Archive for MASH

An Introduction to Fatigue Units: A New Method for Evaluating Workloads

Tom Verducci once wrote about how a 30% increase in innings pitched could lead to injury in young pitchers. Since he wrote that, many people have objectively determined that this is not the case (Carleton, 2013). Not all innings are created equally, and not all pitches put the same amount of stress on the human body.

As we have learned in many different ways that are not a lot of fun , both relief pitchers and starting pitchers can succumb to the effects of pitching (also read as, getting injured). This makes the Pitcher Abuse Point scale not appropriate for relief pitchers (see this article on Baseball Prospectus – (Jazayerli, 1998)). Other research has pointed to measures like innings pitched as being a poor determinant of workload in pitchers (Karakolis et al., 2016). Pitching on consecutive days, high velocities, and total pitches have been identified as risk factors for injury (Whiteside et al., 2016). Read the rest of this entry »

MASH Report: Price, Desmond, & More

At Farnam Street, they recently quoted Richard Nisbett on how humans attribute blame.

Our susceptibility to the fundamental attribution error—overestimating the role of traits and underestimating the importance of situations—has implications for everything from how to select employees to how to teach moral behavior.

After covering injuries for years, I think this a great way to divide injury causes between factors out the player’s control (hit in the head with a pitch) to those he controls (hurting a back carrying deer up steps with Todd Helton).

Two hitters whose value has taken a hit from injuries are Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton. Here’s how I would step through the procedure to divide the blame starting with Harper.

Here are his injuries over the past three seasons and how much blame I would give to him.

  • ’13 Knee (DL): Ran into wall fielding ball. 60%
  • ’14 Thumb (DL): Head first slide. 85%
  • ’16 Shoulder (speculation): Unknown and head first slide. Too much unknown for much blame. 20%

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PITCHf/x Forensics: Matt Harvey and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

A lot was expected from Matt Harvey and the New York Mets starting rotation in 2016, but aside from the Norse God of Thunder, the season was a bit of a let down (to say the least). Having fully recovered from Tommy John Surgery, and a consequent missed season in 2014, Harvey missed the end of the 2016 season when he was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and opted for season-ending surgery. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are baseball fans know what Tommy John Surgery is, and where the ulnar collateral ligament resides. A lot less is known about Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, so let’s dig in.

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MASH Report: Harrison, Richards, & More

Josh Harrison discussed how his July 2015 surgery bothered him into 2016.

Harrison had surgery to repair his thumb in July 2015, and he returned at less than 100 percent. The following offseason, his training was designed to avoid putting too much weight on his thumb joint. Even during the first half of ’16, especially in cold weather, Harrison’s thumb became stiff and often stung.

“To be honest, I didn’t really feel it come back until right before I got hurt,” Harrison said.

Examining Harrison batted ball stats, there is a mixed message with his 2016 exit velocity dropping 1 mph while and increase in his launch angle led to more distance (+11 ft). The more I dug, I found very little to support a 2017 rebound. He was not productive before the 2015 injury. He never improved over the 2016 season. I may give him a small bump in value because he may have played through injuries but I think the 29-year-old may have peaked in 2014 and is just headed downhill. With him approaching 30, his one good trait, steals, may also be in jeopardy.

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MASH Report: Scherzer, Wheeler, & Pujols

Carlos Reyes had Tommy John surgery and will miss all of 2017 and probably a month or two of the 2018 season. Our own Mike Sonne went into the details on predicting Reyes’s injury.

Max Scherzer is not able to pitch because of a stress fracture in his knuckle which means he might not be ready for Opening Day.

“I don’t even want to comment on [Opening Day], because I don’t even know what I’m going to be able to do or not,” said Scherzer, who has been the Nationals’ Opening Day starter for the past two years. “It’d be unfair for me to even project or even talk about that.”
As Strasburg threw change-ups and sliders and honed two-seam fastballs, Scherzer was heartened by the fact that he could play catch with a baseball. He spent the winter throwing tennis and lacrosse balls to keep his arm in shape, because the baseball was too big for his injured finger to grip. He modified his grip again on Thursday.

“As this fracture continues to heal, as the symptoms continue to alleviate, as we get treatment on everything, I’ll be able to work back into all my grips and obviously get back on the mound,” Scherzer said. “But right now it’s just getting back out there, throwing a baseball and getting my arm in shape.”

Because he can’t grip a baseball, Scherzer’s not if he will be ready for the season’s start. Before this news, he was the clear #2 starter. As of now, I think he drops down to the next pack with Thor, Sale, and Bumgarner.

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Using the Stuff Metric as an Injury Identification Tool


Before I came to Rotographs – I wrote a lot on my own site, and in the FanGraphs community section. My first foray into baseball analysis was developing a metric to try and quantify “Stuff”. A New York Times article by John Branch in October 2015 discussed the elusive definition of the pitching term “stuff”. Talk of “plus stuff” and feelings of “all the stuff being there” was scattered throughout the article.

Despite interesting commentary discussing the ability for pitchers to over-power hitters, there was no true definition of the nastiness of a pitcher’s stuff. My favourite quote from the article is that stuff is “both meaningful and meaningless. There are no synonyms. Like pornography, stuff is defined mostly by example. An only pitchers have stuff. Hitters do not have stuff (Branch, 2015)”.

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Primary Repair Surgery – Returning Pitchers to the Field Faster

When pitchers injure their ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), there are very few things to be happy about. If you’re cheering for your favourite player, or your favourite team, you don’t get to see the best players compete. If you ARE the pitcher injuring your UCL, it means you don’t get to play your sport for at least a year, and you have a painstaking rehabilitation process ahead of you. Go ahead and read “The Arm” by Jeff Passan – and tell me you’d want to wish the process described by Todd Coffey and Daniel Hudson on anyone.

Tommy John Surgery is an exceptional feat of modern medicine. First being performed by the legendary Dr. Frank Jobe in the mid 70’s, this surgery allows pitchers who suffer an injury that was once career ending, to continue pitching at the highest level. Check out Jon Roegele’s Tommy John Surgery list ( – there were no teams in the MLB in 2016 who did not employ a pitcher who once had Tommy John Surgery. Despite it no longer being a death sentence for pitching careers, it does keep pitchers out of the game for a long period of time. The average time to return from a Tommy John Surgery (or UCL reconstruction) remains between 11 and 30 months (Erickson et al., 2014).

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MASH Report: Fantasy Implications Moving to the 10-Day DL

Information is slowly coming out on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the major league owners and players. Most of the news centers around the All-Star game no longer determining home field advantage or changes to draft pick compensation for free agents. All that information is useless for people playing fantasy baseball, though.

Almost all of it. Buried in all the news is that the minimum disabled list (DL) stint has gone down from 15 to 10 days according to the Associated Press.

In addition, players and management agreed the minimum stay on the disabled list will be reduced from 15 days to 10.

The DL change will allow teams to make quicker decisions on whether to bring up a roster replacement rather than wait to see whether the injured player would be ready to return to action in less than two weeks.

I never read or knew this change was even on the negotiating table so I haven’t had a lot of time to ponder the change. While it won’t drastically change the fantasy or real world game, I think it may add a little bit more stability to fantasy baseball. The following are some initial ideas I had after hearing the news.

I think the move will have different implications for hitters and pitchers. Let me start with the hitters.

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MASH Report: Starting Pitcher DL Chances

One item is always hanging over my head once the season ends, is the final clean disabled list report in which I have published every year since 2010. This morning, I completed finalizing the list and it is now time to run some queries. Most of the general information will be available in my annual article at The Hardball Times later this month or early next month.

For today’s MASH Report, I am going to publish my yearly starting pitcher disabled list chances. For this report, I have always incorporate the following factors.

• Age: The older the pitcher, the more the injury risk (+1% point increase each year older)
• Injury history: Nothing predicts future injuries like past injuries (+10% points for each season of the past three on the DL).
• Games Started: A pitcher needs to show they can throw for an entire season without breaking down (-3% points for each full season up to three).

Every year the average disabled list chance hovers around 40% which works out to two out of every five starters in a rotation will miss some time. Some teams will get hit with more injuries while others less.

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MASH Report: Schwarber, Bird, Moustakas, & Pollock

Today, I am going to look at some hitter who missed most of 2016 and some 2017 expectations.

Kyle Schwarber (Torn knee ligaments, sprained ankle)

Schwarber has the most upside of all the players I will look at today, but his price will likely be too high for me next year. The variables in his value are playing time, health, and position eligibility.

The first key is his health. Until we can see him run and turn and hit a baseball, the results of the knee surgery and rehab will not be known. Besides the lost production, hitters with knee injuries are more likely to go back on the DL with a knee injury than any other injury. Everyone will have to wait for spring training for this answer.

Second, I am not 100% sure where he is going to play in the field. It is very unlikely he will catch again, so he will need to go the outfield with Anthony Rizzo playing first base for the Cubs. In the outfield, he will be competing against some combination of Jorge Soler, Ben Zobrist, Kris Bryant, Jason Heyward, Albert Almora, and maybe Dexter Fowler (if option picked up). It is going to be tough to predict over 450 plate appearances for him.

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