How often have you heard MLB GM’s and managers say that if their team stays healthy and avoids the DL that they can be good, maybe really good and make a run at the playoffs? You would be rich if you got a nickel for every time that has been said. But how true is it? Truth be told it is not the number of injuries or days spent on the DL that will hurt you, it is WHO gets hurt. Lose a key player or two and your goose is cooked and it is wait until next year most of the time. Injuries to average players can be covered by an adequate bench or minor league players ready to move up to the next level, injured stars usually can not be replaced.
MLB players are placed on the disabled list or DL when they can not perform due to injury, this allows the team to replace the injured player. Disabled lists are usually referred to by the minimum number of days players must be inactive and each has its own specific uses and rules.
UPDATED 12/14/2016 – There are currently three types of disabled lists, the 10 day DL (effective 2017). The 15 day DL started in 1966 and eventually replaced the 10 day DL back in 1984. Once the player is placed on this list he can not play for a minimum of
15 10 days but can stay on this list for longer periods of time. A player on the 15 10 day DL is off the 25 man roster but remains on the 40 man roster. The second type of DL is the 60 day DL. To be placed on this list the player must be taken off the 25 man and 40 man rosters. This is used for more serious injuries that require a longer period of time to heal. Some players who are in fact retired are put on the 60-day disabled list for insurance purposes. Additional history on the DL can be found on WIKI. In addition there is a nice article called “The 10-Day DL is a Beautiful Thing” on Fangraphs that goes into the new 10 day DL that the new CBA agreed to in late 2016 contains.
The newest type of disabled list is the 7-day disabled list. This disabled list is specially made for players who have suffered concussions. Each team must designate a specialist in mild brain trauma to evaluate players and then send reports to MLB’s medical director for approval before placing a player on this DL. Additional details on these DL possibilities can be found at the B-R Bullpen.
Although not an injury, in 2011, Major League Baseball instituted a Paternity Leave. This allows a team to replace a player who is an expectant father for 1–3 days on the roster to be available for the birth of his child. There is also a Bereavement List where as a player may be placed on this list upon attending to a seriously ill member in the player’s immediate family or to a death in the family. The bereavement list may span from a minimum of three to a maximum of seven games.
But here we are going to address the Minnesota Twins Disabled list history. With the help of the Minnesota Twins organization and Stats Pass I have been able to put together the team’s disabled list information from 1982 to current. The charts you see here are the number of times the team has put a player on a disabled list (7, 15, or 60 day) and the number of days that Twins players have spent on the disabled list each season.
From 1982 through 2016
The fewest times that the Twins used the DL according to the information I can gather is two times in 1985 and the most times they have used the DL was in 2011 when they used it a total of 28 times. The average per year for the entire period of 1982-2016 is 10 DL moves and 445 days lost to the DL per season. However, when you look at the more current data say from 2001-2016 you get 14 DL moves and 683 days lost to the DL per season. I use 183 days a season as a full-time player equivalent so that comes out to an average of 2.43 players lost for the season from 1982-2015 and for 2001-2016 it jumps to 3.73 players lost for the season to the Twins ball club.
The charts and the data indicates very clearly that over time the number of times that the DL is used and the number of days lost to the DL has and continues to increase. There is not necessarily any real correlation between the number of injuries and days lost to the DL when looking at the team’s record except in a few cases. It is important to remember too that any injury to a star hitter or your pitching ace certainly can’t be compared to losing a utility man but in this comparison they are being treated as equals.
So what Twins player has played the most games between 1982 and 2016 and not shown up on the DL? That would be shortstop Greg Gagne with 1,140 games, his name never appeared on the Twins DL list in the 10 seasons he played in Minnesota. My kind of player. How about the pitching side? That would be closer Ron Davis who never went on the DL during his Twins tenure spread over five seasons and 286 pitching appearances. I would like to say my kind of player again but sometimes when he gave up that game winning homer I wished the Twins would DL him. What is strange about this is that both Gagne and Davis (along with Paul Boris) were acquired from the Yankees when the Twins sent Roy Smalley to New York. They must not have believed in the DL in New York back in the day.
The detailed information to create the charts is listed in the PDF’s below. It also provides the team record by season and where in the standings the Twins finished.
I mentioned above what players have avoided the DL list the longest but what Twins players appear to have made a habit of seeing their names on the disabled list? I am going to let you figure that out on your own by checking out the player disable list PDF below but I will tell you that the most DL visits by a Twins player during the time frame covered here stands at nine. That could change this year….. Back in the day, they used to say that players that visited the DL were just taking their annual two-week vacation.