A look at the ten most likely places for a new MLB club
It seems that nearly every week, articles surrounding the potential relocation of the A’s and Rays surface. A panel looking into a potential San Jose relocation for the A’s has been gridlocked since 2009 (and remember, the A’s have been looking to move to San Jose for a heck of a lot longer than that). The Rays haven’t been far behind in their efforts to get out of Tropicana Field. Whether it’s the commute for fans to get to the domed stadium, the aesthetics, or the need to be closer to an urban core, it seems that Tampa Bay has been seeking a new ballpark for just as long. Relocation for these two clubs is crucial.
Another thing that comes up less frequently but has extra meaning going into 2013 is expansion. With the Astros moving into the AL West, the American League and National League will now be balanced at 15 clubs a piece. The problem is that 15 is an odd number, and as a result, interleague will become a daily affair. It’s unlikely that’s something that the league wanted, so getting to 32 clubs would take care of that matter. That would mean revenues spread thinner with two extra mouths to feed. Additionally, it’s no given that one or both wouldn’t be revenue-sharing takers, and trying to get ballparks built is no easy feat in this economy. So, 30 is a number that seems to suit the “Big Four” sports leagues in North America. The NBA has it. Ditto for the NHL. Currently, only the NFL—which has the advantage of being highly centralized (revenues are shared more evenly across the franchises) and exceptionally popular—is the exception at 32 clubs.
Now that we've had some time to reflect on the new CBA's rules about the amateur draft, does it still seem like death to small-market teams?
Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
Dustin Palmateer once played division III junior college baseball, finishing with a career batting average below the Mendoza Line. He now writes about the game. You can reach him via email.
The quartet the Snakes received for their ace leads to a few questions about player valuation.
In June, Eric Seidman and I discussed the Diamondbacks’ starting pitchers with some focus on Dan Haren, explaining that he was particularly unlucky. At the time of our article, Haren’s ERA was 5.35 and his SIERA was 3.08. Haren would be the ace of many pitching staffs in the major leagues, and is signed well below market value through 2012, with a reasonably priced option for 2013.
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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.
Expanding the scope of last week's study to include 2007 and 2008.
Last week, we looked at the 2009 season by breaking down WARP3 totals of players with different levels of service time. This week, I'll use more data from Jeff Euston's Cot's Contracts-the latest free agency acquisition by the Prospectus team-and gathered the same information for 2007 and 2008. At this stage, Jeff does not have reliable data for service time prior to this, but this was enough to get a much clearer picture of how to build and afford a winning team, and how the market has changed even over the last few years.
Does expanding the pool of candidates at a position create relative bargains?
The recent signings of Placido Polanco and Chone Figgins by the Phillies and Mariners came in at relatively inexpensive deals compared to what the recent value of their performances might suggest. Polanco certainly seems like at least an average hitter for a third baseman, and is likely to play at least average defense at third as well. As I'll get into, the typical market rate for a third baseman of Polanco's abilities as a 34-year-old would be for about $25 million for a three-year deal. However, Polanco signed for $18 million plus a mutual option.