Catcher: Gerald Laird (Tex)
Laird was the Rangers' everyday catcher before he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. Although the Rangers don't need any more offense, Laird provided a much more reliable bat than Jarrod Saltalamacchia does.
Laird's numbers were solid (.306 avg/4 HR/25 RBI) and he only struck out 17 percent of his at-bats, whereas Saltalamacchia strikes outs 37 percent of his at-bats. Also, Laird caught 30 percent of runners trying to steal whereas Saltalamacchia only has caught 17 percent.
Honorable Mention: Mike Napoli (LAA)
First Base: Dmitri Young (Was)
Young was recently placed on the 15-day disabled list due to diabetes complications, and oh boy does his team need him. The Washington Nationals are by far the worst team in baseball. The 2007 National League Comeback Player of the Year provided solid batting (.280 avg/4 HR/10 RBI) when he was called upon to replace Nick Johnson (who had season-ending wrist surgery).
Young's replacement, Paul Lo Duca (a natural catcher), is having a terrible season, batting just .230. The Nationals could really use the solid bat of Dmitri Young.
Honorable Mention: Todd Helton (Col)
Second Base: Luis Castillo (Nym)
Castillo was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hip flexor. I'm not saying that his replacement, Damion Easley, is bad. He's just as solid. I'm saying that Easley lacks the speed that Castillo does, which can sometimes be harmful to the Mets. Both players play equally well on defense.
Their offensive numbers are about equal, too. Easley's are .277 avg/3 HR/24 RBI and Castillo's are .261 avg/3 HR/26 RBI. The difference is the speed factor. Easley has zero stolen bases and 21 runs whereas Castillo has 13 stolen bases and 42 runs scored.
Honorable Mention: Aaron Hill (Tor)
Shortstop: Rafael Furcal (LAD)
Furcal was placed on the 60-day disabled list with lower back surgery. This is probably the injury that affects a team the most. The Dodgers have tried four different shortstops to fill Furcal's shoes, and they've failed massively.
Furcal had excellent numbers (.366 avg/5 HR/16 RBI/8 SB) in the 32 games that he played. When Furcal comes back to the Dodgers in August, and if they're still in the playoff hunt, he will take the Dodgers to the NL West division title.
Honorable Mention: Alex Cintron (Bal)
Third Base: Ryan Zimmerman (Was)
Zimmerman was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a small labral tear in his left shoulder. Zimmerman's absence is affecting his team, the worst in baseball, due to the absence of his CLUTCH batting.
In 50 games, Zimmerman's stats were .257 avg/8 HR/27 RBI. Zimmerman also played a lot better defense than Belliard. This isn't a huge loss, and Belliard has similar statistics. It's more of team leadership missing.
Honorable Mention: Eric Chavez (Oak)
Left Field: Alfonso Soriano (Chc)
Soriano was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a broken left ring finger. Reed Johnson is not a terrible replacement for Soriano; it's just that he's NOWHERE near as good as Soriano. Johnson has played in 14 more games than Soriano, and Soriano still has better statistics.
Soriano's statistics are .283 avg/15 HR/40 RBI/7 SB, whereas Johnson's are .271 avg/3 HR/32 RBI/4 SB. When Soriano comes back, that should help seal a Cubs' playoff run.
Honorable Mention: Moises Alou (Nym)
Center Field: Vernon Wells (Tor)
Wells was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. The Toronto Blue Jays are the third worst team in the American League in runs batted in, and they are the worst team in the American League in home runs.
The injured Vernon Wells is one of the problems.
Wells' stats, for only playing in a limited amount of games, are .287 avg/9 HR/42 RBI. Vernon wells also has a rocket arm, but the Jays moved another rocket arm (Rios) to solve that problem. The Blue Jays were in contention at one point this year, and when Wells went out, so did they Jays' playoff hopes.
Honorable Mention: Jerry Hairston, Jr. (Cin)
Right Field: Ryan Church (Nym)
Church was placed on the 15-day disabled list with post-concussion syndrome. Ryan Church had been a solid batter all year, posting a .307 avg/10 HR/36 RBI. His replacement has been an amalgamation of Endy Chavez (who is great on defense, but offensive numbers are .255 avg/1 HR/10 RBI) and Fernando Tatis (who is doing great on offense with .295 avg/5 HR/22 RBI, but sketchy on defense). Church was a great combination of offense and PERFECT defense.
Honorable Mention: Ryan Spilborghs (Col)
Starting Pitcher: John Smoltz (Atl)
Smoltz was placed on the 60-day disabled list with right shoulder surgery. Smoltz's absence isn't statistically hurting the Braves, as they have one of the top pitching staffs in the National League. The Braves, however, are a young team that lacks (pitching) leadership.
Smoltz was putting up good numbers before he went down, posting a line of: 3 wins/2.57 ERA/36 K/1.18 WHIP in 28 innings pitched. Smoltz's absence could've affected the Braves' playoffs chances, however, it's not likely for many reasons.
Honorable Mention: Jake Westbrook (Cle)
Starting Pitcher: Yovani Gallardo (Mil)
Gallardo was placed on the 15-day disabled list a torn ACL in his right knee. Gallardo only pitched three games before he went down, but they were three spectacular games. He never earned a decision due to lack of run support, but in 20 innings pitched, he had a 1.80 ERA/13 K/1.25 WHIP.
If Gallardo wouldn't have went down, the NL Central might look a little different right now (either the Brewers would be even hotter or they wouldn't have to have acquired CC).
Honorable Mention: Shawn Estes (SD)
Starting Pitcher: Shawn Marcum (Tor)
Marcum was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow strain. Hallady and Marcum were a great one-two pitching combination. When Marcum was playing, the Jays were still in contention. Marcum's stats are 5 wins/2.65 ERA/86 K/1.00 WHIP/.198 BAA, which is spectacular. However, when Marcum went down, a seven-game losing streak appeared for the Jays, hurting any chances to make a postseason run in the tough AL East.
Honorable Mention: Erik Bedard (Sea)
Staring Pitcher: Fauston Carmona (Cle)
Carmona was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left hip strain. Carmona went down at a time when two other decent Indians pitchers (Westbrook [SP] and Elarton [RP]) went down with injury, as well.
Carmona is a key part of the Indians' pitching staff, with good stats of 4 wins/3.10 ERA/23 K/1.59 WHIP. The Indians were an early AL Central favorite, but when the pitching collapsed, so did the team.
Honorable Mention: Chris Young (SD)
Starting Pitcher: Chien-Ming Wang (Nyy)
Wang was placed on the 60-day disabled list with torn tendon and sprain in his right foot. Wang was the Yankees' pitching leader. On a struggling staff, he was the bright spot, with stats of 8 wins/4.07 ERA/54 K/1.32 WHIP.
When Wang went down, the Yankees had to boggle with pitching. Their pitching is fine now, with Pettitte and Mussina stepping up, but Wang could've really helped them on their current hot streak.
Honorable Mention: Bartolo Colon (Bos)
Relief Pitcher: Joey Devine (Oak)
Devine was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation. Oakland has one of the best bullpens in context of ERA. However, the bullpen doesn't come through at the right time. Oakland's bullpen has blown 13 save opportunities. Devine had stats that could've helped this mess with a 1.23 ERA/4 K:1 BB ratio/1.05 WHIP/.198 BAA.
Honorable Mention: Brian Bruney (Nyy)
Relief Pitcher: Merkin Valdez (SF)
Valdez was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right elbow. San Francisco has the fourth worst bullpen in the National League, with an ERA of 4.32. Valdez had stats that could've helped this struggling bullpen with a 1.69 ERA/2 K:1 BB ratio/1.31 WHIP/.237 BAA.
Honorable Mention: Juan Cruz (Ari)
Relief Pitcher: Jared Burton (Cin)
Burton was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right latissimus muscle. Cincinnati has a bullpen that has a good ERA, but a 2 K:1 BB ratio that Burton could've helped. Burton has almost a 3 K:1 BB ratio, 4-1 record, and a 2.23 ERA.
Honorable Mention: Matt Albers (Bal)
Relief Pitcher: David Aardsma (Bos)
Aardsma was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right groin. Boston is a strong team with a weak bullpen. It's ranked 10th in the American League in ERA. Aardsma is a strong pitcher with the stats of 2.75 ERA/1.40 WHIP/.207 BAA that would've helped prevent a skyrocketing bullpen ERA.
Honorable Mention: Keiichi Yabu (SF)
Closer: Takashi Saito (LAD)
Saito was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow strain. Saito was one of the best closers in the game. He had remarkable stats of 2.18 ERA/53 K/1.11 WHIP/17 saves. Saito saved nine out of his last 10 opportunities. His replacement, Broxton, is good, but nowhere as reliable as Saito is.
Honorable Mention: Matt Capps (Pit)