Harvey just one of many All-Stars we won’t get to see in September
One of the best sustained performances of 2013 came to an early end on Monday with the news that Matt Harvey’s season is likely over due to a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. While the Mets righthander is thus far the only All-Star to be knocked out for the season by injury, he’s one of 16 from recent seasons whose maladies prevented us from watching them in September. Here’s a quick list of the big names among baseball’s wounded, in reverse order of their most recent All-Star appearances — a list that doesn’t even include key non-all-stars whose seasons have also come to an end, such as the Cardinals’ Jaime Garcia and Jason Motte, the Rangers’ Colby Lewis, and the Diamondbacks’ Cody Ross and Daniel Hudson, among many others.
Matt Harvey, RHP, Mets
Injury: partial tear of UCL in right elbow
The Loss: Harvey was one of the best pitchers in baseball this year, going 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA, a 0.93 WHIP and a National League-best 191 strikeouts. If he needs Tommy John surgery, he won’t be back until 2015.
Matt Harrison, LHP, Rangers
Injury: herniated disc in lower back
The Loss: Harrison went 32-20 with a 3.34 ERA for Texas over the past two seasons, but he lasted just two starts this season before requiring two surgeries on his ailing back.
Rafael Furcal, SS, Cardinals
All-Star: 2003, ’10, ’12
Injury: Tommy John surgery on throwing arm
The Loss: Furcal hit just .251/.314/.347 over the last two seasons, but he improved St. Louis defensively as a deadline acquisition in 2011, and thus played a key part in the Cardinals late surge to the playoffs — and ultimately to the World Series title. He got off to a blazing start in ’12 before fading fast and then suffering a partial tear of his UCL last August, which knocked him out for the rest of the regular season and postseason. Furcal originally opted for rest, rehabilitation and platelet-rich plasma injections over the offseason, but wound up having Tommy John surgery in mid-March.
Joel Hanrahan, RHP, Red Sox
All-Star: 2011, ’12
Injury: Tommy John surgery, flexor tendon repair, bone chip removal in right elbow
The Loss: As the Pirates’ All-Star closer the last two seasons, Hanrahan — acquired in a six-player deal that sent Mark Melancon to Pittsburgh — saved 76 games. But he was never healthy this year, saving just four games in nine appearances for Boston before going under the knife for what fellow blogger Jay Jaffe called the “deluxe elbow platter.”
Rickie Weeks, 2B, Brewers
Injury: left hamstring surgery
The Loss: Weeks, another notably fragile player, had a breakout season in 2010, hitting .269/.366/.464, with 29 homers, 83 RBI, 112 runs scored and 11 stolen bases. He was off to a similar start in ’11, but he lost most of the second half of that season to an ankle sprain and has seen his production decline ever since. He was hitting just .209/.306/.357 this year when he tore his hamstring on Aug. 7.
Josh Beckett, RHP, Dodgers
All-Star: 2007, ’09, ’11
Injury: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome in right shoulder
The Loss: The modern day Brett Saberhagen, the oft-injured Beckett was an All-Star in each of the last three odd-numbered years and also saw performance spikes in 2003 and ’05. After landing with the Dodgers in the Red Sox’ landmark salary-dump trade last August, he posted a 2.93 ERA in seven starts to finish out the season. The 33-year-old managed just two quality outings in eight starts this year before hitting the disabled list in mid-May.
Jonny Venters, LHP, Braves
Injury: Tommy John surgery
The Loss: Venters was one of the best set-up men in baseball in 2010 and ’11, with a combined 1.89 ERA in 171 innings, and 189 strikeouts. He was also one of the most overworked set-up men in baseball, leading the majors in appearances and trailing only the Nationals’ Tyler Clippard in relief innings over those two seasons. Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez eased off Venters in 2012, but that didn’t prevent the lefthander from tearing his UCL late in spring training this year. Venters underwent his second Tommy John surgery (his first was in ’05) in mid-May.
Albert Pujols, 1B, Angels
All-Star: 2001, ’03-10
Injury: torn plantar fascia in left foot
The Loss: Pujols was the best player in baseball for most of the last decade, and Los Angeles signed him to a ten-year, $240 million contract after he led the Cardinals to a world championship in 2011. After a slow start in ’12, the big first baseman finished strong, hitting .285/.343/.516, with 30 home runs and 105 RBI. But playing this season through plantar fasciitis in his foot, which has bothered him off and on since ’04 (and which is likely causing pain in his right knee), Pujols couldn’t get going and finally tore his plantar fascia in late July — freezing his season stat line at a career-worst .258/.330/.437.
Corey Hart, 1B, Brewers
All-Star: 2008, ’10
Injury: surgery on both knees
The Loss: Hart had surgery to repair a meniscus tear and a joint imperfection in his right knee in January. While undergoing rehab, he apparently put too much strain on his left knee, which led to surgery on that joint in late June — which sidelined him for the season. Over the last three seasons, Hart had hit .279/.343/.514 for Milwaukee while averaging 29 home runs and 83 RBI. His injury and the loss of Mat Gamel to an anterior cruciate ligament tear in spring training left a huge hole at first base for the Brewers. Milwaukee’s stopgap first basemen, led by Juan Francisco, Yuniesky Betancourt and Alex Gonzalez, have hit a combined .207/.256/.384 this season.
Ryan Howard, 1B, Phillies
All-Star: 2006, ’09, ’10
Injury: surgery to repair torn meniscus in left knee
The Loss: Howard hit .265/.350/.497 while averaging 32 home runs and 112 RBI for the Phillies in 2010 and ’11 — which was a drop from his peak production over the previous four seasons. But since he tore his Achilles tendon on the final play of the ’11 Division Series, he has played in just 151 games while hitting .244/.307/.445, with 12 home runs and 50 RBI. Meanwhile, Howard’s five-year, $125 million extension kicked in last year, meaning that Philadelphia spent $40 million for those two seasons and are on the hook for another $85 million for a player who turns 34 in November.
Tim Hudson, RHP, Braves
All-Star: 2000, ’04, ’10
Injury: fractured fibula and torn deltoid ligament
The Loss: From 2010 to ’12, Hudson averaged a 16-9 record and 3.19 ERA as the veteran ace of the Atlanta rotation, but his ERA has increased each season since ’10. As a result, the 37-year-old was merely average in 2013 (8-7, 3.97 ERA, 97 ERA+) before the Mets’ Eric Young Jr. stepped on his ankle on a play at first on July 24 and broke his fibula.
Jonathan Broxton, RHP, Reds
All-Star: 2009, ’10
Injury: surgery to repair flexor mass strain in right elbow
The Loss: In 2012, former Dodgers closer Broxton rebounded from major elbow surgery the year before with a 2.48 ERA and 27 saves for the Royals and Reds. His reemergence had Cincinnati flirting with moving Aroldis Chapman into the rotation this spring, but the comeback may have been a fluke. Broxton’s strikeout rate never did recover, his home run rate spiked this year, and he made just five appearances after hitting the DL with a flexor mass strain in mid-June. He finished his 2013 with a 4.11 ERA.
Andrew Bailey, RHP, Red Sox
All-Star: 2009 ’10
Injury: labrum and capsule surgery in right shoulder
The Loss: The American League Rookie of the Year in 2009, Bailey spent three years as the A’s closer before Boston acquired him in the deal that sent Josh Reddick to Oakland after the ’11 season. Bailey has since made only 49 appearances for the Red Sox, with just 14 saves amid a variety of injuries, including a thumb ailment that cost him most of last season. This year, Bailey took over the closer job in mid-April, lost it in June and then saw his season come to an end in mid-July. With a capsule tear among his injuries, there’s reason to believe that Bailey will never recapture his All-Star form.
Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees
All-Star: 2005, ’09
Injury: torn tendon sheath in right wrist
The Loss: Teixiera’s production had declined in each of his first four seasons New York. In 2012, he hit .251/.332/.475, with just 24 homers and 84 RBI. His wrist injury, initially suffered in spring training, limited him to just 15 games this season, leaving a huge hole at first base for the Yankees, who have attempted to staff the position with Lyle Overbay and assorted platoon partners. Overbay and his mates have hit just .229/.293/.387, a crucial shortcoming given New York’s reemergence in the wild-card race. Teixeira, meanwhile, has three years and $67.5 million left on his contract.
Chad Billingsley, RHP, Dodgers
Injury: Tommy John surgery
The Loss: A former first-round pick, Billingsley never did emerge as a star in Los Angeles, but he did prove to be a dependably average starter and a rotation stalwart. He was enjoying a nice run of strong starts in the second half of 2012 before suffering a partial tear of the UCL in his right elbow. He then opted for rest, rehab, and PRP injections instead of surgery, but his attempted comeback in April lasted just two starts before he had to go under the knife.
Johan Santana, LHP, Mets
All-Star: 2005-07, ’09
Injury: surgery to repair anterior capsule tear in left shoulder
The Loss: Santana’s return last year from the capsule tear he suffered in late 2010 seemed miraculous, especially when he threw the first no-hitter in Mets history on June 1. But the magic didn’t last. An ankle sprain sent him to the disabled list in late July, and he made just two more disastrous starts before back pain ended his season in mid-August. In March 2013, Santana suffered another torn capsule, an injury which in all likelihood will prove career-ending, though just last week he expressed his intention to be at spring training next March. But given that New York is sure to buy out the $25 million option left on his contract for next season, which team will take him?.