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.
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 third team we’ll discuss is the New York Mets.
For the last few years, they have been playing second fiddle to the other New York team, the Yankees. They have not made the playoffs since 2006, nor even finished with a winning record since 2008. A lot of people blame the Mets’ woes on a hesitance by their owners, the Wilpon family, to spend money. While this may be true, the Mets have done a good job of rebuilding and developing talent at both the major and minor league levels.
Core position players to build around
The current face of the Mets’ franchise is homegrown star third baseman David Wright. The 31 year old was named the fourth captain in team history prior to the 2013 season, about a year after signing a long-term extension to keep him playing in New York through 2020. Wright might not put up 30 home runs and 100 RBIs a year anymore (he’s batting .285 with just 8 home runs in 2014), but his consistency and leadership have proven invaluable in a period of rebuilding.