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: 24th of 30 teams in DL days and dollars lost
Biggest Injury: Ian Desmond, $4.2 million value lost
Head Athletic Trainer: Lee Kuntz
There are enough plotlines on this team to fill up Season 2 of House of Cards. Can Bryce Harper take another step forward in his second year? Will losing Mike Morse upset the lineup? Will Stephen Strasburg's shutdown mean that he's healthy this season? How does the bullpen come together? Will Doug Stamper finally quit swallowing his conscience and work against Underwood? (Scratch that last one. It gets confusing.)
The answers to all of those questions and more won't be found here, but somewhere on the way during 2013. The Nationals took the long view, one that may have cost them a shot at the 2012 World Series, but one that could give them many more. The old "flags fly forever" routine only works if you don't buy into the "success window" theory that Mike Rizzo is clearly reading from.
If innings increases aren't the be-all that many of us—myself included—thought they were, and if there's no evidence that Stephen Strasburg is any more or less likely to stay healthy, it's not just that the Nats missed a chance. It's that they burned a chance and Rizzo knows it's him and him alone who's to blame.
What the Nationals are, at least from a health standpoint, is the new Yankees.
The Yankees have taken on tons of risk for years, banking on a deep pool of talent and the ability to use their checkbook to back up anything that went wrong. The Lerners could do this and have to some degree, but if the Nats can go on a run of playoff appearances, I think it will become more clear.
The Nats have never been good at injury stats. They were regularly on the bottom and a "leap" to 24 is actually a major improvement over where they've been. Winning at that level is what the Yankees did for years, and I'll admit that I didn't recognize this until now, largely because the Yankees started doing it after they began winning. The Nats just didn't have a couple good years of health in between to set it apart.
Then again, maybe last year was bad and the Nats have room to make up. If Lee Kuntz gets this squad even to the mid-teens, they'll run away with the division.
Click ahead for the Nationals. 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.