MASH Report (10/24/13) – Cabrera, Kemp and Back Injuries

Today I will look at a few injury updates, notably Matt Kemp and Miguel Cabrera, and then look at hitters with past back injuries and the struggles they may experience next season.

• Miguel Cabrera “may” require surgery to repair his groin. (source)

“He has a groin [injury], they say Grade 2, Grade 3, which means there’s some tearing of fibers in that area,” Dombrowski said. “It was not going to heal with rest, we were assured of that.”

If Cabrera does have surgery, Dombrowski said, he’s expected to be fully recovered in time for Spring Training.

It sounds like if he wants the injury fixed, he will need surgery. Also, he was dealing with an abdominal strain before the groin issue which also hampered him.

Cabrera actually had two injuries down the stretch.

The first was an abdominal strain that began bothering him around the end of June. He played through that and showed no signs of being limited, other than some limitations in his mobility.
The groin strain was a separate injury, and it happened down the stretch.

He just wasn’t the same player since the beginning of September, especially in the power department. He did show a bit more pop in the post-season.

Time Frame: ISO
Apr to Aug: .323
Sept: .055
Post-season: .143

IMO, it would be great if he just got the surgery over with and not go into spring training with a known torn groin.

• Matt Kemp had ankle surgery which puts his regular season start in jeopardy.

The club said he[Matt Kemp] is expected to be “competitive” in time for the regular season, but apparently not for Spring Training.

When Kemp was declared out for the playoffs, Dr. Neal ElAttrache said the injury was to a major weight-bearing bone, and a complete fracture could put Kemp’s career in jeopardy.
The arthroscopic operation included the removal of several spurs and a loose body.

More importantly, it involved microfracture of the talus bone, a procedure of punching numerous holes in the bone to stimulate the formation of an overlying layer of fibrocartilage.

It doesn’t look good for Kemp right now. In my personal 2014 draft notes, I wrote “stay away until I see him sprint in spring training”. With this surgery, I am not sure if he will be able to run before the start of the season. I am not sure where I place his value. It will probably depend on how other owners value him.

• Carlos Gomez had minor surgery to clean up his elbow.

• Matt Harvey finally had his Tommy John surgery.

• Three Twins, Glen Perkins, Darin Mastroianni and Wilkin Ramirez, all had successfully minor offseason surgeries and will be ready to play by spring training.

Back Injuries

Early this past season, I found hitters who went on the DL with back injuries saw a larger than expected decline in production the year after the injury than the year before the injury. Here are the expected declines:

The players in question were usually on the old side (31-years-old). They were already on the decline, so I have included the average decline for players their age.

Stat: First time back injuries (year-1 to year+1), Normal aging (year–1 to year+1)

AVG: -.025, -.006
OBP: -.016, -.004
SLG: -.057, -.014

Back injuries aged the batters at about four times the average rate.

I went ahead and ran the values on the players who spent time on the 2012 DL and their 2011 to 2013 performance (Adam Lind, B.J. Upton, Brent Morel, Eric Sogard, Justin Sellers, Kevin Youkilis, Luke Scott, Mark Kotsay, Matt Joyce, Placido Polanco, Taylor Teagarden, Travis Hafner, Willie Bloomquist. I didn’t go back and look to see if the players had previous back issues, so I needed to use another set of values calculated in the referenced article.

Stat: Projected decline (year-1 to year+1), Actual decline (year–1 to year+1)

AVG: -.018, -.020
OBP: -.008, -.013
SLG: -.042, -.047

The actual decline was fairly close. It was not just the older players who saw a decline.  Matt Joyce’s production drop happened during his peak ages.

Season (Age): AVG/OBP/SLG
2011 (26): .277/.347/.478
2012 – before injury (27): .279/.387/.512
2012 – after injury (27): .202/.291/.343
2013 (28): .235/.328/.419

Hopefully I have convinced enough of you to say away from the players who go on the DL for back injuries or at least know to expect a decline in production. Finally, here is the list of players from 2013 lost time to the DL because of back problems.

Jason Giambi, David Freese, Angel Sanchez, Blake DeWitt, Kevin Youkilis, John McDonald, Will Middlebrooks, Paul Konerko, Miguel Montero, Luke Scott

While some of the players are pretty much over the hill, the three names I would stay away next year are Freese, Middlebrooks and Montero.

Possible 2014 DL Candidates

Red lettering means an update since the last report.

Major League

Minor League

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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.

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Froglegs Jackson
Froglegs Jackson

Any concerns about Cabrera’s long-term health? Would you suggest trying to shop him in dynasty?