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November 16, 2012

Collateral Damage

2012 Year-End Injury Summary: AL East

by Corey Dawkins and Stephani Bee

The American League East was simply not good at keeping their players healthy in 2012. Teams might now decide to invest more in their medical staff, but that’s doubtful. However, there is a good shot of these ranking being roughly the same in 2013. With that, let’s check the final installment of the year-end injury review.

Division: American League East

WARP lost Divisional Ranking (Overall Ranks—Best to worst):

  1. Baltimore Orioles (13)
  2. Toronto Blue Jays (25)
  3. Tampa Bay Rays (26)
  4. New York Yankees (29)
  5. Boston Red Sox (30)

Baltimore Orioles
Total Adjusted WARP Lost (TAWL): 2.96
Number of DL trips (Days): 24 (1455)
Number of DL & DTD trips (Days): 53 (1550)

The Orioles were the most surprising team in the AL East, making it into the ALDS after upsetting the Rangers in the wild-card play-in. Though they ranked 13th in TAWL, they ranked 26th in the number of DL stints and 25th in days lost, indicating they were a little lucky in who got hurt and who didn’t.

In 2012, Nick Markakis suffered two injuries that cost the Orioles the most. Between surgeries on his fractured hamate bone in his right wrist and left thumb surgery to also address a fracture, he missed 58 games, leading to 0.60 TAWL. Nolan Reimold missed almost the entire season because of a disc injury; he underwent surgery in June to fix the disc, missed the rest of the season, and lost 0.50 TAWL. Jim Thome played for the Phillies and wound up on the DL, and he did the same following his trade to the Orioles. He went on the DL for a herniated disc in his neck and came in third on the team with 0.49 TAWL. Wilson Betemit dealt with a small cartilage tear in his wrist toward the end of the season, missing 37 games in all and 0.27 TAWL. Brian Roberts couldn’t stay healthy and missed 144 games, leading to a -0.15 TAWL.

Jason Hammel sustained the only costly pitching injury by missing 83 games because of his right knee injuries.

Toronto Blue Jays
Total Adjusted WARP Lost (TAWL): 5.33
Number of DL trips (Days): 18 (1494)
Number of DL & DTD trips (Days): 49 (1561)

Toronto’s luck with health was the opposite of Baltimore’s. They ranked 25th overall largely because of injuries to their star players, but they improved their ranking to 18th when looking at the number of DL stints. When factoring in days missed, they fell back to 26th because of the surprising number of season-ending injuries.

The hitters took the brunt of the blows from a TAWL perspective, primarily due to Jose Bautista’s injuries. He missed 70 games with a strained wrist tendon and wrist surgery, leading to a whopping 2.77 TAWL. The next-highest hitter TAWL was Brett Lawrie’s 0.44 mark, courtesy of a strained oblique that cost the third baseman 32 games.

The pitching staff looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Brandon Morrow’s oblique strain was the costliest; he missed 64 games, worth a TAWL of 1.04. Sergio Santos’ shoulder surgery to clean up a frayed labrum cost him 149 games and a 0.66 TAWL. Toronto had awful luck with Tommy John surgery, too. Three players (Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison, Luis Perez) underwent the procedure, and two other players (Jesse Litsch and Dustin McGowan) underwent shoulder surgeries.

Tampa Bay Rays
Total Adjusted WARP Lost (TAWL): 5.53
Number of DL trips (Days): 17 (1046)
Number of DL & DTD trips (Days): 40 (1108)

The Rays have traditionally been one of the better teams at keeping their players healthy, but injuries to Evan Longoria and Jeff Niemann dropped Tampa from seventh to 26th in WARP lost. The club ranked 15th in DL stints, a performance more in line with previous years. Tampa Bay’s ranked 18th in days lost.

Longoria’s bum hamstring doomed the Rays’ playoff chances. The third baseman missed three months, leading to a TAWL of 2.72, or a shade under 50 percent of the team total. In addition, Matt Joyce (oblique: 0.33 TAWL), Sam Fuld (wrist surgery: 0.31 TAWL), Jeff Keppinger (fractured toe: 0.28 TAWL), Luke Scott (oblique: 0.27 TAWL), and B.J. Upton (sore back: 0.26 TAWL) all missed time, but even combined, they do not equal Longoria’s TAWL.

Niemann suffered a broken right fibula from a batted ball and missed over three months’ time before straining his right rotator cuff in his first game back. All told, he missed 125 games and posted a TAWL of 0.47. Kyle Farnsworth missed 77 games with a strained elbow and had a TAWL of 0.33.

New York Yankees
Total Adjusted WARP Lost (TAWL): 7.65
Number of DL trips (Days): 18 (1923)
Number of DL & DTD trips (Days): 59 (2009)

The Yankees dealt with costly injuries all year, leading to their 29th-place ranking. They were dead last in pitching TAWL. New York ranked 18th in DL stints but was 29th when factoring in days lost.

Brett Gardner’s right elbow injury, which eventually needed surgery to remove scar tissue and a bone spur, caused him to miss over 140 games. He had a team-high TAWL of 2.23. Alex Rodriguez missed 37 games with a broken hand after being hit by a pitch and added 0.68 TAWL. Mark Teixeira battled a troublesome calf strain down the stretch and missed 35 games, leading to a TAWL of 0.65.

Mariano Rivera’s unexpected ACL tear cost the Yankees 0.75 TAWL over 137 games. CC Sabathia had the highest TAWL among the pitching staff, though. Between his strained groin and elbow inflammation, he missed 32 games, which led to a TAWL of 0.78, or 10 percent of the team total. The Yankees also had to deal with the loss of Michael Pineda, for whom they traded prized prospect Jesus Montero. Pineda’s torn labrum cost New York 0.73 TAWL. When Andy Pettitte’s broken fibula caused him to miss 72 team games and racked up a TAWL of 0.44. Joba Chamberlain’s recovery from Tommy John surgery and ankle surgery led to a TAWL of 0.39, or 5.19 percent.

Boston Red Sox
Total Adjusted WARP Lost (TAWL): 7.97
Number of DL trips (Days): 34 (1854)
Number of DL & DTD trips (Days): 66(1947)

Where do we start? We wish we could say nice things about Boston’s injury situation, but we can’t. They ranked dead last in all of baseball in 2012 in both TAWL and the number of DL stints. Somehow, they were 28th in days lost, though.

The three biggest injuries on the hitting side of things were to Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, and David Ortiz. Crawford’s sprained elbow eventually led to Tommy John surgery, which was performed around the time he accepted a trade to the Dodgers. But during his time in Boston, Crawford’s injury was worth a TAWL of 1.41, which was only 17.6 percent. Ellsbury suffered a partial dislocation of his left shoulder after a fielder landed on him at second base following a slide. He missed 86 games and added 1.34 TAWL. David Ortiz had a persistent Achilles injury and missed 71 games, leading to a TAWL of 1.31.

John Lackey missed the entire season with Tommy John surgery, so his 162 games (or 34 starts) racked up a 0.73 TAWL. Andrew Bailey had to undergo thumb surgery to repair a ligament, and he missed 116 games, leading to a TAWL of 0.42. Josh Beckett missed 32 games with shoulder inflammation and tightness, which led to a TAWL of 0.28.

Summary
This was a horrific year for injuries in the AL East. Even the best-ranked team according to TAWL ranked 26th in the number of DL stints. It was downhill from there. The majority of the teams in the division can afford the injuries financially, but it’s much more difficult to produce a high-quality on-field product. Somehow, the Yankees, Orioles, and Rays managed to win, but the Blue Jays and Red Sox—who had other issues as well—were not. At least when you’re dead last, the only place to go is up.

Corey Dawkins is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Corey's other articles. You can contact Corey by clicking here
Stephani Bee is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Stephani's other articles. You can contact Stephani by clicking here

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