November 7, 2012
2012 Year-End Injury Summary: AL West
There were no significant surprises in the NL West rankings, but in today’s column, one team will most likely surprise some about their health record.
Division: American League West
WARP lost Divisional Ranking (Overall Ranks—Best to worst):
One of the more surprising teams this year from an injury standpoint is the Seattle Mariners. Ranking second in all of baseball in TAWL, the Mariners were not a smoke-and-mirrors club; they ranked in the top five in every metric we looked at: overall TAWL, hitters TAWL, pitchers TAWL, DL count, DL days missed, DL and DTD counts, and DL and DTD days missed.
Franklin Gutierrez cost the most in terms of TAWL. The center fielder missed 118 games recovering from a pectoral strain, plantar fasciitis, concussion, and a groin strain. He was projected to provide 1.4 WARP in spring training, but the injuries cost 0.38 WARP and could have played a role even when he was on the field, leading to his year-end WARP of 0.3. Other costly injuries to Mariners hitters include Miguel Olivo (groin strain: 0.19 WARP/26% of TAWL) and Brendan Ryan (bruised elbow: 0.06 WARP/7.7% TAWL). Michael Saunders and his groin strain led to a loss of .05 WARP and 6.9 percent of the team TAWL.
The low back soreness Felix Hernandez suffered from cost the Mariners the most among pitchers. Even though he only skipped one start, Seattle lost 0.14 WARP, or 19.8 percent of its TAWL. Kevin Millwood, by comparison, missed four times as many games—while contributing one-sixth of Hernandez’s WARP in 2012—but is second in pitcher TAWL at 0.09, or 13.1 percent. The third-highest pitching TAWL was Erasmo Ramirez at 0.04 TAWL, or 6.4 percent.
The Angels were a post-season favorite entering the season. Eight months later, they’re considered a disappointment, and some are calling for manager’s Mike Scioscia’s head. However, injuries did not play a significant role in the club’s downfall. The AL West’s other contenders fared worse, with the Rangers coming in last in the division in TAWL.
The Angels were smack dab in the middle of hitters TAWL, with Vernon Wells’ injury leading the way. His thumb surgery cost the Angels 0.60 WARP, or 21.5 percent of the team total. Chris Iannetta’s right wrist surgery and recovery cost another 0.46 WARP. Key hitters stayed relatively healthy; Albert Pujols and Mike Trout missed a total of seven games because of injuries, which totaled 0.23 TAWL and 8.3 percent.
Jered Weaver missed four starts, leading to a TAWL of 0.58, or 20.6 percent of the team total. Dan Haren’s balky back led to 0.25 TAWL, or 8.8 percent of the total. Jordan Walden’s right biceps strain cost the team only 0.14 WARP despite the fact he missed 37 team games.
Injuries were not kind to the Athletics this year, as players not only struggled to stay healthy, but Brandon McCarthy’s skull fracture and epidural hematoma were life-threatening. However, despite ranking 19th in TAWL, the Athletics were still able to win the division.
Coco Crisp missed bits and pieces of the season mostly due to non-orthopedic issues such as eye and ear infections, which produced a TAWL of 0.60, or 14.2 percent of the team total. Scott Sizemore missed the entire season recovering from ACL surgery and lost 0.37 TAWL, which is 8.9 percent of the team’s total. Brandon Inge dislocated his shoulder a few times and needed surgery to correct a torn labrum. He missed 62 team games as a result and cost 0.31 WARP, 7.5 percent of the team TAWL. Other hitter injuries that cost the team more than five percent were Yoenis Cespedes (hand, wrist, thigh strains: 0.28 WARP/6.6%) and Cliff Pennington (elbow inflammation: 0.26 WARP/6.16%).
Brandon McCarthy missed time because of multiple strains to his throwing shoulder and, of course, his horrific head injury. He missed 98 team games in all and lost 0.70 WARP, or 16.7 percent. Brett Anderson’s injuries also proved costly. He missed 135 team games and lost 0.69 WARP, 16.4 percent. Then there was Dallas Braden, who dealt with shoulder problems all year. He had several setbacks while recovering from capsule surgery, and later needed rotator cuff surgery. Due to the sheer number of games he has missed over the last three years, he only lost 0.57 TAWL, or 13.6 percent. No other pitching injury cost more than 2.6 percent of the A’s TAWL.
The Rangers had to cope with injuries to their star players. Even though they ranked 22nd in terms of TAWL, they actually did pretty well in the overall number of injuries and days missed. Texas ranked fifth overall in the number of injuries that would require a DL stint, and third overall with the days missed for these DL injuries. The Rangers did rank near the bottom when factoring in the sheer number of day-to-day injuries, but they still finished third with days missed.
Mike Napoli missed 38 team games because of his injured quad, which led to his 0.84 WARP lost, which comprised 17.8 percent of the team’s TAWL. Josh Hamilton and his various ailments cost him 14 team games and 0.45 WARP, 9.5 percent of the team’s TAWL. No other hitter cost Texas more than three percent of team TAWL.
Colby Lewis’ flexor tendon surgery cost the team 1.23 WARP, or 26.2 percent of the club’s TAWL. Neftali Feliz’s Tommy John surgery also proved costly. Feliz wasn’t as dominant as in years past, so he only cost the Rangers 0.44 WARP, or 9.3 percent of the team’s TAWL. Other injuries that cost the team more than five percent of TAWL were Koji Uehara (latissimus dorsi strain: 0.35 WARP/7.5%), Alexi Ogando (groin strain and sore arm: 0.31 WARP/6.5%), and Roy Oswalt (elbow and back strains: 0.25 WARP/5.3%).
In the next installment, we will look at the NL Central and the differences between the have and have-nots in injury prevention and management in 2012.
Corey Dawkins is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Follow @CoreyDawkinsBP