2017 Disabled List Information

I’ve finally compiled the 2017 Disabled List (DL) information. The main change from the last few seasons is the transition from the 15-day DL to 10-day DL and the subsequent increase in DL trips. With the total trips up, the number of days lost is down which makes it tough to draw any major conclusions. It’s time to dive into the numbers.

First off, I collected the information from MLB.com’s transaction list. I like to use this list because it is easy to go back and check. I waded through it and it wasn’t pretty. It took me twice as long to compile the data compared to previous seasons. I would just like to give a big thank you to ProSportsTransactions.com for having most of the missing data.

With my venting out of the way, here is how the days missed for pitchers and hitters compare over the previous 4 seasons.

Days Lost to the Disabled List
Season Hitters Pitchers
2013 11996 18455
2014 10016 16295
2015 10491 18442
2016 12797 22139
2017 12268 19565

Days lost are down from last season. With all the talk of the DL being an issue, players are staying on the field longer.
Now, the overall DL trips.

Disabled List Trips Including Short Pitcher Stints
Season Hitters Pitchers Pitchers (<15 days on DL) % of Pitcher DL trips
2013 285 269 7 2.6%
2014 238 238 14 5.9%
2015 223 284 13 4.6%
2016 242 310 6 1.9%
2017 311 377 86 22.8%

The number of trips by hitters is up 29% and up 21% for pitchers. Almost all of the jump in pitcher trips can be explained with the 10-day DL. While the days dropped 12% from 2016 to 2017, the trips increased by 29% for pitchers.

It’s tough to know what is causing the disparity. It could be that 2016 was the peak with injuries and teams are finally keeping players healthy. It could be that shorter stints give players a needed break (even if they aren’t hurt) to make it through the season. It could just be a fluke season and injuries will skyrocket next season in keeping with a 10+ year trend. There are just too many factors in-play with the 10-day DL to predict the future.

Also, teams may be testing how far the league will allow them to use the 10-day DL to skip starts. I would not be surprised to see the number jump again.

The biggest impact the 10-day had was allowing teams to skip a pitcher’s start, bring up a bullpen arm, and let the pitcher jump back into the rotation 10 days later. Here are the teams who did this trick the most ranked by short (<15 days) pitcher DL trips.

Pitcher Disabled List Trips by Team Including Short Pitcher Stints
Team Total < 15 days %
Dodgers 27 14 51.9%
Rockies 15 7 46.7%
Rangers 18 7 38.9%
Blue Jays 17 5 29.4%
Cubs 7 4 57.1%
Reds 17 4 23.5%
Red Sox 16 4 25.0%
Brewers 10 3 30.0%
Marlins 13 3 23.1%
Nationals 13 3 23.1%
Braves 13 3 23.1%
Angels 17 3 17.7%
Tigers 3 2 66.7%
Pirates 6 2 33.3%
Cardinals 11 2 18.2%
Phillies 13 2 15.4%
Astros 15 2 13.3%
Yankees 9 2 22.2%
Giants 6 2 33.3%
Athletics 14 2 14.3%
White Sox 12 2 16.7%
Padres 13 2 15.4%
Orioles 6 1 16.7%
Twins 13 1 7.7%
Diamondbacks 9 1 11.1%
Mariners 16 1 6.3%
Mets 12 1 8.3%
Rays 15 1 6.7%
Royals 12 0 0.0%
Indians 9 0 0.0%

It’s tough to imply too much information from just one season of information. We know the Dodgers have no problem cycling pitchers in an out. The Rangers and Rockies are close behind. I’m not surprised with either one of these two being near the top. The Rockies deal with the worst home park for pitchers and their pitchers could use some breaks. Also, the Rangers have historically cycled players on and off the DL so they’re likely to continue gaming the system.

As for individual teams, here  is their rankings by total days lost.

Disabled List Trips and Days Lost by Team
Team Total Days Pitchers Hitters Total Trips Pitchers Hitters
Dodgers 1914 1051 863 41 27 14
Rays 1644 1095 549 27 15 12
Padres 1619 1145 474 22 13 9
Blue Jays 1569 717 852 31 17 14
Red Sox 1540 1057 483 27 16 11
Angels 1491 1274 217 25 17 8
Mets 1487 781 706 29 12 17
Mariners 1402 1154 248 23 16 7
Reds 1308 1119 189 26 17 9
Braves 1283 805 478 24 13 11
White Sox 1278 718 560 23 12 11
Rangers 1271 752 519 27 18 9
Nationals 1221 489 732 26 13 13
Athletics 1132 764 368 22 14 8
Diamondbacks 1039 563 476 17 9 8
Twins 1031 893 138 20 13 7
Giants 1001 381 620 22 6 16
Marlins 935 542 393 22 13 9
Yankees 891 269 622 24 9 15
Indians 874 448 426 22 9 13
Astros 818 631 187 25 15 10
Phillies 813 534 279 25 13 12
Rockies 789 454 335 25 15 10
Royals 741 553 188 17 12 5
Cardinals 693 519 174 21 11 10
Orioles 557 154 403 15 6 9
Brewers 535 247 288 17 10 7
Pirates 386 179 207 18 6 12
Cubs 316 193 123 12 7 5
Tigers 255 84 171 13 3 10
Average 1061.1 652.2 408.9 22.9 12.6 10.4
Median 1035 597 398 23 13 10

Holy cow Dodgers. Going back to 2002, they shattered the 2012 Red Sox record for most trips of 33 by using the DL 41 times. For days lost, they were 6th all-time with last year’s team spending ~400 additional days on the DL (2306 days). And the Cubs just stayed healthy. Two different approaches for two of the league’s top teams.

Finally, I’ll leave with a bit of encouraging news, the number of days lost to elbow injuries (which includes Tommy John surgeries) fell to its lowest level since 2011.

Disabled List Days Lost for Elbow Injuries
Season Days
2002 5064
2003 5056
2004 6266
2005 4862
2006 6014
2007 6849
2008 5868
2009 6772
2010 4534
2011 4056
2012 7254
2013 8051
2014 8739
2015 6995
2016 7032
2017 5153

Additionally, shoulders injuries dropped. Again, it’s tough to tell the decline’s exact cause but it is encouraging to see the league’s best pitchers on the mound more. I’m not sure if pitchers are less of an injury risk but it is a data point to track to see if it becomes a trend.

That’s it for a first look at the 2017 disabled list. After spending a couple of days collecting, cleaning up, and looking at the injury data, I’m ready to move on to a new topic. I’m sure I missed some obvious topics so let me know if there is any information people want to see.



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Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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stever20
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stever20

maybe the juiced ball helped all the elbow injuries? Just kidding(I think…..)