Will Carroll has produced an annual Team Health Report for each MLB team for 12 years. The report gives risk ratings for every player in the expected starting lineup and starting rotation, plus two relievers. A proprietary formula sets a baseline according to a player's age and position. It is adjusted by 12 factors, including injury history, team history and expected workload.
This risk rating is classified into three tiers—red (high risk), yellow (medium risk) and green (lower risk). It should be used as a guideline and is about probability, not prediction. To learn more about how the Team Health Reports are devised, click on this article.
2012 Rank: 30th of 30 teams in DL days and dollars lost
Biggest Injury: Cory Luebke, $14.3 million lost value
Head Athletic Trainer: Todd Hutcheson
One may be the loneliest number, but 30 is much lonelier in this context. Someone has to be last in the rankings every year, and in 2012, it was the Padres.
It was reflected in their record, to be sure, as the off-field issues slid onto the field, despite the best efforts of Bud Black and the front office. New ownership in San Diego hasn't made the waves that the Dodgers have, but the O'Malley family was never the kind to seek the spotlight.
Let's be clear: Finishing last isn't an indictment of Todd Hutcheson and his staff. Hutcheson is one of the longest tenured athletic trainers in the game now and is very well-respected among his peers. The issue here is not competence or hard work, it's results.
Finishing last in these rankings isn't something that's going to sit well with the medical staff or the new ownership.
Over the years, the Padres have had some wild swings. They have been over 1,000 days lost three times in the last seven years, peaking in 2012 with a terrible days-lost total approaching 1,900. They have also been as low as 300, back in 2007.
Last year's injuries held no pattern—shoulders, elbows, knees and more. There's a theory among athletic trainers called a "death spiral." At some point, the workload in reacting to injuries overloads the available manpower in the training room. The work of maintenance and prevention drops off, leading to more injuries and a vicious cycle that looks a lot like what we saw in San Diego.
The simple answer would be to add manpower. An athletic trainer costs a lot less than even the major league minimum, yet no team retains more than three on staff for a team of 25 plus injured players. A simple solution might be to call up an athletic trainer as needed, the same way that a player comes up from the minors. The downside there is that the minors are even more short-handed. There is no team I know of that has more than one athletic trainer, even top-level teams.
San Diego has new ownership, a progressive front office and incentive to make some fundamental changes. That, or they could hope that luck takes care of things.
Click ahead for the Padres. Here are links to all the teams' reports.
|AL East||Baltimore||Boston||New York||Tampa Bay||Toronto|
|AL Central||Chicago||Cleveland||Detroit||Kansas City||Minnesota|
Miami ||New York||Philadelphia||Washington|
|NL Central||Chicago||Cincinnati||Milwaukee||Pittsburgh||St. Louis|
|NL West||Arizona||Colorado||L.A.||San Diego||S.F.|
Will Carroll is the Lead Writer for Sports Medicine at Bleacher Report. He has written about sports injuries and related topics for 12 years. His column is called "the industry standard" by Hall of Famer Peter Gammons.