The Team at Inside Injuries Looks at Players Working Through Injury Issues
Every week during the MLB season, we will be looking at a few players who are either trying to play through injuries or who have recently come back from injuries. We will dive into their stats compared to Inside Injuries’ player analytics so we can look at how we expect them to produce vs. how they are actually performing.
Last season a series of lower body injuries led Cespedes to miss exactly half of the year. Before the 2018 season even started Inside Injuries warned that he was a very High Risk player, and his shoulder and his wrist were an early concern at Spring Training. Now we are 16 games into the season and Cespedes is hitting just .203. He does have three home runs, so there is some power there, but his numbers are nowhere near what many expected from him. He’s also striking out in 38.6% of his plate appearances. The slightest change to a swing (that could be caused by a minor injury such as his wrist) is enough to lead to this horrible number.
Another interesting stat to consider here is his average exit velocity. In 2015 it was 92.0, and in 2016 it was close behind at 91.7. Last season it dropped to 89.8, not surprising due to the impact that lower body injuries have on batter power. This year it is very similar, 89.9. If Cespedes can’t get healthy, he can’t improve this number and get back to his 2015/2016 totals.
According to Inside Injuries analysis, he has been at a Below Average HPF (Health Performance Factor) since the start of the season. That means we did not expect him to play well at all. The good news, though, is that he is improving and is about to pass into the “Above Average” category. When that move does happen, it’s a sign that he is getting healthy enough for his numbers to really improve. We should see an increase in his exit velocity and his batting average start to inch closer to his career .273 average.
Kinsler wasn’t 100% entering Opening Day, and after just one game he landed on the DL with a groin strain. It was no surprise to us as we had him at a High Injury Risk to start the season. After 13 days on the DL (in line with our two week Optimal Recovery Time), Kinsler returned and has put up strong numbers in his first three games back. He is 4-13 with a home run, two RBIs and two stolen bases. While his Injury Risk remains Elevated due to the troublesome nature of groin strains, his HPF is Above Average. He is healthy enough to put up solid numbers and perform near 100%. It’s a small sample size, but things are going well for Kinsler so far. Our analytics show that this shouldn’t change as long as he doesn’t re-aggravate his groin strain.
Nearly everything we said about Cespedes could apply to Ryan Braun. He was a High Injury Risk to start the season and that number has only gotten higher. His back has been a problem and now his troublesome calf is acting up again. The back was a problem in 2015 and 2017, and his calf sidelined him multiple times in 2017. Braun never should have played through his back injury. Now he has yet another injury concern to deal with.
In addition to his High Injury Risk, Braun’s HPF has been Below Average throughout the early portion of the season. Our algorithm predicted a poor start for Braun, and sure enough that’s what we got. Braun was hitting just .200 through 16 games. He already has 14 strikeouts, and his .400 slugging % was well below his .569 career average. His hard hit ball percentage dropped from 39% in 2017 to 31% so far in 2018, and it was well below his career average of 36%. His back is likely a major contributor to this drop, and the calf injury certainly doesn’t help.
Braun’s calf and back injuries should ultimately land him on the DL, but for now the Brewers are planning to give him a day or two to rest before plugging him back into the lineup. These injuries need time, and until he gets that he won’t be anywhere near 100%. Our Optimal Recovery Time is around 2-3 weeks.
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Ryan Braun Featured Image: (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)