Elbow issues: Entering the majors too early

Major League Baseball may have a serious problem on its hands.

Teams that sign young pitchers to big bonuses often accelerate the process to the major leagues so they get an earlier return on their investment. That may actually be hurting the players they’ve drafted and increasing risk for an already common injury.

But let’s start with the news on elbow injuries in general.

Scanning the stats

A recent study from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit encompassed 168 major leaguers who had undergone UCL reconstructive surgery (more commonly known as Tommy John surgery). The lead-up to the injury was indicated by a “statistically significant decline” in performance in the season before the surgery.

We’ve heard very little of this, and it’s somewhat alarming, partially because it hasn’t been noticed before. But the good news is this means it may be possible for trainers to use statistics as a red flag. When a UCL is undergoing stress that may lead to a fracture, a corresponding drop in statistics could be a good warning that prompts proper rest.

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Cellar dwellers with bright futures: Marlins

As the 2014 pennant race starts to kick into gear, we explore a number of teams who need to look to 2015 and beyond for their chance to compete. The fourth and final team we’ll discuss is the Miami Marlins. (Click here to see the rest of the series.)

The Marlins have had four losing seasons in a row, and could be on the way to a fifth in 2014. However, while not spectacular, their 44-50 record through the All-Star break is an improvement from years past. They might not be in serious contention in 2014, but they have undoubtedly gotten better, and should continue to do so in the future. The Marlins’ farm system is far from the best in baseball, but this is partly because several of their top prospects are already in the majors. However, they do have several prospects in the minors who they hope will contribute in the future.

Impact hitters proving their worth

The Marlins’ best hitter, and one of the best players in baseball, is right fielder Giancarlo Stanton. in 2014, the 24 year old leads the National League in home runs (21) and RBIs (63) and has raised his batting average to .295. Stanton is already in his fifth year, and was an All-Star for the second time in 2014. He figures the cornerstone piece of the Marlins franchise; the player to stand strong during the rebuilding period and carry them to future contention.

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