March 11, 2011
Team Injury Projection
New York Mets
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: Before pitchers and catchers even reported last season, the Mets experienced a health-related public relations meltdown, as Carlos Beltran had surgery on his right knee—supposedly without management's blessing or knowledge. The procedure was paid for with workers' compensation paperwork signed by the Mets, who, as we just said, claimed they had no idea this was happening. (Was the previous front office that inept? Did Beltran go out of his way to trick the Mets into signing a piece of paper using some kind of wacky, fit-for-television plot of his own devising? Would it surprise you if the previous Mets' administration fell for Beltran's plan to dress up as an old woman in order to pretend to promote a blood drive or sell magazine subscriptions? Before you answer, remember: Oliver Perez.)
After years of sitting near the bottom of the injury rankings, questions began popping up about the team's medical staff. It's a little crazy to believe that the medical folks alone were responsible for the Mets' consistent inability to stay on the field: roster construction also plays a large role here. When you build around players with injury histories or significant risk of injury, you must live with the likelihood that they will eventually get hurt. Ask Johan Santana, John Maine, Jason Bay, Kelvim Escobar, and Jose Reyes, to name a few. (How about we just avoid the story of how Francisco Rodriguez injured his thumb, since it has very little to do with how the medical staff operates?)
Fans are going to have to hope for success to come from the revamped front office this year, as there is little to hope for from an injury standpoint. Only David Wright and Ronny Paulino rate as low risks in this year's projected lineup. Beltran’s knee woes have been well documented, and he has needed time off this spring to deal with continued soreness (though surely some of the time off has been planned). Scott Hairston, Bay, and Luis Castillo all are rated as very high risks. Reyes is a high risk who has shown that he needs to be healthy to be productive. Maybe the front office saved its money this winter knowing that it would likely need to pick up another avalanche of doctor's bills.
We know Santana probably won't be back before June. Mike Pelfrey and R.A. Dickey are the lone starters with even a remotely healthy past. CHIPPER is somewhat merciful, rating both Pelfrey and Jonathan Niese as low risks, but remember that Niese tired down the stretch last year and hasn't yet shown that he can hit the 200-innings mark. The rest of the rotation members are all at least at moderate risk to end up on the DL. The Mets simply don't have the depth at this position to cover for injuries over a long stretch, especially any damages to their top two arms.
The Big Risk: Beltran has garnered plenty of attention throughout the spring, and most of it hasn't been for good reasons. While it’s expected that his knee would act up or that adjustments would have to be made to his training regimen, his history of trunk and leg strains, concussion, and neck pain are concerning. His monster seasons in years past are becoming a distant memory, but the Mets do need and expect some production from the middle-of-the-order hitter. Beltran is rated as the highest risk for all the position players on the Mets, and given the options to replace him, may not be someone they can afford to lose.
Comeback: After missing 70 days in 2010 and finishing the season on the disabled list, Jason Bay will be looking to put his concussion behind him. Concussions are very individualized, as we've seen when discussing cases like Justin Morneau's or Jason LaRue's. Bay's concussion ended a disappointing debut season with the Mets, as his symptoms lingered into the fall. His return should help stabilize the outfield and the lineup, which will be sorely needed if Beltran can't play every day.
Best Health: Niese profiles as the lowest risk, though as we warned, his fatigue issues could be a problem.
Worst Health: If you've read this far, you've probably already guessed that it's Beltran.