How Should the Appendectomy Affect Matt Holiday’s Performance?

Matt Holliday needed an appendectomy on April 1st. Originally it was reported that he was to be out about 4-6 weeks. Since then the time table has been moved up, even to the point that Matt has not even been place on the DL yet. I decided to go back and look historically at players that had their appendix removed, see how long they were off and did their performance change after the operation.

Since 2002, 20 players have been on the DL for having having an appendectomy, 10 hitters and 10 pitchers. The average time lost was 37 days with 15 days being the shortest time (Rich Aurilia) and the longest being 134 days(Toby Borland). Borland spent so much time on the DL for the injury because he hurt his arm in rushing to return. The next longest stay was 67 days by Andy Machado in 2004. If Borland’s value is removed, the average number of days on the DL drops to 32 days.

Besides finding out the number of days lost to the DL, I looked to see if the player’s performance suffered after they came back from the surgery. I decided to look at how the hitter’s OBP and SLG compared before and after the operation for the season that the operation occurred. Also, I looked at the player’s numbers the season before and after to see if there was any drop off. I compared the OBP and SLG by weighting them by the harmonic mean of the hitter’s PA. The weighted numbers were then added up and here are the results:

Looking at the numbers, there are no huge differences seen in production before and after the operation. With this small sample size, having an appendix removed doesn’t seen to alter a batter’s performance.

In conclusion, owners of Matt Holiday should expect him to miss around ~30 days due to the injury and his production should not suffer once he returns.




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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.


16 Responses to “How Should the Appendectomy Affect Matt Holiday’s Performance?”

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  1. Rui says:

    What about players, like Torres, who didn’t go on the DL?

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    • Jeff Zimmerman says:

      I had no data on players that didn’t go on the DL. It would be nice.

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    • Big Jgke says:

      What about them? Um they’re badasses who defy analysis. That’s what.

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      • AK707 says:

        Or they are playing in September when there isn’t any reason to go on the DL because you can have your whole 40-man roster on the bench if you really wanted.

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  2. Tim says:

    There is no note made of whether or not the appendix actually burst. Holiday’s appendix did not burst so the procedure was a lot less invasive. I would expect less than 30 days for Holiday. Maybe even less than Rich Aurilia’s 15 days

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    • glenstein says:

      I was going to say something along these lines. Not only had it not burst, but it was said they diagnosed it very early on. That may amount to the same thing, or it may be all the more reason to expect an early return.

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  3. Justin says:

    When the appendix does not burst the procedure used now-a-days is much less intrusive than it was even 10 years ago.

    Matt Cassel was very close to starting at QB just 4 days after this procedure (he did play 11 days later). I would be surprised if Holliday isn’t back next week.

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  4. Silencio says:

    Cool article.

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  5. Joe says:

    Don’t you think it will affect his base stealing?

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    • Jeff Zimmerman says:

      No idea, but I do have the SB numbers for other players in a spreadsheet. I will post them later tonight.

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    • Jeff Zimmerman says:

      With the sample size, it looks like the SB was cut by 1/3. It went from 9.2 SB per 400 PA to 2.7 SB.

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  6. Tom says:

    Medically speaking, I assume that he had a simple laparascopic procedure. The incisions (usually 4) for a laparascope are small with minimal disruption of his abdominal wall. Barring complications, he should medically be good to go end of this week. However, the Cards have a 100 million reasons to bring him back slowly (despite no logical reason to hold him back more than a week).

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  7. Mike says:

    I had mine taken out with a laproscopy. I was pretty sore for a couple weeks, but probably could have played baseball after a week. I was just 18 though.

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  8. cjnicastro says:

    I had my appendix taken out (laproscopy, 3 incisions) four weeks ago. There is no way I would have been able to play ball a week after surgery. I resumed my cycling training 10 days after my surgery without any issues.

    But – I was not able to do much stretching (anything core related, side to side, leaning forward to touch hands to the floor, yoga, etc) for another 10 days, as it takes a while for swelling to subside. Also, the surgeon said ‘take it easy’ on anything that would stress or compress your core muscles. I only mention this because I’m not quite sure swinging a bat after one week of recovery would be very wise.

    Also, appendectomy patients are warned not to lift over 25 pounds for the first 4-6 weeks to avoid a hernia. Now…. I’m no Matt Holliday, but I’m 34 and very active and I absolutely blown away when I heard he MAY be back this weekend.

    Personally, I’m guessing he’ll be back next weekend at the earliest.

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    • Wade8813 says:

      I wasn’t warned not to lift over 25 lbs… did my doctors unnecessarily risk me getting a henia?!?!

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      • cjnicastro says:

        Hopefully you don’t get one! (The warning only stuck with me as he told me on three separate occasions.)

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