I’ve finally compiled the 2017 Disabled List (DL) information. The main change from the last few seasons is the transition from the 15-day DL to 10-day DL and the subsequent increase in DL trips. With the total trips up, the number of days lost is down which makes it tough to draw any major conclusions. It’s time to dive into the numbers.
First off, I collected the information from MLB.com’s transaction list. I like to use this list because it is easy to go back and check. I waded through it and it wasn’t pretty. It took me twice as long to compile the data compared to previous seasons. I would just like to give a big thank you to ProSportsTransactions.com for having most of the missing data.
With my venting out of the way, here is how the days missed for pitchers and hitters compare over the previous 4 seasons.
Days lost are down from last season. With all the talk of the DL being an issue, players are staying on the field longer.
Now, the overall DL trips.
|Season||Hitters||Pitchers||Pitchers (<15 days on DL)||% of Pitcher DL trips|
The number of trips by hitters is up 29% and up 21% for pitchers. Almost all of the jump in pitcher trips can be explained with the 10-day DL. While the days dropped 12% from 2016 to 2017, the trips increased by 29% for pitchers.
It’s tough to know what is causing the disparity. It could be that 2016 was the peak with injuries and teams are finally keeping players healthy. It could be that shorter stints give players a needed break (even if they aren’t hurt) to make it through the season. It could just be a fluke season and injuries will skyrocket next season in keeping with a 10+ year trend. There are just too many factors in-play with the 10-day DL to predict the future.
Also, teams may be testing how far the league will allow them to use the 10-day DL to skip starts. I would not be surprised to see the number jump again.
The biggest impact the 10-day had was allowing teams to skip a pitcher’s start, bring up a bullpen arm, and let the pitcher jump back into the rotation 10 days later. Here are the teams who did this trick the most ranked by short (<15 days) pitcher DL trips.
|Team||Total||< 15 days||%|
It’s tough to imply too much information from just one season of information. We know the Dodgers have no problem cycling pitchers in an out. The Rangers and Rockies are close behind. I’m not surprised with either one of these two being near the top. The Rockies deal with the worst home park for pitchers and their pitchers could use some breaks. Also, the Rangers have historically cycled players on and off the DL so they’re likely to continue gaming the system.
As for individual teams, here is their rankings by total days lost.
|Team||Total Days||Pitchers||Hitters||Total Trips||Pitchers||Hitters|
Holy cow Dodgers. Going back to 2002, they shattered the 2012 Red Sox record for most trips of 33 by using the DL 41 times. For days lost, they were 6th all-time with last year’s team spending ~400 additional days on the DL (2306 days). And the Cubs just stayed healthy. Two different approaches for two of the league’s top teams.
Finally, I’ll leave with a bit of encouraging news, the number of days lost to elbow injuries (which includes Tommy John surgeries) fell to its lowest level since 2011.
Additionally, shoulders injuries dropped. Again, it’s tough to tell the decline’s exact cause but it is encouraging to see the league’s best pitchers on the mound more. I’m not sure if pitchers are less of an injury risk but it is a data point to track to see if it becomes a trend.
That’s it for a first look at the 2017 disabled list. After spending a couple of days collecting, cleaning up, and looking at the injury data, I’m ready to move on to a new topic. I’m sure I missed some obvious topics so let me know if there is any information people want to see.
Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.