Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, David Wright and the Inevitability of Injuries
112 games. No, that's not the number of games this years Mets team is going to lose, despite seemingly serious predictions of 100-loss seasons by our local media. That's the number of times Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and David Wright (or BRaW, as I like to call them) have all started the same game for the Mets since the start of the 2009 season. That's out of 418 possible games. Less than 27%. Certainly, every team has injuries, but not every team's best players get injured.
If you wanted to factor out the games in which these players were playing through or recovering from major injuries, and clearly not healthy, you could eliminate all of the 2010 games, when the trio played 43 games together but Beltran and Reyes were clearly not anywhere near 100%, as well as about half of the 34 games the three played together this year, after Wright's back injury turned him into Placido Polanco, minus the defense.
Reyes and Wright should be back soon, and it will be a rare and welcome sight for all three of these guys to play at the same time. Currently, the Mets have 5 very good position players -- BRaW, Ike Davis and Angel Pagan -- and then a bunch of decent ones. BRaW, Ike and Pagan have played only 15 games together. In fact, the Mets have seven guys on their roster, total, who are very good players to some extent: BRaW, Future Hall-of-Famer Ike Davis, Pagan, Johan Santana and Jon Niese. Five of those players have missed significant time already this season. Again, injuries are inevitable, but these specific players players getting injured was not inevitable (for those people who insist Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes are injury-prone, you're dumb. Before you speak, do sixty seconds of research by going to espn.com and looking at their career game totals).
What if Mike Pelfrey had gone down at the end of last season and not Johan? What if Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner collided, not Ike Davis and David Wright? What if the Mets had just randomly stayed fairly healthy for a whole season, in one of the past three years? Well, Omar Minaya could still be working here, so maybe that was a blessing in disguise.
For some perspective, the Phillies seven best and most important players are Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard. Utley's missed significant time. Satan Victorino has missed a bit of time. But, by and large, those guys have been healthy. It's not that the Phillies haven't had injuries -- Carlos Ruiz, Domonic Brown, Roy Oswalt, Joe Blanton, their entire bullpen -- but these injuries have been to secondary and tertiary players, not the team's core. The Braves's seven best -- Brian McCann, Jason Heyward, Martin Prado, Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson, Dan Uggla and Tim Hudson -- have all been pretty healthy on the whole, with the exception of Prado and, to a lesser extend Heyward, who have still played 63 and 72 games respectively. Part of this is probably that the Braves and Phillies key players are genuinely more durable than the Mets key players. But part of it is just dumb luck.
Remember, to a significant extend, the Mets 2011 injury problems are due to a time when Ike Davis and David Wright literally ran into each other.
Jose Reyes has, with the exception of 2009 (assuming he comes back and plays out this season), been pretty durable in the grand scheme of things. Beltran averaged 152 games from '01-'08. Yes, many people expressed injury concerns about Johan Santana when he was acquired, but the guy averaged 229 innings from 2004-2008. This isn't a case of a bunch of oft-injured players hitting the DL again. This is, "How the hell does this shit keep happening to the Mets." Even on the minor league level, I'd imagine by just about any definition, Jenrry Mejia, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Jeurys Familia are three of the Mets six or seven best prospects. Well those guys are all hurt, too!
And while even a 100% healthy Mets team would be unlikely to catch Philly or Atlanta at their current paces, it just goes to show how much I hate the universe how much a simple botched play, and a team suffering the inevitable injuries to its best rather than its secondary players, can change the course of a season, the course of a franchise.