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March 10, 2011
Team Injury Projection
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.
Hitters in approximate Depth Charts order at time of publication
Pitchers in approximate Depth Charts order at time of publication
Summary: Ponce de León was right: the Fountain of Youth is in Florida. Unfortunately for him, he never thought to look inside Sun Life Stadium. The Marlins had (and still have) one of the youngest rosters in the majors, a side effect of their cost-cutting mentality. Generally younger players are “healthier” on average but when they do get injured it tends to be more severe. In other words, they don’t get the aches and pains, the stiffness and soreness—they blow out their knees or elbows. The Marlins didn't have a ton of injuries in 2010, but they did suffer a few significant ones that cost them 30-plus games—that combination put them in the middle of the road for days lost and number of injuries, a position they can expect to occupy again in 2011.
The Marlins are continuing their recent tradition of roster turnover, sticking with younger players once again. One major change in health risk comes in center, where Cameron Maybin was dealt and replaced by Chris Coghlan. Coghlan is recovering from left knee surgery on his meniscus in August, following a celebration for a walk-off win. Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton will flank Coghlan in left and right, respectively—all of them are in the dangerous injury zone given that they are all under 25 (and in Morrison and Stanton's cases, well under 25). Stanton has already missed time this spring with a quadriceps strain, and Coghlan, as we stated, is fresh off of surgery on his legs and now slated to play the most demanding of the outfield positions on a full-time basis.
Hanley Ramirez is the jewel of the infield (more on him later), and he is surrounded by Omar Infante, Wes Helms, and Gaby Sanchez, with John Buck and Baker behind the plate. Infante underwent emergency gall bladder and umbilical hernia surgery in December and may not be ready for the start of the season, while Baker is returning from Tommy John surgery.
The rotation is anchored by Josh Johnson, and he is supported by Ricky Nolasco, newcomer Javier Vazquez, Anibal Sanchez, and Chris Volstad. These five look to carry average risk for 2011, as almost every player projected to stick in the rotation has an injury history. Johnson had TJ surgery in 2007 and was shut down at the end of last year. Nolasco had medial meniscus surgery just last season Sanchez had labrum surgery back in 2007 and just got back on track in 2010. CHIPPER doesn’t believe there are any high risks in this rotation, but don’t take that to mean that there aren't any. The bullpen is similarly rated and actually a bit above-average.
The Big Risk: Here's the thing with positional scarcity: it's great when you have someone like Hanley Ramirez at a position where no one else has a productive player, but if he is hurt for a considerable amount of time, the odds are high that the only thing his replacement will be good at is tanking your season. While the Marlins would be lucky enough to be able to slide Infante over to short were Ramirez to go down, that shift would open up a vacancy at second base, creating an Emilio Bonifacio-sized hole in the lineup and compromising the team's infield depth.
Ramirez's injury history is likely to scare people away—according to CHIPPER, it should. He underwent surgery on his left, non-throwing shoulder in 2007, and while he rebounded nicely in 2008, his home run totals have decreased in each of the last few seasons. Since the beginning of 2009, he hasn't gone onto the disabled list but has make it into our database with day-to-day ailments 14 times in the regular season alone. At what point will one of these day-to-day injuries turn into something more serious, costing Ramirez even more time? CHIPPER thinks it could happen as soon as 2011.
Comeback: Coghlan's 2010 ended with an August knee surgery, and the Marlins are now moving him into center field. The combination of age, a position switch, and the previous surgery puts him at a higher risk according to CHIPPER, though he appears to be rebounding well right now.
Best Health: Chris Volstad has about the least amount of risk possible. Hopefully we didn’t just jinx him.
Worst Health: Baker and Infante split the honor, as their recent injury histories are not looked upon kindly by CHIPPER.