Injury Prone or Bad Luck? Part 2

Which batters are injury prone, and which just have bad luck?

Welcome to part two of Injury-Prone or Bad Luck! If you haven’t already checked out part one, give it a look! The main things we will be investigating are bone, muscle, and ligament injuries to determine if a player has bad luck or is injury prone.

I understand this exercise is subjective, and there is bound to be someone you and I don’t agree on. You know what? That’s fine! I have particular players on my personal “Do Not Draft” list that you probably don’t, and vice-versa. So when we disagree on a player, I would love to create a conversation about him and see your point of view.

The fun part of this section of the series is that our own biases and beliefs play a role in how we view players, both in draft prep and during the season. Having a season ruined because a centerpiece of your offense hit the IL leaves a bad taste in your mouth (2017 Josh Donaldson and David Dahl, I’m looking at you).  You may personally love Donaldson and Dahl and want shares of them in every league of yours. I probably won’t ever draft either just because of my personal experiences.

During this article, we are going to be looking at the number of days a player is on the IL, not the number of games. Since 2018, the MLB season is 187 days long; prior to 2018, the season was 183 days. With 2017 being four days shorter, any injury resulting in an IL stint meant a higher percentage of the season missed. Something to keep in mind as we move forward.

Increasing the total length of the season was a great move by the MLB. It gives the players more days off and, in theory, should help decrease the number of IL stints seen during the season. Allowing players more time off between games and lengthening the season is always a good thing. It gives the players more recovery and healing time, which in turn gives us healthier players. Here is a breakdown of the last three years for hitters on the IL, according to Spotrac.

SeasonTotal IL StintsDays on the IL
201723311,925
201824011,358
201925215,693

Every year since 2017, we have seen an increase in the total number of IL stints, but, surprisingly, we see a decrease in days between 2017 and 2018. I think that can be attributed to teams using the 10-day IL more often and being savvy about IL decisions.

Why would a team have a player sit on the bench for 5-7 days when you can add him to the IL and call up a healthy body? The injured player doesn’t feel rushed back into playing, and it allows for a minor leaguer or role player to show what they have in regular action for a week or so. It’s a win-win for everyone, including fantasy players. There isn’t much more aggravating than having a player sit on your bench with the day-to-day tag for a week plus when he could be on the IL.

Which leads me to my first point: If your league does not have at least two IL spots, then you need to petition for a rule change today. In today’s MLB, more and more players are going on the IL. It would be best for all leagues if you are allowed the opportunity and roster flexibility to put yourself in a position to win. Playing a man down for any time puts you and your team at an unfair disadvantage. Personally, it feels that for 90% of the season, I have someone on the IL. It’s just how players are being managed. The odds of having three or more players on the IL at one time is not that unreasonable. Please have at least two IL spots; it’s only fair.

We are going to do three fundamental breakdowns for each player listed below. We will look at their career IL stints, the average percentage of days per season missed since 2017, and then talk about their injuries. At the end of each breakdown we should have our label of injury-prone or bad luck!

Let’s get started with the poster child, Giancarlo Stanton.

 

Giancarlo Stanton

 

What does 18 games and 59 at-bats in 2019 while carrying an ADP around 20 get for you? Frustrated fantasy owners, that’s what. The fallout from the injury-riddled season placed Stanton’s 2020 ADP at about 70. We know Stanton can produce MVP caliber numbers, but Stanton’s most important question mark as a fantasy asset has always been his health.

During Stanton’s ten year career, he has played an average of 116.2 games per season and has six IL stints. He has an average IL stint of 58.33 days, which is about 31% of the season. Stanton has played over 140 games four times in his career. Since 2017, he has missed an average of 29.08% days per season.

Let’s take a look at his MLB injury history.

SeasonInjuryLength (Days)
2012Knee surgery (bone chips)25
2013Right hamstring strain41
2015Left hand fracture99
2016Left groin strain23
2019Left biceps strain78
2019Right knee sprain84
Average: 58.33 

There is one glaring injury missing from the chart. Where is the 2014 facial fracture? Though Stanton underwent surgery and had his season ended in 2014, he was not placed on the IL due to September’s expanded rosters. Since he was not placed on the IL following surgery, the 17 days missed are not included in the total or average.

Now, with that out of the way, let’s analyze the injuries. 35% of Stanton’s IL time is from the bone chip removal and fractured hand. I’m going to chalk up both of those to fluke accidents; don’t forget that Stanton’s 2015 hand fracture was on a check swing, of all things. I think it is safe to say both of those injuries happening again is very unlikely.

The other 65% of his injury history are strains and sprains. We are going to call these type of injuries soft tissue injuries. When I look at a player’s injury history, I want to avoid these types of injuries. I view soft tissue injuries as injury-prone indicators, particularly when they repeatedly occur to the same muscle. While Stanton doesn’t have a history of repeated strains or sprains, he does have a hamstring strain history.

Hamstring injuries don’t automatically qualify a player to be placed on my “Do Not Draft” list; they are more like a yellow flag. I try to avoid them if possible, because hamstrings are among the more likely muscle groups to suffer from a setback. My MO is that if a player of mine suffers a hamstring injury mid-season, I will try to trade them off my team quickly after being healthy again. I’ve been burned enough times by repeat strains and setbacks; I prefer to not deal with them.

The good news for Stanton is that he has not had a repeat injury. The bad news is when he hits the IL, he hits the IL for a long time. This makes it hard to get an accurate gauge of Stanton and his injuries. He is wildly inconsistent with how and when he gets injured. Removing his hand fracture from the picture, he went three years between having a soft tissue injury. To me, a soft tissue injury every three years feels like bad luck. But when looking at the overall body of work, it’s hard to justify anything other than injury-prone for a guy who only averages 116 games a season over ten years.

I think the main take away from Stanton is that we have a 10-year sample size. When you play more than 140 games a season for only 40% of your career, it’s hard to argue for anything other than injury-prone. The potential to be an MVP is there, but so is the injury potential. This is a tough call to make, but it’s something that has to be done.

Verdict: Injury-prone.

 

David Dahl 

 

David Dahl has fooled me one time too many, and I’m not going to let him fool me again. Since 2017, Dahl has missed 231 days on the IL and averaged over 57 days on the IL per season. After making his debut in 2016, Dahl has not played over 100 games in a single season. Unsurprisingly, Dahl has missed over 41% of the last three seasons.

SeasonInjuryLength (Days)
2017Rib stress fracture108
2018Right foot fracture56
2019Oblique strain9
2019Right ankle sprain58
Average: 57.75

Looking at the type of injuries that Dahl has endured throughout his short career, we have two bone injuries and two soft tissue injuries. The rib stress fracture and right foot fracture account for 164 days on the IL, good for almost 71%. His oblique strain and right ankle sprain account of the remaining 67 days, or 29%, of his time on the IL. When we look at his injuries, I notice a couple of things. At least one IL trip per season and most of his time on the IL is largely from bone injuries. Typically, bone injuries aren’t that worrisome. But, when it comes to Dahl, I am very nervous about having him on my team again for some reason. It could be because I’ve had him on my roster since 2016, and he has burned me in three straight seasons.

At first glance, I feel Dahl is the victim of a lot of bad luck. But to miss over eight weeks with an ankle sprain is just as surprising as it is alarming. I remember at the time of the injury, and it looked like he broke his ankle. Honestly, it was one of the worst ankle sprains I’ve ever seen on TV.

Luckily for Dahl, it was only a high ankle sprain and not a fracture. This is one instance where I believe a bone injury wouldn’t have been a better outcome. While high ankle sprains are no joke and do cause a decent amount of damage (depending on severity), a broken or dislocated ankle could have impaired Dahl for the rest of his career. With the ankle sprain included in his totals, he has only missed 12% due to soft tissue injuries. If we remove his ankle injury and only look at the oblique injury, we are looking at 1.6% of the season on the IL due to soft tissue.

So as of right now, I’m contributing 222 IL days for Dahl on very abnormal injuries. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t injury-prone. It is possible that it takes less to get a reaction from his bones and he is just prone to injuries.

There is a way that I could change my mind about the decision, and it hinges on the next two years. With the shortened season we will have in 2020, we need to see Dahl play in about 85% of the games. Depending on how the schedule and number of games play out will help determine the final number I settle on; it could be anywhere from 75-85%. The number of doubleheaders and games within the season will be how I decide the total amount I want to see him play. With that in mind, I’m going to say that 2021 will be a season Dahl has to play 140+ games. If that happens, maybe we can say that Dahl has been a victim of bad luck for a couple of years in a row.

I’ve gone back on forth with this one. I feel there is an excellent argument for both sides of the coin for Dahl. But let’s take a deeper dive and look into his minor league injury IL history. During his minor league career, between 2012 and 2016, Dahl suffered from a season-ending hamstring tear and a lacerated spleen. Again, more confusing injuries. The hamstring tear is a double yellow flag for me, because it is more severe than a low-grade strain, while a lacerated spleen is another example of more bad luck.

Looking at nature and the number of injuries, I think we all know where this is going. Dahl has a chance to change my mind, but he will have to stay healthy for an extended period before that happens. If 2020 gives us a hamstring, back injury, or another soft tissue injury whatsoever, then Dahl will be dead to me. But ask me in a year or so, and I will have a more definitive answer.

Verdict: Injury-prone.

 

Corey Seager

 

I think out of everyone on this list, Corey Seager has been the largest victim of recency bias. Unlike Dahl, Seager has had 2 IL stints since making his debut in 2015. Since 2017, Seager has missed almost 33% of the season on average due to injury. After making his debut in 2015, he is averaging 115.5 games per season.

SeasonInjuryLength (Days)
2018Tommy John155
2019Left hamstring strain28
Average: 91.5

Don’t forget, Seager also had hip surgery during the 2018 season. I wasn’t able to find much information on this hip surgery, but if I had to guess, it would have been a labrum and impingement surgery.

I think this is going to be a pretty straightforward analysis here. Both the hip and elbow should not be issues going forward, and we only really need to watch out for a possible hamstring strain. For a positional player to need TJ is rare, so I’m OK calling that a freak incident. To only miss four weeks because of a hamstring strain is a relatively quick recovery, so it’s a good sign that it was a minor strain. The less severe a muscle injury is, the stronger it will be after it heals, and that should decrease the likelihood of a reoccurring injury.

Before TJ, Seager played in at least 145 games in three consecutive seasons if you include his 2015 minor league games. He was also able to play in 134 in 2019, despite missing a month with the hamstring issue. Seager has shown that he isn’t injury-prone, and he just ran into some bad luck. I’m very confident in that decision and would expect him to play over 140 games a season regularly.

Verdict: Bad luck.

 

Carlos Correa

 

Carlos Correa is the next player on our list, and since 2017, he has been on the IL for over 31% of the time with at least one IL trip per season. Since being in the MLB full time in 2016, Correa is averaging 112 games played per season. The outlier during his short career is 2016, with 153 games played. Correa is only averaging 98 games played per season since 2017.

SeasonInjuryLength (Days)
2017Left thumb surgery (UCL)47
2018Lower back soreness42
2019Rib fracture58
2019Back discomfort28
Average: 43.75

The good thing for Correa is that the thumb surgery and rib fracture are not alarming to me. The thumb injury happened while sliding into second base. This injury occurs when you take your thumb and try to move it to your forearm. Feel that stretching feeling around the web space of your thumb? That’s the ligament he tore, and basically how these types of injuries occur.

Rib fractures happen, and with a guy who hasn’t shown a history of a bunch of fractures, I’m not too worried about it being an issue.

What is alarming, though, is his back. Correa has missed time each of the last two seasons because of back soreness and discomfort, and that’s the last thing you want to see from a 24- and 25-year-old. I’m afraid that this has and will continue to be a chronic issue for Correa that could plague him for the rest of his career. I put Correa and other back-injury players on my “Do Not Draft” list because they are usually chronic and reoccur. They can be detrimental to a season, and I don’t want to run that risk.

Correa still has time to show that he isn’t injury-prone, but he needs to put together a couple of healthy seasons. If he can go back injury-free for a couple of seasons, I will have to start changing my tone. But for now, and until 2022 at the earliest, I will avoid him.

Verdict: Injury-prone.

 

Josh Donaldson

 

One of the most surprising findings from this injury research was that Josh Donaldson didn’t have an IL stint in the MLB until 2017. I would have guessed that he has been injured more often than that. Donaldson has missed 29% of the last three seasons due to injury, even while playing 155 games in 2019. Between 2013 and 2019, Donaldson is averaging 136 games played per season. Of those seven seasons, Donaldson has played in at least 155 games five times.

SeasonInjuryLength (Days)
2017Right calf strain42
2018Right shoulder inflammation20
2018Left calf tightness91
2018Left calf strain8
Average: 40.25

Donaldson’s calf issues in 2018 are what stand out. If his calf had healed on time instead of facing setback after setback, we probably wouldn’t have this discussion. Donaldson has shown he is a durable player and has just had some bad injury luck. When he gets injured, he just doesn’t seem to be able to shake it. I feel that we can attribute a vast majority of that to aging. 2017 and 2018 were Donaldson’s 31- and 32-year-old seasons.

Want to make the argument that Donaldson is injury-prone? I could have bought it if we had this discussion before 2019. Since he was able to play 155 games for the Braves, he just needed a year to heal his body. It was incredibly unlucky to have the entire season lost to injuries, but not playing for a year has revitalized players in the past. Alex RodriguezRyne SandburgEric Davis, and Jim Edmonds are all great examples of taking a year off and then following up with a productive season afterward. While Donaldson didn’t necessarily take a year off, he only played in 52 unproductive games. So I believe the lost 2018 season could have led to the productive 2019.

Given his prior track record before 2017, and the season he had in 2019, I would expect Donaldson to remain healthy. He will probably start seeing a drop in total games as he ages, but I don’t think Donaldson will lose seasons as he did in 2018.

Verdict: Bad luck.

 

Gary Sanchez

 

Another year, another injury for Gary Sanchez in 2019. At this point, it isn’t even surprising. While, technically, Sanchez made his debut in 2015 and was called up again 2016, 2017 was his first season of full-time action. So we are going to focus on his time in the MLB since 2017.

I understand that catcher is a fantasy wasteland, but if I’m drafting a catcher as early as Sanchez and J.T. Realmuto, I will want at least 130 games played. 130 games come out to be 80% of the season, and that’s my target number of games played for catchers. Sanchez has yet to play 125 games in a single season in the MLB, and is averaging 106 games played per season, missing an average of 21% on the IL.

SeasonInjuryLength (Days)
2017Right biceps strain26
2018Right groin strain24
2018Right groin strain39
2019Left calf strain13
2019Left groin strain17
Average: 23.8

Strain, after strain, after strain. That’s what we see with Sanchez on his injury report. Right groin twice and left groin once worries me about his health moving forward, and add on top of that a bicep and calf strain. So what we have with Sanchez is a lot of soft tissue injuries that cover his entire body. Like we have talked about earlier, soft-tissue injuries are not a good thing to see. Considering that 100% of his injuries are soft tissue, I think I’m about to update my “Do Not Draft” list.

I’m not worried about the amount of time of each IL stint; it’s the total number of IL stints in three seasons. Averaging 24 days on the IL isn’t a bad average; it’s the lowest we have seen so far. The fact that Sanchez has five trips to the IL in three seasons is what concerns me. It shows me that Sanchez has a hard time staying on the field. Could we put some of the blame on the fact that he is a catcher? That would be a fair argument to look into, but as we saw in Part 1, catchers don’t get injured at a higher rate than other positions. It could just be that Sanchez gets hurt more often than other players.

It could also be that he just can’t handle the workload that comes with being a catcher. I would be interested to see if he demonstrates a decrease in injury rate once he moves to first base or DH full time. He’s still a catcher, and my decision will be based on his position and injury history.

Verdict: Injury-prone.

 

Trea Turner 

 

Trea Turner‘s first full-time season was in 2017, and that will be where we focus most of our timeline analysis. Since 2017, Turner has been on the IL 21% of the time, averaging 128 games per season. During 2018, Turner played in all 162 games. He has had three different IL trips, with fractures making up 90% of his IL time. The only soft tissue injury for Turner was the 2017 hamstring strain, which cost him 12 days on the IL.

SeasonInjuryLength (Days)
2017Right hamstring strain12
2017Right wrist fracture60
2019Right finger fracture44
Average: 38.67

The wrist fracture occurred by a hit by pitch, and a missed bunt caused the finger fracture. Turner has shown he is a durable player, so I’m going to chalk up the two fractures to bad luck. A 12-day IL stint with a hamstring strain is probably one the shortest you’ll ever see. Soft tissue injuries only make up 10% of his injured time, which is a great indicator of Turner having a low injury potential.

Turner’s primary skill is his speed, and when I see a speedster, I get worried about hamstring injuries. But with only the one hammy injury, I think the skill will maintain and age nicely.

I think we can make the determination of bad luck with confidence and not have to worry about Turner missing time due to injury. The only thing we have to worry about is unlikely accidents.

Verdict: Bad luck.

 

Aaron Judge

 

Aaron Judge was one of the players who have benefited from the delay to the start of the season. Since he was injured in Spring Training, the extra time off before Opening Day has given him enough time to likely be ready for the start of the season. Otherwise, he was expected to start the year on the IL. Judge has spent nearly 20% of the last three seasons on the IL, missing 110 days during that time.

SeasonInjuryLength (Days)
2016Right oblique strain19
2018Right wrist fracture49
2019Left oblique strain61
Average: 43

Here’s the thing that worries me about Judge. He has had two soft tissue injuries, one to both of his obliques. If I’m a betting man, which I have been known to do, I would bet the reason he has had oblique injuries is that Judge is just a mammoth of a human being. We saw that in Part 1, that size and weight doesn’t translate to injury prediction. But his size, coupled with how hard he swings a bat could lead to an increased risk of oblique injuries. Since both oblique injuries came while he was hitting, I feel that we could have that argument.

Obliques are very important; they are the power generator for hitters and pitchers. But oblique injuries are tough, and they usually take a while to heal fully. For Judge and other right-handed batters, a right-side oblique injury usually is a better prognosis than left. The lead side oblique is where most of the rotational power is generated, and the opposite for left-handed hitters.

We can write the wrist fracture off as an unlikely event and as bad luck. Like most wrist fractures, he was hit by a pitch.

At this point in his career, Judge seems to be a victim of bad luck. While he has missed a lot of time, oblique injuries are tough to pin down, and fractures are bad-luck injuries. There is a chance the oblique could become a chronic issue for him, but with the training staff all MLB teams have, I wouldn’t be worried moving forward. Let’s not forget, Judge was scheduled to miss a chunk of time to start the season, so that is something to keep in the back of your mind. Hopefully he is fully healed and his rib issue doesn’t linger.

My honest opinion: I’m not too worried about Judge moving forward.

Verdict: Bad luck.

 

George Springer

 

George Springer has had an odd career injury arc. Between 2014 and 2015, I would have said injury-prone for sure. 2016 changed my tune, and then 2017 started to show some unfavorable signs for his long-term injury outlook. Springer has missed 10% of the past three seasons, averaging 124 games per season during his career.

SeasonInjuryLength (Days)
2014Left quad strain71
2015Concussion7
2015Right wrist fracture64
2017Left quad discomfort15
2018Left thumb sprain11
2019Left hamstring strain30
Average: 33

Concussions will always be a bad-luck injury for baseball players. We know that having one will predispose you to more down the road, so we need to watch out for concussions becoming a chronic issue in the future. But for now, we will write this off as bad luck.

For Springer, I am concerned about his soft tissue injury history. The thumb sprain doesn’t worry me. It was caused by sliding into second base. But it’s his left leg that has me worried. His left quad has cost him 86 days for his career, and his left hamstring has cost him 30 days. Repeat injury? Check. Multiple injuries to the same extremity? Check. All he is missing is a second hamstring injury, and Springer would be on my list.

At this point, I think Springer has suffered more bad luck than anything, but he is very close to being injury-prone. One more left quad or hamstring injury will change my mind.

Verdict: Bad luck.

 

A.J. Pollock

 

Find me a man who feels like he is always hurt, and you will find A.J. Pollock. Five trips to the IL during his career, with an average of 82 days per trip: That’s a lot of lost time for the one-time top tier fantasy asset. Over the past three seasons, Pollock has been on the IL for an average of 31% of the time.

SeasonInjuryLength (Days)
2014Right hand fracture93
2016Right elbow fracture145
2017Right groin strain50
2018Left hand avulsion fracture48
2019Right elbow inflammation73
Average: 81.8

Of his five trips to the IL, three of them have been due to fractures, with only one soft-tissue injury, from his groin strain in 2017, that cost him 50 days. So what do we see here? I see Pollock is susceptible to fractures, and I know I said in the beginning that fractures shouldn’t make you be labeled injury-prone. It’s hard to speak in absolutes, and injuries should be viewed on a case-by-case basis. Pollock has shown that he struggles to stay on the field, even if they are weird, fluky fractures (diving catch, sliding into home, hit by pitch, awkward roll in the field).

Looking back at Pollock’s minor league injury history, he suffered an elbow fracture in 2010 that caused him to miss the entire season. At this point, Pollock has had five fractures in his professional baseball career. As he gets older, I don’t feel confident that he consistently stay on the field.

Verdict: Injury-prone.

 

Byron Buxton

 

There is a lot to unpack with Byron Buxton. There is good news, and there is some bad news. The bad news: He has been on the IL a ton during his big league career. The good news: Buxton is only averaging about three weeks on the IL at a time. I realize he made his debut in 2015, but he wasn’t a full-time MLB player until the 2017 season, so that is what we are going to work with. Since 2017, Buxton is averaging 85 games per season and missing about 26% of the season on the IL. So let’s take a look at what is going on here.

SeasonInjuryLength (Days)
2015Left thumb sprain46
2017Left groin strain17
2018Migraine10
2018Left big toe fracture12
2018Left big toe fracture33
2019Right wrist contusion14
2019Concussion11
2019Left shoulder subluxation29
2019Left shoulder subluxation20
Average: 21.34

We are going to keep this one short and sweet. I think the biggest takeaway with Buxton is that he gets injured a lot and likes to repeat his injuries. Nine IL stints since 2015 is a ton of injuries. Buxton plays hard, and maybe that has something to do with it. Perhaps he could change his game, as we have seen with Bryce Harper, and be more conservative instead of the 110 mph player he currently is. Maybe he won’t and will continue to get injured, but for now, he is injury-prone.

Verdict: Injury-prone

 

Bryce Harper

 

If we had done this exercise five years ago, Bryce Harper would have been injury-prone 100% based on reputation. But since 2015, he has only had one injury, and a fluke of an injury to boot. For his career, Harper is averaging 136 games played per season. Four of the last five years, Harper has played in at least 147 games. That is the type of trend we want to see. I wholeheartedly believe that after the early part of his career, Harper began to calm down and not go full Byron Buxton. What was the result? More games played and less time injured, which is what both the Phillies and fantasy owners want to see.

SeasonInjuryLength (Days)
2013Left knee bursitis30
2014Left thumb sprain65
2017Left knee hyperextension44
Average: 46.33

Between 2017 and 2019, Harper has only missed 8% of the season. If I had to guess, I would have thought he would have spent more time injured than he has.

If we look at all three of his injuries, we can explain them all away. Knee bursitis happens, which really isn’t something we can hold him accountable for. But the good news is that he had that bursa removed, so he will never have knee bursitis again in his left knee!

His left thumb sprain happened just like most other thumb sprains, sliding headfirst into a bag, and it probably won’t be an issue again.

His hyperextended knee was from stretching to reach first on an infield hit. Could that predispose him to other left knee issues down the road? Possibly, but with how strong Harper’s legs are, I wouldn’t be worried about it. His musculature should be more than enough to support his knee.

Honestly, I’m glad to see the results from Harper’s injury history. At the start of his career, I thought he would be one of those players that always battle injuries. But it seems that he has figured something out, and has shifted himself from injury-prone to have some bad luck.

Verdict: Bad luck.

Quick Blast!

 

We are going to do a quick rundown on a couple of other players. I will list their injury history, give the amount of time they have missed since 2017, and give them their label!

 

Joey Gallo

 

Joey Gallo has spent 18% on the IL since 2017, and averages 121 games per season since being a full-time MLB player.

SeasonInjuryLength (Days)
2017Concussion7
2019Left oblique strain23
2019Right hamate fracture68
Average: 32.67

Verdict: Bad luck

 

Miguel Sano

 

Miguel Sano has missed 20% of the last three seasons due to injury, averaging 102 games played per season. He has never played more than 116 games in the MLB, and he has been on the IL at least once for four consecutive years.

SeasonInjuryLength (Days)
2016Left hamstring strain30
2017Left shin stress fracture39
2018Left hamstring strain23
2019Right heel laceration49
Average: 35.25

It’s hard to fault him for the heel laceration, but it would be different if that was his only injury.

Verdict: Injury-prone.

 

Yoenis Cespedes 

 

Yoenis Cespedes hasn’t seen the field since 2018, and that was for only 38 games. Over the last three seasons, he has spent 73% of each season on the IL and is averaging 40 games per season during that time. For his career, Cespedes is averaging 118 games played per season.

SeasonInjuryLength (Days)
2012Left hand muscle strain25
2013Left hand muscle strain15
2016Right quad strain15
2017Left hamstring strain43
2017Right hamstring strain36
2018Right hip flexor strain65
2018Heel calcifications70
2019Heel surgery189
Average: 57

Cespedes is injured often and has a lot of soft tissue injuries. Considering he hasn’t played in almost two years, he has to be labeled as injury-prone.

Verdict: Injury-prone.

 

Adam Eaton

 

Adam Eaton has missed 39% of the last three seasons, and is averaging 117 games since 2014.

SeasonInjuryLength (Days)
2013Left elbow strain100
2014Right hamstring strain15
2014Right oblique strain17
2017Left ACL tear155
2018Left ankle surgery59
Average: 69

Believe it or not, I think Eaton has suffered from a lot of bad luck. The ankle injury happened when he tore his ACL in 2017, he only has two muscle strains, and hasn’t had any elbow issues since his 2013 incident.

Verdict: Bad luck.

That’s a wrap! Thanks for checking out the hitter section of this series. Parts 3 and 4 will work the same way, but we will move our focus to pitchers. Who did I get right and who did I get wrong? Let me know!

Photos by Rich Graessle, Mark Goldman, and David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by J.R. Caines (@JRCainesDesign on Twitter and @caines_design on Instagram)

Jake Robinson

Jake is a student at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center working towards a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Jake (painfully) loves all things with Texas A&M, Texas Rangers, and Dallas Cowboys. Find him on Twitter at @Jake_Rob17

  • Avatar Toph says:

    One guy who I am surprised didn’t make the list was Jorge Soler. It was great to see him finally live up to his prospect hype, but man did it take forever to get there.

    2013 – Tibia stress fracture
    2014 – Hamstring strain in 2014
    2015 – Ankle injury/oblique injury. He 2016 – Hamstring
    2017 – Oblique issue
    2018 – Broken foot

    What is your take on his injury history and label? Also do you think what he did could be repeatable if able to finally stay healthy (I’m hoping a full time DH job helps that)

    Great job on this!

    • Avatar Jake Robinson says:

      Hey thanks for reaching out!
      Soler has been injured a lot lately. But he has only missed about 6% of the last three season because of soft tissue injuries. I get your point, he was on the IL for 6 straight seasons.
      The stress fracture and broken foot don’t really worry me. But the obliques and hammy injuries do have me worried. Without having all his info in front on me, I’d lean that he is injury-prone.
      If he stays healthy I don’t see why he couldn’t repeat what he did in 2019. The DH would be a great spot for him because we have seen he has a hard time staying on the field as it is.

      Are you thinking injury prone or bad luck?

      • Avatar Toph says:

        Appreciate the response, Jake. I myself would have slapped an Injury Prone label on his well just because prior to last year his highest game total was 101.

        I feel like Soler is a guy who needs the consistent reps because we he was healthy, he wasn’t awful, but he was never really able to find any consistency. But I also am speculating that he wouldn’t have been 100% when he was playing in those seasons which can effect overall performance.

        I think in 2019 he was able to showcase his full set of skills because he did play every day and that kind of falls in line with his 101 game season in 2015 (where he had an unreal post season). He has legit 40 homer power, but I’m obviously gonna be a little skeptical he can repeat it again. I’m guessing like most people, we want to see him do something similar to 2019 again before we call him one of the games elite sluggers, but I think it can be done as long as his injuries are of the minimal kind.

        • Avatar Jake Robinson says:

          I agree with you 100%. I think the most important thing with all of these players is that if they can stay healthy for 2-3 years, then the perception changes.

          His BABIP and K rate is in a range where I wouldn’t be surprised if he has another productive season. Maybe not 2019 good, but fantasy relevant for sure! As you said, injuries will determine how valuable he is.

          Thanks for sharing your point of view! If only having 16 players on the list, I was bound to miss someone very deserving to be included!

  • Avatar Dave says:

    Jake,

    Nice analysis – really enjoy this series of articles. Regarding Pollock, in watching him play, I wonder how many of his injuries should be attributed to playing “balls to the wall” with reckless abandon to make every possible play (like Buxton and Harper). I think he and his coaching staff in LA recognize this as an issue and playing in LF instead of CF helps to decrease his chance of injury (of course, all those injuries have probably also taken a toll on his defensive ability).

    Obviously, any player that hustles with reckless abandon in an attempt to make a very difficult play is more prone to injury than someone that is more cautious. But, I wonder if playing in the outfield has a greater propensity for injury than playing in the infield. I say this because there is more ground to cover and more time to make the play. So, an outfielder has time to run full speed to the gap, toward the infield or back to the wall and make a diving attempt at a catch with a hard and sometimes awkward impact with the ground or wall (or to strain a calf, pull a groin, etc.).

    Regarding Sanchez, all of his injuries are muscle strains which may be mitigated to some degree by lifestyle changes. I wonder if more focus on proper sleep habits, diet, supplements (maybe he’s focusing too much on building/maintaining muscle mass), hydration, and flexibility would help.

    • Avatar Jake Robinson says:

      Hey Dave!

      Thanks for reading the articles. I really appreciate it!

      For Pollock, I love where your head is at. I had the exact same line of thinking when I was looking at the positions and injury rate. What we found was that there really wasn’t a difference between any of the 8 fielding positions. I thought that more running, diving plays, and walls to worry about that injuries could be higher for outfielders too. I was really disappointed to get that stats back from part 1, showing that there wasn’t a difference between height, weight, or position.

      I think Pollock could attribute a lot of his injuries to his style of play. But the main reason I went with injury-prone for Pollock was because of the injuries he had in the majors and minors (repeat elbow fracture was a big one) and his age. Maybe moving to left vs center will help though!

      Sanchez is tough!!!! You nailed it on the head with his lifestyle. That could play a HUGE part in his injuries. It’s hard for me to analyze this from my home. Not knowing how he trains and his diet makes it very difficult to make a decision. That is one of the many challenges I faced with this particular article.

      Are you thinking Pollock and Sanchez have been subject to more bad luck?

      • Avatar Dave says:

        Jake,

        In answer to your question, I’m not sure I would call it more bad luck for Pollock. But, it does appear to be due to playing with reckless abandon moreso than injury-prone. I know several of his injuries occurred when he was trying to make difficult plays. I think most of his fractures were from diving for a ball and landing awkwardly or smashing into the wall. But, maybe he has fragile bones.

        Sanchez is definitely injury-prone. But maybe it’s just a perfect storm of genetics, lifestyle (past and/or present) and position (catcher)… and, if not already focusing on it, good lifestyle/training habits may help to mitigate some (perhaps a lot) of the risk.

        Thanks for the feedback – looking forward to part 3.

        • Avatar Jake Robinson says:

          Absolutely! Thanks for reading!

          I think the best way to describe Pollock is that he has so much bad luck (maybe due to playing style but who knows?) and he has brittle bones it just leads him to be injury prone. I really hate that he can’t stay healthy because he is a blast to watch.

          Hopefully the position change will help him, like you mentioned!

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