November 1, 2012
NL West Year-End Injury Summary
Now that another year is officially in the books, we can look back and get a clearer picture of just how injuries played a role in each team’s record. Using the same methodology as last year, we looked at every team and calculated how much injuries cost each club from a production standpoint. Summarizing the process, we looked at WARP on a plate appearance basis and used data from 2010 -2012 in our calculations. We’ll star in the NL West, home of the world champion San Francisco Giants.
Division: National League West
WARP Lost Divisional Ranking (Overall Ranks—Best to Worst)
No NL West team cracked the top 15 most-healthy clubs from a TAWL standpoint. Looking at the rankings above, San Diego appears to be in the middle of the pack in 2012, but rankings don’t tell the whole story. For the Padres, it wasn’t just the WARP lost, but the sheer number of days missed. Tied for the most number of total days missed because of injuries—which includes both DL stints and day-to-day injuries—with the Yankees, the Padres’ front office and managerial staff had to cope with 2009 total days lost.
The pitching staff was hit hard. Micah Owings (elbow surgery), Joe Thatcher (knee tendinitis), Andrew Cashner (lat strain), Huston Street (lat and calf strains), Anthony Bass (shoulder inflammation), Jason Marquis (fractured wrist), Dustin Moseley (shoulder surgery), Eric Stults (lat strain), Tim Stauffer (elbow surgery), Corey Luebke (Tommy John surgery), and Joe Weiland (Tommy John surgery) all missed over 30 days because of injuries. None of them were projected to be high WARP pitchers, so Luebke lost the most (0.64 WARP).
The Padres were especially hurt by hitter injuries. San Diego batters ranked 17th in the majors in WARP lost, compared to 10th for pitchers. Knee troubles plagued Padres hitters throughout the year. Carlos Quentin started the season on the DL recovering from right knee meniscus and loose body surgery. Quentin was activated in late May, but his knees bothered him down the stretch, and he underwent another surgery in the offseason. All told, he missed 65 games and lost 0.59 in WARP. Jason Bartlett’s right knee strain cost the Padres 89 games, which led to a 0.47 WARP loss. Nick Hundley’s right knee meniscus surgery led to 0.3 WARP lost.
Congratulations should go to the Giants for their championship season, especially in the wake of some of the injuries that they had to overcome. In many ways, the impact of the Giants’ injuries was the opposite of what happened to the Padres. Three injuries made up 93 percent of San Francisco’s TAWL lost. The first major blow came early in the season, when Brian Wilson underwent Tommy John surgery. This cost the team 0.83 WARP, or 27 percent of the club’s total. No other Giants pitcher cost more than Dan Runzler’s 0.082 WARP, or three percent.
The 53 games that Pablo Sandoval missed due to wrist surgery and a strained thigh cost the Giants 1.08 WARP, or 35 percent of the team’s total. The next-highest total belonged to Aubrey Huff, who cost San Francisco 0.97 WARP, or 31 percent, due to knee injuries and battle with anxiety. No other hitter cost the Giants more than 3.2 percent. The mark of a good team is figuring out how to win while overcoming challenges, something the Giants did exceedingly well this past season.
The Diamondbacks were third in the division and 19th overall with a TAWL of 3.22. However, if you look at the traditional measures of DL count and days missed, they fared well. I mean, having the ninth-best DL count and fourth-fewest days on the DL is nothing to sneeze at. Even factoring in day-to-day injuries, they were 12th in the majors with 43, but they were just fifth overall with 745 days lost.
Looking at the hitters, Stephen Drew’s 73-game recovery from right ankle surgery cost Arizona the most—0.84 WARP—26 percent of its total WARP lost in 2012. The only other hitter to cost the club more than five percent was Chris Young, who sustained a separated shoulder and quad strain. Young’s injuries cost Arizona 0.63 WARP, or 19 percent of the team’s total.
The pitching staff only had two injuries that cost the team more than five percent of its TAWL. One was Dan Hudson, a member of the 2012 Tommy John surgery club. Hudson’s injury led to a loss of 0.86 WARP, 27 percent of the club’s total. The second, Takashi Saito, cost 0.30 WARP (8.2 percent) due to calf and hamstring injuries.
The Dodgers suffered numerous injuries and finished 23rd in terms of TAWL lost but 29th in DL stints and 27th with DL days lost. Los Angeles began the season with three pitchers on the DL: Rubby De La Rosa (recovery from TJS), Ted Lilly (neck), and Blake Hawksworth (elbow). None of these injuries led to large WARP losses, but more costly injuries piled up quickly.
At the end of April, Matt Kemp suffered a strained left hamstring and was placed on the DL. A few days after his activation, Kemp returned to the DL after re-injuring his hamstring. The center fielder missed 56 games total, which cost the Dodgers 1.58 WARP, 30 percent of the team total. Only two other hitters cost the Dodgers more than five percent of its TAWL: Jerry Hairston’s hip surgery cost the Dodgers almost half a win (eight percent), while Mark Ellis lost 0.30 WARP, or 5.8 percent of the club’s TAWL.
Surprisingly, Lilly leads the list of pitchers in lost WARP at 1.09. Most of the 126 games he missed were due to his shoulder. Lilly had labrum surgery in September. Lilly’s 1.09 WARP lost represents 20.9 percent of the Dodgers’ TAWL. The other pitchers representing more than five percent of LA’s TAWL are Chad Billingsley, who lost 0.59 WARP/11.3 percent due to his UCL sprain, and Clayton Kershaw, who lost 0.40 WARP/7.6 percent because of his hip impingement.
While Matt Kemp’s injury cost the Dodgers, Troy Tulowitzki’s injury cost the Rockies considerably more. When Tulo first went on the DL with a groin injury, it was assumed that he would be back relatively quickly. However, after aggravating the injury on a rehab assignment, he underwent surgery to clean up scar tissue around a nerve. Tulowitzki missed the remainder of the season, leading to 2.44 WARP lost. This represents 42 percent of Colorado’s TAWL. Michael Cuddyer (oblique 0.45 WARP), Ramon Hernandez (strained hand and hamstring surgery—0.43 WARP), and Carlos Gonzalez (strained hamstring—0.32) all represented more than five percent of the team’s 5.87 TAWL.
The pitching staff didn’t suffer as much as the hitters did, but several players did cost more than five percent of Colorado’s TAWL. Jhoulys Chacin’s shoulder inflammation cost 97 team games and 0.59 WARP. Juan Nicasio looked to rebound from a potentially fatal neck injury sustained in 2011, but he missed 110 team games in 2012 with knee surgery to correct cartilage loss, costing the Rockies 0.40 WARP. Jorge De La Rosa’s recovery from TJS represented 0.37 WARP lost.
In the next installment, we will look at the AL West, which contains a team that is probably better than most think at dealing with injuries.
Corey Dawkins is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Follow @CoreyDawkinsBP