March 18, 2011
Team Injury Projection
Chicago White Sox
The Team Injury Projections are here, driven by our brand new injury forecasting system, the Comprehensive Health Index [of] Pitchers [and] Players [with] Evaluative Results—or, more succinctly, CHIPPER. Thanks to work by Colin Wyers and Dan Turkenkopf and a database loaded with injuries dating back to the 2002 season—that's nearly 4,600 players and well over 400,000 days lost to injury—we now have a system that produces injury-risk assessments to three different degrees. CHIPPER projects ratings for players based on their injury history—these ratings measure the probability of a player missing one or more games, 15 or more games, or 30 or more games. CHIPPER will have additional features added to it throughout the spring and early season that will enhance the accuracy of our injury coverage.
These ratings are also available in the Player Forecast Manager (pfm.baseballprospectus.com), where they'll be sortable by league or position—you won’t have to wait for us to finish writing this series in order to see the health ratings for all of the players.
Hitters in approximate Depth Charts order at time of publication
Pitchers in approximate Depth Charts order at time of publication
Summary: The White Sox are consistently among the healthiest teams in the game. They have ranked first in DMPI in each of the past two years and have lost the fewest days to injury three years running. The organization as a whole is dedicated to medical care, and it shows in the results above and on the field. Even a healthy Chicago club wasn't quite good enough to take the division from the Twins last season, but most of the players whom General Manager Kenny Williams added over the winter in an attempt to make up ground don't appear to have upped the team's health risk by a significant margin.
Everyone talks about Adam Dunn's consistent homer output, but the same could be said about his health—his worst injury in the last four years came in 2007, when he missed the last seven games of the season to have his knee scoped. Several other regulars in Chicago's lineup—including Alexei Ramirez, Gordon Beckham, A.J. Pierzynski, and Alex Rios—are not expected to miss many games due to injury. CHIPPER wasn't pleased by Mark Teahen’s surgery to stabilize a fractured finger, but the erstwhile third baseman has remained fairly healthy otherwise. (Sadly, the surgery couldn't do anything to address his chronic case of being Mark Teahen.)
With Dunn at DH, Paul Konerko will man first base. Konerko is now 35 years old, which is roughly when we start to see declines in health. Carlos Quentin’s history over the last several years includes wrist surgery and a long stay on the DL due to plantar fasciitis.
We all know that Jake Peavy suffered a severe shoulder injury where he detached his latissimus dorsi from its insertion point in the shoulder, derailing his season, but you might have forgotten by now that he also missed over 100 days in 2009 with an ankle injury while with the Padres. In the bullpen, Matt Thornton also poses some risk because of his arm troubles last year. The rest of the staff is low-risk, which most teams would envy.
Thanks to a crack medical staff, seeing a White Sox player miss the majority of a season is the exception rather than the rule. Given the team's durable design, it would not come as a surprise if the Pale Hose were to extend their run of excellence on the medical side in 2011.
The Big Risk: Thanks to a shortage of quality backups, Beckham is the riskiest White Sox player. Omar Vizquel debuted in the early part of the first Bush presidency, and at the age of 43, it's unlikely that he'd improve on his 2010 replacement-level performance if he were pressed into heavier service by an injury to Beckham. Beckham is not the most important player in Chicago—although his strong second half gives the team reason to hope that he'll contend for the distinction—but he is the most difficult to replace.
Comeback: Peavy is not the first person to undergo the type of shoulder surgery he did, but his was the highest-profile case. There are few comparable procedures to use as indicators of Peavy's odds, but what results there are have been positive. This spring, Peavy has suffered from the type of soreness expected after such a surgery and recovery process. After suffering two major injuries in as many years, Peavy may not be the same pitcher he was in San Diego, but even staying healthy throughout the season would be an accomplishment.
Best Health: Luckily for the White Sox, their "Big Risk" is also their healthiest player. As long as Beckham continues to look like he did late last year, that will be a positive.
Worst Health: Quentin set a career high in games played in 2010 with 131. Did you expect to see someone else here?