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June 5, 2014 6:00 am

Skewed Left: The Economics of the Singleton Extension

17

Zachary Levine

Why all the incentives are aligned in favor of contracts like the Astros' new first baseman's, and how that could change.

Leave it to the Astros, a team that's spent the last few years sending fans running to the record books, to the legal dictionary, and occasionally to the therapist, to be the team that in 2014 is sending us back to economics class.

Their general manager, Jeff Luhnow, has both an undergraduate business degree and a Kellogg MBA. Their assistant GM, David Stearns, came from the salary arbitration and collective bargaining team at MLB headquarters. Down the depth chart, their baseball operations analyst, Brandon Taubman, came from the derivatives trading world. Hell, their analogue of a traveling secretary (on this team a more comprehensive “manager of team operations”), Dan O’Neill, per his bio:

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Ben and Sam talk about the idea that trying to win is costing teams money, then discuss what the industry says about this week's transaction activity.

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April 29, 2011 5:51 am

Prospectus Q&A: Alex Anthopoulos

11

David Laurila

The Blue Jays' GM discusses his organizational philosophy, his love of scouting and how it plays a role in his work, and competing in the AL East.

He’s too humble to admit it, but Alex Anthopoulos has done an outstanding job since replacing J.P. Ricciardi as the general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays in October 2009. He has orchestrated high-impact trades, most notably deals involving Roy Halladay and Vernon Wells, as well as prudent, if not as newsworthy, free-agent signings. Just as importantly, he has been placing a huge emphasis on scouting and player development, which should come as no surprise given his background as a scouting coordinator. A 33-year-old native of Montreal, Anthopoulos has an economics degree from McMaster University.

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September 22, 2010 6:22 pm

Joe's Blog: A Taste

9

Joe Sheehan

The first excerpt from Joe's upcoming book.

That thunder you heard in the New York area last week wasn't the weather, no matter what was reported. No, I think the sound was the earth moving as I filed the first segments of the book to Christina Kahrl. I could not be more fortunate. Christina and I have worked together for 15 years, editing each other's work -- and the work of many others -- in BP annuals and on the Web site. She knows my writing as well as any person alive, making her the perfect editor for this project.

Now, I just have to keep the copy flowing. Having started filing, gotten over that hump, I'm sure the rest of the book will come quickly. In retrospect, I probably spent too much time selecting the pieces for inclusion, which put me behind on the writing, but we're here now, and the words are flowing, and there's an editor and we're vetting layouts, so it won't be long now.

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August 27, 2007 12:00 am

Prospectus Q&A: Joe Maddon, Part Two

0

David Laurila

David continues his chat with the Devil Rays skipper, and they discuss B.J. Upton, preparing yourself for a game, and more.

This is part two of a two-part interview with Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon. Part one ran yesterday.

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Dan reviews J.C. Bradbury's new book.

"[Economics] is a method rather than a doctrine, an apparatus of the mind, a technique of thinking which helps its possessor to draw correct conclusions."
--John Maynard Keynes, as quoted in the introduction to J.C. Bradbury's The Baseball Economist: The Real Game Exposed


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April 30, 2007 12:00 am

The Ledger Domain: Q&A with Vince Gennaro

0

Maury Brown

Maury chats with Vince Gennaro, a former consultant to MLB clubs and author of Diamond Dollars.

When Michael Lewis wrote Moneyball, a larger audience became aware of Doug Pappas and his groundbreaking metric, Marginal Payroll/Marginal Wins, published here at Baseball Prospectus. The metric placed an economic value on how much a club was spending to earn wins, and how much a club was spending in the overall in terms of marginal payroll. It placed the value of a win into perspective, and was seen as a way for clubs to better valuate how they spent, not how much they spent.

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Postseason tickets are increasingly hard to come by for the average fan. Maury investigates what clubs are doing to snub fans that can't afford to pay exorbitant ticket prices.

With MLB placing more emphasis on season ticket sales, fans with considerable disposable income, corporations, or sponsors are swooping up tickets that in the past might have been available to the general public at the ticket window. More and more, clubs are configuring new ticket package offerings that are tailored to get fans into long-term commitments. As an example, with a 50% deposit down on a 2007 Detroit Tigers full-season ticket package, you can get the chance to purchase 2006 League Championship and World Series home games. The increased methods of incentivizing individuals into investing in long-term commitments has increased dramatically in the past few seasons. Since those that make those investments many times have the right of first refusal for postseason tickets, clubs are only offering up a small fraction of the total seats available to the general public.

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September 13, 2005 12:00 am

Pirates of the Allegheny

0

Steve Conzett and Wilbur Miller

Noted sports economist Andrew Zimbalist offers some opinions on the state of one of the game's underclass franchises.

Dr. Andrew Zimbalist, the Robert A. Woods Professor of Economics at Smith College in Massachusetts, is a noted authority on the economics of sports, and in particular has commented frequently on the economics of major league baseball. He sat down with us to provide his take on the Pirates.

Zimbalist sees the team, despite its lack of success on the field, as a reasonably healthy business from a financial standpoint, one that has the potential to become stronger in the future. He pointed out that MLB has been undergoing a renaissance in recent years, with the sport making significant economic gains. He described the Pirates as having a very valuable asset in PNC Park, and said that, although their market is not large, their fans have responded well when they've been thrown a few "crumbs," making it likely that the franchise would receive much better support if it put good teams on the field.

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April 30, 2003 12:00 am

Lies, Damned Lies: Ticket Prices vs. Player Salaries

0

Nate Silver

You've been hanging 'round these parts long enough. You've heard the party line, once or twice or 20 times: Higher payrolls don't result in higher ticket prices. Correlation is not causation. Salaries don't shift demand curves. It's Economics 101. Simple, textbook stuff. The problem with this line of argument--the problem with a lot of economically-based arguments--is that it's easy to let the theory get ahead of the data. Well, I should state that more precisely: It's easy to let an oversimplified theory get ahead of the data. A lot of what you learn in Economics 102, and Economics 201, and graduate-level classes that I was too busy drinking Boone's Farm to take advantage of, is that much of the theory you master in an intro-level class is based on a particular set of assumptions that can prove to be quite robust in certain cases, and utterly misleading in others. A lot of people shun economics for this very reason--we've all had coffee shop conversations with the scruffy, Skynard-mangling philosophy major who is fond of spewing out faux-profundities about the irrationality of human nature. He's missing the point, of course, but so too is the Ayn Rand-spouting prepster from down the residence hall who conflates assumptions with hard rules. In either case, a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. Economics, though it sometimes harbors pretensions to the contrary, is above all else a behavioral science, and an empirical science. If the theory doesn't match the data--well, it's not the data's fault. This is especially important to keep in mind when evaluating something like ticket prices to baseball games, a commodity that is unusual in many ways. As we've stressed frequently, ticket prices ought to be almost wholly determined by demand-side behavior--the marginal cost of allowing another butt in the seats is negligible. But baseball tickets are unusual in other ways, too: They're very much a luxury good, and their prices are determined by a finite number of decision-makers who may be subject to conflicts of interest. It's certainly worth evaluating the available data to see whether we can put our money where our mouth is.

The problem with this line of argument--the problem with a lot of economically-based arguments--is that it's easy to let the theory get ahead of the data. Well, I should state that more precisely: It's easy to let an oversimplified theory get ahead of the data. A lot of what you learn in Economics 102, and Economics 201, and graduate-level classes that I was too busy drinking Boone's Farm to take advantage of, is that much of the theory you master in an intro-level class is based on a particular set of assumptions that can prove to be quite robust in certain cases, and utterly misleading in others.

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April 1, 2003 12:00 am

Selig Yes, Zimbalist No

0

Doug Pappas

Doug Pappas takes Andrew Zimbalist to task for his latest ill-informed sputtering on baseball, and praises Commissioner Bud Selig's efforts to save the game.

In May the Best Team Win: Baseball Economics and Public Policy, Andrew Zimbalist repeats many of the mistakes found in his earlier Baseball and Billions. Zimbalist "analyzes," "interprets" and "adjusts" the facts until they conform to his preconceived world view. This time he goes further, advocating a series of "reforms" which, if implemented, would surely lead to the destruction of Major League Baseball as we know it.

For example, Zimbalist suggests that MLB's restrictions on the number and location of franchises, its ability to veto prospective owners, its limits on clubs' ability to broadcast and cablecast their games outside of their own markets, its control of players through the amateur draft and reserve rule, and its favored tax treatment may constitute "abuses." But where is the abuse? If MLB were truly the greedy monopolist depicted by Zimbalist, where are all the monopoly profits?

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Howdy gang, nothing like spending five hours typing up the index for this year's edition of Baseball Prospectus to make me desperately hungry to dive right into playing catch-up on real-time baseball news. Yes, Transaction Analysis is long overdue, and for that I apologize, having spent the intervening time working with our writing team and the incomparably enthusiastic Jonah Keri to get this year's book out the door. If you can forgive me that, you'll also have to forgive me this temporary break from format, as I run down the most-notable moves made over the last couple of months, going by divisional pairs (Easts, Centrals, and Wests) to get caught up and resume your regularly scheduled TA mayhem by next week.

Howdy gang, nothing like spending five hours typing up the index for this year's edition of Baseball Prospectus to make me desperately hungry to dive right into playing catch-up on real-time baseball news. Yes, Transaction Analysis is long overdue, and for that I apologize, having spent the intervening time working with our writing team and the incomparably enthusiastic Jonah Keri to get this year's book out the door. If you can forgive me that, you'll also have to forgive me this temporary break from format, as I run down the most-notable moves made over the last couple of months, going by divisional pairs (Easts, Centrals, and Wests) to get caught up and resume your regularly scheduled TA mayhem by next week.

Read the full article...

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