Wednesday, August 28, 2013

2013: Year Of The HBP

(Courtesy of the AP)

(Originally published at IIATMS/TYA)

I'm sure the immediate reaction in Yankeeland to watching Robinson Cano take a fastball off the hand and leave the game in the 1st inning last night was not a fun one.  It was a near identical flashback to the J.A. Happ pitch that broke Curtis Granderson's forearm in ST, and I for one was almost a little relieved that I wasn't there to watch it happen live as it would have more than likely led to me making some kind of mean comment about Happ getting hit with another line drive.  Chalk it up as another one of the rare times when I'm glad I live in Wisconsin.

X-rays on Cano's hand were negative and he's listed as day-to-day, so everyone can breathe easy for now.  Another major injury at the hands of Blue Jay pitching, to the team's best player no less, would have been the final insult in a long, frustrating, and once again injury-riddled season.  Cano was lucky, as guys like Brett Gardner and Eduardo Nunez before him were when they got plunked this year, and he doesn't look like he's going to miss any significant time.  Others haven't been so lucky, and the Yankees' bad luck with HBP injuries has magnified the problems caused by their more predictable age-related injuries and poor roster construction.

Start with Granderson.  The guy got knocked out for months before he could even complete 1 at-bat this season, then less than 2 weeks after returning from the broken forearm he has a pinkie on his left hand broken by another HBP.  He's since returned from that injury, but he's played only 31 games this season and he'll have missed over 100 by season's end even if he plays every game from here on out.  In a contract year, Granderson had his season taken away by some of the worst injury luck I've seen.  You plan for leg injuries to late-30s players.  You don't plan for that.

How about Jayson Nix having his season ended by an errant knuckleball?  Who would expect that pitch from R.A. Dickey to be the one to break a hand?  How about Brett Gardner taking 6 to the body this year and getting MRIs and extra days off recently to the point that it seems like something has to be wrong with him?  Kevin Youkilis took 5 pitches of his doughy body in just 28 games.  I'm sure that didn't do anything to help his physical condition.  Even the HBPs that didn't end up injuring anybody were big news.  Nobody came away from the A-Rod-Dempster incident hurt, unless you're counting Dempster's manhood, and that was probably the most noteworthy hit batter of the entire MLB season.

The Yankees have never been able to get away from the HBP monster this year.  Their 46 total is hardly the most in MLB, although it is tied for 9th, but it certainly feels like the ones they've had have been the most costly.  That, more than anything, has been the reason we've had to see so much Vernon Wells in the lineup and it could be one of the reasons we've seen every Derek Jeter MiL rehab assignment rushed.  Thankfully it's not the reason we have to watch Nunez try to play second base for an extended period of time, and hopefully it's the end of the hit batsman blues for this season.

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