Thanks to this rather amazing database, we’re able to see all professional baseball players (majors and minors) who have had elbow ligament replacement surgery, all the way back to 1974 and Thomas Edward John himself. To see if any recent trends could be sussed out of the data, we looked at all TJ cases beginning in 2007 (or one year after Roger McDowell became Braves pitching coach) among pitchers who were in the majors when diagnosed with a torn elbow ligament.
Here are the results, with the numbers representing the number of such pitchers per team:
0 — none (!)
1 — COL, TBR
2 — LAA, MIL, PIT
3 — ARI, CHC, CHW, CIN, MIA, MIN, NYY, SDP, WAS
4 — DET, HOU, NYM, SEA, SFG, TEX
5 — BAL, BOS, CLE, KCR, LAD, PHI, STL
6 — TOR
7 — OAK
8 — none
9 — ATL
That’s 116 total cases among 30 teams, an average of just under 4 per team, with a nicely symmetric distribution. The Braves’ figure of 9 is three standard deviations above the mean, and meets the definition of a statistical outlier, meaning it’s very unlikely that this result is due to chance alone.
Just to refresh your memory, here are the unfortunate nine:
So what’s going on? We’ll take a look at each of the nine cases, paying particular attention to workloads prior to injury, reports of initial diagnoses, and comparisons of Braves staff usage patterns with overall league trends. Any other suggestions for avenues of inquiry are most welcome.