A few weeks back, I was watching an Angels game. David Freese stepped up to the plate, fully healthy, strong, and ready to help his team contend in a tight division race. Mike Pelfrey let a hard two-seamer get away from him. Ninety-five miles per hour boring in on the right index finger of David Freese, and four-tenths of a second to react. Freese got drilled, broke his finger, and he’s been out a month, still barely able to throw a baseball while the rest of his body is perfectly able and his team is fighting for its life.
This isn’t unusual and its certainly no surprise. It happens every single year to the best players in the game. Big name players, who are paid stupid money and work their tails off every day to stay on the field, suffer significant hand/finger injuries due to hit-by-pitches. The human hand is simply not built to withstand that type of impact, and its often devastating to the player’s (and team’s) season.
Some recent examples:
- Paul Goldschmidt missed two months last year.
- AJ Pollock missed three months last year
- Hunter Pence missed two months this year.
- Alex Rios missed a month and a half this year.
- Travis d’Arnaud missed two months this year.
- Jayson Werth missed two months this year.
- George Springer has been out a month and a half SO FAR.
- Stephen Souza
- Maikel Franco
And its not just missed time. Some guys try to fight through it:
- Last year, Nelson Cruz (with the O’s) had an OPS of 1.057 when he got hit on the hand on June 1; over the next 3 months, his OPS was .688.
- This year, Stephen Vogt was hitting .304 when he got hit on the wrist on June 26th; since then he’s hitting .188.
- Michael Cuddyer, hit on the hand on April 14, is slugging 90 points lower than his career average in 2015.
Owners are handing out million-dollar contracts to ball boys, and then they put their stars right next to the target of a 95 mph flying object without any consideration for their second most precious asset (after their head/brain)—their hands. Ask any ballplayer what their batting average is with a broken hand, wrist, or finger. How about how hard they throw?
This recurring theme really bothers me so much because ITS PREVENTABLE.
Evoshield’s got options.
Shock Doctor offers a strap-on hand guard.
I’m not saying these items would prevent all injuries, and I think there is plenty of room for improvement to be made, but I guarantee less pros would be hitting the DL if everybody were wearing protective gear like this.
So why not?
Joe Maddon pointed to the cliché—stubborn ballplayers—when asked about protective batting gloves all the way back in 2010, “Most of the time, changes like that move at a glacier pace. Guys don’t want to be the first one to try it,” he told the NY Daily News.
Well, what if you didn’t give them a choice? Force it on them. What are the objections? That it will hurt your performance?
Paul Goldschmidt wears Evoshield slips in his Franklin batting gloves now. He’s arguably the best hitter in baseball.
AJ Pollock has a steel plate and modified batting gloves to protect his hands. He’s an All-Star.
Yunel Escobar got hit and now wears the Shock Doctor hand guard. He’s projected to finish with 170 hits in 2015, which would be a career best.
Hunter Pence wears wrist protection now. He’s still really good.
Why not go the prevention route instead of waiting for guys to lose a half-season’s worth of production? You can bet that if its mandated, companies will work to create the best possible solution for MLB players, to their exact specifications.
Its time that MLB teams mandate the use of protective batting gloves.
I’m not saying its going to stop these injuries entirely, but isn’t it time that MLB teams use the technology available to keep their players on the field?