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MLB Injury Primer – Part Two

In Part One of the Fantrax Injury Primer, the definitions, and terminologies of injuries were explained. It was there where strategies to overcome these obstacles were shared in an attempt to help alleviate the stress of changing lineups too often. To help better prepare those heading into 2023, here are some injury trends that have taken place over the last little while. It is through this analysis that perhaps some light can be shed on the future. All numbers are according to data found on Spotrac.

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By the Numbers – 2022

Positional Days on the Injured List

MLB Days on the IL

  • There were 728 players that missed time on the Injured List
    • 427 of those players were pitchers
      • 239 of those pitchers were relief pitchers
  • There were 44,002 days that were missed with players on the Injured List
    • 30,738 of those days were from pitchers
      • 17,222 of those days from pitchers were relief pitchers
  • The highest positional player time on the Injured List was from the catcher spot with 49 players missing 2,554 days
  • The lowest positional player time on the Injured List was from the designated hitter spot with 18 players missing 806 days

Summary: The total number of days missed on the Injured List is slightly lower than the totals for the 2021 season. The reason for this is twofold. First, the Covid-19 pandemic had a lingering effect in 2021, whereas now with more vaccinations and protection, it was not as much of a focus as it once was. Secondly, after a shortened 2020 season, players were carefully brought into the next season due to workload concerns. This past season, there were fewer long-term injuries due to the fact that players were closer to having things back to normal.

That being said, as always, pitching seems to be the one position that provides the largest degree of injury concern. Throwing a baseball as fast as you can with movement is not a natural occurrence. Each time it’s accomplished, there is some wear and tear on the elbow, shoulder, and other surrounding body parts. As such, more injuries tend to occur, and some take longer to heal than others. Essentially, the more that a player does with their arms, the more likely they are to get injured.

Team Days on the Injured List

Team Players on the IL

  • The Cincinnati Reds led the way with the most players on the Injured List and the most days lost on the Injured List in 2022
    • Of those players, four of their relief pitchers missed the entire season, causing some uncertainty in their bullpen
  • The Minnesota Twins were the team that had the second most players on the Injured List and days lost on it in 2022
    • The team finished with 78 wins and was in contention for the playoffs for most of the season
    • The team lost three starting pitchers and three positional starters for a significant chunk of the season
  • In contrast, the World Series Champion Houston Astros lost only 15 players to the Injured List, and when they did, it wasn’t for a long period of time

Summary: It’s difficult to not feel sorry for the teams that lost so many players to the Injured List. Not just in fantasy, but injuries can derail any and all positive momentum in a season. Yet, near the top of the list of days and players missed are the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Dodgers. They are two teams that have tremendous depth and a rock-solid system in place. It’s important to have a plan in place and be ready for anything that comes your way.

Types of Injuries

Types of MLB Injuries

  • Covid-19 led the way with the most times causing a player to go to the Injured List
    • This total was down from 182 in 2021
  • Shoulder injuries take up the longest time for players on the Inuured List
    • On average, the injury took 65 days with which to recover from, though every player is different
    • Most shoulder injuries were from pitchers
      • Some examples of pitchers who missed significant time are Sixto Sanchez, Cody Morris, Jack Flaherty, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz
  • Elbow injuries can be tricky to contain because they could lead to larger injuries down the road
    • Overuse and repetitive use cause stress to the elbow
    • Teams tend to be very cautious with a player’s elbow, giving them more rest when possible
    • Without enough time to rest and recover, that stress can lead to tearing
      • Some examples of pitchers who missed significant time due to their elbow are Michael King, MacKenzie Gore, Adrian Houser, and Edward Cabrera
  • Tommy John Surgery is a major injury that requires almost two full years from which to recover
    • It happens when the Ulnar Collateral Ligament gets torn and needs reconstruction
    • Usually happens to pitchers, but is possible for batters
      • Some examples of players who missed significant time due to Tommy John Surgery are Chris Paddack, John Means, Kenta Maeda, and Walker Buehler
  • Hamstring injuries have been trending downward for the past two seasons
    • They were more prevalent during the shortened season and the first full season after that
    • Muscle injuries tend to happen without proper training or with a change in workload
    • Now with more normalcy in the world of baseball, players are able to train properly with regular workloads back in place
      • Some examples of players who missed significant time due to Hamstring injuries are Jonathan India, Sonny Gray, Yoan Moncada, and Tyler O’Neill

Summary: Injuries can happen all over the field and at any time. Looking at the above data, it seems as if pitchers are most at risk of long-standing injuries due to the fact that they are performing a difficult repeated action. This, alongside the longer minimum stay on the Injured List, gives a glimpse into how to prepare in fantasy drafts.

While it’s important to have enough quality pitchers to form a roster, backup plans are needed in case of emergency. On top of that, fantasy owners need to be ready to cut loose pitchers who may be gone for a significant amount of time. It can be difficult for any progression if players aren’t on the field contributing.

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1 Comment
  1. George Spiros says

    MLB Injuries are 85% chronic repetition maladaptive asymmetry based. The costs of these are staggering- and the majority are preventable. Google injury free baseball seasons- its been achieved already internationally.

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