Dr. Frank Jobe's effect on fantasy baseball
By Steve Schwarz, Fantasy Sports Editor
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Dr. Frank Jobe died Thursday at the age of 88. What has this got to do with fantasy sports, you ask?
Quite a bit actually.
Simply put, Dr. Jobe is responsible for saving the pitching arms of up to one- third of the pitchers on today's major league baseball rosters.
Do you find that number as astounding as I do?
Astounding and outrageous ... yes. Also, true.
If there are 12 pitchers on every roster and 30 major league teams, then there are 360 pitchers. In a Bleacher Report study from July 2013, 124 pitchers on current rosters had been a victim of an elbow injury which required what today is known as "Tommy John surgery."
It was July 1974 and John was pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers against Montreal, when he heard and felt a "pop" after a pitch in the third inning. John tore the ligament in his elbow, which in those days was the death knell for a pitcher's career.
However, in a revolutionary procedure, Dr. Jobe, with the help of Dr. Herbert Stark, used the palmaris tendon to reconstruct John's elbow.
John went on to pitch 14 seasons and win 164 games after the surgery, and the rest is history.
The surgery also has been used in football on a number of quarterbacks, but it's most common usage is in baseball and specifically on pitchers.
Some believe the surgery is so good that a pitcher is actually better than before the surgery, but that's likely more myth than truth.
The truth is that a pitcher is better than he was just before the surgery as his elbow had been subject to years and years of wear and tear and was performing at less than 100 percent.
Add in six months of complete rest and numerous additional strengthening exercises for the shoulder, elbow and arm, and the pitcher appears to be better than he ever was.
Had the surgery not been invented, today's fantasy rosters would likely be filled with current minor leaguers instead of the likes of Stephen Strasburg, Adam Wainwright, Tim Hudson, Josh Johnson, A.J. Burnett, Anibal Sanchez, C.J. Wilson, John Axford, Ryan Dempster, Fernando Rodney, Francisco Liriano, Jordan Zimmermann, Joe Nathan, Neftali Feliz, Grant Balfour, Jarrod Parker, Kris Medlen, John Lackey, Jonny Venters, Matt Harvey and more than 100 others.
Imagine what your fantasy rotations would be without these guys in it.
It would be an offensive explosion at the expense of pitching. Hitters would be knocking out home runs like it was the steroid era. Fifty home runs and 150 RBI might be commonplace.
On the other hand, you would likely have to pay a very steep price for a guy like Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw.
Instead of the top picks in the draft being Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera and Paul Goldschmidt, you would probably be choosing Kershaw, Yu Darvish and Max Scherzer first, second and third due to the scarcity of top pitching.
Last year, just 10 major league pitchers won 16 games or more. Unfortunately, without Tommy John surgery, half of those pitchers would have been sitting at home instead of winning games. Check it out, Wainwright (19 wins), Zimmermann (19), Wilson (17), Jorge de la Rosa (16) and Francisco Liriano (16) wouldn't be there.
The list of closers would be dramatically different as well. There would have been no Rafael Soriano (43 saves), Nathan (43), Balfour (38), Fernando Rodney (37) or Jason Grilli (33).
The bottom line is that Dr. Jobe's innovative surgery dramatically changed the landscape in major league baseball, preserving the balance of pitching to hitting and in turn the balance in fantasy baseball leagues everywhere.
03/07 11:21:38 ET