Study: Baseball pitch counts don’t predict injuries

From Ivan Oransky at Reuters on October 26, 2012, with mention of SABR member J.C. Bradbury:

It’s impossible to watch a Major League Baseball game nowadays – for example, the World Series now underway – without hearing about how many pitches a player has thrown.

But a new study suggests that when it comes to preventing injuries, the obsession of many teams with those kinds of numbers may be misplaced.

“I don’t necessarily think that pitch counts or innings pitched are the best way to measure the demands of pitching,” Thomas Karakolis, the lead author on the study, told Reuters Health.

Karakolis, a PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo in Canada, and two colleagues looked at data from every Major League Baseball pitcher from 2002 to 2007, focusing on a given year’s pitch count, innings pitched and whether the player ended up injured the following year.

In that second year, more than a quarter of major league pitchers spent time on the disabled list. That rate jumped to nearly two in five pitchers for those who tended to throw six or seven innings.

But that difference – which would seem to support the idea of using pitch counts and innings pitched to pull pitchers – was more than likely due to chance, Karakolis said.

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Originally published: October 26, 2012. Last Updated: October 26, 2012.