Nic Civale is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and former NCAA Division I Baseball player. He combines his knowledge of anatomy and physiology with that of baseball mechanics to provide expectations for injured players. Utilize The MLB Injury Report to make the most of your fantasy season.
NL East 2022 Most Impactful Injuries
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The National League East almost produced this year’s World Series champion, but it was hardly the result most anticipated. The Philadelphia Phillies made the leap from a middling underachieving franchise to a baseball power in seemingly half a season. In today’s article we take a look at the most impactful injuries of the 2022 season in the NL East, possibly contributing to this unlikely World Series participant.
Ozzie Albies, 2B and Spencer Strider, SP
The Atlanta Braves were among the favorites for World Series contention, having won it all in 2021 even with Ronald Acuna on the IL. The Braves were consistent throughout the 2022 season but suffered two massive injuries that limited their potential and may have stifled their firepower in the post-season. Ozzie Albies, the All-Star second baseman, played only 57 games this year, suffering a left foot fracture, followed by a right finger fracture almost immediately upon return. He kept pace with his per-game stats when healthy this year, and would have surely been a significant cog in the Braves’ offensive and defensive machine if healthy. Albies is a high-energy player who was unable to provide his team with the same spark from the bench.
Spencer Strider is another Braves youngster with enormous potential. Strider is the first pitcher in MLB history to record 200 strikeouts in under 140 innings in a season. Oh, and he’s a rookie. If that wasn’t impressive enough, he had only pitched in 32 games…total… since the 2018 summer. Between 2019 and 2020, he pitched in only 4 games total due to injury and COVID restrictions during the NCAA season. Strider spent one season in the minors and exploded on the scene this year at the major league level. To have elevated his game to Cy Young levels with that little experience is completely unprecedented and fascinating.
Unfortunately for Strider and the Braves, he suffered an oblique injury in late September which kept him from pitching until 10/14 in the ALDS vs. the Phillies. This may be accredited to the lack of experience with 100+ inning seasons in the past. Strider was then knocked around the park giving up 5 ER in 2.1 IP. The Braves were not able to recover. Their No. 1 arm on the year was taken from them just as playoffs began and it certainly contributed to their inability to repeat as champions. Strider should be back 100% healthy by next season; perhaps the struggles in the playoffs lights a fire that somehow allows the young star to improve upon the amazing 2022 season he had.
New York Mets
Jacob deGrom and Starling Marte
The New York Mets came charging out of the gates in the 2022 season, enticing fans around NYC and the country with their new energy and firepower. They did this without their best player for about the first 4 months of the season. Jacob deGrom was sidelined with a stress fracture in his right scapula and didn’t see the field until August. His first few starts were absolutely electric and dominant, but he struggled toward the end of the year.
In his final 4 starts, deGrom gave up 14 ER in 21 IP, and it was against teams that should not have given him this type of trouble; CHC, PIT, OAK, and ATL (the only exception). Despite these numbers, deGrom finished the year with an ERA just north of 3, and a WHIP of only 0.75! He struck out 102 in 64.2 IP (a very similar pace to Strider, but for only half the innings). deGrom wasn’t able to bring his ace-level game into the playoffs, and the Mets were knocked out early. If deGrom had more time to shake off the rust prior to the pivotal September and October games, there may have been a different story being written about the 2022 playoffs.
Starling Marte had a stellar season offensively for the Mets, posting a .292 AVG with 76 runs 16 HR 63 RBI and 18 SB in 466 AB. He did this before fracturing his finger after being hit by a pitch on 9/6. Marte never made it back to the field in the 2022 regular season and was sorely missed. The Mets bats never came alive following his return in the playoffs vs. the Padres. As a leadoff hitter and emotional leader on the team, Marte’s injury had fatal timing for the Mets. The 34-year-old should enter next season fully recovered, and will hopefully continue as one of the more consistent fantasy producers of the last 10 years.
The Philadelphia Phillies had some fairly significant injuries throughout the year, but none more important than Bryce Harper (fractured left thumb after being hit by pitch). You might think this injury wasn’t all that impactful, seeing as the Phillies found themselves in the 2022 World Series. Additionally, Harper had been even hotter at the plate since returning, but I think this was an incredibly impactful injury in a good way.
In the two months Harper was on the IL, Philly had a chance to get more of their position players at-bats in the DH position. Schwarber and company manned the DH spot, allowing their bench to get more in-game reps. Not only did these depth players get more time on the field, but they thrived. Those slotted at DH in the 38 games Harper missed performed very well; hitting 9 HR, with 19 runs scored and 16 RBI.
They hit a combined .264 avg with an .847 OPS and a .287 Isolated power (Iso)! Only two players in MLB individually hit for a greater Iso this year; Aaron Judge and Yordan Alvarez. The Phillies got their groove going offensively while Harper was recovering and his return was the spark that ignited their flame into the postseason.
This, I think was not only the least harmful, but the most impactful injury of the entire year in the NL East. How could it not be? It helped create the team that we watched take on the Astros in this year’s World Series.