Fernando Tatis Jr. & Shoulder Surgeries

D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

I tweeted out wanting to know who had shoulder surgeries similar to Fernando Tatis Jr. and it garnered many examples and opinions on the subject.

All I wanted was the names of those who had the same or similar operations but got a lot more. With those comps, I hoped to get a range of potential outcomes. Well, I got them and whole lot more.

I know most people will already be anchored to an opinion that is probably based on already drafting or passing on Tatis in drafts or rostering him or not in a keeper league. For those with an open mind, here is what I think is the best information people gave me.


First, Will Carroll wrote the following overview of the injury for Bleacher Report in 2014:

Why is surgery on the glenoid labrum still so difficult, even after a decade of medical advances and no shortage of pitchers to practice on? Simply put, the shoulder is more complex than something like the elbow. The elbow is a hinge and does more or less one thing in one way.

The shoulder does many more things and is put together with a seemingly endless network of muscles, ligaments, tendons, capsules, nerves and fascia. Dr. Neal ElAttrache once compared fixing a shoulder to trying to put together a puzzle without the box top.

And here are some statements from people I trust on why and how they think the labrum surgery will affect hitters.

The most popular opinion was from Giannis Auntiegotapoodle who thinks Tatis won’t have any issues because he’s special.

The issue is that the surgery and the scarring from it are the issues, not so much the tear.

So enough on the background. It’s time to get to what I wanted to look into, historic results. I got many responses for hitters who had surgery. In the end, I grouped them into three groups.

  1. Those who had surgery for a torn labrum and had a chance to play after the surgery. I excluded Jorge Posada because he had the surgery at age 36 and was the only example of someone in their thirties who had the operation.
  2. Those who had the surgery, but haven’t had a chance to play or didn’t play at the same level (minor or major league) for two straight seasons. Most of these are guys in the minors. They are Pete Crow-Armstrong, Michael Conforto, Jordan Lawlar, Druw Jones, and Corbin Carroll.
  3. Those who had a non-labrum shoulder surgery or I couldn’t find out the exact type of surgery.

To start with, here are all the hitters in group #1 with Tatis and the average deduction added to his wRC+.

Hitters with Labrum Shoulder Surgeries
Name Year Desc Shoulder Age Bats wRC+ 2Y Before wRC+ 2Y after Change
Jake Meyers 2021 surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder L 25 R 109 65 -44
Greg Bird 2015 undergo a procedure on Tuesday to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder L 22 R 138 84 -54
Devin Mesoraco 2016 complete posterior tear of the labrum L 28 R 23 90 67
Daric Barton 2011 torn labrum in his right (throwing) shoulder R 25 L 110 96 -14
Jesus Flores 2009 shoulder injury that turned into a torn labrum R 24 R 92 49 -43
Justin Upton 2009 surgery to fix a labrum tear in his left shoulder L 22 R 120 126 6
Pablo Sandoval 2016 successful shoulder surgery repair a torn labrum in his left L 29 B 74 61 -13
Josh Jung (AAA) 2021 surgery Wednesday to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder L 24 R 166 104 -62
Matt Kemp 2012 tear of the labrum and some minor damage to the rotator cuff L 27 R 159 129 -30
Avisaíl García 2014 repaired a torn labrum and avulsion fracture in Garcia’s left shoulder L 23 R 99 87 -12
Nick Senzel 2019 torn labrum in his right shoulder surgery R 24 R 87 64 -23
Adrian Gonzalez 2010 2010 shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right (non-throwing) shoulder R 28 L 149 136 -13
Miguel Andújar 2019 Andujar has elected for right shoulder labrum repair surgery R 24 R 117 79 -38
Median = 24.0 Median = -23
Average = 25.0 Average = -21
Fernando Tatis Jr. 2022 surgery to repair the labrum in his left shoulder L 23 R 155 133 -22

Only two guys saw an increase in projection so the overall talent level points downward. For some hitters, a 20-point drop in wRC+ would be career-ending but not so for Tatis. His projections and results have his talent near a 160 wRC+.  Assuming an average drop, he should now be in the 140 wRC+ range. This takes him from being in the game’s best hitter discussion to the 12th or so best hitter. Some hitters with a THE BAT X projection around 140 wRC+ are Paul Goldschmidt, Mookie Betts, Julio Rodríguez, and Corey Seager.

It’s a good deal that he has a labrum tear because the guys who had other shoulder surgeries performed much worse once returning.

Hitters with Non-Labrum Shoulder Surgeries
Name Season Injury wRC+ 2Y Before wRC+ 2Y after Change
Brian Anderson 2021 repair a subluxation in his left shoulder 108 90 -18
Gregory Polanco 2018 stabilize an acute left shoulder dislocation 105 63 -42
Dominic Smith 2021 partially torn labrum, no surgery 109 67 -42
Cody Bellinger 2020 arthroscopic labrum surgery he underwent on his right shoulder 148 69 -79
Hanley Ramirez 2009 left shoulder arthroscopy and debridement 146 115 -31
Austin Kearns 2003 season-ending rotator cuff surgery 128 99 -29
Median = -37
Average = -40

All those guys headed downhill with a 40-point average drop in wRC+. Any hitter with shoulder surgery should be a major red flag.

The two big prospects who recently had the surgery are Carroll and Lawler — tough for Arizona. Carroll performed fine last season but it’s impossible to know if he could have been great if he didn’t have to have the surgery. As for Lawlar, it’s possible his hype might need to be dampened a few notches as he returns.

That is all I got to regurgitate on the subject. As I stated earlier, many are already on the two extreme sides of the argument (“he’s done for” vs “everything is great”). For those wanting an answer based on historical examples, he’ll likely not meet previous expectations but still be a damn good hitter.

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 four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR twice, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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1 year ago

God I hope Padres fans don’t find this article

Thanks for doing all the dirty work Jeff. Appreciate it

1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Zimmerman

You seem to be conveniently ignoring some facts.

casey jmember
1 year ago
Reply to  matt

Why would it be “convenient”? I doubt he wants him to do poorly.