MAJOR NEWS UPDATE:
Lou Piniella will resign after today's game vs Atlanta. His mother's health has not improved and instead of going the medical leave of absence route again, he's handing over the managerial chores to...THE FORMER IOWA CUB MANAGER... drumroll, please...[[[Mike Quade]]]. Pfffft.
There is a segment of the news reporters who actually cover medical meetings and try their hand at using medical lingo on their readers. I found this article online (and several other sources picked it up including the LA Times) but it originates from a news feed that the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine provided after their 2010 annual meeting from Providence, RI.
This is clearly an epidemiologic study. I'm thinking medical sabermetrics is a better term.
The study was based on data from MLB's disabled list published online data from 2002-2008, so it didn't really need a doctor to do this, it probably was done by a doctor who is a baseball junkie. Hmmm.
Dr. (and Major) Matthew Posner took the raw information and tabulated the frequency and distribution of injuries by anatomic site, position, AL vs NL and time of season (before or after the All-Star break). Nicely done. Clean and simple.
"Even though baseball is a passion of many people and our national pastime, there is very little information about the epidemiology, characteristics or distribution of injuries in Major League Baseball,” said Maj., Matthew Posner, MD, orthopaedic surgeon at the William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas. “This study attempts to evaluate Major League injuries over the period of six years.”
On to Dr. Posner's findings after the jump...
The raw data:
|•3,072 players were placed on the disabled list from the 2002 season through 2008, an average of 438.9 per year.|
•The high during the period was 516 in 2008, and the low was 388 in 2005.
The major findings: Arms>Legs>Backs>Core (ribs/abdomenals)
|•51.4% of all injuries during the period were to the upper extremities.|
|•30.6% were to lower extremities.|
|•7.4% were back injuries.|
|•4.3% were injuries to core muscles.|
Next finding, pitchers are fragile: D'oh, but impressive considering there is an 8:1 ratio of fielders:pitchers during games. Of course some injuries don't happen during games (see Clint Barmes inury). I'd love to see stats for catchers or a breakdown of fielders who get injured batting or baserunning. The catcher data was apparently, not in the study. The batting/baserunning data would take a little more research outside of a DL list.
|•Pitchers spent a greater proportion of days on the disability list, 62.4%, compared to 37.6% for fielders.|
The obvious is verified, but now it's quantified: Pitchers tend to hurt their arms!
|•Pitchers accounted for 67% of upper extremity injuries, compared to
fielders, who had more lower extremity injuries and injuries to other
|•Fielders had a greater proportion of lower extremity injures, 47.5% compared to 16.9% for pitchers.|
NL vs AL: Identical patterns.
|•National League players injured their upper extremities 51.7 percent of
the time, lower extremities 30.7 percent and other anatomic regions 17.7
|•American League players injured their upper extremities 51.1 percent of
the time, lower extremities 30.5 percent and other anatomic regions 18.4
percent, according to the study.
Timing of Injury: Mostly before the All-Star Break (74.4%)
|•79% of shoulder and elbow injuries happened before the All-Star Break|
|•74.8% of the other injuries (groin, hamstrings, quads, trunk/core)
before the A-S game.
|•Pitchers sustained 76.5% and fielders sustained 71.7% of their total respective injuries prior to the All-Star game.|
I just might be crazy enough to build on Dr. Posner's work and do a Cub specific review of that readily available DL data (sounds like an off season project...although this entire season has been an off-season). That should be interesting in light of these published league norms to compare to.
I have followed Baseball Prospectus' Will Carroll epidemiologic (medical sabermetrics?) work. He gives out the now annual Dick Martin Award to the best team medical staff (last recipient was the Phillies, Cubs now in the top one-third!). In a previous TCR article, The Cubs Trainer vs. The Secretive Nature of the Industry, I detailed the Cubs head trainer (yes, he works on all body parts), Mark O'Neal in the context of the BP Dick Martin award. I also wrote about the 2010 Cubs in the context of Will Carroll's health report ratings and the data that he tracks, Running a Yellow Light.
Baseball prospectus posted an excellent chart for the 2009 season, days lost to injury (sabermetrically speaking, D-LOIN?) vs salary lost, as a percentage of total team payroll (S-LOIN?).
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.
Maybe that's one more thing Tom Ricketts should put on Ari Kaplan's To-Do list (Ricketts hired Kaplan as Cub manager of statistical analysis this past June).