Archive for October, 2010

Posey’s Better….Really?

Last night during Game 1 of the Braves-Giants NLDS, San Francisco fans jeered Atlanta Braves rookie Jason Heyward with the chant “Posey’s Better!” in reference to San Francisco’s Buster Posey being the superior rookie. Frankly, I thought it was kind of rude. Georgia gives you Posey, and you give us Rice-A-Roni. Thanks. There is no doubt that Posey is a phenomenal young baseball player, but let’s not sell Heyward short.

Instead of taunts, let’s look at the performances of the two players this season to see what they provided for their respective big-league this season.

Player 		Positions 	PA 	Batting Runs 	Def. Runs Saved
Buster Posey	C(73%)/1B	443	15.7		5
Jason Heyward	RF		623	26.6		10

With the bat, Heyward produced more runs; with his glove he saved more runs; and he played 40% more than Posey. Simply put, Jason Heyward gave more value to his team than Buster Posey did in 2010, and it wasn’t really close. Using the method that I explain in my new book, I estimated that Heyward’s performance was worth approximately $14 million compared to Posey’s $9 million. Given that there has been so much discussion about who should be the NL Rookie of the Year, how is it that Heyward has such a big lead?

Then main difference between the two players is that Heyward played more. While the J-Hey Kid was taking an early lead in the Rookie of the Year sweepstakes, Posey was in Triple-A Fresno. And the value of runs is increasing, not linear, so the marginal runs added by Heyward were more valuable. Whether that’s Posey’s fault or nor, it’s still value that Posey didn’t contribute.

You might argue that Posey played the tougher position of catcher. Well, he did, part of the time. About three-fourths of his defensive innings were played at catcher, a tougher position than right field. But when he was first called up, he played first base, a less valuable position than right field. And while right field may be relatively less important than catcher, Jason Heyward played it excellently saving ten runs more than the average right fielder. Buster Posey wasn’t as good between his two positions.

Now, past aside, is Buster Posey better than Jason Heyward? An affirmative answer is certainly defensible. But, if you’re going to be jerks about it, this is the kind of analysis that you’re going to get from a bitter Braves fan. So, don’t be surprised if Turner Field welcomes Gerald Demp “Buster” Posey back to Georgia with a classic “GER-ald…GER-ald.” Nah, we’re too nice for that.

Fall Training: Getting Ready for the Hot Stove League

If your team didn’t make it to the playoffs, this is a tough time of year. You can’t watch your guys play, and your club can’t start making major moves to improve until after the World Series. But fret not, while your buddies rooting for teams still in the championship hunt are concentrating on the playoffs, you can bone up on the upcoming action in the hot stove league with my new book Hot Stove Economics: Understanding Baseball’s Second Season.

Book-jacket description:

The final out of the World Series marks the beginning of baseball’s second season, when teams court free agents and orchestrate trades with the hope of building a championship contender. The real and anticipated transactions generate excitement among fans who discuss the merit of moves in the arena informally known as the “hot stove league.” In Hot Stove Economics, economist J.C. Bradbury answers the hot stove league’s most important question: what are baseball players worth? With in-depth analysis, Bradbury identifies the game’s best and worst contracts—revealing the bargains, duds, and players who are worth every penny they receive. From minor-league prospects to major-league MVPs, Bradbury examines how factors such as revenue growth, labor rules, and aging— even down to the month in which players are born—shape players’ worth and evaluates how well franchises manage their rosters. He broadly applies the principles of economics to baseball in a way that is both interesting and understandable to sports fanatics, team managers, armchair economists and students alike.

Table of Contents (The Preface and Chapter 2 are available online as free previews.):

Preface

PART I. GETTING STARTED
1 Why Johnny Estrada Is Worth Kevin Millwood: Valuing Players As Assets
Hot Stove Myth: Every Trade has a Winner and a Loser

2 Down With The Triple-Crown: Evaluating On-Field Performance
Hot Stove Myth: Some Players are Clutch

3 A Career Guide From Little League To Retirement: Age And Success In Baseball
Hot Stove Myth: Players Peak at 27

PART II. TRANSLATING PERFORMANCE INTO DOLLARS
4 Putting A Dollar Sign On The Muscle: Valuing Players
Hot Stove Myth: Replacement Players are Cheap and Abundant

5 Deals, Duds, And Caveats: What Do The Estimates Reveal?
Hot Stove Myth: The Size of the Free-Agent Pool Affects Player Salaries

6 Winning On A Dime: The Best- And Worst-Managed Franchises Of The Decade
Hot Stove Myth: General Managers can Buy Low and Sell High

PART III. PROJECTING PERFORMANCE
7 Is C.C. Sabathia Worth $161 Million? Valuing Long-Run Contracts
Hot Stove Myth: Player Salaries Raise Prices at the Gate

8 You Don’t Need A Name To Be Traded: Valuing Minor-League Prospects
Hot Stove Myth: College Players are Better Draft Bets than High School Players

9 Epiliogue

The book will be released tomorrow, and the e-book version is already available for purchase. There are links to the book’s pages of several online sellers on the right sidebar. You can get more news about the book on it’s Facebook page and by following me on Twitter.

During the offseason, I’ll be writing quite a bit on the topics discussed in the book as they apply to current events. If you have any topics relating to the book that you’d like me to write on, please let me know.

Why It’s OK for Players to Call Out Fans

Earlier this week, Evan Longoria and David Price stated that they were embarrassed by the weak attendance to their potential playoff-clinching game in Tampa Bay on Monday night. Their comments brought immediate backlash from the baseball media. How could guys making millions of dollars criticize fans for not supporting them, especially in the climate of a recession?! Pundits also cited the ugly facility, the difficulty of getting to the stadium, and the possibility that puppies might be run over by fans driving to the game. Oh, the horror.

What this was, was a rallying of the troops, and it’s exactly what the Rays need. Sporting events benefit from bandwagon effects. People want to go where other people are. If the Rays game is the place to be, then citizens need to know that. The way to make it so is to get someone who is well-liked to say it’s the place to be. I can’t think of better spokesmen than Longoria and Price.

Baseball is a business, and if fans don’t want to pay to see the games, that’s their right. But they have to understand that when you don’t patronize a business, it goes away. Do fans want that? If fans aren’t going to come out, then the owners may decide it’s in their best interest to trade their valuable commodities elsewhere instead of actively seeking improvements on the free-agent market. The owners may even decide it’s not worth staying in town, find a prospective new location where fans will go to the game, buy out the lease, and hit the road. Why stick around if fans won’t even come when the team is doing exactly what fans in many other cities wish their front offices would do?

Rays owner Stuart Sternberg has already announced that the Rays will be slashing payroll. The reason for this is that all the investments intended to improve the team were done, not out of kindness, but to make money. As I have found, in most cases winning begets high returns. But this hasn’t been true for the Rays.

If Tampa Bay residents want good baseball to remain, they are going to have to support it. Good fans sometimes need a push, just as good soldiers sometimes need a reminder from a general. That’s all Price and Longoria were offering, and I don’t think there is anything inappropriate about their comments.