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Disabled List Usage

May 11, 2017

This past offseason, MLB negotiated with the Players Association over a new collective bargaining agreement. Although it was one of the more minor changes from the new agreement, one issue included shortening the 15-day disabled list to 10 days. Despite being minor, this change has proven to transform how teams are treating player injuries and the disabled list this season as compared to last.

With the offseason change, teams have taken to putting players on the disabled list more often this season than they did last season within the first month of play. Through April 2017, teams put 174 total players on the disabled list, which is an increase from the 148 total players that teams put on the disabled list through April 2016. This 26-player difference between the first month of play of each season suggests that teams are not hesitating to put players on the disabled list with the new rule change.

Players Put on 15-Day and 10-Day DL Through April 2016 and April 2017
Season Batters Pitchers Total
2016 57 91 148
2017 71 103 174

Leading up to Opening Day and over the first week of the season, the change in the DL period did not seem to impact the number of players teams put on the DL. However, starting in Week 2, every week of the 2017 season has seen a greater number of players added to the list as compared to the 2016 season.

Players Put on 15-Day and 10-Day DL 
By Time Period in 2016 and 2017
  2016 2017
Opening Day And Week Before 91 92
Week One 16 10
Week Two 10 20
Week Three 16 28
Week Four 18 24
Week Five 14 27

If the past four weeks are any indication, the world of baseball will have to adjust to seeing more players land on the disabled list. This shorter period is making things more interesting, adding some roster flexibility that every team can use to their advantage.


COMMENTS (7 Comments, most recent shown first)

Is the weekly chart going to be kept up-to-date for all 26 weeks. It would be very interesting to see if the trend continues.
8:53 PM May 24th
Update - LA Times just ran year to date NL totals per team on this and Dodgers have used the new DL 17 times, far more than any other team (Colorado is next with 10).
12:19 AM May 17th
The more interesting question is whether more or less top level playing time is being missed under a 10-day DL than a 15-day DL. A star player gets an injury that will keep him out for 5 days. Are teams sending this player to the DL, thus making him miss 10 days instead of 5, whereas last year they would have just held him out for 5 days and not replaced him on the roster? Is it better to have nobody for 5 days and then your star player for the next 5 days or to have a replacement player for all 10 days? How many of the players put on the 10-day DL are activated after 10 days vs. the same questions when it was 15 days? I think these are all interesting questions.
9:20 PM May 15th
There is big talk her in LA. It would be interesting to see if there is a wide disparity as to which teams use it more - I suspect there will be. The Dodgers have completely changed how they are managing their pitching rotation by using it, making it clear that no one but Kershaw will get 200 innings. I am betty Moneyball-types will used it twice as much as non-Moneyball types.
6:21 PM May 12th
Consequences intended. The whole idea of going from 15 to 10 was to make the DL easier to use. Any other result would be surprising, this one is not. They do get it right every now and again.
12:59 PM May 12th
Good idea to track this. Of course, comparing one month / year to just one other month / year doesn't tell us much. It would be interesting to see what April over the last 10 years was like, then all the other months as well. Hope you do; I'm interested.
9:29 AM May 12th
Thanks for this info. It sure has felt like teams are using the 10 day DL more frequently than they did the 15 day and it's nice to see that intuition verified by the data.
7:48 AM May 12th
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