2013 Disabled List Team Data

The 2013 season was a banner season for players going on the disabled list. The DL was utilized 2,538 times, which was 17 more than the previous 2008 high. In all, players spent 29,504 days on the DL which is 363 days more than in 2007. Today, I take a quick look at the 2013 DL data and how it compares to previous seasons.

To get the DL data, I used MLB’s Transaction data. After wasting too many hours going through the data by hand, I have the completed dataset available for public consumption.  Enjoy it, along with the DL data from previous seasons. Finally, please let me know of any discrepancies so I can make any corrections.

With the data, it is time to create some graphs. As stated previously, the 2013 season set all-time marks in days lost and stints. Graphically, here is how the data has trended since 2002:

After a downward trend from 2008 to 2010, the amount of time the DL is again on the rise.

Now, here is how each team did in DL stints and total days lost during the 2013 season.


  • It is always amazing to see teams with 1/3 of the days lost compared to other teams.
  • The Royals take the crown for losing the least amount of days to the DL. Not a single major league pitcher went on the DL once the season started. The team should not expect the same level of health in 2014.
  • I was a little surprised to see the Marlins leading the number of days lost. I more expected to see the Yankees and Blue Jays at the top. The pair was though 1-2 in total DL stints.
  • The White Sox are starting to slack off. It is crazy not seeing them in the last couple of spots. Not to worry, I ran numbers from the past four seasons and they still average the least number of days lost.

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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

42 Responses to “2013 Disabled List Team Data”

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  1. The Stranger says:

    Interesting data. What do you think causes the huge difference between the top and bottom teams, and is it correlated year-to-year? I’m sure some of it is luck, but I doubt that explains all of the variation. I notice that the teams losing fewer days over the past few years are mostly small-market teams that have proportionally more young players, so I imagine that’s part of it. Are some training staffs flat-out better? Are some teams just institutionally more or less risk-averse when it comes to signing players? Are some teams more inclined to shut guys down rather than see if they can play through injuries?

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    • Bip says:

      Some players are generally less injury-prone. If those players remain on the same team for a few years, they will help reduce the year-to-year injury rates of their team.

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    • Gabriel says:

      I definitely think age helps — teams like the Yankees getting injured when they have ancient players is no surprise. Another factor is injury-risk philosophy on getting players — the Jays knew they were taking a risk when they got an injury-plagued guy like Josh Johnson. I’d even wager that teams that teams using more platoons may maintain more health, just because guys rest their bodies more.

      Yet, training staff has to be a factor. Highlighting the White Sox is relevant — they’ve had their share of older players and have had some injury-prone guys (Peavy pops to mind), yet still have dominated in this area for a sustained period of time.

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    • RC says:

      “Are some training staffs flat-out better? Are some teams just institutionally more or less risk-averse when it comes to signing players? Are some teams more inclined to shut guys down rather than see if they can play through injuries?”

      I think all of these things are part of it (as well as other things).

      The Red Sox had a ton of issues the previous couple of years with players going down with minor injuries, sitting out a couple of days, and then coming back and making the injury much worse. It happened over and over and over again.

      They fired their whole medical staff and replaced it, and I don’t think that happened at any point this season. Could be luck, or it could be that the new staff is better at saying “No, hes not cleared yet”.

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  2. RMD says:

    Surprised to see the Yankees not number one on this. I guess their pitching stayed quietly healthy. Also, this is good news for the Braves and bad news for the Royals going into next year. Both teams are young, but will regress towards the mean in terms of DL time.

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    • Snowman says:

      I’m not really certain this means anything going forward for the Braves. I mean, Jonny Venters missed the whole season and is a large part of that, but does anyone except the Braves front office expect him to come back at this point? O’Flaherty and Hudson were a large part, they’re gone as free agents. Heyward missed a bit of time, and will be back if you don’t believe the trade rumours (which I don’t), so that can be a little help if he stays heatlhy.

      It could be that their days lost drops in 2014 without a single drop added of good performance from any player returning that missed significant chunks of 2013.

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      • Snowman says:

        Oh, yeah, Ramiro Pena missing the entire year is counted as part of that, too. Which was probably a plus, despite what the Braves think of him because of his small sample size goodness.

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        • violatedchimp says:

          Um, the Braves started Eliot Johnson in the NLDS. I don’t care how bad Ramiro Pena was, he would have been a significant upgrade.

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  3. Days Lost vs production lost says:

    Why is days lost the measure you chose to highlight for this article? Certainly, a bench bat going on the DL for the year isn’t as relevant as an all-star missing a month. Why not aim to figure out missing production due to the DL?

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    • Eric R says:

      One response could be that the data is all provided and feel free to devise a way to do that. :)

      Quick and dirty– I paired this data up with the steamer projections divided by 180 to estimate what they are worth per day. Having each players 2013 projections would be better, but I guess you get what you pay for :)

      Yankees 10.4 wins
      Blue Jays 9.4
      Rangers 6.0
      Dodgers 5.3
      Braves 5.2
      D’Backs 5.0
      Angels 4.7
      Red Sox 4.3
      Brewers 4.3
      Pirates 4.3
      A’s 4.2
      Padres 4.2
      Cubs 4.1
      Marlins 4.0
      Phillies 3.9
      Reds 3.5
      White Sox 3.4
      Mets 3.3
      Rays 3.1
      Rockies 3.1
      Giants 3.0
      Nationals 2.2
      Cardinals 2.0
      Royals 1.9
      Tigers 1.8
      Twins 1.7
      Orioles 1.7
      Astros 1.6
      Indians 1.6
      Mariners 1.0

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      • TKDC says:

        Did you just look at team level projections? I don’t think that even qualifies as “quick and dirty.”

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        • Eric R says:

          No; by ‘this data’ I meant the player-level data linked to in the article. I downloaded that and exported the 2014 steamer projections… a vlookup and pivot table later and I had the data presented above.

          Though, just using team level data would have been quicker-and-dirtier –and I am often a fan of the quickest-and-dirtiest ways to do things [especially when I don’t get paid for them :)]

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        • TKDC says:

          Okay, in that case, nice job.

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        • Inappropriate says:

          “I am often a fan of the quickest-and-dirtiest ways to do things.”

          I’m glad I’m not your wife…

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      • Eric R says:

        Assuming the data above is roughly correct, here are the revised “no one gets hurt” standings for 2013:

        Red Sox 101
        Yankees 95
        Rays 95

        Tigers 95
        Indians 94

        A’s 100
        Rangers 97

        Braves 101

        Cardinals 99
        Pirates 98
        Reds 94

        Dodgers 97

        So, the only play-off implications [at least as far as the data above goes] would have been Yankees and Rangers in, Indians and Rays out; and the Yankees/Rays comes down to 0.3 wins, so perhaps better to call them a tie for the second wildcard…

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  4. ettin says:

    I find it very interesting that pitcher DL days missed started going up in 2007 which happens to coincide with a FanGraphs article earlier in the week talking about reliever velocity going up since 2007?

    Pitchers throwing harder certainly would be a viable base excuse for more DL stints/days missed?

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    • Brandon Firstname says:

      I absolutely think this is the case. I think what we’ve started to see is that pitchers are doing things that the human body isn’t capable of sustaining.

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  5. Can you run different correlations? Maybe age, weather, etc and see if here is a determinant.

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  6. randplaty says:

    No wonder the Padres suck.

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  7. Brian says:

    I noticed in your dataset that there were several overlaps. I was interested in the Braves first. Jonny Venters has an overlap from 7/4-9/29. Cristhian Martinez has an overlap from 8/16-9/29. This obviously has the affect of inflating some of those charts. I uploaded a revised chart (with a strike through all duplicates)

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    • Jeff Zimmerman says:

      Thanks, there are always issues. The data from MLB is always horrible. If thought I got all the duplicates. If a team changes the reason or date, MLB does removed the them.

      Also, There is always around 10 cases of a player returning from the DL with no mention of him going on it.

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      • Jason B says:

        “There is always around 10 cases of a player returning from the DL with no mention of him going on it.”

        It’s akin to double-secret probation…

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  8. Evan says:

    How much of the upswing the past 3 years can be attributed to the advent of the 7-day concussion DL, its associated protocols and greater awareness of brain injuries?

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    • Brad Johnson says:

      My first hypothesis was that we’re seeing the same amount of injuries but that clubs are more inclined to put players on the DL for “nagging” type injuries.

      In the past, the relationship between being somewhat injured, current production, future injuries, and future production was not as well understood. You had a lot more heroes (think Miguel Cabrera) on the field when that decision is probably costing the club millions of dollars down the road.

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  9. Z..... says:

    You are only surprised by the Marlins being at the top b/c everyone just assumed they were complete garbage b/c of terrible play. Their first 2 months, which was where the majority of their injuries occurred, were atrocious. After May 31st, their record was monumentally better. In case you were wondering, that is around the time that Stanton, LoMo, Henderson Alvarez, Nathan Eovaldi came back from injury, and Jacob Turner was called back up from AAA. A month later, Yelich was called up…

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  10. jerusalem_artichoke says:

    jesus, so awesome. thanks for all you do jeff

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  11. BillyF says:

    Good job, Jeff. Much appreciated data, esp. the group by teams (I know it’s not a real “grouping”, but any further research will need this data and graph as a starting point). Had you found out “why” yet? My hypothesis would be the younger the team (or baseball throughout the year) roster was, the less DL they ended up with. Any positive correlation or strong indicators to prove such? –BillyF

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  12. Zimmerman Fan says:

    Awesome dataset! Thanks for doing the drudge work and freely sharing the results. Since you asked, here’s the first of a few small corrections.

    Casey Kotchman – The DL stint that started on 4/4/2013, ended on 6/3/2013.

    Rotoworld has it (one day early) at http://www.rotoworld.com/recent/mlb/3832/casey-kotchman

    MLB has it at http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/transactions/?tcid=mm_mlb_players#month=6&year=2013&team_id=146

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  13. Zimmerman Fan says:

    Correction #2:

    Cristhian Martinez – The DL stint you have for him from 4/7/2013 to 9/29/2013 is correct. The one starting 8/16/2013 is redundant and should probably be deleted to avoid inflating the number of days.

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  14. Zimmerman Fan says:

    Correction #3:

    Jared Hughes – Was on the DL once, from 6/6/2013 to 8/2/2013. The two rows for him, the time periods of which overlap, each have one correct and one incorrect date.

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  15. fehmann says:

    Very interesting. My Phillies have been struggling to keep their stars on the field in recent years.

    Is there data available that is broken down by position and age? In other words, 35 YO catchers spend, on avg. n days on the DL?


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  16. Zimmerman Fan says:

    Correction #4:

    John Jaso – Was on the DL from 7/25/2013 to the end of the season. The 8/8/2013 transaction was just a transfer from the 7-day to the 15-day. The MLB entry for that date is unclear, but Rotoworld has the blow-by-blow. http://www.rotoworld.com/recent/mlb/4537/john-jaso

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  17. Zimmerman Fan says:

    Correction #5:

    Jonny Venters – Hmmm… I must not be following what you’re trying to communicate with the shaded rows. Venters was out all year, so your row showing him on the DL from 3/31 to 9/29 seems right. He had TJ surgery on 5/16, and was transferred from the 15-day to the 60-day on 7/4. You have a shaded row saying he was out with TJS from 7/4 to 9/29. I don’t follow.

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  18. Zimmerman Fan says:

    6th and Final Correction

    Wilkin Ramirez – Went on 7-day DL either 5/26 or 5/27 (MLB and Rotoworld disagree on the exact day). Transferred to 15-day on 6/9. Activated 8/12. Went back on the DL with a new injury on 8/30, and never came off. Your two shaded rows seem right. The unshaded row, covering 6/9 to 9/29, should be deleted.

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  19. Eric Palmer says:

    Gah, the Rangers were killed on the injury front pitching-wise for a large portion of the season. I remember at one point our #4 AAA pitcher was starting in the bigs for us. Amazed we were in the playoff hunt as long as we were.

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  20. Gary says:

    This is AWESOME data compilation- however-one of the biggest pieces missing from MLB reports- (and the fact that 5 or more % of data is BS) is the classification of preventable (soft tissue overuse- misuse) vs. ballistic (collision, etc.). Such classification will give insight into who has the right conditioning staff and practices. Overlay this with the “age factor”- exercise is cumulative- thus- the older the athlete- the greater the amount of asymmetrical motion imbalance. The lower the amount of days on the DL, and reduction of secondary injury will tell you the expertise of the training staff. A bigger issue- is the apathy that circulates the data. Workers compensation insurance covers the salary- and that doesn’t increase the individual policy of teams as it’s a collective element inside of MLB. THEREFORE- No accountability- average practitioners and those that suffer- the athletes long term. 2013 was the worst year on recent record- guess what- it’s only going to get worse. Don’t buy a Jersey without a removable nameplate

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  21. fehmann says:

    Would love to see age/position plotted against days on DL

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  22. Zimmerman Fan says:

    Will you be publishing this data for 2014? Please!

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