Archive for People

Interview with Shea Faithful

Pat Andriola at Shea Faithful has been running a series of interviews with baseball bloggers. He was nice enough to ask me to contribute, and today he posts my answers to his questions. Thanks Pat. Enjoy.

Dear Marcus

An open letter to Marcus Giles, regarding his recent health issues.

Dear Marcus,

Take it easy. This team has treated you like crap since your earliest days in the system. Currently, a team that insists on “a policy not to comment on player transactions” is shopping you through a bullhorn. I understand your desire to win , but this team isn’t going to make the playoffs. You owe the organization nothing, and the teammates and coaches who care about you, care about your health first. Go home, get some rest and spend some time with your family. You have a serious condition that affects more than your livelihood. Suit up for home games, but don’t play. Spend some good times with your Braves teammates before moving on next year. I know you’ll be successful, as long as you stay healthy. Remember Reggie Lewis.

Warm regards,


Update: It looks like Giles is fine.

Interview with BDD

Joe Hamrahi has posted Part I an interview with me over at Baseball Digest Daily. I’ll post links to parts II and III when they are up. I enjoyed talking with Joe, and maybe I answered some questions of interest to you. Thanks to Joe for doing this.


Congratulations to my former professor Tyler Cowen on his new book deal with Dutton/Penguin. Dutton seems to be cornering the market on famous people authors: Al Franken, Jenny McCarthy, Ron “Tater Salad” White, and yours truly ;-).

It looks to be a hodge-podge of things he likes to blog about on Marginal Revolution. You probably wouldn’t guess it from reading this site, but MR is what inspired me to start blogging. I can’t wait to read it. A blogger friend of mine recently asked me how on earth Tyler posts so much good content. The thing is, I didn’t even notice. I don’t know him very well, but I did take two classes from him and talked with him on occation. That’s just how Tyler is. He’s full of excellent ideas, and he’s always willing to talk about them with anyone. Blogging had to have been invented with him in mind.

He’s taking title suggestions, so if you have one pass it along. I suggest, “Lunch With Tyler,” because reading MR is a lot like having lunch with him.

Interview with Skip Sauer

The Richmond Federal Reserve Bank’s Region Focus has an excellent interview with The Sports Economist’s Skip Sauer.

At its core, I find the Moneyball hypothesis offensive. I tend to think that, as a general matter, labor markets work quite well, and returns to skill are valued appropriately. But the Oakland example was in opposition to my belief in labor market efficiency. So my colleague Jahn Hakes and I decided to investigate it more in a paper that will be coming out in the Journal of Economic Perspectives. We found that Lewis’ offensive idea was correct. On-base percentage was undervalued, and buying on-base percentage went a long way toward explaining Oakland’s success.

How do we explain this? I think what Lewis found was a very clear-cut example of institutional inertia. A lot of old baseball scouts had a certain idea of which skills made for a good baseball player — and those weren’t necessarily right. Yet once those ideas took hold, they tended to stick. Someone eventually questioned and tested them, and decided there was another way to evaluate talent. Beane was a real innovator, and he was able to exploit the opportunities that he saw. But it’s very hard to do this over an extended period of time. This information will be exploited by others — indeed, we have seen it recently with several other teams. Just about every front office in Major League Baseball has guys poring through data looking for statistical patterns that can give them an advantage. As a result, there will be new innovations in assessing talent that might prove even more effective.

Lots of good stuff.