The Nationals' new analytics-based medical and training program could take years to produce results definitive enough to declare it a true success. Before anything can be determined, players need to be measured for baseline data. Then, from there, it's up to the team's doctors and trainers to utilize that information in a way that can both prevent and possibly even predict injuries.
Give it some time, as patience will be required. But just the fact the Nationals are doing something new and innovative - and investing a good amount of money to do so - is music to their players' ears, especially those who have struggled with injuries in the past.
Perhaps no team could better use an extra emphasis on preventing injuries than the Nationals. Their core position players all have troubled histories with staying healthy. Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos are all All-Star level hitters, but each has spent significant time on the disabled list throughout their careers.
Harper showed in 2015 what he is capable of when healthy. But in 2013 and 2014 he played in a combined 218 games due to injury.
Zimmerman played in only 95 games in 2015 and only 61 the year before. He has averaged 110 games played over the last five seasons.
Like Harper this year, Rendon showed his potential in 2014 when he finished fifth in NL MVP voting. But in 2015, Rendon only played in 80 games as he dealt with everything from a knee sprain to a strained oblique muscle.
Werth has averaged 111 games played over the last four seasons. He played in only 88 games in 2015 and struggled at the plate as he built strength back in his shoulder and left wrist.
Ramos played a career-high 128 games in 2015, but appeared in only 191 total games in the previous three years.
All five know their health is paramount to the Nationals' success and all are on board with the new program.
"I think that's the biggest key for everybody, if you stay healthy and stay on the field," Harper said. "We just need every single guy on the field as much as we can. Hopefully this will help out and we all can play every single day."
"Technology and science is a big part of every sport now," Zimmerman said. "I've only been in the game 10 years and it's changed dramatically since I've been there so I can't even imagine what it's like for trainers or doctors or even a guy like Dusty. Sports are one of those things where you have to evolve and you have to keep up with the times or you're going to get passed by. I think it'll be really helpful."
"I got to meet a couple of [the new trainers and doctors]. Whatever is going to help the team," Rendon said. "If that means we're going to have less injuries, then I'm all for it. That's when we play at our best, when we have all of our guys on the field and we can be a big threat."
"It's going to be pretty interesting," Werth said. "They're doing some forward-thinking stuff, some analytical stuff that hasn't really been done before in baseball. I think it's been done in other sports, but we're kind of leading the way in that. It's exciting."
"Staying healthy is the most important thing. Everybody wants to play a lot," Ramos said. "I want to stay healthy and be behind the plate for a long time."
For more on the program and how it works, read our breakdown from last month.