Neyer: Baseball has an elbow problem

From Arun Rath at on June 6, 2014, with SABR member Rob Neyer:

On Friday, Los Angeles Angels pitcher Sean Burnett became the latest player this season to undergo “Tommy John” surgery. In this weekend’s MLB draft, at least four players selected had already had the infamous elbow surgery as amateurs.

The operation is named after the first player to undergo the procedure to fix an injured elbow ligament, in 1974. Pitchers are particularly vulnerable to this injury.

The procedure involves taking a tendon from somewhere else in the body — or from a cadaver — and grafting it into place. Pitchers get it most often.

This year, baseball players are on pace to have more Tommy John surgeries than ever, as Fox Sports’ Rob Neyer tells NPR’s Arun Rath.

“Last year there were … roughly 50 Tommy John surgeries in all of professional baseball, which was a lot. This year there have already been roughly 45,” he says.

This year is outpacing the surgeries in 2012, the year with the current record. There were 67 surgeries total on pro players in 2012, about the same number as all of the surgeries from 1995-2000 combined.

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Originally published: June 10, 2014. Last Updated: June 10, 2014.