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March 22, 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: If you're looking for a reason that the Reds came out on top of the Cardinals last year, their excellent medical staff—led by Dr. Timothy Kremchek—is a good place to start. The Reds’ DMPI has improved over the last four years, largely due to the team's transition to younger players. (It helps that many of the Reds' young players have also been high-quality ones.) With Edinson Volquez now recovered from Tommy John surgery and the continued, gradual assimilation of more youthful players into the roster, fewer injuries are likely to occur, which should help to keep the Reds highly competitive in the NL Central.
With the exception of new Red Edgar Renteria, the offense remains basically unchanged from 2010. Considering his age, the demands of the middle infield, and his recent injury history, it's no surprise that Renteria is a high risk for injury in 2011. Joey Votto is at the very low end of the moderate-risk range for 2011, which comes as good news for the most potent bat in the lineup (and, if not for Albert Pujols, perhaps in the division, if not the league). Scott Rolen will always have some risk associated with him thanks to history and age, but he did remain healthy in 2010 relative to previous years. Brandon Phillips also carries some risk, although he hasn’t missed any significant time since 2008. The outfield is fraught with fewer potential health hazards than the infield: Jonny Gomes and Drew Stubbs both appear to be healthy enough to play almost every day, while most of the risk associated with Jay Bruce is based off of his wrist fracture from 2009. That wrist didn't dampen his power in 2010, when he hit 25 home runs on the year and slugged .575 in the second half. Fred Lewis is more of a risk than the three starters, but he isn't expected to be needed as much as that group, either, and Chris Heisey projects to be even more durable.
Volquez high-risk rating is based mostly on his Tommy John surgery, so his rating may be overstating the risk here. Johnny Cueto is not having a good spring and has been dealing with shoulder inflammation. His risk level is low, but it isn't zero, and there is some cause for concern given the shoulder and elbow problems from 2008. Homer Bailey, Travis Wood, and Mike Leake are all considered low-risk, but with caveats attached. Wood and Leake haven’t proven that they can pitch an entire season unscathed, while Bailey missed significant time in 2010 with shoulder inflammation. Lastly, Francisco Cordero is a moderate risk mostly due to his age, since he has enjoyed a clean injury slate with the exception of a few minor ailments in 2008.
The Big Risk: Votto is The Bat in the lineup and the player that Cincinnati wants to build its future around. His value is immense, and for the most part he has remained healthy over the last several years, although he has battled depression and anxiety in the past. This is something that usually can only be managed, not cured, but by all accounts he has been managing it very well since he was diagnosed. If Votto does miss time, either from a physical injury or a psychosocial illness, Yonder Alonso or Miguel Cairo would be pressed into action. It goes without saying that such a substitution would severely hamper the Reds' hopes of returning to October.
Comeback: Volquez had his ups and downs after coming back last year. Every pitcher recovers his feel for his pitches at a different rate following Tommy John surgery. What was lacking in 2010 was consistency, not necessarily raw stuff. Another offseason removed from the procedure should do Volquez a world of good in terms of getting his consistency back up to snuff.
Best Health: Paul Janish's health will secure him more plate appearances at shortstop than Renteria, who is, at this stage, less productive and much riskier.
Worst Health: Speaking of Renteria…