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: 23th best of 30 teams in DL days and dollars lost
Biggest Injury: Jason Hammel, $4.7 million lost value
Head Athletic Trainer: Richie Bancells
The Orioles surged to relevance last year—a surprise team much like the Athletics or the late-2000s Rays. Like most unexpected surges, it was a good story, but finding the underlying cause is often difficult. The Orioles had a ridiculous record in one-run games, but while that's nice and easy, we know that it's seldom the whole story.
The A's and Rays had a foundation of success built on team health, but the O's? Not so much. The Orioles have tended to be in this range of the injury stats for the entire time we have good statistics. (I've often wanted to go back and dig into the Earl Weaver era's health, but have yet to have time to do that. Sadly, there's no injury equivalent to Baseball-Reference.)
Over the last decade, the Orioles have burned through a lot of players in search of a Moneyball-esque combination of talent/upside and low cost/control. While others went the route of trying to find an advantage in statistics or scouting, the Orioles just tried to wing it. The results were pretty much as expected.
That's not to say that Richie Bancells and his staff aren't hard-working or even good. That couldn't be farther from the truth. Bancells is one of the deans of the field now, universally regarded as a leader in the field, and is the longtime president of PBATS (Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society).
He just hasn't been given much to work with. When he has, though, the Orioles have been pretty good. Give Tom Colicchio or Bobby Flay mediocre ingredients and maybe they can make something good, but they probably can't make something great.
One of the stories of the spring has been the influence of Brady Anderson. The former player is now the VP of baseball operations and has focused on strength and conditioning. The Orioles are reported to have as many as five strength coaches in camp this spring, so we'll have to see what kind of result they get. They're certainly not taking the simple "baseball approach" with a lot of emphasis on heavy lifting.
The Orioles seem to be changing. From top to bottom, there's something of a plan now. But that could be derailed by many things—the capricious nature of ownership, a player revolt or a run of injuries that takes the team back to the bottom of the division.
Bancells and his staff might have the most controllable of those tasks, and it's key to the long-term success of the Orioles that they get better results with that.
Click forward for the Orioles. 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.