The halfway point of the season is a good time to look back and look forward. I did the latter with yesterday's look at the comebacks that should have the greatest effect on races in the second half. Today, we'll take our normal UTK look around the league at the injuries.
Behind the scenes, I'm tracking all the injuries, as I've done for the last decade. The Injury Database isn't published—sorry, I'd love to, but HIPAA regulations make it a bit dangerous—but it's one of the tools I use to dig deeper than simple days and dollars. One of the tools that we've developed over the years is Injury Cost, a measure that allows us to assess the real loss of value to injury.
Baseball's salary structure is such that pre-arbitration and pre-free-agent players are drastically undervalued. When a player like Giancarlo Stanton is out, the Marlins lose much more than his near-minimum salary. When a player like Alex Rodriguez is out, the true cost may be much less than his hefty contract calls for. Dollars are real and concerning to teams, but they're not a good way to measure which teams are "better" and "worse" at dealing with injuries.
This season, it should be no surprise who's leading and lagging when it comes to injury cost here at the halfway point. While it hasn't been reflected in their wins and losses, the Mariners have at least been able to keep their talent on the field. Rick Griffin and his staff have kept Felix Hernandez intact and amazing for the better part of a decade, a symbol of their effectiveness as a staff. At this point in the season, the Mariners are on a record pace for Injury Cost.
Other teams at the low end of the scale are the Cardinals and Royals, two teams that are outperforming their projections. At the other end, it should be no surprise to see the Yankees and Dodgers, given how many times their players have graced UTK this year. The Blue Jays and Angels are also on the part of the list no medical staff wants to be, and their records reflect that cost as well.
Injuries tend to be a leading indicator of success. Teams that have won the Dick Martin Award in the recent past (given to the top team in terms of injury management) include the Reds last year and the Pirates just a couple years back. We'll see who takes the trophy home at the end of the season, but for now, let's look at the injuries around the league.