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March 7, 2011

Team Injury Projection

Boston Red Sox

by Corey Dawkins and Marc Normandin

Team Injury Projections

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.

BOSTON RED SOX
Team Audit | Depth Chart
 

Dashboard

2010 Recap
 
2010
 
2009
 
2008
 
2007
Third in AL East
71 entries
21 DL trips
               
1349
TDL
19
DMPI
 
1349
TDL
27th
 
19
DMPI
12th
 
1073
TDL
19th
 
17
DMPI
10th
 
939
TDL
13th
 
14
DMPI
7th
 
884
TDL
10th
 
18
DMPI
4th

Hitters in approximate Depth Charts order at time of publication

 
Days Lost to Injury
2011 Injury Risk
Player
Age
2008
2009
2010
1-day
15-days
30-days
Dustin Pedroia
27
0
4
99
Red
Red
Red
Carl Crawford
29
50
4
9
Red
Yellow
Yellow
Adrian Gonzalez
29
0
0
1
Yellow
Green
Green
Kevin Youkilis
32
15
23
69
Red
Red
Red
David Ortiz
35
58
1
0
Red
Yellow
Green
J.D. Drew
35
56
15
17
Red
Red
Yellow
Jacoby Ellsbury
27
6
10
162
Red
Red
Red
Marco Scutaro
35
0
17
4
Yellow
Yellow
Green
Jarrod Saltalamacchia
26
33
57
51
Red
Red
Red
Jed Lowrie
27
0
119
122
Red
Red
Red
Darnell McDonald
32
0
0
1
Yellow
Green
Green
Mike Cameron
38
8
7
113
Red
Red
Red
Jason Varitek
39
8
3
71
Red
Red
Red

Pitchers in approximate Depth Charts order at time of publication

 
Days Lost to Injury
2011 Injury Risk
Player
Age
2008
2009
2010
1-day
15-days
30-days
Jon Lester
27
0
0
0
Green
Green
Green
Josh Beckett
31
49
5
75
Red
Yellow
Yellow
John Lackey
32
53
50
0
Yellow
Yellow
Green
Clay Buchholz
26
18
0
30
Green
Green
Green
Daisuke Matsuzaka
30
31
124
55
Red
Red
Yellow
Tim Wakefield
44
19
62
0
Red
Red
Red
Jonathan Papelbon
30
0
4
1
Yellow
Green
Green
Bobby Jenks
30
18
24
47
Yellow
Yellow
Green
Daniel Bard
26
0
0
0
Green
Green
Green
Dan Wheeler
33
0
0
0
Yellow
Green
Green
Matt Albers
28
95
0
0
Yellow
Green
Green
Hideki Okajima
35
5
0
22
Red
Yellow
Yellow
Scott Atchison
35
0
0
0
Yellow
Yellow
Green

Summary: The 2010 Red Sox were designed with post-season play in mind, but following major injuries to Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis, a third-place finish was all Boston could muster. The Sox have trended downward in regards to health over the last several years, which is due in part to roster construction. Elder statesmen such as Mike Cameron, Mike Lowell and even Boof Bonser missed significant time and are either no longer with the team or have decreased roles for 2011. Even a few of the younger players got in on the act, including Jacoby Ellsbury, who missed a substantial chunk of time thanks to complications from broken ribs that eventually ended his season.

The lineup is looking healthier for the 2011 season. The injuries to Pedroia, Youkilis, Ellsbury, Cameron, and Adrian Gonzalez have all healed—or are close to being fully healed—as Opening Day nears. Not all is peachy in Red Sox Nation, as five out of the eight lineup positions are rated as a high-risk for missing 15-plus games last year (with the remainder rated as moderate risk). The likelihood of losing all of them is obviously extremely low (then again, we could have said the same thing about the 2010 club) but even losing one or two of them over several weeks could be devastating in this year's competitive AL East.

Theo Epstein and the rest of the front office have tried to mitigate this vulnerability via positional flexibility and an improved bench. Cameron and Darnell McDonald provide reliable depth at all three outfield positions, something the team lacked once Ellsbury and Cameron both went down for extended periods of time. The infield has slightly less depth, with the positional flexibility of Jed Lowrie, Youkilis, and Marco Scutaro mitigating the risk to some extent. Lowrie has been working out at first base on top of his previous service across the diamond, though he figures to see most of his time in the middle infield. Jason Varitek is a serviceable backup to Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

With no significant changes to the rotation, Boston instead hopes to improve the ability of two of its starters to stay healthy and contribute on the mound. Mike Reinold brought his expertise to Boston from the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI—run by Dr. James Andrews) back in 2005, and since then the pitchers, as a group, have been much healthier than those of most other teams. Fifth starter Daisuke Matsuzaka and spot starter Tim Wakefield are likely to miss time, as they have in each of the past few years. Josh Beckett is considered a more moderate risk, while Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and John Lackey project as minimal risks. In the bullpen, Boston focused on improving last year's group during the offseason by bringing in Bobby Jenks, Matt Albers, and Dan Wheeler; only Jenks comes in as a potential risk, and he’s considered a moderate one.

The big risk: The Red Sox can least afford to lose Youkilis again. The obvious immediate loss of production would be a killer, but the loss of his positional flexibility also has to be factored in. If either he or Gonzalez gets injured, Lowrie would take over at at third, in which case Scutaro would be the full-time shortstop and the depth of the middle infield would be compromised.

Comeback: The second loss of Dustin Pedroia helped to finish Boston off in 2010—the first time around, Bill Hall and Lowrie performed admirably filling in for him. It’s no surprise he failed to return last season when he attempted to, due to the nature of his foot injury. The navicular bone is the capstone of the medial arch and is an important insertion point for multiple ligaments and tendons in the foot. Recovery from surgery performed on the navicular bone can be a lengthy and difficult process, as there is concern that other structures could be compromised by overuse or acute injuries such as tendinitis, stress fractures, and ligament and tendon tears. Pedroia has come along well in camp and does not appear to be favoring the leg at all. He seems poised to slide back into the lineup and once again be a major contributing factor on both sides of the ball.

Best: Jon Lester has proven himself to be the ace and the workhorse of the staff. After his cancer battle early on in his career, Lester has been about as steady as they come from a health standpoint.

Worst: On the other end of the spectrum, J.D. Drew has a long and detailed injury history which has only been picking up steam in the last few years. The presence of Cameron softens this potential injury blow.

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

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