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Monday, November 05, 2012

Beyond the Boxscores: Tommy John Surgeries: A More Complete List

As of today, that list consists of 488 names of players who we can confirm with reasonable certainty underwent Tommy John surgery. The other criteria to make the list is that I had to be able to confirm with reasonable certainly at least the year of the surgery. In many cases, I have the exact date of the surgery. This additional requirement is what added a great deal of effort to the search process.

The list includes the name of the player, the date of the surgery, the organization for which the player was playing when the injury occurred, whether or not the player was pitching in the Major Leagues or minors at the time of the injury, and whether or not the player was a pitcher. For players where only the year of the surgery could be determined and not the exact date, the surgery date is listed as January 1st of that year. In a few cases, where both the month and year could be determined but not the exact date, the surgery date is listed as the 1st of that month in that year. In cases where a player underwent the surgery prior to being drafted, they are listed as playing for the organization who ended up drafting them subsequently….

That being said, it is not surprising to me to see the Chicago White Sox as having the fewest names on the current list. While pitching coach Don Cooper does not appear to be a fan of incorporating new biomechanics research into his system, he does have a solid track record to fall back on with respect to his pitchers’ health. Much has been written about the importance of long time White Sox trainer, Herm Schneider, and his success at keeping his players on the field….

Jose Rijo appears to be the all-time leader in Tommy John surgeries, with five. Surprisingly, it was not simple to determine the exact years of his procedures, so he is also not on the confirmed list at this point.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 05, 2012 at 01:39 PM | 24 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: injuries, tommy john surgery

Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. valuearbitrageur Posted: November 05, 2012 at 02:21 PM (#4293451)
Great Job by Jon Roegele, though I thought Brandon Webb had shoulder surgery, not Tommy John.

Waiting with baited breath for the study of this data that is a confirmation/rebuttal of Yocams stats that implied a re-injury during the first 2 years after TJ is career ending up to two thirds of the time.
   2. Walt Davis Posted: November 05, 2012 at 03:56 PM (#4293554)
Scott Baker
Scott Chiasson
Scott Downs
Scott Erickson
Scott Feldman
Scott Gorgen
Scott Lewis
Scott Mathieson
Scott Proctor
Scott Schoeneweis
Scott Strickland
Scott Williamson
Scott Williamson


Don't name your son Scott.
   3. Kyle S at work Posted: November 05, 2012 at 04:34 PM (#4293591)
This is awesome. I can't wait for all of the data that will come out of this.
   4. Walt Davis Posted: November 05, 2012 at 04:35 PM (#4293592)
Repeats that I found (which obviously is not necessarily everybody who re-injured not to mention non elbow injuries ... also limited to folks who had a career):

Chad Fox, Jan 96 & July 99 -- missed all of 2000, healthy in 2001, unhealthy after that
Chris Capuano, May 02 & May 08 -- missed all of 08 and 09, most of 10, pitched pretty well in 12
Dave Eiland, Jan 01 & Jan 02 -- never pitched in the majors again but then most wished he'd never pitcher there before
Hong-Chih Kuo, Jan 00 & Jan 03 -- missed all of 03, most of 04, made the majors as a reliever in 05 to 11
Jason Frasor, Jan 98 and Jan 01 -- all of 01 and half of 02, majors in 04 as a reliever, still going
Joey Devine, Apr 09 & Apr 12 -- who knows but it doesn't look good with only one healthy season since 2008
Kyle Drabeck, 07 & 12 -- who knows
Mason Tobin, 09 & 11 -- why was he in the majors, hadn't pitched since early 2009, 5 IP for Tex in 11
Mike Lincoln, 04 & 05 -- nothing anywhere 05 to 07, 1 season in 08, unhealthy after that
Scott Williamson, 00 & 04 -- missed all of 01, looks injured from 04 on
Shawn Hill, 04 & 09 -- all of 05, half 06, most 09, half 10, all of 11?, healthy in 12?
Todd Coffey, 08 & 12 -- who knows
Tyler Yates, 02 & 09 -- I think 02 is supposed to be 04 or 05 as he made 23 starts in 03 but missed all of 05

I realize that Jan 1 must be the default date when they only know the year so I dropped the months midway.

Hard to judge from that list as there are few established pitchers on it and most of them are relievers. But it doesn't look too good. Kuo & Frasor made it as relievers, Capuano has had two pretty healthy seasons now but his surgeries were 8 years apart. Fox and Williamson were darn good when healthy so they probably lost a career, Devine might have as well. Given the difficulty in projecting careers and the obvious fact that just missing 2-3 years of development for any reason seriously hurts your chances, I'm not sure a firm conclusion would ever be possible.

For those who didn't click through, their list is probably only (mostly) complete for the last 10 years or so.
   5. Dave Spiwak Posted: November 05, 2012 at 05:07 PM (#4293623)
Great list. Another thing to think about is guys who have had an earlier surgery in college or HS. For example, Brian Wilson's first TJ was in 2003 when he was at LSU.
   6. rlc Posted: November 05, 2012 at 05:22 PM (#4293635)
Matt Riley's a three-timer, though he hasn't appeared in the Bigs since before his second.
   7. RJ in TO Posted: November 05, 2012 at 05:28 PM (#4293646)
Shawn Hill, 04 & 09 -- all of 05, half 06, most 09, half 10, all of 11?, healthy in 12?

He was healthy in most of 12, but spent it in the minors (Las Vegas!). Given the absolute devastation of their major league staff, I'm a bit surprised the Jays didn't give him more time in the majors.
   8. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 05, 2012 at 05:40 PM (#4293658)
Repeats that I found (which obviously is not necessarily everybody who re-injured not to mention non elbow injuries ... also limited to folks who had a career):


Joakim Soria just had his second - his first was as a minor leaguer. Surprised he's not on there twice as Jeff Zimmerman is a Royals fan.
   9. geonose Posted: November 05, 2012 at 06:34 PM (#4293733)
Joakim Soria just had his second

Brian Wilson's was his second as well, the first while he was in college. They don't have him twice either. Coincidentally, both Soria and Wilson had their first in 2003.
   10. Dave Spiwak Posted: November 05, 2012 at 07:13 PM (#4293765)
I'd also be curious to see the number of times each org has drafted a HS or college prospect coming off TJ surgery. Seems like the Angels are doing this every few years with a high-profile pick that drops down the board after TJ. Nick Adenhart was one. Surely some teams are more willing to take this risk than others.
   11. morineko Posted: November 05, 2012 at 07:22 PM (#4293774)
#4: Tobin was a Rule 5 guy in '11.
   12. Tom Nawrocki Posted: November 05, 2012 at 07:51 PM (#4293794)
It's interesting that after Tommy John's surgery in 1974, no one else had Tommy John surgery for another 11 years. Either it was very slow to catch on, or the reporter missed a bunch of TJs.

One important question, in light of recent events, is how much more likely it is that a pitcher who has had one TJ surgery will need a second one. Walt lists 13 repeaters, some people found a few others, so there may be what, 20 or so repeaters? In a universe of 488 surgeries (which itself also understates the actual figure), it doesn't seem to me that a pitcher who has had the surgery is much more likely to need it again than is a pitcher who's never had it before.

But with incomplete data, it's hard to know.
   13. cardsfanboy Posted: November 05, 2012 at 08:49 PM (#4293829)
It's interesting that after Tommy John's surgery in 1974, no one else had Tommy John surgery for another 11 years. Either it was very slow to catch on, or the reporter missed a bunch of TJs.


Probably missed a few or they never made it back to the majors. John Fulgham had surgery on March 8, 1981 but never made it back to the majors. I'm sure he's not the only one.

From that link that I posted, it said that Dr Jobe had performed surgery on Steve Busby, Doug Rau, Wayne Garland, and Don Gullet but don't know if any of those are Tommy John surgery or if any of them made it back after that. It does look like most of them pitched after this article though.
   14. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: November 05, 2012 at 09:13 PM (#4293848)
Probably missed a few or they never made it back to the majors.


This is where a Paperofrecord subscription comes in handy... or a microfilm reader with a New York Times index if you are old school.
   15. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: November 05, 2012 at 09:21 PM (#4293853)
Scott Baker
Scott Chiasson
Scott Downs
Scott Erickson
Scott Feldman
Scott Gorgen
Scott Lewis
Scott Mathieson
Scott Proctor
Scott Schoeneweis
Scott Strickland
Scott Williamson
Scott Williamson

Don't name your son Scott.


Would it kill them to sort this by last name instead? Other than that, this is the coolest thing I've read all day.
   16. Walt Davis Posted: November 05, 2012 at 09:52 PM (#4293871)
Walt lists 13 repeaters, some people found a few others, so there may be what, 20 or so repeaters? In a universe of 488 surgeries (which itself also understates the actual figure), it doesn't seem to me that a pitcher who has had the surgery is much more likely to need it again than is a pitcher who's never had it before.

But also, if you look through that full list, there aren't many successful pitchers period. A lot of them didn't need a second surgery because they didn't have much opportunity to pitch after the first one. We can easily count David Wells as a guy who never needed another TJS. Edinson Volquez however had his in 2009 and has managed 350 IP since then but at an 82 ERA+ and might be out of baseball in a year or two (although probably more likely he'll keep getting AAA opportunities). Anyway, for all we know his elbow would go with another 200-300 innings but there's a good chance he'll never get them. This is even more the case with a lot of the minor-leaguers who were already hanging by a thread before surgery.

Or Dave Eiland as I mentioned. Through 2000, he had 370 IP and a 77 ERA+. If he was on the ML DL for 2 years, TJS was the best thing that could have happened to him. :-)

I would guess that if you needed a 2nd one shortly after the 1st one then either things didn't go that well with the 1st one (it happens) or there's something fundamentally wrong in your mechanics.

By the way I noticed Brian Anderson as another repeat. I'm not sure which he is but I assume it's the old guy who last pitched in 2005, before his first TJS. He'd been a solid BIP lefty up until then but, again, those guys' careers are pretty tenable by their early 30s anyway and he'd had a below-average year in 2004 and was off to a bad start in 2005.

That's the problem with assessing something like Yocum's alleged claim. If you look at my list and go strictly with "did this guy continue to pitch for long after that 2nd surgery" the answer is that about 2/3 did not (dropping the too soon to tells). On the other hand, if you limit it to guys who had established they were good enough to begin with, the survival rate might climb over 50%. But then if you stick to the 3-year thing, the survivors lose Capuano and Hill (not clear if he's a survivor or not) and Williamson don't qualify either. If that's a reasonably complete list of recent doubles then Capuano is the only starter who could be said to have survived a 2nd TJS.

In the end it's sort of a moot point -- obviously it's better to never have a major injury and if you're going to have a major injury, better to have just one than more than one. And other obvious points like most prospects don't turn into much and pitchers get hurt.
   17. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 05, 2012 at 10:46 PM (#4293917)

From that link that I posted, it said that Dr Jobe had performed surgery on Steve Busby, Doug Rau, Wayne Garland, and Don Gullet but don't know if any of those are Tommy John surgery or if any of them made it back after that. It does look like most of them pitched after this article though.


Jobe performed on Steve Busby, but it was for his rotator cuff, not his ulnar collateral ligament. I believe Busby was the first pitcher ever to get rotator cuff surgery.
   18. morineko Posted: November 06, 2012 at 12:37 AM (#4294010)
#10: If these dates on this database are right, I see at least three guys who had TJ in college or high school on the list (Dewon Brazelton was pretty famous for having it in high school, right?) and I don't really think it's fair to blame the Rays, Yankees (John Axford), or Diamondbacks (Daniel Schlereth, supposedly, but I thought his deal was a persistent shoulder issue?) for their slightly used pitchers' previous injuries.

ETA: and he's got Ryota Igarashi's injury attributed to the Mets although it happened in 2007. Japanese teams break enough pitchers on their own to start blaming the Mets for it.
   19. morineko Posted: November 06, 2012 at 12:48 AM (#4294025)
#4: The date for Coffey is off, I just commented on the website there; it's 5/8/2000 according to the '09 Brewers media guide.

About the only dates I know he's got right for sure on that are Seth McClung's (via media guide, various Tampa-St. Pete papers) and Andrew Carignan's (Carignan tweeted from the hospital, so I guess he'd know....)
   20. base ball chick Posted: November 06, 2012 at 01:24 AM (#4294072)
Walt Davis Posted: November 05, 2012 at 03:56 PM (#4293554)
Scott Baker
Scott Chiasson
Scott Downs
Scott Erickson
Scott Feldman
Scott Gorgen
Scott Lewis
Scott Mathieson
Scott Proctor
Scott Schoeneweis
Scott Strickland
Scott Williamson
Scott Williamson

Don't name your son Scott.


- he missed luke scott (2001)
and taylor buchholz was traded from the astros to the rox in 2007
   21. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: November 06, 2012 at 07:56 PM (#4295179)
Jobe performed on Steve Busby, but it was for his rotator cuff, not his ulnar collateral ligament. I believe Busby was the first pitcher ever to get rotator cuff surgery.


I am 95% certain that you are right.
   22. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: November 06, 2012 at 08:13 PM (#4295205)
15...they did. Check the other links in the article.
   23. greenback calls it soccer Posted: November 06, 2012 at 08:31 PM (#4295236)
I'm pretty sure Al Reyes was a repeater.
   24. jroegeleBTBS Posted: November 07, 2012 at 12:51 PM (#4296888)
Thanks everyone for your comments/additions/corrections. I believe that I have incorporated the changes mentioned above this point in the comments into the list.

If you're interested, I have the first follow up piece today based on this list, looking at pitch frequency of pitchers heading for Tommy John Surgery as compared to the league average pitcher.

http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2012/11/7/3608212/mlb-tommy-john-surgery-pitch-frequency-research-sabermetrics

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