Buster Posey and the 10 Most Devastating Injuries of the 2011 MLB Season
Posey now has a broken leg and torn ligaments in left ankle, an injury that will keep him out for at least two months and may force him to miss the rest of the season.
It's a crushing blow for the Giants, but is it the most devastating injury of the season?
Here's a countdown of the 10 biggest players to hit the disabled list in 2011.
10. Phil Hughes, SP, New York Yankees
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Going into the season, the Yankees knew they could count on their top three of C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Hughes to anchor the rotation. But that was before they noticed that the velocity on Hughes' fastball was down by as much as five mph.
The 24-year-old right-hander was placed on the disabled list back on April 15 with a dislocated fastball (no, seriously) and may not pitch for another month, at least.
In three starts this season Hughes threw 10.1 innings and got roughed up for 19 hits, four home runs and 16 earned runs for a 13.94 ERA. He's clearly not the same pitcher that won 18 games last year in over 175 innings.
The Yankees have managed to get by without Hughes thanks to incredible performances by veterans Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon, but how long can that last? They will need him back sooner rather than later, assuming he finds a way to "locate" his fastball.
9. Pablo Sandoval, 3B, San Francisco Giants
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Sandoval broke a bone in his right wrist back in late April and isn't expected back for at least another two weeks.
The injury was especially devastating because Sandoval was one of the only Giants who was hitting the ball. At the time of the injury, he was batting .313 with five homers and 14 RBI, a huge improvement over his disappointing 2010 season in which he batted just .268.
The Giants thought they could get by with Miguel Tejada at third base, but the veteran (.527 OPS) has been awful. Mark DeRosa, the other player on the roster with experience playing third, has also been on the disabled list for most of the season.
The good news is that the 24-year-old Sandoval will be back in uniform soon, likely before the All-Star break. He'll return just in time to fill the void left by Buster Posey's injury.
8. Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas Rangers
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In a strange twist of fate, Hamilton broke his arm sliding headfirst into home plate during a widely criticized play in the second week of the season.
The Rangers (9-2) had the best record in baseball when their superstar slugger went down, and not surprisingly, the Rangers are just 17-22 since. The offense went down the toilet with Hamilton sidelined, with the team slugging an embarrassing .378 and scoring less than four runs a game.
Hamilton was batting .349 as a monster in the heart of the lineup and the Rangers simply didn't have anybody with that much offensive prowess to replace him, especially with outfielder Nelson Cruz hitting the DL almost simultaneously.
Hamilton returned earlier this week and hit a home run in his first at-bat, so it's pretty safe to say the Rangers are OK now. They still lead the AL West by a game.
7. Daisuke Matsuzaka, SP, Boston Red Sox
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Some Red Sox fans were probably counting the days until Matsuzaka ended up on the disabled list. It finally happened on May 18 thanks to a sprained ulnar collateral ligament, an injury that will sideline him for at least a month.
Matsuzaka doesn't have many fans left in Boston after the way he's pitched the past three seasons. This year he's made seven starts and, outside of back-to-back scoreless outings in late April, he was awful. He only made it past the fifth inning three times and is currently sitting with a 5.30 ERA.
There were some rumors that Matsuzaka would need Tommy John surgery, a procedure that would end his 2011 season and likely sideline him for all of 2012 as well. Those rumors have been dispelled by Terry Francona, but there's still no specific timetable for the right-hander's return.
The Red Sox don't have a wealth of starting pitching, especially with John Lackey also on the DL, so the loss of Matsuzaka is nothing to celebrate. The Red Sox have been doing pretty well (incredibly well, actually), and Tim Wakefield and Alfredo Aceves have managed to fill in admirably in the rotation, but neither pitcher seems capable of starting the rest of the season. If Matsuzaka doesn't return then Boston GM Theo Epstein will have to explore a move for another starter.
6. Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays
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The Rays lost their entire bullpen in the offseason as well as slugger Carlos Pena. Then before the season even started their designated hitter, Manny Ramirez, decided to retire. It didn't seem fair that their superstar third basemen would only last until the second game of the season.
Longoria missed nearly all of April with a strained left oblique, leaving Tampa Bay with the 26-year-old Matt Joyce as their best offensive player. Despite the loss, the Rays managed to stay on top of the AL East for most of the early season.
Longoria returned earlier this month, but he's clearly not the same player he once was. He's batting just .220 thus far and has two home runs and nine RBI.
Whether Longoria never fully recovered from his injury is unknown, but the Rays need their slugger back if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive. Tampa Bay has been a full-fledged nose dive, having lost eight of their last 11 games.
5. Rafael Furcal, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
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Furcal broke his thumb on a headfirst slide way back on April 11, and didn't return to the field until earlier this week. He has just one hit 14 at-bats since.
The 33-year-old shortstop is a key piece of the Dodgers offense, typically serving as the leadoff hitter and getting on base in front of sluggers James Loney, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp. Without him the Dodgers offense has been terrible and is still just 26th in the league in runs.
Los Angeles is currently 22-29 and six games back of the division-leading Giants, and the return of Furcal (plus the loss of Posey) should help shorten that gap. However, it's going to take some time.
Furcal is a .284 career hitter who, when healthy, is a terrific all-around hitter with plus speed. The Dodgers desperately need that Furcal and not the one who's still trying to find his swing if they really want to contend this year.
4. Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota Twins
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Mauer's trip to the disabled list has become an almost annual occurrence. This season the All-Star catcher lasted just nine games before landing on the DL with what the Twins called "bilateral leg weakness."
In his absence, the Twins have been nothing short of terrible. They have the worst record in baseball at 16-32 and have scored the fewest runs while giving up the most. That's almost an impossibly bad combination.
It's not necessarily fair to entirely blame Mauer for Minnesota's downfall. Other sluggers like Jim Thome and Delmon Young have missed time too, but none of them hold as big of a stick as Mauer.
The 28-year-old owns a .326 career batting and is outstanding defensively. There's still no timetable for his return, but even if he comes back tomorrow, it'll be too late. The Twins are done.
3. Adam Wainwright, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
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Wainwright underwent Tommy John surgery before the beginning of the season and will not be back until 2012.
Much to everyone's surprise, the Cardinals are still first in the NL Central with a 30-21 record and a two-and-a-half-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers. But they'll have an extraordinarily hard time keeping up that kind of performance without one of their aces.
In his four seasons as a starter, Wainwright has amassed one of the most impressive resumes in baseball. The 29-year-old righty has a 2.97 career ERA and is an annual Cy Young contender. In the last two seasons combined Wainwright pitched 463.1 innings and won 39 games.
The Cardinals have a shockingly small margin of error in what may be Albert Pujols' final season in St. Louis, and they've gotten by on the strength of their offense rather than their pitching thus far. But when it comes to October you need pitching and odds are the Cardinals aren't going to be comfortable handing the ball to the likes of Kyle Lohse or Kyle McClellan in the postseason.
2. Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies
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But things certainly didn't look so bright when the Phillies announced that Utley would be placed on the disabled list with patellar tendinitis. The All-Star second basemen went on to miss the first 46 games of the season and just returned Monday.
The fact that Utley even made it back to the field, let alone this quickly, is remarkable, but he's not out of the woods yet. His knee has given him trouble in the past, and there's a strong possibility he could land on the disabled list again before the season is over.
Utley is one of the best all-around players in the game and owns a career .293/.380/.513 line with plus speed and Gold Glove defense. He's getting up there in years (32) and missed a sizable chunk of 2010, so this has to be something the Phillies are very concerned about. Even with possibly the best rotation in baseball, the Phillies still can't win if they can't score any runs.
1. Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants
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On paper, the loss of Posey doesn't look that crushing. The 24-year-old was only batting .284, though he had 15 hits in last 10 games and was slugging just .389. His OPS (.757) is no where near where it was last season (.862), and he has just nine extra-base hits in 45 games.
That doesn't sound like someone who is irreplaceable, but Posey isn't just someone. He's the Giants' clean-up hitter and the centerpiece of the offense. He's the catcher for one of the best rotations in baseball. He's the heart and soul of a team that leads the NL West even though the offense (29th in runs) is still struggling.
Eli Whiteside (career .644 OPS) is not a suitable replacement. There's hardly anybody in baseball who could replace one of the best young all-around talents in the game.
The Giants are going to have to hold off a very good Rockies team and await Posey's return if they want to even make it back to the playoffs, let alone make any noise once they get there.