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"The Disabled Graph" Manifesto

Spring Injury Graph
Spring Injury Graph

Welcome to my injury data experiment, or: "The Disabled Graph".

I have been gathering team injury data since pitchers and catchers reported a little over a month ago with the hopes of collecting and sharing that data periodically throughout the season.

As rosters have shrunk and stabilized with the regular season kicking off, injuries have become easier to track and my methods have been somewhat streamlined. This has allowed me the time to present you the first injury graph of the season.

(Larger version after the jump)

Springinjurychart_medium

Injury data for Spring Training can be incredibly difficult to track at times, but I've done my best to account for all the bumps and bruises that players have endured in camp and whether that injury has lingered into the season.

As the graph lays out, teams like the Mets and the Rangers had an injury-plagued spring, but come into the regular season with only two players on the DL each. The Mariners and Athletics on the other hand experienced few injuries during camp but saw a high percentage of those translate into DL trips.

I'm not sure what any of this means in the long run, but it's interesting to look at.

My plan is to provide you with an easy-to-interpret graph like this each week of the season with not only trips to the disabled list, but also those nagging day-to-day injuries as well.

As the year wears on and the data piles up, I will be able to add in other things like the average age of injured players, total days missed to injury, the frequency of certain injuries and a break down of ailments by handedness.

While some injuries in baseball are inevitable, I believe many that still plague the big leagues (e.g. UCL elbow injuries) are ultimately avoidable. And I believe the unwavering prevalence of these injuries is unfortunately brought on by the same habitual, orthodox thinking in baseball that kept sabermetric analysis on the fringe for decades. (The line of thinking that labels Tim Lincecum and Trevor Bauer's motions as "weird", without bothering to understand what it is they are doing.)

I believe that a closer study of injuries will allow us to better understand possible shortcomings in player conditioning and eventually evoke a change in mindset that is accepting of alternative approaches. I hope these graphs work as a very small catalyst in that regard and can latch on to the much bigger discussion that will ultimately lead to some sort of change somewhere down the road.

Above all else, though, I hope you find them useful and engaging.

I'm always open to suggestions about how to improve the graphs and what kind of information you want to see, so please let me know!