March 29, 2011
Team Injury Projection
San Diego Padres
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: One of the reasons that the Padres were able to contend in 2010 was their improved health. Their numbers were even a little better than the above ratings suggest, as a few major injuries skewed the DMPI results. Chris Young's shoulder strain and Kyle Blanks' Tommy John surgery accounted for 164 and 139 days missed, respectively, raising the team's DMPI dramatically.
That TJ procedure makes Blanks the lone high risk across the board on the offensive side of things, and the Padres haven't decided exactly how (or when) they plan on bringing him back to the majors. Will Venable and Jason Bartlett both missed time in 2010, but for relatively minor issues, not for major injuries that soaked up chunks of their seasons. Venable was placed on the 15-day DL for 19 days due to lower back stiffness and soreness, but he didn’t have any other significant injuries to contend with. Bartlett is certainly more of a risk, as he has lost time to injury in each of the last three years. These absences stemmed from relatively minor complaints, but they still sent him to the disabled list (hence the risk factor).
Chase Headley has missed just one day over the last three years, thanks to a sore shoulder in 2009. Beginning in 2009, Ryan Ludwick started to deal with nuisance injuries, like calf or hamstring strains that would end up putting him on the 15-day DL. Since the calf bothered him during the entirety of his 2010 stint with San Diego, it's worth keeping an eye on. Brad Hawpe's thigh, quad and hamstring problems have sent him to the 15-day DL for short periods of time, and he also dealt with cracked ribs down the stretch in 2010. Orlando Hudson has suffered plenty of injuries throughout his career, including surgery on a broken left wrist in 2008 and an oblique strain last year. It's no surprise that a 33-year-old middle infielder with a history of injuries would be considered risky. Cameron Maybin is only 24, but he has yet to prove that he can remain healthy at the major-league level.
Mat Latos will end up starting the season on the 15-day DL, but he is eligible to come off as early as April 6. The medical staff is already pleased with his progress, so he may return at that early date. Clayton Richard also had shoulder inflammation this spring, which cost him eight games. He has remained healthy otherwise, so he should not be considered an extremely high risk.
Aaron Harang comes over from Cincinnati with an extremely risky profile. He has lost significant amount of time in each of the last three years, including 68 days last year to a lower back strain and a bruised ankle from a batted ball. Harang spent the winter rediscovering his old (successful) mechanics, so perhaps his old health will return as well. Tim Stauffer missed time in 2010 thanks to appendicitis, but his move to the rotation from the bullpen increases his risk. Between Dustin Moseley, Wade LeBlanc, and Corey Luebke, the Padres should be able to fill in the fifth spot in the rotation as well as the necessary spot starts. Moseley has the most risk of the group, though.
The bullpen, besides Pat Neshek, is a mostly healthy group. Chad Qualls pitched through knee pain that hurt his numbers in 2010, but he has thrown well this spring. Joe Thatcher's rating may be a little optimistic, as his shoulder is hurting and may cause him to miss time like he did in 2010, but he's not one of the primary relievers in the pen: the big three of Heath Bell, Luke Gregerson, and Mike Adams are expected to stay off the DL for the duration.
The Big Risk: Latos is going to be starting the season on the disabled list due to bursitis in his right shoulder, giving us a peak at what the club looks like without its lone ace. Two of the remaining starters have already suffered their own injuries this spring, and consequently are not quite where they need to be. A third has missed a significant amount of time in each of the last four years. Several arms in the bullpen have also been injured this spring and have experienced varying levels of success, meaning that the Padres need Latos to be right, and soon.
Comeback: Tommy John surgeries in a positional athlete are far from rare, but they occur less frequently than they do with pitchers. Kyle Blanks received his scar at the end of July and has been rehabilitating ever since. The TJ procedure has a good track record in positional players, and with Blanks' elbow progressing well this spring, he should be added to the list of success stories soon. The Padres could use his bat, as long as his elbow is healthy.
Best Health: Chase Headley isn't the most productive Padre, but he is the healthiest.
Worst Health: Harang has to hope that there's some magic left in his old mechanics, because all the time he has missed over the last few years has earned him this spot.