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Troy Tulowitzki might have been one of the biggest shortstops to ever play the overall game. (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
In baseball, as in virtually any other sport, nothing can halt a lifetime career in its tracks that can compare with injuries. Major League Baseball’s history is riddled with illustrative examples, up to just in the last decade.
Should 2013 function as cutoff for the start of the “last decade” instead of 2012? That could indeed make more mathematical sense. But because the shortened 2020 season gave us basically one less season to utilize, we thought it fair to provide ourselves a supplementary year.
We only considered players whose injury trouble began in the thick of what must have been their prime. Regarding injury hardships that David Wright, Dustin Pedroia, Giancarlo Stanton, Chris Sale, Johan Santana and many more went through within their late 20s and early 30s, we set the cutoff at players’ age-27 seasons.
There also needed to be clear demarcation lines for once the injuries began so when the player’s performance begun to suffer. This is a bummer that Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw have missed so enough time with injuries lately, but they’ve stayed productive if they have already been healthy.
Otherwise, we’ll proceed in ascending order of just how many wins above replacement these players produced prior to the injury bug arrived.
Listed below are our picks for the 10 best MLB careers derailed by injuries since 2012.
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Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Pre-Injury (2012-15): 5.4 rWAR
Post-Injury (2016-20): 0.4 rWAR
Trevor Rosenthal spent a lot of his first two seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals establishing for older, competent closersfirst, for Jason Motte in 2012 and Edward Mujica in 2013.
It wasn’t until Mujica started struggling toward the finish of 2013 that the Redbirds determined that, hey, maybe the guy with the 100 mph fastball should be the one to obtain the last three outs.
Rosenthal promptly became popular, going 4-for-5 in save opportunities through the postseason and ripping off 93 more across 2014 and 2015. For a pitcher in his age-24 and -25 seasons, the latter performance put Rosenthal within an all-time stratosphere unto himself.
However, the crisis came at Rosenthal even more quickly than one of is own trademark heaters. He missed time with shoulder inflammation in 2016 and went beneath the knife for Tommy John surgery in 2017.
Rosenthal put an effective season together in 2020 following a catastrophic return in 2019, but more injury trouble has found him since that time. The 32-year-old missed most of 2021 after having thoracic outlet surgery, and a teres major injury has stalled his latest comeback attempt.
When, as well as if, he’ll have the ability to return to a significant league mound is unclear.
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Pre-Injury (2009-11): 5.7 rWAR
Post-Injury (2012-21): 1.6 rWAR
Get rid of the names, and what the Texas Rangers ultimately got from trading Mark Teixeira to Atlanta in 2007 was a starting pitcher, the shortstop and the closer of future title-contending teams.
The closer was Neftal Feliz, who burst onto the scene with a 1.74 ERA over 20 appearances as a 21-year-old rookie in 2009. He continued to win the AL Rookie of the entire year in 2010, saving 40 games that year and 32 another.
Suffice it to state that opposing hitters were never pleased to see Feliz’s fastball. It regularly touched 100 mph, reaching as high as 104.1 mph in 2010.
Some will inevitably indicate the fastball that Feliz couldn’t manage David Freese in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series because the moment when things started going wrong for the flamethrower. However the real turn was once the Rangers made a decision to convert him right into a starter in 2012, which predictably ended with him blowing out his arm and needing Tommy John surgery.
That has been basically that. Feliz’s fastball was near three mph below its peak average when he returned as a reliever in 2013, and whatever success between then and 2017 was always fleeting. After briefly reappearing in the majors in 2021 after 3 years away, he was last seen pitching in Mexico for the independent Sultanes de Monterrey.
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Kirk Irwin/Getty Images
Pre-Injury (2015-16): 7.4 rWAR
Post-Injury (2017-22): 7.7 rWAR
Noah Syndergaard was something of a sensation even before he debuted for the brand new York Mets in 2015, as it’s not each day that 6’6″, 242-pound Thor lookalikes with triple-digit fastballs are rising through the minors.
Once Syndergaard finally found its way to the majors, it had been as if he previously been there. He pitched to a 2.89 ERA across 2015 and 2016, punching out 10.4 batters per nine innings by using a 97.5 mph fastball that has been beyond what any starter was with the capacity of.
It had been in 2017 that things first began to unravel for Syndergaard, as he missed all but seven starts that year with a core injury. He missed additional time with a finger injury and hand, foot and mouth disease in 2018.
As he slipped to a 4.28 ERA even while he made 32 starts in 2019, the shine had begun to wear off Syndergaard even before he blew out his elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2020. Now it’s completely off in 2022.
The right-hander once more comes with an ERA in the 4.00s at 4.09, and a fastball that routinely used going to triple digits has yet going to even 97 mph this year. As he just turned 30 yrs . old on Aug. 29, this might simply be who Syndergaard is currently.
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Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
Pre-Injury (2016-17): 9.4 rWAR
Post-Injury (2018-22): 3.2 rWAR
Michael Fulmer wasn’t the headliner in a July 2015 trade between your Detroit Tigers and Mets that sent Yoenis Cspedes to the latter, but he was on the map in their own right in just a matter of months.
After making his debut in April 2016, Fulmer continued to win the AL Rookie of the entire year and followed having an All-Star campaign in 2017. He posted a 3.45 ERA over the two seasons, and his 9.4 rWAR put him in the same territory where Flix Hernndez, Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale had also recently tread within their age-23-24 seasons.
Yet it had been before 2017 even ended that Fulmer’s body begun to breakdown. Elbow surgery eliminate his campaign in August, and he immediately regressed to a 4.69 ERA in 2018 before once more needing to call it quits in August, this time around due to a knee injury.
The worst was still yet ahead. After he previously spent the 2018-19 offseason rehabbing his knee, Fulmer’s elbow quit on him before he previously an opportunity to redeem himself. He previously Tommy John surgery in March.
Fulmer could return as a starter in 2020, but disastrously in order he pitched to an 8.78 ERA in 10 outings. The 29-year-old has since found some stability in a relief role, yet with a fastball that, at 94.3 mph, is slower compared to the one he previously in his heyday as a starter.
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Paul Bereswill/Getty Images
Pre-Injury (2015-18): 10.8 rWAR
Post-Injury (2019-22): 2.0 rWAR
Wherever Luis Severino went early in his career, the name “Pedro Martnez” tended to check out. First, as a comp for Severino’s extraordinary upside. And later, as a mentor as Severino was realizing his stardom with the brand new York Yankees in 2017 and 2018.
He was an All-Star and a vote-getter for the American League Cy Young Award both years, ultimately posting a 3.18 ERA and 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings. Having an average fastball of 97.6 mph, he became the velocity companion that Syndergaard hadn’t had in 2015 and 2016.
Rob Friedman @PitchingNinja
Luis Severino, 2018 Highlights. pic.twitter.com/qE5sbvbZq1
Severino was still only 25 once the injury bug started taking bites out of him. First, by means of a lat strain in 2019 that the Yankees later admitted to having mishandled. And in 2020, with Tommy John surgery.
It seemed as though Severino was finally healthy first of 2022, but he lasted just 16 starts before injuring his shoulder again. He’s been out since July 13.
As he’s still only 28 yrs . old, the right-hander perhaps includes a potential for salvaging his career. But a complete of 23 appearances over four years and a fastball that now sits at 96.1 mph don’t bode well, at the very least for the idea that success continues to be on the market for Severino as a starter.
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AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
Pre-Injury (2012-15): 11.8 rWAR
Post-Injury (2016-21): Minus-1.7 rWAR
Matt Harvey was in the big leagues barely 2 yrs following the Mets drafted him in 2010, and seemingly virtually no time at all elapsed between his arrival and his ascent as a superstar.
He pitched to a 2.39 ERA over 36 starts between 2012 and 2013, and he even took the ball for the National League All-Star squad at Citi Field in the latter. He placed on an extraordinary display along with his upper-90s fastball any moment he pitched, and he certainly didn’t shy away from the spotlight off the field.
For what happened next, there’s room to quibble about which year marks the finish of Harvey’s “pre-injury” era. We chose 2015 because despite the fact that he previously Tommy John surgery in 2013, his return in 2015 was a rousing success to the tune of a 2.71 ERA over 189.1 innings, plus 26.2 more in the playoffs.
But was that an excessive amount of, too early? It seemed this way when Harvey immediately struggled in 2016 and finally had another surgery, this time around for thoracic outlet syndrome.
Harvey, now 33, recovered from that and then pitch to a 6.15 ERA between 2017 and 2021. Recently, he was suspended for 60 games this might after admitting to presenting distributed drugs of abuse within the investigation in to the death of former LA Angels teammate Tyler Skaggs.
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Kent C. Horner/Getty Images
Pre-Injury (2006-11): 17.1 rWAR
Post-Injury (2012-20): 4.4 rWAR
Matt Kemp wasn’t always consistent early in his career with the LA Dodgers, but he at the very least tended to help keep his power and speed in good working order. Between 2008 and 2010, especially, he clubbed 72 home runs and stole 88 bases.
Kemp was still only 26 yrs . old when everything came together for him in 2011. He missed from a 40-40 season by simply one home run while also driving in 126 runs and playing Gold Glove defense. The Dodgers’ response was to immediately sign him to a $160 million contract.
Alas, the initial two seasons that Kemp played after signing his big deal became disastrous.
A hamstring injury cost him a lot of the 2012 season, and he underwent shoulder surgery to correct damage he previously suffered in a crash into an outfield wall in August. That subsequently hampered his power production in 2013, where he also suffered a nasty ankle injury that kept him from the Dodgers’ first postseason in four years.
Kemp’s power enjoyed a resurgence between 2014 and 2016, but his athleticism never did as he morphed right into a station-to-station baserunner who could no more hack it in center field. He was basically a replacement-level player going back eight years of his career.
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AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Pre-Injury WAR (2015-17): 18.3 rWAR
Post-Injury WAR (2018-22): 10.9 rWAR
It took just 3 years for Kris Bryant to go from being the Chicago Cubs’ No. 2 pick in 2013 to the NL Rookie of the entire year in 2015 to the NL MVP and a global Series champion in 2016.
Though he missed from a third straight All-Star selection in 2017, Bryant was also sufficient that year to earn much more MVP votes. Altogether, he joined Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews because the only third basemen to ever post a 140 OPS+ and over 90 home runs within their first three seasons.
Then in his age-26 season in 2018, Bryant developed shoulder discomfort that limited him to 102 games and basically killed his power. He hit only 13 home runs all season.
He was not exactly the same player since that time, particularly on the energy front. His actual slugging percentage is down from .527 between 2015 and 2017 to .479 since that time, having an even steeper drop in his expected slugging from .508 to .441.
The seven-year, $182 million gamble that the Colorado Rockies took on Bryant thus appeared as if a negative idea even at that time. A lot more so given that back and foot injuries have sidelined him for several but 42 games and sent his athleticism just how of his power. Where it had been once in the 88th percentile in 2016, his sprint speed has been around the 50th percentile this year.
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Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
Pre-Injury (2006-11): 26.6 rWAR
Post-Injury (2012-19): 17.9 rWAR
To be certain, Troy Tulowitzki wasn’t always healthy first of his career with the Rockies. But he did stick to the field enough to average 132 games between 2007 and 2011, where time he put himself on a way to all-time greatness.
Those five seasons saw Tulowitzki hit .295 and club 121 home runs having an average of 5.4 rWAR each year. By the finish of the ’11 season, he ranked 13th in history in rWAR among shortstops through their age-26 seasons.
It had been in 2012 that the wheels began to come off for Tulowitzki. A groin injury cost him all but 47 games that year and ultimately set the tone for some lower-half injuries that plagued him through his age-32 season in 2017.
It had been a testament to Tulowitzki’s ability and determination he could have tremendous spurts of productivity even with the injuries began to accumulate. He was an All-Star annually between 2013 and 2015, even hitting .340 with 21 homers over a 91-game sample in 2014.
Yet, he played in only 594 more games after 2011, with just five of these occurring after he attemptedto keep coming back from an ankle injury that sidelined him for several of the 2018 campaign. He was only 34 when he played his last game in 2019.
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Mark Brown/Getty Images
Pre-Injury (2013-19): 31.8 rWAR
Post-Injury (2020-22): 4.2 rWAR
Christian Yelich was an excellent yet generally unspectacular player once the Milwaukee Brewers acquired him from the Miami Marlins in January 2018. He could hit, run and field, but his power had a frustratingly low ceiling.
That trend initially persisted in Milwaukee, however, not for long. After breaking for the All-Star Game in 2018, he continued a 195-game run where he blasted 69 home runs to go with 40 stolen bases and a .342/.436/.705 slash line.
Yelich won the National League MVP for ’18 and may well have managed to get two in a row in ’19 if he’d had the opportunity to see his race with Cody Bellingerwho, it should be noted, began falling out in clumps of stardom even before his fateful shoulder injury in 2020to the final. Alas, his season ended by using a foul ball that broke his kneecap on Sept. 10.
The Brewers remained confident enough in Yelich to sign him to a $215 million extension the next March. Yet be it due to the knee, his recurring back issues or some mix of both, he just was not exactly the same player within the last 3 years.
Yelich, now 30, still puts a charge in to the ball every now and then, but overall he’s hit just 33 home runs over his last 305 games. With his speed likewise not what it was previously, looking forward to him to reclaim his superstardom isn’t recommended.