Baseball Prospectus is proud to announce the winner of the 2005 Dick Martin Award for Best Medical Staff in baseball has been awarded to the Milwaukee Brewers. Their staff, led by Roger Caplinger and Dr. William Raasch, beat out last year’s winner, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and the staffs of the Florida Marlins and Houston Astros.
The award is based on a number of factors, including but not limited to quantitative measures such as days lost to the DL, dollars lost to the DL, percentage of payroll lost to the DL, and year-over-year improvements and trends regarding these numbers. The measures were tracked all year long by BP’s Mike Groopman. The UTK Advisory Board was consulted to ensure that the winning staff met the highest professional standards and that a “fluke good year” was not enough to win.
Milwaukee’s commitment to preventing injuries and reducing rehab times led to this award. Beginning with their Medical Symposium last January–at which I spoke–and their Team Health Report, where Dave Haller noted them as a DMA favorite, winning the award was a goal not for the award itself, but for what winning it would mean for the team on the field.
Did the team’s health weigh heavily in their first .500 season in over a decade? There were certainly other factors involved, but reducing their DL days from 2004–when they were already the second-lowest in the majors–helped. The Brewers ranked 28th (where a higher number is better) in DL days, 29th in salary lost and 28th in percentage of salary lost. Even with our so-called “Bagwell Adjustment,” the Brewers stood out among a tough group of finalists.
Swapping places with Tampa Bay–our winner last season and runner-up this year–sets the bar even higher for 2006. It is very interesting to note the degree of consistency seen at the top of our charts. Houston was fifth in 2004 and fourth in 2005. Florida made the biggest jump, but still finished 2004 below the median. Toronto, Cleveland and Philadelphia made great strides and figure to be contenders for next season’s award.
Our congratulations go to Roger Caplinger, Dr. William Raasch, Paul Anderson, Dan Wright,and the rest of the Milwaukee Brewers organization. It’s important to note that while this is awarded specifically to the medical staff, the commitment to greater team health comes from an entire organization; the best successes come when the medical staff gets a voice at the table when decisions are being made at the draft, in trades and in signings.
We’ll award the Brewers’ staff their trophy on Monday at the winter meetings. Congratulations to all our finalists, and especially to our winners.