Brad Henderson for team MVP?


The Pirates were the healthiest team in baseball last season, according to Baseball Prospectus.

The team racked up just 385 days’ worth of time spent on the disabled list in 2009. That was far better than the runner-up Houston Astros (412 days), Chicago White Sox (418), Seattle Mariners (453) and Arizona Diamondbacks (533).

Baseball Prospectus named Pirates athletic trainer Brad Henderson the winner of its annual Dick Martin Award for Best Medical Staff. (The award is named after the Minnesota Twins’ longtime trainer.)

“Henderson’s staff not only had an excellent 2008 campaign, but their (sic) three-year results and trends are the best in the game,” BP’s Will Carroll wrote.

In his online article, Carroll lauded Henderson’s efforts, which kept injury risks such as Ryan Doumit, Jason Bay and Xavier Nady on the field. “Most impressive might be the health of the pitching staff, highlighted by only 24 days lost by starters,” Carroll wrote.

Well, sort of. Carroll overlooked left-hander Phil Dumatrait, who was in the starting rotation when he went on the DL June 22 and again July 12 with shoulder problems. Dumatrait sat out the second half of the season, ended the season on the 60-day DL and had arthroscopic surgery.

“Good point,” Carroll wrote in an e-mail today to me after I reminded him about Dumatrait. “I used the five guys with the most starts, so I missed that.”

Nonetheless, Carroll is on the right track regarding the fine job turned in by the Pirates’ medical staff. The crew managed to keep several injury-prone guys — such as Bay, Doumit, Xavier Nady, Tom Gorzelanny, etc. — on the field and productive.

Big deal? It could be in the near future. Carroll notes that team health often foreshadows success on the field. The medical staffs at Tampa Bay and Milwaukee were recent winners of the Dick Martin Award.