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: 19th best of 30 teams in DL days and dollars lost
Biggest Injury: Jeff Niemann, $5.9 million lost value
Head Athletic Trainer: Ron Porterfield
For the first time in the last decade, the Tampa Bay Rays dropped into the second half of the injury rankings. It's easy to see why, with significant injuries to Evan Longoria and Jeff Niemann. It's just as easy to see that the system that Ron Porterfield has maintained for the last decade will get right back on top. Moreover, it's still the top ranking in the AL East.
Longoria is not an "injury prone" player as many wanted to tag him. Last season's hamstring was bad and the setback was worse, but this is hardly a harbinger of doom for Longoria. His 2011 had one minor injury and the rest of his medical history is negligible.
The same is true for most of the key players on the team. David Price is a top-level ace, as his Cy Young shows, and his health is pristine. The pitching staff of the Rays, at every level, avoids Tommy John surgery, preferring to pay Jim Andrews to be their medical director and look at big-picture things rather than cutting open an elbow.
Avoiding the 180-day injuries alone is a good strategy for staying at the top of the injury stat leaderboards, but did it truly help the budget-constrained Rays win for the better portion of a decade? Absolutely. Moreover, they didn't make many mistakes. While they can't afford multi-year deals, they also can't afford lost years more. They can afford a Longoria or a Price, but they also can afford to deal a James Shields because they haven't lost half their minor league pitchers to arm injuries.
The holistic approach the Rays have is cost effective and has an immediate definable outcome. It's not just dollars, it's wins—though it's clear there's a balance between them.
Click ahead for the Rays. 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.