 players on your roster have ended up on the DL at some point each season. That figure is over a full season of play, and it probably comes as no surprise to learn that 2017 is on pace to far surpass that number.

Through six weeks of the season, 28 percent of baseball's top 300 players have already lost playing time, overwhelmingly due to DL stays. It's an unprecedented level, at least since 2009 when I started keeping track. At this rate, the entire top 300 would potentially visit the DL at some point during the season. That won't happen, but 2014's record of 53 percent is definitely in jeopardy.