[The Martin-Monahan Award for best medical staff is presented annually by RotoWire in partnership with Bleacher Report's Will Carroll.]
Maintaining the overall good health of a 40-man roster over a 162-game season is a grueling and often ignored task in Major League Baseball. Each team's medical staff is taxed throughout the year as they work to not only manage but prevent injuries from derailing a season. Despite their best efforts injuries inevitably occur but the ability to respond to these setbacks and quickly and safely return to players to the field is the benchmark of a truly successful medical team.
Established in 2003, the Martin-Monahan Award was created to honor the MLB medical staff - physicians, Athletic Trainers, physical therapists, and other associated health professionals - that contributed most to their organization. A series of measurements including days lost, injury cost, and multi-year averages, all factor into determining the winner providing tangible evidence of their efficiency and productivity for their often-overlooked and underappreciated contributions.
The Martin-Monahan award is named after two well-respected and outstanding Athletic Trainers that spent their career committed to improving and preserving the health of their athletes. Dick Martin, a long-time Athletic Trainer for the Twins, helped set the standard for care amongst MLB medical staffs. Gene Monahan spent 39 years taking care of the New York Yankees, serving as the Athletic Trainer for seven World Championship teams.
This season, we are proud to present the award to the medical staff of the Seattle Mariners. Led by Head Athletic Trainer Rick Griffin and Medical Director Dr. E. Edward Khalfayan, the team thrived in their ability to keep their top talent on the field, particularly the pitching staff.
Griffin has held the head Athletic Trainer position since 1983 and worked over 4,000 games for Seattle. He has toured Japan multiple times with the MLB All-Stars and been a spokesperson for MLB's PLAY Program. His work last season went beyond the players as he was one of the first responders to tend to Seattle manager Eric Wedge following his mild stroke in late July. Griffin and his team have found success in recent years by executing a well-designed game plan and learning from their vast amounts of experience.
The Mariners made nine disabled-list moves all season, the lowest such total in all of baseball. Of these nine moves, only two involved pitchers as promising set up Stephen Pryor and veteran Josh Kinney spent extended periods of time on the DL. Pryor missed 168 games after tearing a muscle in his back and shoulder while Kinney missed 88 games with a rib injury before ultimately being designated for assignment. Starters Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, and Joe Saunders started a combined 96 games, a total matched or bettered by only five other three-man starting units throughout the MLB.
Due to the hard work of Griffin and the medical team, the Mariners had the second-fewest days lost to injury with 566. Outfielder Franklin Gutierrez was the position player sidelined most frequently as his reoccurring hamstring problems accounted for 125 total games or 40 percent of the total games Seattle position players would miss due to injury. However the loss of Gutierrez was minimized by the surprise production from veteran Raul Ibanez and Dustin Ackley as well as Griffin's ability to keep the rest of offense on the field.
The effectiveness of the Mariners medical staff also made an impact financially as the team would have the lowest injury cost in the MLB. A low injury cost is a good indicator that the top contributors not only were available to play but rebounded quickly when an injury did occur. Justin Smoak and Michael Saunders were able to overcome problematic injuries and returned shortly after becoming eligible for reinstatement from the 15-day DL.
We would to like to congratulate Griffin and the entire Seattle medical staff and look forward to presenting them with 2013 Martin-Monahan Trophy at the upcoming Winter Meetings.
Previous Martin-Monahan Award Winners:
2004 Tampa Bay Rays
2005: Milwaukee Brewers
2006: Chicago White Sox
2007: Cleveland Indians
2008: Pittsburgh Pirates
2009: Philadelphia Phillies.
2010: Chicago White Sox
2011: Kansas City Royals
2012: Cincinnati Reds