Archive for Media

Responses to My Steroids Proposal

If you are interested, there are a few responses posted to my proposal for removing performance-enhancing drugs from baseball published in Saturday’s New York Times. I further explain my proposal here.

The main complaint is that players will not be willing to rat out one another. I agree that there may be few instances of players selling out specific teammates—though, it seemed to be enough for Judas. My comment that players would have an incentive to police each other was more about players identifying new drugs and methods deception employed by users, which clean players could pass along to the union in order to strengthen enforcement, than squealing. I did not explicitly state this, and I accept the criticism

My proposal is merely a proposal. Though I am nearly certain that what I have suggested will not be a part of a new system, I hope that planners will pay careful attention to the incentives I discuss when they design a new program.

My Proposal to Clean Up Baseball in The New York Times

In an effort to clean up the game, it is tempting to suggest the standard solutions that strengthen old rules and increase monitoring and punishments. The problem is that the scofflaws are always one step ahead of the police. We need a deterrence system that uses incentives to limit drug use.

This is from my Op-Ed in today’s New York Times: Let Baseball Players Police Themselves. My proposal is based on analysis that I present in Chapter 9 of The Baseball Economist. I offer two main suggestions that I believe would help reduce performance-enhancing drug use in baseball by getting incentives right.

First, I suggest a system of fines and bonus. This is a Pigouvian tax and subsidy system that taxes players in accordance with the external costs that users impose on non-users—users may feel the personal benefits of a higher salary outweigh the health risks—and then transfers the financial gains to non-users who earn relatively less due to the fact that they chose to remain clean. This has the deterrence effect similar to suspensions; however, the substantial fine revenue gives players who feel they are in a use-or-lose situation an incentive not to use and to identify new cheating methods.

Second, I propose handing over all monitoring and testing to the players. It is the players who suffer the most from steroids. They are in an arms races where steroids make no individual relatively better than any other player—hence, there is no financial gain—yet, users end up suffering health consequences. This resembles a prisoner’s dilemma game.

I feel that one of the reasons that players have been reluctant to submit to a testing program, despite their desire to prevent steroid use, is that the tests contain sensitive information beyond the use of performance-enhancing drugs. For example, owners would like to know what recreational drugs players are taking that might diminish their performances. Owners have an incentive to want players to use performance-enhancing drugs if it makes the players they hire better, and thus brings in more fans. I’m not saying that owners don’t care about other things, but money is certainly important to them. Marvin Miller has gone so far as to accuse owners of providing performance-enhancing drugs to the players in the past.

“In most locker rooms, most clubhouses, amphetamines — red ones, green ones, etc., were lying out there in the open, in a bowl, as if they were jellybeans,” he said. “They were not put there by the players, so of course there was no pressure to test. They were being distributed by ownership. I can’t remember ever having a proposal from the owners, that we’re going to have random testing or testing of any kind.”

I feel that the early drug-testing programs pushed by the owners were more about preventing recreational use than performance-enhancing use. Players, of course, like it when their peers use drugs to dampen performance. For this reason, the players are suspicious to have the owners involved. And the seizing of supposedly-anonymous drug tests by federal authorities in 2004 made players even more suspicious of what could happen to the samples they provide. Thus, I believe giving players full control will allow the players to adopt more rigorous testing procedures. It has the further advantage of assigning responsibility to a single party.

Feel free to add your comments below. I have many family in town this weekend, so I will probably not be able to respond quickly. I will do my best to approve comments held for moderation as soon as I can.

Interview with DRays Bay

R.J. Anderson posts an interview with me over at DRays Bay. We discuss various topics such as the Devil Rays, Scott Boras, and the book-writing process.

Thanks to R.J. for arranging this. It was a lot of fun.

Baseball in Japan

Why is MLB going after Japan? Here is what I had to say about the subject on NPR’s Marketplace.

Nancy Farghalli: American baseball isn’t loaded with Japanese players. More foreign players are from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. But Japan has the second-largest economy in the world, and fans with deep pockets. J.C. Bradbury is the author of the book, “The Baseball Economist.”

J.C. Bradbury: If you have this wealthy market, hey, and you have the fan base, you can expand into these places and it means a lot of dollars.

You can listen here— the story is at the 23:15 mark—or you can read the transcript.

Celebrating 756

You can read my thoughts on Barry Bonds’s pursuit of the record for all-time home runs in today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In years to come, we may learn that Bonds broke the rules. At that time, it will be proper to view Bonds with contempt. But what if that day never comes? Baseball fans will have missed the opportunity to celebrate a truly great achievement and give credit to a man who deserves it. As a baseball fan, I am going to enjoy watching Bonds breaking the record, and I hope other baseball fans choose to do so, too.

What Will A-Rod Get?

That was the question that Anthony McCarron of the NY Daily News asked me. Here is what I said.

J.C. Bradbury, a professor at Kennesaw State University and the author of “The Baseball Economist”, said an average annual value of $30 million “isn’t unreasonable.”

“I don’t envision him breaking $40 million, but somewhere in the mid-30s is probably his ceiling,” Bradbury said.

Where did that number come from? Using the method that I detail in The Baseball Economist (along with a modification to include defensive value), I calculated A-Rod’s potential contributions to team revenue over the next few years—as league salaries rise and his skills decline with age. In the end, I concluded that a five-year, $175 million contract ($35 million per season) was about right. I guess we’ll have to wait until the offseason to see what happens.

Baseball Translators: JC on NPR

I make a contribution to Nancy Farghalli’s story about baseball translators on NPR’s Marketplace. You can read the transcript or listen here.

Do I really sound like that? 🙂

JC on Baseball Prospectus Radio

Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus has posted an interview with me regarding (mostly) the Orioles managerial change and Leo Mazzone. If you didn’t know I was from the South, you will after you hear my accent.

Mp3 of the interview

Thanks to Will for doing the interview. I enjoyed it.

The Baseball Economist in Village Voice

Allen Barra uses my estimate of Roger Clemens’s worth to rationalize his signing by the Yankees.

Professor J.C. Bradbury of Kennesaw State University in Georgia tells the Voice that Roger Clemens isn’t worth it. In his new book, The Baseball Economist, Bradbury calculates the value of a win in terms of revenue created. He then credits each player for his contributions to those wins in monetary terms—sort of like Bill James’s theory of “Win Shares” converted to dollar signs. It’s complicated, but then so are both baseball and economics. The bottom line for Bradbury, economically speaking, is that Clemens’s worth is about $11 to $12 million, or about a third less than the Yankees will be paying him to start perhaps 20 games in what’s left of the season. (Actually, the cost to the Yankees is greater than Clemens’s reported $18.6 million salary. They’ll also be kicking in more than $7 million to Major League Baseball’s luxury tax fund.)

How is this rational? Read on.

More on Clemens

Tim Lemke writes in The Washington Times on the value of Roger Clemens: The $18,500,000 Man. He includes my take, which I discuss here.

J.C. Bradbury, economist and professor of sport science at Kennesaw State University and author of “The Baseball Economist: The Real Game Exposed,” said four months of Roger Clemens should be worth about $12 million to a team. But he also acknowledged that Clemens may offer the Yankees things that his statistical analysis doesn’t take into account, such as the value of veteran leadership or the unique characteristics of the New York market.
Analysts who have studied the deal also said determining Clemens’ value is tricky because there are so few pitchers to draw comparisons with. Nolan Ryan, a power pitcher like Clemens, went 5-9 with a 3.72 ERA in 27 starts for the Rangers in 1992 at age 45cq-stats. A season later, Ryan went 5-5 in 13 starts with a 4.88 ERA. Phil Niekro and Charlie Hough has success past age 45 but threw the knuckleball.
“On the face of it, this is a lot more than what I’m stating that he should be paid,” Bradbury said. “But there’s probably nobody who has his kind of starpower who is also that good.”