Skip to main content
Menu
Losing Mike Trout For 7 Weeks Is Like Losing A Normal Star For A Full Season

Major League Baseball was jolted with bad news Monday when it was announced that all-universe outfielder Mike Trout — who may go down as baseball’s greatest player ever — will go to the disabled list for the first time in his career. (The Angels’ slugger is scheduled to undergo surgery Wednesday to repair the UCL in his left thumb after being injured while sliding hands-first into second base during a game against the Miami Marlins on Sunday.)

Estimates have Trout missing six to eight weeks, which would put him back on the field by mid- or late July. Plenty of players have been out for longer stretches, but Trout is so good that the cost to the Angels of losing him for only a couple of months would be on par with season-ending injuries suffered by other star players.

Without Trout, things could get ugly for L.A. Even with Trout and his major-league-leading 3.5 wins above replacement,1 Los Angeles is a game below .500, with a 14 percent chance of making the playoffs. Losing six to eight weeks of Trout would cost the Angels about 2.2 wins,2 according to the method my colleague Rob Arthur and I used to estimate the damage (in WAR) of disabled-list trips.

Going back to 2010,3 a 2.2-WAR DL stint would represent one of the most costly injuries suffered by a team in a season (although not the most costly):

PLAYER YEAR TEAM PITCHER? DL DAYS PROJECTED WAR LOST
1 Adam Wainwright 2011 Cardinals 181 4.6
2 Brett Gardner 2012 Yankees 160 3.8
3 A.J. Pollock 2016 Diamondbacks 145 3.7
4 Troy Tulowitzki 2012 Rockies 127 3.6
5 Adam Wainwright 2015 Cardinals 157 3.5
6 Josh Johnson 2011 Marlins 134 3.5
7 Evan Longoria 2012 Rays 98 3.3
8 Yu Darvish 2015 Rangers 182 3.1
9 Tyson Ross 2016 Padres 181 3.0
10 Michael Brantley 2016 Indians 146 2.9
11 Johan Santana 2011 Mets 181 2.9
12 Grady Sizemore 2010 Indians 139 2.7
13 Michael Pineda 2012 Yankees 183 2.6
14 Alex Cobb 2015 Rays 182 2.6
15 Clayton Kershaw 2016 Dodgers 74 2.6
16 Giancarlo Stanton 2015 Marlins 99 2.6
17 Ike Davis 2011 Mets 140 2.5
18 Lance Lynn 2016 Cardinals 183 2.4
19 Kris Medlen 2014 Braves 182 2.4
20 Joey Votto 2014 Reds 85 2.3
21 Jacoby Ellsbury 2012 Red Sox 90 2.3
22 Mike Trout 2017 Angels 49* 2.2
23 Hyun-Jin Ryu 2015 Dodgers 182 2.2
24 Chris Carpenter 2012 Cardinals 171 2.2
25 Patrick Corbin 2014 Diamondbacks 182 2.1
The most costly DL trips since 2010 (by projected WAR)

Projected WAR determined by Tom Tango’s “WARcel” method, which projects a player’s WAR based on his previous three seasons and a regression-to-the-mean effect.
* Trout’s DL days are projected to 7 weeks, based on media reports that he’ll be out 6 to 8 weeks.

Sources: FanGraphs, Baseball-Reference.com, baseball heat maps

Overall, a seven-week absence for Trout would be the 22nd-most-damaging DL trip in our data set. However, many of the most costly injuries on the list above belonged to pitchers — fragile fireballers who have a tendency to miss enormous amounts of time after Tommy John surgery and other arm ailments. Among non-pitchers, Trout’s DL stint would rank 11th-worst.

It’s also telling that the length of Trout’s layoff only projects to be about 40 percent as long as those of the position players above him. Even when he’s getting injured, Trout manages to remind us how insanely productive he is.

Sadly, we’ll probably have to wait at least a month and a half before we get to see Trout again on a major-league field, and that’s not good for anybody except the pitchers who have to face him. But at least it’ll give someone else a chance to shine as the best player in baseball — a role that Trout’s been hogging for a long time.
Check out our latest MLB predictions.

Footnotes

  1. Averaging together the versions found at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.com.

  2. Assuming that Trout is out seven weeks, the median of the typical six- to eight-week timetable in which players return from the same injury.

  3. That’s the earliest season in Jeff Zimmerman’s DL database, which covers the 2010 through 2016 seasons. Rob and I also added 2017 DL information as of early May, in addition to Trout.

Neil Paine is a senior sportswriter for FiveThirtyEight.

Comments