Tag Archives: Baseball

The Extra 2%

Internet good guy and friend, Jonah Keri, is out with his first book, The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First:
In The Extra 2%, financial journalist and sportswriter Jonah Keri chronicles the remarkable story of one team’s Cinderella journey from divisional doormat to World Series contender. When former Goldman Sachs colleagues Stuart Sternberg and Matthew Silverman assumed control of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2005, it looked as if they were buying the baseball equivalent of a penny stock. But the incoming regime came armed with a master plan: to leverage their skill at trading, valuation, and management to build a model twenty-first-century franchise that could compete with their bigger, stronger, richer rivals—and prevail.

Check out an excerpt in GQ, and one on ESPN. Here's a bit about how the Rays missed on Albert Pujols even though one of their scouts loved him and they could have gotten him for a flyer.
They still worried about the player's build, as Jennings had earlier, and wondered what position he would play. This was especially odd, since the player didn't get much chance to try out at third base, his natural position, or first, where Arango thought he could also fare well. Many skeptics also wondered about his age: he was born in the Dominican Republic, didn't move to the United States until high school, and always looked old for the age he was supposed to be. Meanwhile, the player's agent was new to the gig, and that uncertainty raised fears that just signing the guy could become dicey, even in the later rounds. Besides, the Devil Rays had their targeted names up on the draft board, and the draft was flying by. Jennings wasn't ignoring Arango's projection per se. There was just so much other stuff going on that they didn't give it much thought. By the time you get past the tenth round, most players have no shot of ever sniffing the big leagues, let alone becoming productive regulars, let alone becoming the kind of superstar Arango envisioned. No big deal.

Congrats, Jonah!

Inside Baseball

The Baseball Hall of Fame just announced this year's class of inductees, and there were some notable names missing. Here's Nate Silver on the numbers. His point is basically that good baseball players today are better than great baseball players of yesteryear.

If you’re not willing to reserve a place for players who meet or exceed the statistical standards of the average Hall of Famers at their positions, however — players like a Larkin or a Bagwell — the discussion really ought to turn to which players we need to kick out. No Barry Larkin? No Travis Jackson. No Tim Raines? No Max Carey. No Jeff Bagwell? No High Pockets Kelly. No Trammell and Whitaker? That’s fine: let’s boot Tinker and Evers.

Barry Larkin and Jeff Bagwell, 2 players who didn't make it but should have, are indicative of how people vote now. Barry Larkin didn't make it because he was merely spectacular for close to a decade, not eye poppingly amazing, during an era of steroid use. Jeff Bagwell, on the other hand, had amazing stats, also during an era of steroid use. It seems like Larkin is being compared unfavorably in light of ballooning offensive stats, for not doing steroids. On the other hand, Bagwell is being punished for having those stats during the same era, even though there's never been evidence of steroid abuse.

Lists on which you don’t want to be

This is a list of the pitchers with the top 10 strikeout rates among starters 22 or younger with at least 50 innings pitched. See Washington National's phenom Stephen Strasburg on there at number 2?
1 Kerry Wood
2 Stephen Strasburg
3 Dwight Gooden
4 Mark Prior
5 Oliver Perez
6 Sam McDowell
7 Mark Prior
8 Scott Kazmir
9 Oliver Perez
10 Rick Ankiel

Thanks, Jonah

The Economics of Minor League Baseball

Basically, unless you're drafted in one of the fist several rounds, you don't make very much money. Depending on the state, most players make less than minimum wage, and that's only during the 4.5 months they're actually paid. Not very glamorous at all. Really interesting read.

But the biggest difference may very well be the money. The minimum annual salary in Major League Baseball currently sits at $400,000. Meanwhile, most players at the minor league level who haven’t reached minor league free agency are lucky to make $10,000 over the course of a season; a survey of players revealed that those in rookie ball make $1,250-1,300 a month while players in Triple-A, the highest level of the minors, can make roughly $1,000 more per month while under the contracted amount.

(Thanks, Jonah and Andy)