Payroll Amounts for Players on the DL in 2010

Teams lose players to the disabled list every year, but which teams had the most money tied up with these injured players in 2010? The following list ranks the teams that had the most dollars spent on players on the disabled list and the percentage of total payroll allocated to these days lost:

A couple of surprises are near the top of the list with two small-market teams, Minnesota and Oakland, being ranked #3 and #4. Most of Minnesota’s loss of salary was due to losing Joe Nathan for the season and Justin Morneau for a major part of the season. Ben Sheets and Eric Chavez were the two players that cost Oakland the most money.

Looking at the other end of the list, three teams that made the postseason (Texas, Tampa Bay and Cincinnati) and one that almost did (San Diego) had the fifth- and eighth-lowest totals. These teams were able to keep more of their talented players on the field to make a run at the playoffs.

Besides looking at the individual teams, here are the overall league trends since 2002:

The amount of dollars lost to players on the DL in 2010 ($363 million) was about $90 million les than in 2008 ($452 million) and 2009 ($456 million). It was the lowest percentage (13.6%) compared to any of the other nine years for which data exists. There could be several causes for this decrease, like a younger player pool, better training or just random luck, but don’t tell that to the teams that struggled with injuries throughout this past season.

Salary data:
2002-2009 injury information: Josh Hermsmeyer’s Injury database
2010 injury information: My 2010 injury dataset.

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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.

36 Responses to “Payroll Amounts for Players on the DL in 2010”

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  1. snapper says:

    Shouldn’t you rank by % of payroll lost?

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    • Drakos says:

      I agree. It’s a bit misleading to say that San Diego had the 8th least amount of dollars lost to the DL but ignore that they had the 3rd most in terms of percentage.

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    • gnomez says:

      Is this the total amount paid to players who spent any time on the DL, or is it prorated to include only whatever percentage of their salary equals the percentage of the season they spent on the DL?

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    • sdgsdr says:

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  2. Matt Defalco says:

    What made 2008’s DL money so high?

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    • John says:

      Swine flu.

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    • Ben says:

      Well 2009 was almost single-handedly the Mets.

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    • Resolution says:

      Could either be
      1. A lot of injuries
      2. Poor/unlucky contracts
      3. Stricter drug testing laws arose around this time (following the Mitchell Report), so maybe what players took to heal faster/stay healthy became banned?

      Or probably some combo of all three…or swine flu

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  3. MikeS says:

    These numbers are prone to be skewed by a couple of expensive players going down like what happened to the Twins. The White Sox are middle of the pack, but Jake Peavy made 17 starts and $15M so maybe $7M of the $9.4M they paid injured players all went to one guy. As has been pointed out here, money and value are not always the same. Losing a 4 win player who is not making much has the same impact as losing one being paid top dollar. The only advantage is you don’t lose payroll flexibility.

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  4. Matt says:

    Wow, the Marlins and Pirates sold their souls to the devil.

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  5. The White Sox are always near the bottom of these lists, especially their pitching staff. Either their training staff is amazing, or they know more about sports medicine than the rest of us. Or probably both.

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    • spaldingballs says:

      And almost all of their loss is Peavy! Other than him, none of their rotation on DL, and few position players. Herm Schneider does a great job.

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    • Greg P says:

      It could also be that KW is better at selecting for health or that Ozzie is better at utilizing his pitchers in terms of maximizing health and dealing with player with minor injuries.

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  6. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by UK Payroll and darell hartlen. darell hartlen said: Having over 40% of your payroll on the DL is not acceptable! #mlb […]

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  7. eyy says:

    Good choice on the colors for the graph.

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  8. Luke in MN says:

    Interesting data, perhaps mostly because there doesn’t seem to be a huge correlation between the dollars lost and team wins, although I’m sure that’s something that might fluctuate year to year.

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  9. brett says:

    Is there an article out there that sheds light on how much of this money is recovered by insurance? I’ve always been curious about how that works.

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    • Steve says:

      Each MLB team buys insurance independently of each other, each with different philosophies and risk appetites. Some teams buy none at all, some buy on some players but not all. I am not aware of any teams buying insurance on their entire roster as the cost would be prohibitive. The coverage trigger usually requires that a player miss a large portion – or perhaps all – of a season in order for a claim to be made. A very small percentage of injuries are covered by insurance, due to lack of severity/duration of the player’s disability and the risk retention of the teams, among other factors.
      BTW, I speak from some authority on the matter, as I was one of the underwriters of this business until about two years ago. I can’t speak to every carrier’s coverage, but the coverages were/are not too terribly different from one carrier to the next.

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  10. MGP says:

    Oakland was probably better off paying Eric Chavez to be on the DL rather than paying him to be on the field.

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  11. PJL says:

    Something seems odd here, if my math is correct. If the Mets lost $24.7 million and that’s 12.0% of their total, then their total was $205.8 million. If the Yankees lost $17.3 million and that’s 12.8% of their total, then their total was $135.2 million. Are the NY teams reversed?

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  12. William says:

    I was looking at Nick Johnson’s stats (don’t ask why I have a thing for him, aside, of course, for that mustache and coming to bat to “Get your sexy on”), having noticed that he wasn’t signed this year, and realized that he has been signed for a lot of money throughout a career largely spent on the DL, year in, year out.

    It got me wondering: who (Grif, for ex.) has gotten contracts most blinded to their past injury woes?

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  13. […] lost to injuries, 2010 January 12, 2011 by newyorkrunner has a fascinating post today about salary lost in the 2010 season to players on the DL; the New York Mets led the way with […]

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  14. pft says:

    If you rank by % salary lost the Red Sox are 12th, Oakland 1st and Min 2d Of course, the Red Sox key injuries were mainly with cost controlled players (Pedroia, Youk and Ellsbury).

    Interesting as the lost salary numbers are, I think WAR (2009 or 2010 projected if player played for 1/2 the season) would be a better indicator of how painful the losses were to the team.

    Also, some teams lost players in September for which there was no need to send players to the DL (eg Josh Hamilton,etc ), so getting them included would be a good thing

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  15. Paul Schleifer says:

    The Padres is misleading since Chris Young was on the DL for most of the season and at 6.375 million was their 2nd highest paid player.

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  16. DP says:

    Did you happen to do this analysis last year?

    I’d love to see how much payroll the Mets had on the DL in 2009. I bet it’s close to $50M.

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  17. monkeyball says:

    Wouldn’t this be more relevant calculated as, say, preseason projected WAR lost to DL? I mean, if in January 2006 you’d said “Eric Chavez will play in 20 games in the upcoming season,” A’s fans would have been rending their garments. The same prediction a year ago would have been optimistic.

    Think about it from a slightly different angle: say a team’s $15M/y star suffers a serious injury; the GM doesn’t think “How can I acquire another payer who is paid $15M?”, he thinks “How can I acquire another player who can make up as much production as possible?” Yes, having $15M at something like zero return sucks and is rate-limiting for what the GM can do (unless he’s Cashman or Theo), but that cost was already sunk whether the player was healthy/productive or not.

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  18. […] a post to FanGraphs, Jeff Zimmerman ranks teams that spent the most money on players on the DL and the percentage of total payroll allocated to those […]

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  19. […] Payroll Amounts for Players on the DL in 2010 | FanGraphs BaseballThe Jays didn’t pay much for DL players in 2010. 28th in the league for salary, and 25th in the league for percentage of total payroll. Look at the A’s – 40.4% of their total payroll was payed to players on the DL (cough, Chavez, cough) […]

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  20. […] Zimmerman has done work in this area. Among other things, he corroborates Carroll’s assertion that the White Sox […]

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