Travis Hafner and Injuries | The Process Report

Travis Hafner and Injuries

The Rays will add a designated hitter in the coming weeks. In all likelihood, said hitter will come from the free-agent market. The choices are limited: there’s Travis Hafner, Jim Thome, Luke Scott, and a few other types unlikely to move the needle. I wanted to expand on something I wrote about Hafner earlier in the winter:

Travis Hafner, otherwise known as “Pronk,” has tallied 400-plus plate appearances once since the Rays changed their name following the 2007 season. He missed nearly three months last season due to back and knee issues, and made two trips to the disabled list in 2011 as well. On the rare occasion when Hafner is healthy, he proves himself as a decent all-around hitter. He hits for an okay average, walks plenty, and offers some pop—albeit not as much as his home run-heavy past suggests. In an ideal world, Hafner’s injury woes would stem from reckless defensive play, or overly aggressive baserunning. Unfortunately, Hafner’s most recent fielding appearance occurred in 2007 and he does not run well.

Sure enough, Hafner does miss a fair amount of time each season (a little over 50 days per). Without context it sounds like he’s the most injury prone of the bunch. But in actuality it’s not far off from what the Rays can expect from those other DH choices. To provide a little more context I ran a few measures on each player’s days missed tallies:

Player Stints Days Missed Average Median
Hafner 9 166 18.4 17
Scott 11 173 15.7 4
Thome 10 160 16 7
Longoria 5 143 28.6 12

What this tells is that Hafner doesn’t get injured more often than the other players, but when he does get hurt it’s with ailments that cause him to miss moderate time (two-to-three weeks). Contrariwise, Scott and Thome are more likely to suffer from a bigger injury and also more likely to miss a day or two with some minor malady.

Is it better to have a player miss two or three weeks a few times during the season or a player miss a day or two here with a chance of missing significant time? I’m not sure, but that’s one of the questions the Rays will have to answer when making their choice.

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