Teeter: Does playing on artificial turf affect how players age?

From Chris Teeter at Beyond the Box Score on December 1, 2014:

Major league teams have experimented with using artificial surfaces in their stadiums over the last 40 or so years, with all but two — the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays — ultimately deciding grass fields were the better option. The reasons for doing so have included concern for player health, and the aesthetics of the field. In Toronto for years now, there have been rumors about the Rogers Centre being converted to a natural grass field. Players have been outspoken on the matter. In an interview in September of this past season, Colby Rasmus suggested that playing on the turf had lead to injury and nagging pains that affected his ability to perform. Jose Bautista, the team’s undoubted centerpiece, has been open in interviews with his concern about playing on the artificial surface:

It’s unfortunate but it seems like us and the Rays we all have to deal with more injuries than normal, more banged up, maybe because of the turf. I mean it’s the only two stadiums left with turf. I don’t know if there’s a way to address it at the Rogers Centre, so we just have to deal with it and either find a way to get deeper with our farm system and have guys that can step in and contribute right away if somebody gets hurt.

One way to determine if Bautista’s comments are correct would be to count disabled list trips for the Blue Jays and Rays and compare the number with the rest of the league. But I wanted to take a different approach and look at player aging curves. Looking at the aging curve for players who played the early part of their career for teams with an artificial surface in their home ballpark relative to players who played mostly on natural grass can provide insight into the impact playing on an artificial surface has on career trajectory.

Read the full article here: http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2014/11/28/7296843/artificial-turf-age-curve-blue-jays-rays-baseball-woba

Originally published: December 1, 2014. Last Updated: December 1, 2014.