2018 Bill James Handbook: Injury Information

November 13, 2017

This year's edition of The Bill James Handbook, which was released on November 1, features a new section on Injury Information. Beginning with the 2015 season, Baseball Info Solutions has been collecting detailed injury data with the goal of creating a comprehensive database that would catalog all events that could potentially have an effect on the physical health of a player. This means not only are players’ trips to the disabled list recorded, but also events that occur in which the player shows no visible pain (e.g. fouling a ball off of his foot). Thus, even though a player may remain in the game, we can now track how his injury has potentially impacted on field performance.

In order to be truly comprehensive BIS keeps track of both on-field and off-field injuries (which means all venison-related injuries are tracked appropriately if and when they occur). Information like injury type, injury severity, and body part(s) affected are included in the database, among other things. Additionally, any updates or setbacks a player has during the rehabilitation process have been accounted for.

The table below shows all of the injuries from 2015-2017 broken down by Injury Type.

Injury Events by Type, 2015-2017
Injury Type Total
Struck by Batted Ball/Bat 4479
Hit By Pitch 4027
Foul off Body 3741
Fielding a Batted/Thrown Ball 469
Running the Bases 391
Collision with Player 308
On a Swing 294
Other 275
Collision with Wall 270
Throwing a Pitch 262
Sliding into a Base 256
Throwing (non-pitch) 36

The results show that an overwhelming majority of potential injury events happen around home plate as a result of the pitch. Either the batter fouls the ball off of himself, he fouls it off the catcher, or the batter is simply hit by the pitch.

However, just because a player is hit by a ball doesn’t mean he automatically comes out of the game. The table below lists the events most likely to cause a player to be removed from the game.

Percent of Injury Events Where the Player Left the Game, 2015-2017
Injury Type Total
Throwing a Pitch 51.1%
Throwing (non-Pitch) 36.1%
Running the Bases 32.2%
On a Swing 19.4%
Other 15.6%
Fielding a Batted/Thrown Ball 15.6%
Sliding into a Base 13.3%
Collision with a Player 12.0%
Collision with a Wall 9.3%
Hit by Pitch 2.2%
Struck by Batted Ball/Bat 2.1%
Foul Off Body 0.4%

Injuries to pitchers (particularly starting pitchers) have undoubtedly changed the course of many a team's season over the years, and the data confirms that teams are less likely to keep a pitcher in the game if any discomfort is felt.

For more detailed Injury Information tidbits, as well as additional fun and interesting baseball data, The Bill James Handbook is now available for sale.


COMMENTS (3 Comments, most recent shown first)

In response to Charles Saeger, Vince Coleman rather famously got run over by an automated tarp, for example. Clint Barmes fell downstairs carrying a package of venison. I have seen somebody twist an ankle falling down a dugout step. Some pitcher got hurt in some sort of hijinks with The Chicken once, didn't they?

And there will surely be future events that no one can forsee-- bee stings that turn out to be the first time somebody realizes they are allergic, ice falling from aircraft and hitting someone, rabid dogs on the field, the kissing bandit accidentally kicks somebody...

1:44 PM Nov 14th
What is in the category “Other”? Can you give examples?
7:02 AM Nov 14th
Am I correct in assuming that all 262 instances of "throwing a pitch" are ONLY ones in which the player or club later identifies a pitch as having caused an injury, and also a trip to the D.L.?
Conversely, may we assume that every instance of a player being struck by a batted ball or bat, or hit by a pitch, or fouling a ball off of the body - the top 3 on the 1st chart - has been counted, irrespective of whether any injury was sustained?
If my assumptions are correct, it may be useful to divide the list into two lists: one that denotes events counted irrespective of result, and one that counts events that are only counted because they are tied to a result.
1:59 PM Nov 13th
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