Outcomes of Tommy John Surgery

Players of all abilities have returned to the field after having a Tommy John Surgery. Historically, previous research has indicated that anywhere from 80 to 97 percent of professional athletes return to play. Meaning that if you played in the minor leagues prior to your injury, the odds are heavily in your favor to return to that level again, and potentially beyond. The long-term data has highlighted high postoperative satisfaction and return to play rates close to 83% across varying levels of competition

Return to Play Rates by Competition Level:

High School: 89-97%

College: 80 – 92 %

Professional: 80 – 97%

Recently, we conducted a study in which we looked at players’ return to sport rates in our office. We found that of our collegiate athletes, 85% returned to play at the collegiate level. 81% of pitchers observed completed their collegiate career or are still on active rosters. Our office has also observed an increasing number of players getting drafted to Major League teams who have undergone Tommy John Surgerys at both the high school and collegiate levels.

In this study, we found that there was no significant difference in pitching performance following Tommy John Surgery when compared to players that did not have surgery; a finding that solidifies the fact that players get back to pre-surgical competition levels. Furthermore, players in our study played in more games post-operatively than they did prior to surgery.

Does Tommy John Surgery affect your ability to get drafted?

Dr. Ahmad and colleagues published this study in The American Journal of Sports Medicine in 2018

Quick Facts

  • Background of research: There has been a dramatic rise in the annual number of Tommy John Surgeries performed in amateur baseball pitchers.
  • Research Question: The effect of prior Tommy John Surgery as an amateur on future professional success remains unknown.
  • Purpose: (1) Determine the number player in MLB draft that had Tommy John Surgery as an amature. (2) determine professional playing performance, and (3) to compare these results with those of matched controls (ie, drafted players who did not have Tommy John Surgery).
  • Methods: The MLB Amateur Draft Database was queried to identify all drafted pitchers who underwent Tommy John Surgery before being drafted. For each pitcher drafted from 2005 to 2014 with prior Tommy John Surgery, 3 healthy controls with no history of elbow surgery were randomly identified for matched analysis. A number of demographic and performance comparisons were made between these groups.
  • Results: A total of 345 pitchers met inclusion criteria.
    • The annual number of pitchers undergoing predraft Tommy John Surgeries rose steadily from 2005 to 2016 !
    • As compared with the non–Tommy John Surgery group, pitchers who underwent predraft Tommy John Surgery reached the MLB level with greater frequency (20% vs 12%, P = .003), and their MLB statistical performances were similar for all measures.
    • Compared with all other pitchers drafted during that period, players who had a predraft Tommy John Surgery demonstrated an increased likelihood of reaching progressive levels of play (Full Season A, AA, and MLB) within a given time frame.
  • Conclusion: The number of Tommy John Surgeries performed in amateur baseball players before the draft increased year over year. Professional pitchers who underwent Tommy John Surgery as amateurs appear to perform at least as well as, if not better than, matched controls without elbow surgery.

Dr. Ahmad's patients who have returned to the game at the highest level after Tommy John Surgery

Recent Players in the News

Yanks’ Montgomery to have TJ surgery

TORONTO — The Yankees’ ongoing search for starting pitching picked up urgency ...

June 5, 2018

Yankees’ Jordan Montgomery to make his first start following Tommy John surgery

TORONTO – It’s been nearly 17 months since Jordan Montgomery walked off a big-league m...

September 14, 2019

Yankees doctor performs surgery on Nathan Eovaldi

Nathan Eovaldi had arthroscopic surgery Tuesday to remove a loose body from his elbow. Ya...

April 23, 2019

Whitley focused on process, eyeing roster spot

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Chase Whitley doesn’t really mind which role the Rays reserve ...

March 18, 2017

Whitewater High grad Heller ready for another season of relief pitching for the Yankees

Like most major league baseball players, Ben Heller cannot wait until the start of the 202...

October 26, 2020

The New York Yankees Can’t Keep Holding Back Jonathan Loaisiga

The New York Yankees starting pitching has been great recently. Whether it’s Jordan Mont...

August 31, 2020

State of the Yankees: A healthy Jonathan Loaisiga could play a valuable role on 2020 club

NEW YORK – As spring training came to a premature close, Jonathan Loaisiga did not have ...

May 3, 2020

Rehabbing pitchers with promise [2019 Season Review]

No one could have anticipated he amount of injuries the Yankees sustained during 2019. The...

December 5, 2019

NY Post: New York Post: Nathan Eovaldi’s Balky Elbow Brings Pitching Staff Shakeup

BOSTON — Nathan Eovaldi will get a second opinion on his right elbow after being examine...

August 12, 2016 Yankees’ Nathan Eovaldi undergoes 2nd Tommy John surgery

NEW YORK — The Yankees announced that right-handed starter Nathan Eovaldi underwent ...

August 19, 2016

Nathan Eovaldi’s arm gets a clean bill of health from his surgeon

BOSTON — Nate Eovaldi’s high-velocity stuff and incredible 2018 postseason have posit...

November 15, 2018

Kyle Higashioka’s long journey to his first hit

It was a long journey to Kyle Higashioka’s first big-league hit. But it was well worth t...

July 2, 2018

Kyle Higashioka has the tools to step up for the Yankees

Over the past few seasons, Kyle Higashioka has solidified himself as the third-string ca...

September 13, 2019

Jordan Montgomery’s return is a win for him and the Yankees

After a long recovery from Tommy John surgery, Jordan Montgomery is slated to return to th...

September 15, 2019

Ben Heller undergoes Tommy John surgery

The New York Yankees announced Saturday afternoon that RHP Ben Heller has undergone Tommy ...

April 7, 2018

Atlanta Braves claim RHP Chase Whitley from the Tampa Bay Rays

The Atlanta Braves have claimed RHP Chase Whitley off of waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays a...

December 1, 2017

A recent history of Tommy John surgery

Luis Severino, Chris Sale, Noah Syndergaard. Three giants in the grove of baseball’s pit...

March 29, 2020

ask a question