Injuries, as they say, are part of the game. During the 2018 season, every team in Major League Baseball had to deal with injuries, some more than others, some to different extents. For better or worse, injuries made an impact to just about every roster in the MLB.
But can they be used as an excuse?
Surprisingly, in 2018, the team’s that suffered some of the bigger injuries are right smack in the playoff hunt. Carlos Martinez hardly pitched in May and has been moved to the bullpen in the latter half of the season all while the St. Louis Cardinals are thriving. Both the Kris Bryant and Yu Darvish injuries should have impacted the Chicago Cubs 2018, but here they are, once again atop the National League Central about to win 90+ games.
In doing some interesting research on the teams most impacted by injuries, it turns out those teams that suffered some of the biggest injuries don’t seem to suffer in the win column, a la the Yankees, Dodgers, and Cardinals. The primary reason seems obvious, but should be stated. Depth on the farm and a properly constructed 40-man roster puts teams in much better position to contend.
For every team like the Giants that was decimated by injuries in losing the likes of Brandon Belt, Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, and Buster Posey, there’s an Oakland A’s squad that lost their ace in Sean Manaea and seemingly haven’t missed a beat. While the Angels lost over 1,450 days (the MLB-worst) to injury with Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani amongst them, the Dodgers aren’t far behind with over 1,350 days lost to injury. One is dwindling near the cellar, one is in first place surging at the right time to the finish line.
You can look at a team like the New York Mets who lost Noah Syndergaard and Yoenis Cespedes amongst a bevy of others to injury and say that was to blame. But this is a New York Mets team that has dealt with injuries (some of them in the most random form) for the past three or four years. Their roster isn’t constructed to handle the loss, but at some point it should be.
.@howaboutafresca & @SwollenDome present...— FOX Sports Radio (@FoxSportsRadio) July 24, 2018
SO TOTALLY METS!
On today's episode:
Tim Tebow: Broken Hand
Noah Syndergaard: Hand/Foot/Mouth Disease
Yoenis Céspedes: Season Ending Heel Surgery
And much more... #Metshttps://t.co/K69uWk2prC
Let’s take a look at some injuries that made an impact in 2018, and how they effected the team. These aren’t necessarily the most impactful, but shows how different teams handle different injuries.
Adam Eaton, Washington Nationals
The Nationals had a bevy of reasons that the 2018 season was a struggle compared to their recent run. Stephen Strasburg once again suffered through an injury-riddled campaign and Anthony Rendon missed nearly a month to start the season. When Adam Eaton went down in early April, it changed the course of the Nationals’ season. While it is hard to say that good comes out of a player getting injured, Eaton’s injury led to the arrival of a one Juan Soto.
Soto has since put together one of the best seasons in the history of the game by a teenager. He started the season in Low-A Hagerstown and due to injuries to outfielders everywhere in the system (like top prospect Victor Robles), Soto grabbed the opportunity and ran with it. He was the bright spot in a rough season for the Nationals, posting a .933 OPS and a 148 wRC+. As a 19-year-old.
Where do you start? Clayton Kershaw was hurt and not like himself early on. Corey Seager went down for the year. Justin Turner missed a month and a half of the season. The Dodgers ended May 26-30 and not looking much like the five-time defending National League West champs.
Seager’s injury may inevitably go down as the one that was the most impactful. Losing their young star for the season, the Dodgers went out and got Manny Machado. The Dodgers are now back in first place and starting to pull away from the Rockies and Diamondbacks a bit more each day.
Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
How can Judge’s injury impact a 93-win team negatively? Simply put, the Yankees couldn’t do much when Judge was sidelined and were a different team without Judge. Shortly after Judge went down, the Yankees were swept in a four-game series with the Red Sox. This past week, Judge returned against the same Red Sox team and the Yankees took two of three. No matter what Judge is doing, he creates opportunities for the other bats in the lineup when his big bat is in the two-hole.
Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays
A healthy Donaldson wasn’t going to salvage the Blue Jays season, but it certainly would have been better. The big blow, however, came at the deadline. Donaldson, who hit 110 home runs in three seasons with the Blue Jays while capturing MVP honors along the way, netted a PTBNL when the Blue Jays decided to tear it down.
Brandon Morrow, Chicago Cubs
File this under honorable mention, as we have no idea how this will impact the Cubs. As we mentioned, the Cubs survived the Darvish and Bryant injuries and were able to climb into first, but Morrow is a big hit. His season line is finished with 22 saves converted at a 92% success rate with a 1.47 ERA (2.72 FIP), and a 1.08 WHIP. The Cubs built a bullpen with three relievers — Steve Cishek, Pedro Strop, and Justin Wilson — with closing experience, but Strop was recently injured running the bases. Will they be able to keep rolling, or is this a major setback? Bullpens are vital in the playoffs, the Cubs are about to be put to the test.
Clay Buchholz, Arizona Diamondbacks
Another one too recent to confirm. The oft-injured Buchholz was enjoying a rebirth in the desert. Through 16 starts he was 7-2 with a 2.01 ERA (and a still-decent 3.46 WHIP) and 1.04 WHIP. The Diamondbacks are fading from the NL West race, and losing a pitcher who has allowed just seven earned runs over his last eight starts since July 31 is going to hurt.
Michael Kopech, Chicago White Sox
Ok, so losing Kopech didn’t impact the White Sox 2018 season. After all this is a team that will be lucky to win 65 games. What it did impact is the next two seasons. The White Sox have built one of the better farm systems in baseball and were on the verge of unleashing many of them. Kopech is now lost for 2019