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January 22, 2013 5:00 am

Out of Left Field: Why You Should Quit Caring About Salaries


Matthew Kory

At some point, owners complaining about high salaries may start to lose credibility. Matt says that point is now.

I’m o-l-d-e old so I can remember when players made a few million dollars a year. I’m talking good players. The best. It’s a pittance compared to what they make today. Dave Winfield once signed a 10-year, $23 million contract. A Hall of Fame outfielder signed for $2.3 million a year. Infuriating! Rage! No way he’s worth that! But I can’t remember a time when players’ salaries were not a public discussion point.

For roughly the last three decades, salaries have been published, debated, and outraged over. Information on player salaries is ubiquitous nowadays but, if you think about it, that’s pretty weird. Baseball players and professional athletes in general are some of the only non-municipal workers in the world whose salaries are public information. Most people’s salaries aren’t made public. Front office executives don’t have their salaries appear in the papers, except occasionally.*

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April 19, 2012 3:00 am

Research Mailbag: James McDonald, Professional Hitter


Bradley Ankrom

This week's mailbag takes a look at Hall of Famers who were picked in later rounds of the draft, home team winning percentage in extra innings, and Matt Cain's one-hitter.

Welcome to the latest installment of the Baseball Prospectus Research Mailbag. This week, we’ll tackle Hall of Famers being selected in later rounds of the draft, the home team’s winning percentage in extra-inning contests, and the quirks of Matt Cain’s one-hitter against the Pirates last Friday. As always, if there’s a question you would like to see answered in a future mailbag, please feel free to send it in via email or through the “Contact Author” form (please remember to include your full name and hometown with your question).

George Brett and Mike Schmidt went back-to-back with the 29th and 30th picks of the 1971 draft. Have there been any other cases of two Hall of Famers being picked back-to-back in the draft? Also, what’s the latest a Hall of Fame player has gone in the draft?

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July 14, 2010 8:00 am

You Could Look It Up: Steinbrenner: Baseball Operator


Steven Goldman

The Boss could be many things, both good and bad, but no owner ever cared more about winning.

In last night’s chat, I wrote that George Steinbrenner was a tyrant who could be arbitrarily generous or a generous man who could be arbitrarily tyrannical. Google up all of the thousands of words that have been written about the man since Tuesday morning and you will see variations of that thought, his dual nature referenced again and again. As Charles Dickens might have written, he was the best of guys, he was the worst of guys. When a man’s life is measured, which should count for more, his best moments or his worst? There is no easy way to answer this question, lest we go down some Citizen Kane-like road of exploration of the many facets of the man, and even that, as Orson Welles skillfully showed, is a journey that is inevitably inconclusive. My own personal view of morality is that cruelty is cheap, especially when those who suffer the blows cannot strike back because they are in some way our subordinates. Anonymous charity does not excuse, erase, or offset capricious cruelty. It merely sits alongside it, a parallel column of good behavior that cannot bleach sin. Redemption, reschemnshion—this ain’t football, and the penalties don’t offset.

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A look back at the reign of the the longtime Yankees owner, who passed away on Tuesday morning.

A titan has fallen, and an era has ended. Just two days after venerated Yankee Stadium public address announcer Bob Sheppard's death, and nine days after celebrating his own 80th birthday, principal Yankees owner George Steinbrenner passed away Tuesday morning due to a heart attack. He had been in failing health for several years, rumored to be suffering from Alzheimer's Disease, and had ceded control of the team to sons Hank and Hal as his handlers increasingly protected him from the glare of the spotlight.

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May 18, 2005 12:00 am

Lies, Damned Lies: Can A-Rod and Pujols Beat Aaron's Record?


Nate Silver

Nate Silver creates a Favorite Toy for the 21st century with PECOTA's help to test two superstars' chances at breaking the all-time home-run record.

It's worth mentioning something before we proceed further. Though the Favorite Toy is one of James' more popular and accessible inventions, it has not to my knowledge been validated empirically. That is, while it produces some answers that look about right and can spark some lively barroom discussions, we have no way of knowing whether it is accurate. My guess, actually, is that the Favorite Toy tends to overestimate the chance that a certain record will be surpassed, mostly because it doesn't account for the way in which problematic events in a player's career path tend to snowball. In other words, the Favorite Toy might estimate that say Ivan Rodriguez has a break-even chance of reaching 3,000 hits, based on an assumption that he will play about seven more seasons and average 140 hits per year (which awould give him 3,031). The problem is that, if Rodriguez only gets say 90 hits in 2007, that likely indicates that something has gone seriously wrong with him (probably an injury), and would radically reduce his projection for future seasons. But if Rodriguez had a good year in 2007 and had say 170 hits, it would probably not substantially increase our estimate of his productivity in the years beyond that, as he'd still be on the wrong side of the aging curve.

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January 15, 2001 12:00 am

2001 Hall of Fame Results


Neal Traven

The seagull lobby couldn't get out their vote. Neither could Ohio State basketball fans. Participants in the tenth annual STATLG-L Internet Hall of Fame balloting have elected outfielder Dave Winfield, appearing on the HOF ballot for the first time, to their version of Cooperstown.

Many thanks to the 1632 people who cast HOF votes, more than three times the number in last year's balloting. Also, this year's voters were more supportive of the candidates than last year's, averaging 6.54 names per ballot. That's a vast increase over last year, when ballots averaged only 2.67 names. Is this year's crop of candidates that much better than last season's?

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December 4, 2000 12:00 am

One Man's Ballot


Keith Woolner

I decided to break down this year's Hall of Fame candidates by VORP. A full description is available at http://www.stathead.com, but the measure is essentially the number of runs contributed by a player beyond what a replacement level player at the same position would contribute in equal playing time, adjusted for park and league. Note that outfielders are considered as a single group, so center fielders should get a boost relative to their ranking here, and corner outfielders (especially LF) should be downgraded a bit. Quality of defense played at the position is not included.


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