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Major league pain points: analysis of the Big Four’s 2022/2023 injury data

Sports Reports

A blog post analyzing the injury data for the 2022-2023 regular seasons of the NBA, MLB, NHL, and NFL. It reveals the players, teams, and types of injuries most frequently found on the injured reserves of the Big Four.

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In this blog, we explore the Big Four’s injury data for the 2022/23 seasons, offering a detailed analysis of the trends observed in the injured lists of the major leagues.

We dissect the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL’s records to identify the players frequently on the bench, pinpoint the teams looking a little out of shape, and highlight the pesky injuries that most often land athletes on their league’s injured reserve.

MLB injuries: from base to bench

The total number of injured list (IL) placements for the MLB reached 821 in the 2023 regular season. Additionally, this total included a considerable 55 count of 60 day placements. 

The Giants top the league with 46 injured list transfers, while the Astros are fighting fit with only 14 records.

Regarding individual players, Brandon Crawford stands out with injury transfers for four different ailments. Including a strained calf, forearm, knee inflammation, and a strained hamstring.

When assessing which injuries dominated in 2023, shoulder issues were the most common, leading to 14.4% of transfers. These were followed by elbow injuries (12.9%) and hamstring issues (8.7%).

The MLB’s busiest day for IL placements was March 30th, with 118 placements announced on the first day of the league.

The following image is an infographic presenting data related to the MLB 2023 regular season injured list

Strains and sprains in the NBA

The NBA recorded an even higher total of 952 inactive list (IL) transfers for the 22/23 season. The Spurs accumulated the highest number with 61, while the Rockets reported a respectable 17.

Doug McDermott and Giannis Antetokounmpo topped the list of players with the most transfers, each being transferred an impressive 10 times. McDermott was transferred for an eyebrow-raising seven different injury types. His list of ailments included a sprained ankle, hip injury, sprained right thumb, Achilles injury, back injury, knee injury, and calf injury. Ouch.

Antetokounmpo’s main affliction was his knees. However, he also suffered with a bruised quad, illness, and hand injury.

Knee injuries are common in the NBA, constituting 14.8% of all recorded 22/23 inactive list injuries. However, ankle injuries are even more prevalent, accounting for 15.1% of the total. Illness wraps up the top reasons for IL placement, with 10% of players suffering due to sickness.

Similar to the MLB, the kick-off of the NBA 22/23 season saw a spike in IL transfers, with 26 placements announced on October 19th.

The following image is an infographic presenting injury data for 2022/2023 NBA regular season

NFL: knee-deep in knee injuries

The NFL recorded 429 injured reserve (IR) transfers during the 22/23 season. The Titans claimed 28 of those placements, making them the most injured team according IR transfers. Contrarily, the Cincinnati Bengals had the fewest, recording only five.

The data revealed knee injuries to be the most prevalent, accounting for 31.6% of all IR records. That means almost one in every three placements was due to knee issues. This was followed by ankle injuries (12%) and hamstring issues (9.9%).

The peak date for NFL IR placements was January 4th, with 14 placements listed.

The following image is an infographic presenting data related to the injured reserve list for the NFL 2022/2023 regular season

NHL injuries: Blue Jackets and Blackhawks on thin ice

The 22/23 NHL regular season recorded 309 injured reserve transfers. It was the Blue Jackets and Blackhawks who topped the list, each with 18 transfers. In contrast, the Rangers and Stars were on form, totalling just one placement each.

Data on the NHL injured reserve is less detailed. The two largest injury categories were revealed to be upper body (21.7%) and lower body (24.3%) injuries. Rather vaguely, the next largest category was ‘undisclosed’, followed by concussions, which contributed eight times to the IR (2.6%).

Predictably, the highest number of injured reserve placements for the NHL occurred on October 10th. This was just three days after the league started and a total of 10 placements were recorded.

The following image is an infographic presenting data related to the 2022/2023 injured reserve list for the NHL

Major league injury roundup

Our analysis revealed that ‘Josh’ is the most unfortunate first name for major league athletes. The name appeared most on injury transfer records, appearing a total of 34 times. In the same fashion, ‘Williams’ emerges as the most injury-prone last name with 11 injury records. 

Again, it’s the San Antonio Spurs that stand out as the most injured. The team not only top their own basketball league but also the combined rankings of the Big Four. Conversely, the Stars and the Rangers shine for their minimal injured reserve placements during the 22/23 season.

Individual players McDermott and Antetokounmpo deserve recognition for their astounding 10 placements on the NBA’s IL. Consequently, both athletes claim joint season title for the most injury placements across the four leagues.

Lastly, when examining injury types across the leagues, knee problems emerge as the most problematic. They account for 12% (303) of all injury reserve cases across the four sports. Ankle injuries follow closely, responsible for around 9% (222), while shoulder issues take third with 6.5% (162). Notably, concussions contribute to 58 injury transfers during the given timeframe

The following image is an infographic presenting injury data related to the Big Four major league sports in the US

Conclusion

We’ve tackled, dribbled, and skated through a mountain of injury data. In summary, it’s ankles, knees and shoulders that are the primary victims of major league sport. Oh, and if your name is Josh Williams, you might want to consider wrapping yourself in bubble wrap before hitting the field or court.

Methodology

We compiled the injury list, injured reserve and inactive list transfer data for the respective NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB 22/23 seasons.

NFL data was collected from September 8th 2022 to January 8th 2023 

MLB data was collected from 30th March 2023 to November 1st 2023

NBA data was collected from October 18th 2022 to April 9th 2023 

NHL data was collected from  7th October 2022 to 14th April 2023

In each case, data included player name, team name, date of transfer to the injury list, and specific reason for transfer. We organized this data into distinct categories based on the type of injury. We then identified trends, such as the most frequently recorded injury types, team names, player names, and transfer dates.

Sources

Source for injury list transfer data: https://www.prosportstransactions.com/

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