So Just How Bad Have The Injuries Been?

WASHINGTON - AUGUST 01: Ryan Howard #6 of the Philadelphia Phillies is helped off the field by manager Charlie Manuel and a Philadelphia trainer after injuring his ankle during the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on August 1 2010 in Washington DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)


I thought it would be interesting to try to quantify exactly how much the Phillies have been impacted by injuries this year. I didn't have too much time to do this and I'm not Mr. Statman compared to some of you, but here's a very rough calculation. I limited my analysis to position players for the time being. The six members of the Phillies original starting eight who have gone on the DL this year have been inactive for the following numbers of games.

Rollins = 4/13-5/17 & 5/22-6/22 = 55 G
Ruiz = 6/22-7/10 = 18 G
Polanco = 6/26-7/17 = 18 G
Utley = 6/29-est. 8/31 = approx. 57 G
Victorino = 7/28-est. 8/14 = approx. 15 G
Howard = 8/2-est. 8/19 = approx. 15 G

Multiply those figures by the WAR/G that each guy has posted when active this year, and you get:

Rollins = 55 G missed x 1.5 WAR / 50 G active = 1.65 WAR missed
Ruiz = 18 G missed x 1.8 WAR / 87 G active = 0.37 WAR missed
Polanco = 18 G missed x 2.8 WAR / 87 G active = 0.58 WAR missed
Utley = 57 G missed x 3.3 WAR / 74 G active = 2.54 WAR missed
Victorino = 15 G missed x 1.4 WAR / 100 G active  = 0.21 WAR missed
Howard = 15 G missed x 1.9 WAR / 105 G active = 0.27 WAR missed

   

That totals 5.62 WAR.  Of course, this doesn't include the many injuries that the Phillies' pitching staff also suffered this year (Blanton, Happ, Moyer, Lidge, Madson, Romero, Durbin). It's also pretty imprecise, because it doesn't account for players who were hampered by injuries while they were active.

I think pure WAR is the correct metric to use here, not the difference between each guy's WAR and his replacement's WAR. What I'm trying to measure here is misfortune. The quality of a player's replacement is not primarily a function of luck. If we had a great backup 2B ready to step in for Utley, the impact of his injury would have been greatly mitigated, but it would not have changed the metaphysical badness (for lack of a better term) of our fortune. It would just mean that the team was well-prepared for the contingency of an injury, and good on them.

It's hard to put these numbers in any sort of context, so I tried comparing them to the 2009 Mets, who went through one of the more memorable injury-plagued seasons that any team has experienced in recent years. Here's what I came up with (based on their opening-day starting eight):

Brian Schneider = 4/17-5/30 = 38 G
Carlos Delgado = 5/16-end = 126 G
Luis Castillo = did not go on DL
David Wright = 8/17-9/1 = 14 G
Jose Reyes = 5/26-end = 78 G
Daniel Murphy = did not go on DL
Carlos Beltran = 6/22-9/8 = 70 G
Ryan Church = 5/26-6/7 = 10 G

And the WARs that were lost during those games:

Brian Schneider = 38 G missed x 0.3 WAR / 124 G active = 0.09 WAR missed
Carlos Delgado = 126 G missed x 0.6 WAR / 36 G active = 2.10 WAR missed
David Wright = 14 G missed x 3.4 WAR / 148 G active = 0.32 WAR missed
Jose Reyes = 78 117 G missed x 0.8 WAR / 84 45 G active = 0.74 2.08 WAR missed
Carlos Beltran = 70 G missed x 3.1 WAR / 92 G active = 2.36 WAR missed
Ryan Church = 10 G missed x 0.6 WAR / 152 G active = 0.04 WAR missed

Which totals 5.65 6.99 WAR. So, even if the Phillies' starting eight suffer no further injuries for the remainder of the season, they will end the year having been impacted by injuries this year every bit as much as the Mets' starting eight were last year within 1.4 WAR of how much the Mets' starting eight were impacted last year. (I think the Mets' pitching staff had more injuries than the Phillies' staff has had this year though.)

Of course, the difference is that the Phillies are only three games out of first place and will likely stay in contention for the rest of the season even in spite of their current injuries, while the 2009 Mets went 70-92. It just goes to show you that our team is really good this year.

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