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November 14, 2012
2012 Year-End Injury Summary: NL East
In the National League East, only one team, the Miami Marlins, was able to maintain a positive health ranking. The Phillies, on the other hand, took a major health plunge.
Division: National League East
WARP lost Divisional Ranking (Overall Ranks—Best to worst):
The Braves were the best in the division in TAWL ranking, but in general, they were not exceptional at keeping people healthy. For example, despite ranking sixth overall in TAWL, Atlanta ranked 12th in DL counts and days lost.
The Braves managed to keep Chipper Jones on the field for most of the year, but we’re sure it was a struggle to do so. One has to wonder if the medical staff has secret MacGyver-type skills where somehow, when things are looking bleak, Chipper ends up finding a way to play. In spite of those skills, Jones did make two trips to the DL, which added up to 29 games lost in 2012. He led the team in TAWL, with 0.33, or 15.2 percent of the team’s total. Next on the list was Brian McCann, who cost 0.26 TAWL due to struggles with right shoulder inflammation related to a torn labrum, which requiring surgery in the offseason. Andrelton Simmons missed 61 games in 2012, mostly due to a fractured hand, costing 0.20 TAWL, or nine percent. Yet, on a per-game basis, Dan Uggla lost the most TAWL because of his injuries.
Brandon Beachy missed over 100 games because of Tommy John surgery, leading to a team-high 0.78 TAWL on the pitching side of the register. Tommy Hanson missed almost three weeks with a strained lower back, costing 0.15 TAWL, or 6.7 percent. Jonny Venters missed 19 games because of left elbow inflammation related to an impingement and cost the team 0.12 TAWL.
Considering the roster shakeup, it’s hard to use this analysis as a baseline. However, in 2012, the Marlins did not have many injuries; they ranked ninth in DL trips and sixth in days lost. Their 10th-place TAWL ranking is due to their struggles with keeping a few key players healthy.
Giancarlo Stanton’s were the costliest to Miami. He missed 30 days to recover from surgery to remove loose bodies in his right knee, and then another 11 days due to a strained oblique. In total, he lost 1.00 TAWL, or almost 40 percent. Emilio Bonifacio, who is supposed to be headed to Toronto, had an injury-filled 2012, including thumb surgery to repair a ligament, a sprain of said repaired ligament, and a knee sprain. In all, he missed 98 games and cost the team 0.67 TAWL. Logan Morrison missed two months’ worth of games due to patellar tendon surgery in his knee, costing Miami 0.43 TAWL.
The Mets did a much better job this year at avoiding injuries. They were far from perfect, but note that they lost almost three times as much TAWL in 2011.
It’s not that the Mets were much better at keeping players healthy; they ranked 22nd in number of DL stints. New York was just lucky that their key players didn’t sustain injuries. Andres Torres, who missed 28 games with a strained calf and back soreness, led in TAWL, with 0.40, or 16 percent. Ruben Tejada missed 44 games because of strained quad, adding 0.29 TAWL to the team’s total. Jason Bay came in at only 0.17 TAWL despite missing 71 games because of a rib fracture and a concussion. The costliest injury on a per-game basis was David Wright’s. The third baseman missed four games with a fractured finger, costing 0.10 TAWL, nearly half Bay’s total in 67 fewer games missed.
Johan Santana suffered from an ankle sprain and low back soreness, leading to a 0.62 TAWL, or 25 percent. Mike Pelfrey, who missed most of the season with Tommy John surgery had the second-highest TAWL with 0.52. The third-highest TAWL belonged to Frank Francisco, whose strained oblique and elbow inflammation led to 0.25 TAWL.
The Nationals grabbed headlines toward the end of the year due to their injury-prevention approach. The team drew criticism for giving ace Stephen Strasburg an innings cap as he recovers from his 2010 Tommy John surgery. Though the team ranked 16th in baseball in TAWL, their pitchers ranked sixth. The team ranked 22nd and 23rd overall in DL stints and days lost.
Jayson Werth’s recovery from surgery to repair a fractured radius cost the Nationals 79 games and a TAWL of 1.60, or about 44 percent. Wilson Ramos’ knee injuries, which required two separate surgeries, cost the catcher 129 games and a 0.71 TAWL. Mike Morse needed over 50 games to recover from a strained latissimus dorsi muscle, leading to a 0.60 TAWL. Ryan Zimmerman dealt with degenerative changes in his throwing shoulder and underwent off-season surgery. He cost the team 0.28 TAWL. Ian Desmond missed about a month’s worth of games due to a strained oblique, leading to a 0.23 TAWL.
Drew Storen missed 89 games recovering from right elbow surgery to remove a bone chip, leading to a 0.41 TAWL, or 11 percent. Henry Rodriguez’s strained back and elbow surgery cost Washington 0.08 TAWL, or 2.23 percent. However, Chien-Ming Wang’s injuries actually benefited the Nationals; they gained 0.22 WARP by his absence.
The Phillies had a hard time coping with the losses of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, but those players weren’t the only reason Philadelphia had a bad injury season. The team ranked 28th in pitching and hitting TAWL, and 24th in DL stints and days lost.
Utley missed 76 games recovering from left knee pain, leading to a TAWL of 1.72, worth 26 percent of the team total. Carlos Ruiz posted a 0.89 TAWL despite only missing 38 games due to a partial tear of his left plantar fascia. Placido Polanco missed 66 games due to chronic low back pain, giving him a 0.70 TAWL. Howard’s torn Achilles cost him 84 team games but was only worth 0.39 TAWL. Jim Thome missed 36 games because of low back soreness, which led to a TAWL of 0.35. Ruiz’s injuries cost the most TAWL on a per-game basis.
Roy Halladay missed over 40 games with a strained latissimus dorsi, leading to a 0.96 TAWL. Cliff Lee bounced back from a strained oblique in a little over the minimum 15 days, but he still cost the Phils 0.48 TAWL.
In the next and final installment, we will look focus on the AL East and see how four teams were some of baseball’s unhealthiest in 2012.
Corey Dawkins is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Follow @CoreyDawkinsBP