The $1.5 billion that Major League Baseball spends annually on pitchers’ salaries is five times more than the combined cost of every starting quarterback in the NFL. It exceeds the top 200 NBA salaries put together. When I call the pitching arm the most valuable commodity in sports, it is not an exaggeration. And yet the most overanalyzed sport in the world, with an industry of bright minds studying its intricacies, loses half a billion dollars a year to injuries. More than 50 percent of pitchers end up on the disabled list every season, on average for two-plus months, and one-quarter of major-league pitchers today wear a zipper scar from Tommy John surgery along their elbows.
Jeff Passan is a columnist at Yahoo Sports and the author of The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports.