In 2011, we have seen rising stars like Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants as well as team-leading veterans such as Johan Santana of the New York Mets fall to injuries, an inevitable part of the game.
The unpredictable phenomenon of injuries can never be completely accounted for in the building and development of a team. They can cut careers short and damage player value.
More importantly, they can cause promising teams' seasons to fall short. Just when a franchise seems to have collected all of the puzzle pieces that would bring them success, a stroke of bad luck could topple the tower and nix their chances.
While there have been many injuries in 2011, ranging from gruesome to comical, some have had a greater effect on the welfare of teams than others. The following list will count down the top five most debilitating injuries of the 2011 season.
New York Mets ace Johan Santana has not made an appearance in the 2011 season.
While few people seriously considered the Mets to be contenders in the dangerous NL East this season, the team could have posed a threat if key players were able to stay healthy.
Santana is a two-time Cy Young award winner with the capability of matching up with some of the best pitchers in the league, such as members of the potent division-rival Phillies staff.
With All-Star numbers put up by both Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, the leadership of a veteran ace could have put New York on the map. He was expected to return in August, however setbacks have put the rest of 2011 in jeopardy as well.
Meanwhile, the New York Metropolitan have fallen 21 games behind the reigning NL East champs.
The St. Louis Cardinals ace also has not pitched—and will not pitch—in a game yet this season. Adam Wainwright is missing all of 2011 recovering from Tommy John surgery.
This was a crippling blow to St. Louis, whose starting pitching has been shaky. While the numbers have been decent, ranking eighth in the NL with a 3.83 ERA, it has become clear how important Wainwright really is to this team.
The Cardinals never recovered from this loss, as Wainwright proved to be an irreplaceable staple to the club. The starting rotation’s inability to pitch deep into games compromised the bullpen as well, and there is no doubt that Wainwright is the piece that would have held the whole staff together.
While the offense continues to be carried by Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, the Cardinals have not been able to stay in the race. St. Louis remains in second place in the NL Central, but the team is currently 10.5 games behind the red-hot Milwaukee Brewers. The 2011 Cardinals have not able to contend without their ace.
In 2011, the Colorado Rockies went from favorites in the NL West, to sellers and rebuilders.
The offense remains potent with the Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzales combo. In April the staff was led by Ubaldo Jimenez, who everyone was anxious to see return to his first-half form from 2010. Jorge De La Rosa was a solid No. 2 starter who gave the team a chance to win.
When De La Rosa suffered a season-ending injury in May, Jimenez and the offensive duo were not able to carry the team. Colorado dropped further and further in the standings.
The starting pitching could not give the offense a chance to win games. Subsequently they sent their ace to Cleveland for prospects and the Rockies gave up on 2011.
Had De La Rosa stayed healthy this season, Colorado would likely be in the race. While he was not the centerpiece of the pitching staff, his absence has disabled the team from their winning ways
The 2010 defending champions had high hopes of making a run at a repeat title this season. They seemed to have the NL West under control, and the starting pitching staff was better than ever.
However, when they lost their reigning Rookie of the Year, 2011 took a turn for the worse. In a gruesome season-ending injury in a collision at the plate over two months ago, Buster Posey broke his left ankle and injured tendons. That not only put him on the shelf untill 2012, but put his future as a catcher in question.
Posey was a team leader, a backstop behind the plate and the centerpiece to the offense. San Francisco ranks among the very worst in runs scored even with the return of Pablo Sandoval in 2011 and the acquisition of Carlos Beltran. The have conceded their NL West lead and continue to struggle without Posey, putting even a playoff appearance in question.