Stark: MLB’s season-altering injuries just keep on coming

From SABR member Jayson Stark at on June 1, 2012:

Now you would think the news that teams are wasting almost a half-billion dollars a year on guys who aren’t playing would be causing baseball to launch an intensive, industry-wide effort to address this issue. But heh-heh-heh. You’re kidding, right?

Baseball has formed a research committee, made up of team doctors and athletic trainers. It also has retained Dr. Bert Mandelbaum, the team physician for USA Soccer, as director of medical research. So at least it has finally acknowledged there is a problem.

But mostly, MLB has left it up to individual teams to deal with this stuff on their own. And many of them are relying, to a great extent, on guesswork — because guessing always seems to be cheaper than the kind of exhaustive studies that are really required.

“What’s happening in baseball, basically, is that we’re hoping we get lucky [with injuries],” [Dodgers senior director of medical services Stan] Conte says. “And that, to me, is a bad way to go. … I have no problem with teams taking risks if they understand the risks they’re taking. But I’m not sure they do.”


Some of the smarter teams — teams looking to quantify anything and everything — are doing their own risk/reward studies. But it’s hard not to wonder: Why isn’t Major League Baseball doing those studies? Wouldn’t it be worth the price tag?

“How much are we spending on research in baseball? I don’t know,” Conte says. “But I know we’re losing $500 million a year. So we need to spend significant money and do extensive research, not do isolated studies.”

And if they ever do those studies, think of all the questions that need answering:

How many of these injuries are due to strength and conditioning training that isn’t suitable for players at a certain position, or baseball players in general?

How many are due to ridiculous scheduling, insane travel and sleep deprivation?

How many are due to how managers over-use or under-use their players?

How many are a result of coaching that results in “bad mechanics?” And while they’re looking into that one, shouldn’t somebody try to define what “bad mechanics” really are in the first place?

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Originally published: June 1, 2012. Last Updated: June 1, 2012.