Pitchers Are Rarely Injured While Batting or Running

One of the reasons offered for the institution of the DH is to protect pitchers. Pitchers are expensive, and you don’t want them getting injured at the plate or on the basepaths. The theory is the DH would prevent these pitcher injuries. 

On the surface, it seems like a reasonable argument. Last year, pitchers made 243 trips to the DL. That’s 213 times more than any other position. Of those 243 trips to the DL, guess how many of them were batter or basepath injuries?  There was only one pitcher. Adam Wainwright suffered a torn Achillies tendon while swinging the bat. It’s true that Wainwright was injured while batting, but was he injured because he was batting?

Achillies tendon injuries are due to overuse or tightness in the muscles and tendons. Achillies tendon injuries are common in people who play sports, including baseball players. People who are in their thirties or forties, like Wainwright, are more susceptible to an Achillies injury. Overall, unless you’re involved in a serious accident, an Achillies tendon tear is not caused by any one event. 

Yes, Wainwright injured himself while batting, but that was not the cause of his injury. Unfortunately, as is the nature of Achillies tendon injuries, it’s not one event, it’s a multitude of events. The specific act of batting for Wainwright is the straw that broke the camel’s back. It wasn’t the reason he tore his Achillies tendon. It doesn’t work that way. 

Yes, there are pitchers who are legitimately injured at the plate or on the basepaths. There are examples, which include getting hit by a pitch, swinging a bat, or running the bases. However, these injuries are few and far between. 

Let’s look at it from another perspective. Next to pitchers, left fielders went to the DL more than any other position last year with 30 trips to the DL last year. Let’s assume for a minute each and every single one of the DL trips by left fielders were sustained as a result of batting or baserunning activities. Let’s further assume that regardless of position, any position on the field will have 30 trips to the DL as a result of batting or baserunning activities. Finally, let’s assume these 30 DL trips were already a part of the DL trips made by pitchers last year (this way the denominator of total DL trips isn’t increased). 

With all these assumptions, batting and baserunning injuries would only comprise 12.3% of all pitcher injuries.  That tells us that the real issue with pitchers is that they get injured with pitching. They rarely get injured batting or running the bases.  In fact, the real percentage of pitchers getting injured at the plate or on the basepaths 0% – 0.004% of the time depending on what you believe the cause of Adam Wainwright’s injury was. 

If you want to solve the problems with pitchers getting injured, find a way to protect their arms. Keeping them off the basepaths isn’t going to keep them healthy.  This is not the reason to add a DH to the National League.