March 25, 2011
Team Injury Projection
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 Pirates have been terrible at many things for many years, but they have maintained a relatively clean bill of health recently. However, plenty of injuries have appeared on their ledger: they've simply managed to miss significantly less time than most other teams despite getting hurt more often.
That trend could change in 2011, as there is a good chance that several players will end up missing significant time. Ryan Doumit and Chris Snyder have both hurt themselves within the last three seasons, and each carries the additional risk posed by having to crouch behind the plate on a regular basis. At first base, Lyle Overbay does bring some stability and experience to the Pirates that they lacked in 2010, though his age puts him at a moderate risk for injury.
At least two of the team's younger, more talented players—Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez—are expected to stay on the field. Ronny Cedeno is a moderate risk to land on the DL, but he's not so fragile that he won't be able to "contribute" at shortstop on a near-daily basis. The outfield should be stable, as Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, and Garrett Jones all appear to be safe bets to stay healthy in 2011, according to CHIPPER.
With the exception of one 34-year-old hurler, the age of every pitcher on the staff falls between 26 and 30. This tight grouping may be a reason for the lower injury risk rate throughout. Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, and newly-signed Opening Day starter Kevin Correia are all low-risk pitchers, so there is at least some chance that the middle of the middling staff will be stable. James McDonald—who has the potential to be a high-quality starter—rates green across the board, though an injury to his side this spring caused Pirates fans and fantasy owners alike to hold their collective breath. Charlie Morton isn't a given to land on the DL, but he has had repeated injuries to his upper extremities. In 2010, Morton missed significant time due to fatigue in his shoulder. Joel Hanrahan is showing signs that he may be putting a few entries into the database in 2011. He has suffered several injuries to his elbow, potential first steps toward a more serious injury down the road.
The Big Risk: McCutchen is the player whom the Bucs can least afford to lose. He was the first of the group of young and talented Pirates whose production has given fans (slivers of) hope. If he is lost, Tabata would likely switch to center field, giving our double-crossboned friend Matt Diaz a full-time gig in a corner. Lefty mashers are great to have around when they are facing left-handers, but unfortunately for Diaz and the Pirates, many more innings are thrown by right-handers. With Diaz in the outfield full-time, there is a significant chance that a domino effect could occur.
Comeback: Steven Pearce had a patellar tendon repair performed on his left knee in August of 2010. The repair of a partial patellar tendon tear hasn’t been done nearly as often as most other procedures, according to the database, but it’s not a once-in-a-decade surgery. Pearce likely won’t be playing every day with Lyle Overbay in town, but the fact that he could come back fully healthy is noteworthy.
Best Health: Jason Jaramillo does not have any records in the database, so we'll give him the honors.
Worst Health: Diaz has had three surgeries in the last two years to go along with a PCL strain in 2008.