No team in baseball has more players on the disabled list than the Toronto Blue Jays, whose lineup of injured players expanded to 11 this week.
It’s widely acknowledged that injuries have held the Blue Jays back in 2013 and played a significant role in their 57-71 record. To argue otherwise would be futile.
But to pin the team’s disappointing year on injuries alone would be an oversimplification. Other MLB teams have overcome injuries with depth to contend in 2013.
LONG LIST OF JAYS ON DL: The list of Toronto Blue Jays currently on the disabled list seemingly grows longer by the day.
Eight players have been placed on the disabled list since August 1, and 11 total Blue Jays are now sidelined, including their entire starting outfield and two fifths of their opening day rotation.
Steve Delabar, Josh Johnson, Dustin McGowan, Brandon Morrow, Ramon Ortiz, Juan Perez, Luis Perez, Maicer Izturis, Jose Bautista, Melky Cabrera and Colby Rasmus are all on the DL with a wide assortment of injuries.
It’s no surprise that the Blue Jays, losers of five consecutive games, are struggling.
See below: full list of Blue Jays disabled list stints: 2013
Bad luck has seemingly contributed to the injuries for the Blue Jays, who also had a long list of injured players in 2012.
However, a team’s front office is ultimately responsible the players they acquire and the contingency plans they establish leading into a season.
No MLB executive would have predicted quite this many Blue Jays’ injuries leading into the season, so it’s not fair to say this is all on general manager Alex Anthopoulos. His off-season moves were widely heralded despite the injury histories of players like Johnson.
In the end, though, Blue Jays executives are responsible for the on-field product whether or not the outcome would have been anticipated six months ago.
OTHERS WIN DESPITE INJURIES: Some of baseball’s best teams have overcome numerous injuries to position themselves as post-season contenders.
Consider the Atlanta Braves, who have built a 14 game lead in the National League East, even as outfielder Jason Heyward, infielder Tyler Pastornicky, second baseman Dan Uggla, outfielder Reed Johnson, starting pitcher Tim Hudson, infielder Ramiro Pena, reliever Eric O’Flaherty, reliever Cristhian Martinez and reliever Jonny Venters remain on the disabled list.
With Hudson and Paul Maholm on the disabled list, the Braves called on 22-year-old left-hander Alex Wood, who has a 2.50 ERA with more than one strikeout per inning as a starter and reliever.
The Texas Rangers’ pitching staff has seemingly faced one injury after another, and pitchers Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, Michael Kirkman, Colby Lewis, Alexi Ogando, Nick Tepesch, Matt West are all currently disabled.
Yet the Rangers lead their division and have a 3.65 team ERA despite the attrition. Martin Perez, who didn’t join the Rangers’ starting rotation until May 27, has a 3.48 ERA in 75 innings.
The Blue Jays got a string of strong starts from Todd Redmond, to their credit, but have otherwise struggled to find quality replacements for injured starters this year. Ricky Romero, Aaron Laffey, Ramon Ortiz and Chien-Ming Wang all posted ERAs above 6.00.
They haven’t matched the depth of the Braves or Rangers, and it has made a difference.
Within the Blue Jays’ division, the New York Yankees are still in contention despite playing without Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis and Curtis Granderson for most of the year. Their below-average offence would presumably have been more productive if those players had performed to their career norms.
Other teams haven’t been able to recover from injuries as seamlessly, and the Blue Jays are far from the only team wondering ‘what if?’
The Philadelphia Phillies (Ben Revere, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay, among others), San Diego Padres (Carlos Quentin, Clayton Richard, Cameron Maybin, among others) and New York Mets (David Wright, Bobby Parnell, Johan Santana, among others) are also dealing with numerous injuries this year.
Like the Blue Jays, they can legitimately argue that injuries made the difference in 2013.
Yet as the Blue Jays plan ahead, there’s no doubt they’d prefer to find themselves grouped with teams like the Rangers and Braves in 2014. It’s undoubtedly more rewarding to reach the playoffs despite injuries than to fall short because of them.