Injuries are a handy excuse to point to when a team is struggling, but the hard truth is that all teams have to deal with unfortunate injuries over the course of a season. Some teams get hit worse than others, but if a team manages to get through a year mostly unscathed, they have a huge advantage over most other teams (and also, everyone will want to hire away their training staff).
In recent years, it's always felt like the Rays have had rather good luck when it comes to injuries. That hasn't always been entirely true -- they've had to deal with missing Longoria for extended periods of time before -- but it's felt that way because the Rays have built their team with extra depth so that injuries don't hurt quite so bad. Sure, luck has still had its role in helping the Rays when times are toughest (remember Super Sam Fuld?), but they have been very intentional about planning well to cope with injuries.
This season, though, the Rays probably have the least amount of depth that they've had in recent years. Their top options in the minors are a far cry from last season's replacements of Alex Cobb, Matt Moore, and Desmond Jennings. And of course, they're having to cope with an impressive amount of injuries at the moment.
Quick trivia question: How many players are currently on the DL for the Rays right now? Anyone able to guess? The answer (and more) after the jump.
Not including Robinson Chirinos, the Rays currently have 7 players on the DL: Sam Fuld, Kyle Farnsworth, Jose Lobaton, Evan Longoria, Brandon Allen, Desmond Jennings, and Jeff Niemann. How many teams are able to suffer an injury to their best player, their closer, one of their starters, many of their best bench options, and their lead off hitter, yet still stay competitive? And that's not even considering that the Rays were without B.J. Upton for a few weeks early this season.
It's still early, but this already is in consideration as one of the most injury-riddled seasons for the Rays in a long, long time. The Rays have had a lot of bad luck so far this season, and hopefully -- hopefully -- things will improve from here.
- In other news, Carson Cistulli has some idle thoughts on how early season narratives can influence how we interpret a player's season and further success or failure. Guilty as charged; I know I make way too many generalizations about players based on the first month or so of the season (at least when it comes to fantasy baseball).
- Adam Jones was interviewed over at FanGraphs, and he was caught saying both UZR and wOBA. I feel like this is a watershed moment; it's the first time I can remember a player openly mentioning wOBA.
- Food for thought: so UZR does not include shift plays in its calculation (if the shift had an effect on the play). So how about that? It's yet another reason to look at DRS instead of (or at least, in tandem with) UZR, as DRS does include shift plays.
- Mark Simon is always pushing the envelope with measuring defense over at the Stats & Info Blog at ESPN, and his recent article on breaking down the Mets defense is very cool. The amount of defensive outcomes that they track is so ridiculous, but awesome.