The most beautiful thing in the world is a ballpark filled with people. – Bill Veeck
As the scoreboard programmer for the Trenton Thunder in their inaugural season (1994), one of my daily tasks was to enter in player averages from the compiled statistics faxed to us from the Howe News Bureau. Before I did this, there was one statistic that my fellow press-box compatriots and I craved above all us: the attendance standings. Every day, we wanted to see if we were beating the other two Eastern League franchises with new stadiums: the Portland Sea Dogs and the Bowie Baysox. The memory of these daily quests for the attendance standings recently got me thinking about the drivers of baseball attendance.
Currently, bizofbaseball.com (with assistance from Minor League Baseball) offers an attendance database that goes back to 2005. Minor league attendance data broken out by team prior to 2005 are spotty. I decided to look at the attendance figures for all AAA and AA teams to determine if there is some discernible pattern to attendance. I selected AAA and AA teams since they are usually located in mid-size cities with their own market, but far enough away from Major League cities so there is little competition for the fan’s entertainment dollars.
After examining the attendance figures of this subset, two teams pop out immediately: the Sacramento River Cats and the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx, the best drawing and worst drawing teams, respectively.
Team League Avg. Attendance per Opening (2005-2008) Sacramento PCL(AAA) 10,120 West Tennessee Southern (AA) 1,699
The Sacramento River Cats, who play at Raley Field, are held up as the model minor-league franchise. They have the highest attendance four years running and as a result Forbes has named them the minor league team with the highest net worth (around $29.8M). However, the recession may be hitting the River Cats hard as their average attendance is down 12% through their first 24 games of 2009.
On the other hand, the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx, who play at Pringles Park in Jackson, Tennessee, have been plagued with financial problems and low attendance for many years. They were sold in 2007 to a group of Nashville investors who are still planning to keep the team in Jackson. In 2008, they drew an average of 2,096 fans compared to the previous three years where they averaged just 1,567 fans, a 34% bump in attendance. However, there numbers are still roughly 20% of Sacramento. A discrepancy this large begs further analysis.
Modeling Minor League Attendance
The first likely driver to consider is simply population. For the 63 ballparks that were used for AAA and AA teams from 2005 to 2008 (there were two team moves, and one new stadium in this time horizon), I found their latitude and longitude from Wikipedia. With the help of Tacitician in Andover, Massachusetts, I looked at the population within concentric circles of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 miles from each stadium. The table below highlights the significant difference between Sacramento and West Tennessee:
Population (000s) within Ballpark 5 miles 10 miles 20 miles 50 miles Raley Field (Sacramento) 258 760 1,674 3,603 Pringles Park (West Tennessee) 49 89 154 489
At every level, the population around Raley Field is somewhere between five to ten times as much as Pringles Park. But these are just the top and bottom teams. To further understand the relationship, I ran a linear regression with all the ballparks to determine a likely baseline attendance model. I removed the seven franchises (Trenton Thunder, Pawtucket Red Sox, Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, Frisco Rough Riders, Reading Phillies, Tacoma Raniers, and Bowie Baysox) whose stadiums are within 50 miles of a Major League stadium for two reasons:
- Typically, these would have a very large population between 20 and 50 miles; and
- Most of the fans would not necessarily be interested in attending a Minor League game since there is a Major League stadium just as close.
Running a regression, I found the following equation which gave a good, if not great fit (R2 = .399), i.e., roughly 40% in the variability of attendance figures could likely be explained by the underlying population differences.
The regression equation was:
Average Attendance per Gate Opening =
.0069 X Population within 10 miles + .0017 X Population between 10 – 50 miles.
Specifically, the average attendance per opening at a ballpark was roughly 0.69% of the population within 10 miles of the ballpark and 0.17% of the population between 10-50 miles from the ballpark. In round numbers this essentially means that 7 out of 1000 people within 10 miles of the ballpark and 2 out of 1000 people between 10 – 50 miles decide to attend a game on any given night.
Plugging these numbers back into Sacramento and West Tennessee, this simple model would predict that:
Team Actual Avg. Predicted Attendance Attendance Sacramento 10,120 10,109 West Tennessee 1,699 1,302
These results highlight the three word mantra of real estate: Location, Location, Location. We may need to update the script for The Field of Dreams to have the haunting voice say “If you build it, they will come….assuming that you put it in a geographically viable location.”
But is population the whole story? It has been shown at the Major League level that ballpark age plays a factor in attendance (Sport Management Review, May 2005). A similar phenomenon happens in the Minor Leagues as well.
I grouped the minor league ballparks into four buckets: New (5 years old or younger), Young (6- 10 years old), Mature (11 – 20 yeas) and Old (20+ years old).
Ballpark Age Group Ratio of Actual Attendance / Predicted Attendance New (< 5 years) 191% Young (6 - 10 years) 160% Mature (11 - 20 years) 101% Old (20+ years) 88%
The data suggest that there is a honeymoon period of ten years where a franchise can expect better than predicted attendance (based on our baseline population model), Around ten years old, however, the attendance typically falls back to numbers that align with the predicted population model. It is interesting to note that Raley Field (Sacramento) is now nine years old. As it starts heading into mature status, maybe some of the 12% drop this year is not just the recession, but the fact that they are no longer the new thing in town.
At this point, an interesting question to ask is which teams are beating the predicted performance of attendance and is there a common thread between these teams that suggests another factor to consider? The tables below show the top 5 teams (based on ratio of actual attendance to predicted attendance) and the bottom 5 teams. It should be noted that the predicted attendance column considers both the population AND the age of the facility,.
Team Actual Avg. Predicted Attendance Attendance Ratio Parent Club Midland Rock Hounds 3,991 1,862 214% Athletics Portland Sea Dogs 6,344 3,071 207% Red Sox Iowa Cubs 7,804 3,354 190% Cubs Altoona Curve 5,382 2,860 188% Pirates Springfield Cardinals 7,158 3,996 179% Cardinals Team Actual Avg. Predicted Attendance Attendance Ratio Parent Club Connecticut Defenders 2,830 7,927 36% Giants Ottawa Lynx 2,078 4,854 43% Phillies Las Vegas 51s 5,041 9,897 51% Dodgers San Antonio Missions 4,118 8,027 51% Padres Portland Beavers 5,491 10,361 53% Padres
Proximity to Parent Club
Looking at these two lists, we see a potential common link. For the top-five teams, all but one is located relatively close to the parent club (except for the Midland Rock Hounds), while the bottom five have the opposite problem. These are all teams (except for the Las Vegas 51s) whose parent club is relatively far away, and as a result the potential fans may not have as much of a desire to see the players on the minor league team, since they root for a different parent club.
As a next step, I flagged a team as being close to its parent ball club if it met one of the following criteria:
- the parent club's ballpark was the closest major league ballpark to the minor league ballpark; or
- the parent club's ballpark is within 300 crow-fly miles of the minor league ballpark;
Roughly half of the ballparks housed teams that were affiliated with a close parent club. For those teams where the affiliation changed between 2005 and 2008, I categorized each unique combination of minor league team and major league affiliation separately. The ratios of actual attendance to predicted attendance for the two sets of teams are in the table below:
Parent Club Proximity Average Ratio Close 117% Distant 84%
So on average, the minor league franchises that were close to the parent club (essentially in the parent club's market) saw attendance 17% over what our model would predict, while those distant from the parent club saw their attendance 84% of what our model would predict. This suggests that for a minor league team to be close to its parent club could have a 33% swing (17% above prediction versus 16% below prediction)
Based on our analyses, there are four key takeaways
- Attendance is directly linked to the population pool that surrounds the ballpark, with a key first band within 10 miles of the ballpark and a lesser band within 50 miles.
- We created a rough formula that predicts that 0.69% of the population within 10 miles and .17% of the population between 10 and 50 miles from the ballpark will attend an average gate opening..
- The age of the ballpark is another key factor with the first 10 years seeing attendance 60+% higher than would be expected, and an old ballpark (20+ years) beginning to repel fans, causing a 12% drop in attendance.
- The proximity of the parent club to the minor league club has a positive appeal. The likely reason being that if a fan can go see his major league team's future stars day in and day out, he is more likely to attend than the future stars of another franchise. We estimated that the potential impact could be as much as a 33% swing in attendance.
I want to thank two sources for information that helped in this article:
- Bizofbaseball.com for having the minor league attendance database.
- Chris Terlizzi and Rob Reading of Tactician in Andover, MA that used their software to calculate the population data.
Thank you for reading
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That said, there were a few minor issues--Las Vegas is now a Toronto affiliate, for example, and Ottawa no longer exists as anyone's affiliate after years of being the last kid picked on the playground in the shuffle. The former inspires the question over whether or not the affiliation shuffle creates problems for the newly affiliate; the latter whether or not there's predictive power in the data that ought to make the happy few in Pringles wonder how long they'll have their team.
That's relatively niggling, however, compared to the really interesting point about affiliation proximity, which has definitely become more and more of a factor in how parent organizations are investing the time to line up local affiliation partners.
Really just very good stuff, and the sort of thing I'd love to see more of. Bravo Tim!
So, as Christina said, the Ottawa Lynx ceased operation in 2007, as the rights of the IL were sold to a group who wanted to place a team in Allentown, PA, who are now the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. As a side note, there has been some hostilities/lawsuit between the owner of the Lynx and the city of Ottawa regarding the loss of the team. Also, while the Phillies were the last affilliate (2007), however the Lynx's parent club in 2005 and 2006 were the Balitmore Orioles.
As for the Las Vegas 51s, for all four years of the study, 2005 - 2008, they were the affilliate for the Dodgers (which is why I had them labeled as a Dodgers affilliate) however, that relationship ended as the Dodgers moved their affilliation back to Albuquerque. Las Vegas has only been the affilliate of the Blue Jays starting in 2009. It has been reported that the Dodgers were the main complaintant in the relationship with Las Vegas, mainly complaining about the facility in Vegas (not having a weight room, etc.)
I think this brings an interesting idea which is the affilliate shuffle, and at times who has the "power" in the relationship and how this can shift. Essentially if a city has a great facility and guarantees fans (with a great track record of attendance), the minor league team has some power to try and get a better parent club (one loaded with prospects, closer to home, etc.) I think this would be a great piece, and maybe some interesting "game-theory" dynamics here.... Matt S., are you listening?
1) Won-Loss pct of the minor league club
2) Won-Loss pct of the parent club
3) Organizational rank of the parent club (i.e., fans wanting to see the next stars)
4) Some ranking of the quality players that played at least X games on that team's roster that season (10 pts for a Top 10 Baseball American prospect, 9 pts for 11-20, etc.)
5) Rehab games of major ML stars
6) Some measure (would be difficult) of promotions, or at least take a few teams and if one can get the daily attendance, compare them to "HOT" promotions like T-shirt/hat/jersey giveaways, etc.
One more factor to add to your list for future study is the local experience level of the opening day roster. That is, how many players are familiar to the home team fans from last season or earlier, vs. how many are brand new. Maybe the metric is total number of games played on current team -- added up for all members of opening roster.
On your second point, I like the idea of number of "repeaters" on the roster or something like that. My one issue is the "fixed point" of opening day, as the roster is so fluid, especially at a minor league level. Also, my gut feeling is that kind of stability wouldn't be as big of a driver as a potential hot prospect.
As an example, it be interesting to see if Norfolk had a boost in their 2009 attendance over 2008, simply because of Wieters being there. It may not be big, but it could be a couple hundred each night.
Whether its a major factor or not, omission of duration of affiliation was a major oversight in this piece: it makes enough sense to either prove its insignificance or demonstrate its impact.
Another point maybe duration in an area. Albuquerque had a team for awhile (the Dukes) than lost them, only to come back when they built a new stadium. I wonder if "tradition" of minor leagues in a town has something. Similarly, Trenton was supposedly a great minor league town way back when, didn't have a team for 10-15 years, and then when they started in 1994 it went GANGBUSTERS with a sell-out almost every night.
I recall when Nate did some media-market research a year or two ago, he concluded that having a minor league affiliate in an area helped expand a major league team's effective primary market; I'd be willing to wager that the places with 20+ years with the same team become mini-major league markets and get some similar attendance bumps to those near to their parent clubs.
Reminded me of Derek Zumsteg's work many years ago on major league expected revenue based on fan base as a tool to use for revenue sharing instead of actual payroll.
Again, great work, and congrats on a great job.
It was also a VERY pleasant Saturday evening, and fireworks night, so that probably affects things!
Really. This was fantastic, I hope that you get to write a follow up piece or three. Great work. One of the easiest thumbs up of the competition.
A caution: the transition between the opening paragraph's style and the rest of the article almost lost me. The opening was good, and the body of the article was great, but I felt that the two did not fit together.
Interesting thing is that I had actually written two articles this week and basically didn't decide which to hand in until late Thursday night. The other was essentially a more fun/entertaining piece about my summer with the Thunder. It was really focused on the "So you've always wanted to work in baseball crowd." I actually think it's a good piece, but it didn't feel quite BP-like, and was definitely quite different than what I normally write. In some ways it was kind of similar to what Brian C. wrote this week. Who knows, based on what the remaining themes are, you may still see it ;-)
But thanks. As pointed out by other commenters, I do think the active dialogue between author and commenters can be just as valuable as the piece itself.
On the flipside, it seems some good has come out of it. Many people have left comments about how one finalist or another have improved since their Initial Entry. Even if they don't win the competition, they can take that knowledge with them.
This is a rare kind of venue, after all. As this kind of thing goes on, it seems some finalists already had published some work and that other readers are familiar with them. The opportunity to submit your work to a new audience for review, however flaming our comments might be at times, can be useful to keep writers on their toes.
Maybe this isn't a fair comparison, but I got into sabremetrics via Rob Neyer and his ESPN.com articles. Since you're from KC, I imagine you also got interested in baseball research via Rob and Rany (and the defunct on the Royals discussions) Yet when Neyer switched to blogging for ESPN, it wasn't nearly as enjoyable for me. I look at other columnists around the net and wonder if they have an opportunity to write and be published solely based on name recognition or have "inherited" the job and not on their current talent or insight. As an aside, just judging by some of the Unfiltered posts and other article comments since this competition's started, it seems us readers are also "demanding" more from the established BP authors. I daresay some might've even adapted since I saw Christina put a chart in one of her transaction analysis ;)
In any event, there have been a lot of negative comments so far and some of them have been personal... but perhaps some good has come out of it.
I was quick to blame the locals for not taking advantage of quality baseball being played right in their backyards. In a way I'm glad to know that the issues is actually that there just aren't enough locals. Thanks for setting me straight.
As I'm thinking back on this one assumption that I made was a linear relationship with population, however, I can see a tailing affect in that as population increases the percentage goes down a bit. The logic being that as population goes up entertainment diversity increases. Let me explain:
As population increases, my assumption was that the entertainment options go up linearly, i.e., number of movie theater screens, pubs, restaurants, bowling alleys, etc.
However, as population increases, then, there's an economy of scale such that ADDITIONAL entertainment options increase. For example, let's take Sacramento. It becomes big enough such that for a few months, the River Cats may actually have to compete with the Kings. Also, as population increases, things like concerts occuring, symphony, casinos, theme parks become more likley. A place like Jackson, TN may only have a symphony concert/traveling broadway show happen a few times a year, but in a place like Sacramento, some type of cultural event like this may happen many times a week. I bet if I looked at this again and looked a little more closely that the affect of population isn't quite linear but starts decreasing slightly -- a little more log-like.
So to go back to the Connecticut Defenders, Norwich is relatively close to Foxwoods/Mohegan Sun (Indian casinos for those not from the area). I'm wondering that as those places have increased their footprint in the last 10 years, if that has had a more significant impact on the Defenders' attendance, i.e., they are seeing stronger competition for the fan's entertainment dollar.
Of course that doesn't explain why it's only drawing half that mark, but I do wonder if having their major league affiliate reside on the other coast may have something to do with that. It's harder to get excited about future major league players when they won't even play against major league teams who are close to you all that often.
I have to think back the Trenton Thunder. They've always been relatively popular since moving to Trenton in 1994, but that popularity went to a whole new level once the Yankees took them over in 2003.
The Trenton Thunder kinda also blow away the entertainment diversity theory as well. Trenton is less than an hour away from both NYC and Philly, including their three major league clubs, all of whom have new stadiums in the past year. Trenton is 20 minutes from the largest theme park in the nation in Great Adventure, it's an hour away from the Jersey Shore, and of course Atlantic City. Plus, the Trenton Thunder have some decent competition in the baseball realm alone, with those three aforementioned major league teams less than an hour away, and the Independent Atlantic League that features both the Camden Riversharks and Newark Bears, plus some healthy high school competition and little leagues that seem to produce a Word Series contender every few years. And yet the Trenton Thunder continue to draw and are considered one of the model minor league franchises.
It doesn't refute the idea of the model necessarily, but cases like those could be looked at... perhaps in comparison to other minor league teams in that region. Also, additional factors can be looked at too, such as the major league team's merchandising revenue (a gauge of major league popularity, and thus its affiliates), win/loss record, etc.
Geography itself as the crow files could use some refinement too... it's much easier for me to drive to Fort Collins (which is 40 miles away) than to drive to the south side of Denver (which is 20 miles away). Maybe instead of population bands, traffic statistics can be used to see how easy/hard it is to get to a baseball park.
Tim would need more than a week to do that though ;)
And yes, ideally, I would use a driving distance, likely tempered with traffic patterns, to get an "expected driving time", but that's a whole other level of analysis. While not perfect, crow-fly distance is a great 80/20 rule on this.
Norwich/Connecticut has never really drawn and it looks like this summer might end up being their last chance. Just driving to the stadium you'd understand why it's been such a struggle for them. Dodd Stadium couldn't be in a more bizarre location, buried in the back of an industrial park on a road that feels like it's 10 miles long. Norwich is a very poor town and while the populations of Groton/New London/Hartford are fairly large, no one actually lives anywhere near where the games are actually played.
I will give the Defenders more opportunities this summer because they will be loaded with great prospects, but even though it's a longer drive the Rock Cats have a much better game experience.
Anyways, we had to call a few days in advance and the best tickets we could get were about 10 rows up in the left field corner.
I only vaguely remember what you were talking about the industrial park and long drive. I was pretty keen on getting to the game, so I don't remember the whole atmosphere. I did think it was kind of out of the way, but it seemed to be a nice stadium. It reminded me a lot of the stadium in Frederick, MD.
There isn't anything really wrong with it while you are there, but there is certainly nothing special about it that makes you want to go back. The concessions are so poorly run that if there is more then a few thousand people in the house it's a multiple inning wait for a hot dog.
1997 was a different world in Norwich. The team still had the new car smell (I believe they began play in 96), and they still had the Yankee affiliation. I was up the road in College for the first few seasons and there was more interest in that point, there is almost none at this point.
I saw Portland the last time they came through and about 50-60% of the crowd was wearing their Red Sox gear and backing the Sea Dogs. They announced some ridiculous attendance figure that was probably inflated by a factor of 1.6 or 1.7.
Monday-Thursday they don't average 1,000 actual bodies in the building. The fact that they are actively trying to sell the team so they could move to Virginia isn't helping, but the team pretty much stopped drawing years ago and Lou DiBella stepping in has done nothing to help.
Despite all those strikes against Ottawa, it does seem weird the Blue Jays would opt against a city in the same province only a five hour drive away - and go to a city in a different country that is about a five hour flight away and has such a lousy facility it caused the much closer Dodgers to flee.
I'm further wondering if anyone is considering giving Montreal a minor league team again.
Oh, yeah the article. I thought it was well written and a great drill-down. The pacing was great in that I didn't feel things skipped ahead too quickly with the stats or the methodology and I like that you cited your sources. I guess my minor nitpick would be to distinctly separate AA and AAA teams into different buckets, or include some kind of statement where the level of the team does not seem to affect attendance (if that is the case).
Another easy thumbs up.
My main two questions for future research is how well population within 100 miles affects population since many AAA teams are within 100 miles (aka driving range) from their major league stadium, such as Sacramento, Colorado Springs, etc.
My second question would be whether certain areas of the country are less affected by local population because of major airports, frequent New York to Florida travel, etc.
It is a mark of great writing to take a topic I really have no interest in and make me become interested in it. That's what happened here. I don't know what I could possibly do with this information, but it was fun getting there anyway.
Definite thumbs up!
Loved the article. Definite thumbs up. The one thing I really wanted to ask about the data was this: I am not surprised San Antonio is toward the bottom but was stadium capacity ever a variable in any of the studies? Your predicted attendance is a tad over 8000 but The Wolff only has permanent seating for 6200. (The outfield berm is almost always empty - at least when I am there).
I love minor league ball, but it's a real pain to drive from the northeast side where I live through the maze of freeways downtown to the west side where the park is, in a rundown area with no restaurants or much of anything else nearby.
Something that isn't going to be available if one uses straight Census data, but can exploit using the Tactician system would be to determine "# of famillies who make more than $X" within certain distances.
Possibly there is other data that addresses more your point which is some measure of immediate neighborhood and some quality of the area. I'm just trying to think of the right data to get.
On the flip side the Trenton stadium wasn't in a great place (though wasn't necessarily bad), but it did help revitalize the area a bit.
Got my vote easily because it answers the questions that I have always wondered. If I ever fufill my dream of owning a minor league team, Tim would be my first hire.
But what would be cool would be the "OPTIMAL" affiliations, i.e., what if one had the omnipotent Minor League Commissioner who could redraw all agreements and what would be the best affiliation alignments that would create the overall highest minor league attendance. It would be interesting to see how close we are to that point.
An article about an optimal minor league commissioner would be interesting (though I don't believe the minor league commissioner has any say over the affiliations). A more interesting topic might be a minor league owner proposing a new franchise, factoring things in like local competitors, population, weather, etc.
Also, one follow on is how do we use this framework for single A and rookie ball, since (I should check this out before making this statement) it seems that there are more new franchises at these levels. Problem with this is that many of these leagues are more localized since because of typically lower draws there isn't the resources for travel so they in general have to be clumped together (Midwest League, FSL, California League, SAL, etc.)
Still, a solid yea.
As for your first point, are you driving at that minor league attendance drives population? I think my main points are:
* Sacramento is the "model" organization, but in general, they are likely in one of the 5 best markets for minor league ball, population-wise, i.e., big population with very little MLB competition
* On a similar note, it seems like bad demographics to assume that West Tenn will ever be a 4,000+ drawing team given that the population doesn't make sense.
As for ballpark building, typically it is not the minor league team themselves but cities that drive the building of new stadiums. More often this is a city that DOESN'T have a minor league team that builds the stadium to attract a new team, i.e., Allentown in 2007. The bigger point here is that as we follow the age of the stadium, the experience of going to a minor league game is no longer "new" and soon fans may flock to other forms of entertainment.
One difference is that the Arkansas Travelers built a new stadium for the 2007 season. Granted it's in a different section of town, but there avg attendance went from 3293 in 2006 (very average for a AA team) up to 5643 in 2007 and a slight deep to 5558 in 2008.
So here is a team that is not a great drawing team (right on par with their population model which would suggest 3271), then they build a new stadium a few miles away and boom an instand 2300 bump in attendance.
That was the only issue I had with this piece. I think that could've all been explained with relative ease.
Anyway nice article I was on the fence since I like to be selective with my voting, but after a reread this is worth a thumbs up. THanks!
Personally, I like to build models logically step by step as opposed to throwing lots of variables and see which ones come up.
As I said before in another comment, sometimes the issue on these pieces is the three-day turnaround (and for most of us full-time jobs outside of this), a study like you outlined may be a bit more possible if I had a week or two.
As a statistician, I am reminded here that good analysis often has more to do with asking interesting questions than creating complex models. And I think you've done an excellent job of blending leisurely conjecture with analytical rigor. Pretty much anyone with a little time, curiosity, and Excel could have fun with a question like this.
P.S. Did you test the fit of non-linear regression on any of the variables?
We'll see, after the winner starts writing their column and getting edited, plus the other behind-the-scenes benefits.
As judges, we have to consider how much more lenient we should be with the guy who makes his sentences and paragraphs too long and twisted?
As for "tips for future articles," I think that kind of defeats the purpose of the contest. Once the person has a locked-in gig at BP, it makes sense. Until then, one of the goals of Idol is to see what is rooting around in the mind of the contestant.
I would assume that some of the contestants ask friends for help on their ideas, why not on the editorial side?
It's just kind of weird. I had read Brittany's articles before she even entered the contest and there was a vast difference between what she did there and what she did in the contest. Byron's initial entry was also very well polished but his Week 1 was more problematic. Meanwhile, a lot of people have gotten a lot better as this competition went on. I kind of wonder in hindsight what someone like Byron would've done if he'd remained in the competition.
In the end though, it's the writer who does the writing, and all the help with ideas or with editing can only refine what the author had already done, not create new avenues for the author to pursue. This might be doubly true for something like BP, where authors need to have some grasp of baseball knowledge and critical thinking.