Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Tommy John Epidemic

Had a very insightful conversation about possible reasons for TJ epidemic with my twitter pal @z_dahdul, who happens to be a Doctor of Physical Therapy. Here are his thoughts:
"Hard to say exactly why this year, but some point to increased velocities, poor coaching on lower levels teaching bad habits, but really a lot of it is repetitive overhead motions just aren't good for our bodies and we're seeing the consequences of that now. However, they're going to have to take a look at this and see what the common denominator is with these guys.  I will say his (Jose Fernandez) mechanics appear to be different this year vs last year from what I've seen, so that def plays a role".
Of the 33 pitchers to undergo Tommy John in 2014, only three are not in their 20s: Luke Hochevar (30), Josh Johnson (30) and Peter Moylan (35). Almost all of the pitchers who have blown out grew up in an era when the importance of pitch counts was stressed (though often not enforced), and they ended up on a surgeon's table anyway. A troubling trend that is sure to be examined by everyone from GM's, scouts, coaches, pundits, to the athletes themselves.
Here's a closer look at the TJ trend:

***UPDATE***(3-16-15) Since writing this piece last season several other pitchers have fallen victim to the "Tommy John Epidemic" that Major League Baseball is facing.  Here is a list of pitchers who have gone under the knife courtesy of Baseball Heat Maps.  Now it appears Yu Darvish and Zack Wheeler will both have the surgery.  Not to mention Masahiro Tanaka who will in all likelihood need the surgery at some point, see why HERE. Stay tuned to The Infirmary Report as we track all the injuries in the upcoming season.

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