The Toronto Blue Jays ranked in the bottom third of the league — in the good way — when it came to DL time lost in 2016
For the second consecutive season in 2016, the Toronto Blue Jays were very fortunate when it came to overall team health and time lost to the disabled list.
Toronto lost a combined 898 days to the disabled list in 2016, the ninth-fewest in baseball, and lost just 767 the year prior according to data from Jeff Zimmerman for The Hardball Times. The 2016 season was exceedingly unforgiving league-wide, setting a record with 36,893 days lost to the DL.
From the raw number of games lost to the average time each player stayed on the DL, 2016 was record-setting for the wrong reasons. By and large, the Blue Jays avoided that.
The injuries that hit Toronto were also some of the least severe when compared to the rest of baseball, according to data from licensed physical therapist and athletic trainer Stan Conte (by his “Severity Index”, the Blue Jays’ rank 23rd out of 30 in terms of 2016 injury severity).
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Gavin Floyd and Franklin Morales’ lengthy DL stays were responsible for a large chunk of Toronto’s DL time in 2016, while Jose Bautista, Devon Travis, and Troy Tulowitzki’s stints made a more noticeable roster impact. Around those, however, the Blue Jays faced mostly minor injuries.
Measuring team health in a broad scope remains a very inexact science, of course — as a long-reliever and star centre-fielder both missing 50 days will have drastically different impacts. There are entire books to be written on how individual organizations approach physical science and health, especially young arms — though Toronto’s investment in their high performance department has been very encouraging early on.
One thing is for certain, though: If the Blue Jays hope to reach their third playoff appearance in three years, this trend needs to continue.
This is especially true in the Blue Jays’ rotation, where Aaron Sanchez is not completely out of the woods after his first full season starting and Marco Estrada has battled some lingering back problems since arriving in Toronto. To make it through 162 games using just seven starters — like the Blue Jays did last season — is very rare, and that number could have even been six.
Many rotations are forced to stretch to their 10th starter and beyond, testing depth at a worrying level. In a division that could easily be contested into the final weeks of the 2017 season, that’s a risky business.
Elsewhere on the field, mainstays like Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin, and Troy Tulowitzki will be asked to carry the Blue Jays’ lineup in 2017, but little depth exists behind them should one need time on the DL.
Much of Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins’ attention has been on boosting the team’s floor and MLB level depth, but at a certain point, injuries can hit a point where no level of logical preparation is enough. Just ask the Dodgers or Athletics, both of whom lost a whopping 2,300+ days each to the DL.
Preventative measures will continue to be a team’s best weapon. By a combination of good fortune and a progressive approach to this area, it’s been working out recently for the Jays.