For a long time, I’ve been trying to find someone who’s at or near the top of the ladder in an MLB marketing department to talk to me about some of the unique challenges, opportunities, and practices in marketing an MLB club, and to give a spin-free answer to some of the tougher questions that readers have asked about MLB’s policies over the years. On Thursday, I was fortunate enough to talk with the lead executive of an MLB club’s marketing department, and they agreed to answer any questions I threw out, so long as I didn’t give out their name.
Each and every THR came with its own set of pitfalls. Players were analyzed based on several factors, such as injury history, comparable players, style of play, biomechanics, and inside information from my sources. With no good statistics and no usable injury database, early readers screamed and yelled for “proof!” My response: There is no proof to injuries–sports medicine is like baseball before Bill James, and injury analysis is as much art as it is science.
What the THRs did do was spark some discussion, get people thinking about the effects of injury on their favorite teams and players, and bring sports medicine into the conversation more when performance analysis comes up for discussion. Sometimes, the evidence took care of itself, as in the case of Phil Nevin. That one call probably got more notice than any other, but it shows that there’s a method to the madness–add up injury history, a positional change, a player with an odd career pattern, and the advice of the UTK Medical Advisory Board and it’s not voodoo or Satanism, as one Pizza Feeder accused me of, Cotton Mather-style. I’ve said that if I do my job well, everyone will be able to make the same types of judgments with varying degrees of success. With statistics, some of us stick with OPS since there’s no long division; in injury analysis, if you only want the results, I’ll be here.
The end of March is a time of great anticipation in the baseball world. Fans are nearly as anxious as the players to see the teams head north and start getting some hard answers to the questions that surround their favorite ball clubs. Since veterans have generally established expected levels of performance, much of the buzz and uncertainty surrounds rookies who have survived the spring sifting.