Giving every non-playoff team at least a chance at the No. 1 pick would reduce the temptation to lose games.
The nation’s capital is filled with hope about brighter futures for their teams, thanks to some exciting No. 1 draft picks who appear primed to buoy Washington's frustrated sports scene. Last year’s No. 1 overall pick in baseball, Stephen Strasburg, has been setting the league on fire for five starts now, and the Nationals added a second consecutive No. 1 pick in a row in the 2010 draft, as they now must only work out on a contract with power-hitting mega-prospect Bryce Harper. Baseball is not the only sport where Washington has gotten the first overall pick recently. The NBA’s Wizards were lucky enough to pick Kentucky point guard John Wall last week. Of course, when I refer to them as lucky, there is a reason that I use that word. The NBA draft uses a weighted lottery drawing to determine who gets the first pick among the 14 teams that did not make the playoffs the previous season. The famous “Olajuwon draft” of 1984 forced the reactive implementation of this system, as teams reportedly intentionally tried to lose games in an attempt to increase their chances of getting in on the glut of superstar players in that year's draft, led by Hakeem Olajuwon.
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How much of an edge do the Phillies have by playing three "home" games against the Blue Jays at Citizens Bank Park?
On September 26, 2007, the Cleveland Indians won a “home game” against the Seattle Mariners at the Mariners’ home ballpark, Safeco Field. The original game along with a three-game series had been snowed out in April that season. Two of the games were made up during the season in Cleveland on mutual off days. However, without a third mutual day off, the teams simply made up the game as part of a regularly scheduled series in Seattle. While other games had been up in the opponent's home ballpark, Major League Baseball decreed that the Indians would be the home team in this game. Thus, for the first time since 1913, a team batted first in its own park.
Ubaldo Jimenez is having a great season, but has also had a lot of luck on his side.
Ubaldo Jimenez is a very talented pitcher. After all, the vast majority of the pitchers on the planet cannot throw 100 mph while mixing in a nasty changeup, curveball, and slider. However, the Ubaldo Jimenez who has 12 wins a month before the All-Star break and carries a microscopic 1.16 ERA into his start for the Rockies against the Twins at Target Field this afternoon has not been very different than the regular front of the rotation flamethrower that posted a 3.47 ERA while playing half his games in Coors Field last year.
The players teams select in the draft over the next three days can make a big impact on their future.
The 2010 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft begins tonight, presumably commencing with the Washington Nationals calling the name of Bryce Harper. The draft will be televised for the fourth year in a row, thanks to increasing fan interest. Unlike basketball and football with well-exposed college stars that fans are already familiar with, the baseball draft has always been filled with obscure names and generated less interest historically. However, the collective bargaining agreement in Major League Baseball keeps salaries of young talent especially suppressed when compared with other sports, meaning that drafting well can allow even a small-market team to become successful. As fans have become more cognizant of this, and as the Internet has made learning about amateur stars easier, the draft has become a bigger deal and more people are taking more notice.
Putting every major-league player back with his original team in an alternative universe can tell us a lot about team building.
In March, I introduced The No Turnover Standings which measured what teams’ records would have been if Major League Baseball did not allow any player movement and all players had provided the same production for the team that originally drafted or signed them as amateurs. As I described in that article:
The best way to build a winning organization is to draft and develop talent then know which players to keep for the long haul.
While last week’s article contrasting the cost of re-signees vs. the cost of other people’s players, or “OPP,” made a strong point that there is a difference between these two groups of players, many readers had questions about various issues, including hometown discounts, the performance of the two groups of players before the deals, and whether the decline was a matter of a decrease in playing time or production. In this article, I break down each of these factors and use them to learn more about the cost of other people’s players.
Clubs who are down with re-signing their own free agents get better value than those who sign other people's players.
After remembering the 1981 hit "Should I Stay or Should I Go" by The Clash with last week’s title on the same topic, we move forward a decade to a 1991 Naughty by Nature hit—and we introduce the money to the equation this time (if you’re down with that). In this article, I will show that players who re-sign with their clubs on multi-year deals provide far more bang for their buck than players who sign contracts with new teams.
Research again shows that free agents who re-sign perform better than those who sign with another club.
In February, I wrote an article evaluating multi-year dealsgiven out to players with at least six years of service time, and I discovered something interesting. I found that players who re-signed with their current teams aged better than players who signed contracts with new teams, and not by a small margin. This finding gained some extra attention (and extra scrutiny) when I used it to question whether the Philliesmight not have erred as terriblyas sabermetricians had suggested when they extended Ryan Howard's contract for five years and $125 million last month. The primary question that people asked was whether there was any bias in the ages of players who signed multi-year contracts with their current teams versus the ages of players who signed multi-year contracts with new teams. In fact, there is some difference in the ages of these groups of players.
Albert Pujols comes out on top of the list of major-leaguers who provide the most bang for the buck.
Two weeks ago, I introduced the new version of our Market Value Over Replacement Player (MORP) statistic. In today’s article, I will discuss the “Most Net Valuable Players” of 2009 according to this metric. These are the players who provided far more than their salary and draft-pick compensation costs in 2009. Unsurprisingly, the majority of players atop this list will not be players with six or more years of service time necessary to become a free agent. Evan Longoria, for example, was one of the most net valuable players in the league last year because the Rays were not required to compete with other teams for his 2009 services. Albert Pujols, on the other hand, has enough service time that he could have been a free agent before 2009 had he elected, so the Cardinals were required to pay more for his services. Therefore, the first table below will only list the most valuable players who would have been free agents before 2009 if they were not already under contract.
Why the Junior Circuit doesn't take a backseat to the National League.
There is no ambiguity about the fact that the American League is stronger than the National League. Pretty much everyone has come to understand that the talent level is simply higher in the junior circuit, as players' statistics have routinely declined when they move from the NL to the AL, and improved when they have moved from the AL to the NL. American League teams have dominated National League teams in interleague play, too.
Putting new valuation into action to evaluate the big bopper's big extension.
Just days after my two-partseries introduced the new MORP to evaluate baseball contracts, the Phillies provided me with an excellent opportunity to put it into action by signing Ryan Howard to a five-year contract extension yesterday.
Here is how we're now figuring the monetary value of individual players.
This article will follow up on the new version of MORP that I introduced yesterday with a more thorough description of my methodology and my reasoning for it. Firstly, I will restate that the definition of MORP (Market value Over Replacement Player) is the marginal cost of acquiring a player’s contribution on the free-agent market. The basic structure that I am using includes adjusting for draft-pick compensation, which adds to the value of free agents by 10-20 percent. It also looks at all players with six years or more of major-league service time, all years of their free-agent contracts, and makes valuations of their performance based on actual performance rather than the projections, which are biased. I am also adjusting MORP so it is linear with respect to WARP. The discussion of linearity and of the decision to use actual rather than projected performance to evaluate contracts has been detailed in earlier articles, and I won’t reiterate them here in the interest of space. The basic reason why linearity is a fair assumption is that teams frequently have enough vacancies that they can add the number of wins they choose without filling them all. There are exceptions like the 2009 Yankees, who added three front-of-the-rotation starters and an elite first baseman in one offseason. However, even the Yankees do this infrequently enough that it does not regularly impact the market, and without two teams bidding for several superstars every offseason, this is not a large issue. The reason that using projection is so problematic was detailed last week, when I showed how free agents who reach the open market are a biased sample and regularly underperform their projections. For more details of these results, please see my previous work. Here are links to my threepartseries as well as my article on free agents underperforming their PECOTA projections. I will introduce some of the newer concepts in this article.