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Study Shows Baseball Injuries More Likely To Happen Early

The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine’s Annual Meeting is not normally where you would expect to find nuggets of baseball interest. But a paper presented there over the weekend analyzed MLB disabled list data over seven seasons, from 2002-2008, and calculated the frequency and proportional distribution of injuries by part of the body, league, time of season and position

Some of the findings make sense. Pitchers were responsible for most of the days on the disability list (62 percent), compared to position players (38 percent). That's not a surprise, as the act of pitching a baseball is among the most unnatural and stressful in all of sport. However, I was surprised to read that almost three-quarters of all DL stints take place before the All-Star break.

That initially seems a bit counter-intuitive. One would have thought that injuries would be more likely to happen later in the year, as the grind of a 162-game season takes its toll. However, it's not true to say that the All-Star break divides the season equally. Most teams played more often in the first-half, and there's also spring training, which adds a month or more of potential injuries and DL trips up to Opening Day.

The breakdown by body part showed that "upper extremity injuries" - that'd be "arms" to you and me -  were particularly vulnerable, making up more than half of all the data. Lower extremity injuries ("legs") were responsible for just over thirty percent of DL visits, while back (7.4%) and core muscle injuries (4.3%) filled in most of the remainder. Except, I guess, for oddities like line-drives off Dustin Nippert's head.