Worst of the Best

I like your articles looking at the Hall of Fame ballot each year, but
I disagree with some of your methods. It isn’t the JAWS score but that
you use the average of all HOFers, dropping the worst
ones. Players who meet these standards are obviously in, the
standards that need to be met are those of the borderline guys.

I understand that there are plenty of mistakes in the HOF
(Lindstrom and Kell over Hack and Groh?) However, not dropping the
bottom guy would go a ways towards solving the problem, getting the
standards closer to what the in/out line should be in the right people
were in the HOF.

–Mark Shirk


The “right line” as you suggest is an entirely arbitrary construct
that’s subject to each person’s taste. The averages come out
differently depending upon which method is used to determine them. The
first two years I did the study I didn’t drop the bottom guy at each
position; you can easily dig up those articles in the BP
archive to see the results.

However, the more I studied the data, the more I became convinced that
my standards have been a bit too low, particularly with respect to the way Veterans
Committee selections weigh down the positional averages. An article I
did about the recent VC ballot
showed about a 25-point gap between the two sets of enshrinees (note
that the numbers were determined by the older, 5-consecutive method and
don’t directly translate to the current article–the effect is still
essentially the same with the new method). As ticked as I am that the
BBWAA won’t elect Bert Blyleven or Rich Gossage, they do a reasonable
job by NOT electing a lot of borderline candidates who won’t improve the
Hall, while the old VC made a mockery by
admitting, in some cases, the wrong brother of a duo.

With the current positional averages in mind, I defy you to convince
anyone that the eight VC-elected guys I deselected (stats shown
below) are relevant when considering the case of, say, Don Mattingly or
Albert Belle. They’re essentially outliers, and many of them are at
least 10 points behind the next lowest score at their position.

C        13   410   196   74    97.6   59.4   78.5
1B       18   738   483   -2   100.4   60.9   80.6
2B       17   570   295   88   114.1   67.1   90.6
3B       11   656   374   63   108.8   62.6   85.7
SS       20   415   137   87   102.4   62.0   82.2
LF       18   745   470  -15   105.2   59.7   82.4
CF       17   715   466   -8   108.6   63.8   86.2
RF       22   780   504   21   112.4   61.5   86.9

                       BRAR BRAA  FRAA  WARP  PEAK  JAWS
Roger Bresnahan    C   325  170   -80   58.3  40.8  49.6
George Kelly      1B   242   41    81   50.4  39.3  44.9
Johnny Evers      2B   284   63    23   69.4  46.0  57.7
Freddy Lindstrom  3B   272   88    -6   49.5  42.3  45.9
Travis Jackson    SS   227   22   -22   57.6  46.9  52.3
Chick Hafey       LF   366  217   -50   49.0  41.8  45.4
Lloyd Waner       CF   287   39   -46   55.8  37.6  46.7
Tommy McCarthy    RF    92  -82    14   23.8  29.8  26.8

In general, electing borderline candidates due to lower averages doesn’t
improve the content of the Hall of Fame, it compromises it further. Your
mileage may vary, but the general consensus seems to be towards tighter
standards, not looser ones.

–Jay Jaffe

Valued at $1, Give or Take $59 Million

Could you guys do me a favor and explain baseball revenue sharing for both
myself and a friend of mine?

I have a friend who told me that the Cubs have their broadcast rights on
the books of the Tribune at $1 and thus because they have their own
network they are able to hide revenue sharing dollars from being shared.

On the flip side, I read an article in the N.Y. papers about 3 weeks ago
that Major League Baseball values the Yankees YES Network at $60 million
for 2005 and that in fact they were looking to have the figure revised

Is it possible that the Cubs are hiding such amounts from baseball revenue



It’s not only possible, it’s quite likely. As the late great Doug Pappas
two years ago
, the Cubs regularly report less local media revenue than
their crosstown rival White Sox, despite the fact that until this October
you couldn’t find a White Sox fan in Chicago with Google Earth. From there, let’s allow
sports economist Andy Zimbalist to pick up the story, from his book “May
the Best Team Win”:

So, what’s going on? The Cubs are owned by the Tribune
Corporation, which happens also to own WGN. The Tribune Corporation
transfers revenue away from the Cubs and correspondingly lowers the costs
of WGN. According to Broadcasting & Cable, the industry’s authoritative
source, the Cubs’ local media earnings were $59 million. [In 2001; by 2003
this figure was $63 million. -ND] If the Cubs had reported this figure
instead of $23.6 million, then their reported $1.8 million loss would have
become a $33.6 million profit in 2001!

There’s a long tradition of these hide-the-revenue shenanigans in baseball–George Steinbrenner once paid himself a $25 million “consulting fee” to
negotiate his own TV rights deal, and no one has believed the Braves’
media figures in decades. But the temptation to fib on your reporting form
has only gotten stronger as rights fees have gone through the roof (some
estimates have the Yankees’ cable rights worth as much as $200 million a
year) and the revenue-sharing rate has climbed to around 40%.

Bud Selig has tried to keep these sorts of abuses in line by appointing a
revenue oversight committee, and, as you noted, even threatened to audit
the Yankees’ reporting if they didn’t come clean, though it’s been two
years now and that Daily News story has been the only peep about the
audit’s progress. Until MLB starts opening up its books for real, it’s
probably best to assume that all teams operate by Paul Beeston’s credo
when he ran the Blue Jays: “Anyone who quotes profits of a baseball club
is missing the point. Under generally accepted accounting principles, I
can turn a $4 million profit into a $2 million loss, and I can get every
national accounting firm to agree with me.”

–Neil deMause

Rating Kaat and Glavine

Read your article and agree with you on many points. I want to ask about
a few other pitchers with regards to their WARP3 and JAWS
scores. Specifically Tom Glavine and Jim Kaat. I’m sure Glavine will get
in with two Cy Young awards, but am interested to see his JAWS score
relative to the others, given that he and Randy Johnson may be the first
pitchers of the new era without the 300 win barrier to gain entrance.
Kaat I’m interested to see because the number of wins he has is
comparable to Tommy John and Bert Blyleven.

–Timothy Bumpus


Kaat: 102.2 career WARP3/56.7 Peak/79.5 JAWS, falling slightly
short. What really kills his case for me is that he’s actually at -5 PRAA
for his career, despite 1067 PRAR. That’s a lot of hanging on, and it
doesn’t really measure up to Blyleven. It’s interesting that he’s close
to John, with a higher peak of about 1 win a year but less career value.
Ordinarily I’d prefer that combo to the other way around, but the PRAR/PRAA stats are definitely in TJ’s favor, as are the

Glavine: 124.9/61.3/93.1, a no-brainer in his favor. The two pitchers he
falls between right now are Fergie Jenkins and Nolan Ryan. Good company.


Bottom of the Ninth

Thanks for the great series explaining things. Looking at the draft order you linked, I am still confused by the
order of the sandwich round. From your description, shouldn’t each
team’s picks be in consecutive slots? The last several slots in the
sandwich rounds intermix the Red Sox and the Cards with a Marlins
pick mixed in. Can you help explain any further?



I’ve gone over the CBA and the Major League Rules
(MLRs) a few times and I’m quite confused. At first I thought that I
might be holding an old version of the MLRs. My copy still has an “Order
of Selection” section that requires the AL and NL to
alternate picks, and that clause was scrapped a couple years ago. I
asked someone with a fresher copy to track down any other edits to this
section of the rules and the report I got back wasn’t helpful. The
newest version of the rules doesn’t have an explanation of the sandwich
round order.

I pinged some contacts at a couple clubs and the answer I got
explained that the compensation round order goes something like this:
teams pick in reverse order of their finish in the previous year’s
standings but teams with two picks have to wait until every other team
with a free agent compensation pick goes at least once, and teams with
three picks have to wait until everyone with two picks goes twice, etc.
After all the compensation picks for free agents the sandwich round
moves to compensation picks for unsigned 1st rounders from the previous year (like the pick the Orioles got for
losing Wade Townsend).

I got confirmation from a club official that this rule exists in writing
and that it came from the Commissioner’s Office. Apparently the Commissioner’s Office
occasionally has to interpret the trickiest of rule
problems (like this sandwich pick order of selection) and they issue
their rulings in memos to the teams that are then collected in a binder
of precedents. So not only are the Major League Rules secret, but
there’s also a binder of rule interpretations that I’d never even heard

Another reader showed me his blog and pointed out another fascinating part of the
sandwich picks. Teams with Type A free agents have a disincentive to
resign their players. When you lose a FA you get the signing team’s
regular pick and the bonus sandwich pick. When you sign someone
else’s FA all you lose is your regular pick. If you swap your FAs for
someone else’s you both swap regular picks and everyone nets those bonus
sandwich picks. Since the sandwich round takes place at the end of the
first round those picks can be quite valuable.

Look at Boston from last year. They lost Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe,
and Orlando Cabrera and replaced them with David Wells,
Matt Clement and Edgar Renteria.

If they’d just resigned their old players the Red Sox first picks would
have looked something like this (assuming all the other
compensation picks went the same way):

1st Round: 28th overall selection
2nd Round: 73rd overall selection
3rd Round: 105th overall selection

As a result of the way they flipped their FAs for new ones they ended up
with these selections:

1st Round:      23rd overall - Angels' compensation to Boston for Orlando Cabrera
                26th overall - Dodgers' compensation to Boston for Derek Lowe
Sandwich Round: 42nd overall - for Pedro Martinez
                45th overall - for Orlando Cabrera
                47th overall - for Derek Lowe
2nd Round:      57th overall - Mets' compensation to Boston for Pedro Martinez

Would you rather have picks 28, 73, and 105, or would you rather have
23, 26, 42, 45, 47, and 57? Three picks in the first 105 or six in the
first 57? Nice little loophole.

–Tom Gorman

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