Cubs Mike Olt: Is he Mark Reynolds Jr. with a Better Glove? Or someone else?

Olt2Comparisons. Everyone makes them to distill down an idea or a thought or a person, God forbid (stereotypes), to its simplest form or characteristic. We (humans) do this to survive. Else, sensory overload, the mainframe (our minds) would get bogged down in the endless minutia of figuring out the ways something is similar; and the ways in which they are different. Luckily, baseball generally has no qualms with generalizations if they help one get to method of valuing a guy. So, we got the present case.

Mike Olt came over in a 4-for-1 trade of Matt Garza, call it, “The Swap Meet Opens in June Plan” the Cubs have done to their pitching staff in the prior two years. And likely this year with Samardzija, Hamel, and anyone they deem superfluous to their long-term ideas.

Olt’s short MLB career has proved one thing: if he does make decent contact, look out. 2 recent homers hit in the bandbox called “The Cell,” one of which emptied the seats of the prison quicker than Tom Cruise can fill them for his next Mission Impossible: Operation Ghost AARP.

2012 23 TEX 16 40 33 2 5 1 0 0 5 5 13 .152 .250 .182 .432 18 6 1 0 /359
2014 25 CHC 28 85 76 9 14 1 0 6 16 6 28 .184 .259 .434 .693 86 33 2 2 5/D3
2 Yrs 44 125 109 11 19 2 0 6 21 11 41 .174 .256 .358 .614 64 39 3 2
162 Game Avg. 162 460 401 41 70 7 0 22 77 41 151 .174 .256 .358 .614 64 144 11 7
TEX (1 yr) 16 40 33 2 5 1 0 0 5 5 13 .152 .250 .182 .432 18 6 1 0
CHC (1 yr) 28 85 76 9 14 1 0 6 16 6 28 .184 .259 .434 .693 86 33 2 2
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/9/2014.

Olt’s short MLB career too has shown he can’t be expected to make much contact aside from that, especially on breaking and off-speed pitches, the bane of many a short-lived shots in the show.  But he’s patient by their estimation. As Brooks Baseball calls it:

Against All Fastballs (248 seen), he has had a league average eye (0.93 d’; 61% swing rate at pitches in the zone vs. 26% swing rate at pitches out of the zone) and a patient approach at the plate (0.19 c) with an above average likelihood to swing and miss (20% whiff/swing).
Against Breaking Pitches (105 seen), he has had a poor eye (0.54 d’; 54% swing rate at pitches in the zone vs. 33% swing rate at pitches out of the zone) and a patient approach at the plate (0.18 c) with an above average likelihood to swing and miss (37% whiff/swing).
Against Offspeed Pitches (49 seen), he has had a poor eye (0.71 d’; 75% swing rate at pitches in the zone vs. 48% swing rate at pitches out of the zone) and a steady approach at the plate (-0.32 c) with an exceptionally high likelihood to swing and miss (54% whiff/swing).

Here is his heat map against RHP.

mike olt RH His results for both 2012 and 2014 seasons combined. One thing consistent: high ball hitting RH who can hit a ball on the screws right down broadway (see below).  So he’s got that.

RH pitchers that go inside have not been very successful (see above, the picture – notice the RH pitcher’s finish – very similar too in both). Lefties that are throwing soft stuff down (heat map not shown, but looked at) get burned going down and inside with an ultra small sample size. In fact, all of this is discussing a small sample for heat maps analysis. Weaknesses: well A LOT. Pitch him on the outer third down around his knees…nothing much will be done – weak singles and missing the ball.

For comparison’s sake, I pulled up Mark Reynolds, post-2010, which is about what Olt can plausibly be compared to, to date. (Pictured well below is their whiffs per swing: I can’t foresee a 2008-2009 Mark Reynolds in him – but hey, the Cubs have nothing to lose in the moment on it. He certainly has shown power.)



mike olt LH


There are slight similarities – but I probably could find lots of players that would mirror. Both whiff alot on low-outside pitches. A key difference, so far, Olt is a bit more selective on whiffs at strike-zone level. Reynolds misses less in the DEAD RED area down the pipe (22.71% Reynolds to 31.58% for Olt.) Both miss balls up too.

Nevertheless, Olt seems to be a poor man’s Mark-Reynolds comp. If the Cubs could get 85% of Reynolds power, but likely, 105% of the K-rate, Olt is useful as a stop gap starter at 3rd base and 1st base relief – as Rizzo might need to get some breaks.





2007 23 ARI 111 414 366 102 20 4 17 62 0 37 129 .279 .349 .495 .843 109 181 5 5/49
2008 24 ARI 152 613 539 129 28 3 28 97 11 64 204 .239 .320 .458 .779 96 247 3 *5/3
2009 25 ARI 155 662 578 150 30 1 44 102 24 76 223 .260 .349 .543 .892 127 314 5 *53
2010 26 ARI 145 596 499 99 17 2 32 85 7 83 211 .198 .320 .433 .753 97 216 9 *5/3
2011 27 BAL 155 620 534 118 27 1 37 86 6 75 196 .221 .323 .483 .806 116 258 7 *53
2012 28 BAL 135 538 457 101 26 0 23 69 1 73 159 .221 .335 .429 .763 107 196 6 35D
2013 29 TOT 135 504 445 98 14 0 21 67 3 51 154 .220 .306 .393 .699 96 175 5 35D/4
2013 29 CLE 99 384 335 72 8 0 15 48 3 43 123 .215 .307 .373 .680 94 125 3 35D
2013 29 NYY 36 120 110 26 6 0 6 19 0 8 31 .236 .300 .455 .755 105 50 2 35/4
2014 30 MIL 25 101 90 20 3 0 7 12 2 10 36 .222 .297 .489 .786 112 44 0 3/59
8 Yrs 1013 4048 3508 817 165 11 209 580 54 469 1312 .233 .328 .465 .793 108 1631 40
162 Game Avg. 162 647 561 131 26 2 33 93 9 75 210 .233 .328 .465 .793 108 261 6
ARI (4 yrs) 563 2285 1982 480 95 10 121 346 42 260 767 .242 .334 .483 .817 108 958 22
BAL (2 yrs) 290 1158 991 219 53 1 60 155 7 148 355 .221 .328 .458 .786 112 454 13
CLE (1 yr) 99 384 335 72 8 0 15 48 3 43 123 .215 .307 .373 .680 94 125 3
NYY (1 yr) 36 120 110 26 6 0 6 19 0 8 31 .236 .300 .455 .755 105 50 2
MIL (1 yr) 25 101 90 20 3 0 7 12 2 10 36 .222 .297 .489 .786 112 44 0
AL (3 yrs) 425 1662 1436 317 67 1 81 222 10 199 509 .221 .321 .438 .759 107 629 18
NL (5 yrs) 588 2386 2072 500 98 10 128 358 44 270 803 .241 .332 .484 .816 108 1002 22
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/9/2014.

One can likely find lots more players to compare favorably to, if one looks hard enough. Hopefully, for Olt’s sake, he gets opportunities best suited to his skill sets.


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Patterns: History Repeats? Power Surge then Decline, Gotta Be That Baseball Thingy


I like patterns. Or rather, I like trying to identify a pattern or repeated trend. People do this stuff for a living- and get paid a lot to notice such trends and patterns. They use to trade in real-time. Now, they flash trade – let some computer take all the fun out of it. Baseball, has them too.

I identified this particular pattern about 7 years ago – related to HR% and 2B% for a span of time (2nd graph). But I had not really looked at it since about 2008. Too much fallout from the Steroid-Labeled Era. People were bitterly complaining about sacred records, and tainted history, and damning anyone they could (from the commissioner on down to the players) for the breach in baseball trust.

Moreover, there were only a smattering of studies (one done in 2007 – Baseball Between the Numbers)  was very incomplete, though supportive of a premise I had too: Steroids were not causing much benefits (to hitters) in Power Surge II. So, the chart above.

From one graph one cannot say it definitely undermines anything. But notice a pattern: If we notice how closely the happy ball era of the 1920s coincides with historical reports of ball modifications, why do we just use steroids as the catch all for offensive explosion?

From various sources in Bringin’ Gas & Dialin’ 9:

In Montville Leigh’s Big Bam this modification is colorfully recorded as: “Another change had occurred with the baseball itself. Nobody knew the facts behind the change – that manufacturers now used a better grade of Australian wool and had developed new machines that wound the yarn tighter – but everyone knew the ball seemed to fly better. Or said they knew…Hit the new baseball, and it felt like solid against solid, bat against the kitchen table. Hit the old baseball and it felt like bat against living room sofa” (Montville 2007, 111). William McNeil and Roger Kahn in The Head Game reiterated this manufacturing change that sequenced with the material changes. By 1922, Spalding, the producer of National League baseballs, were “in its Massachusetts factory” making similar alterations to the internal particulars of the most fundamental part of the game, the ball.

Some tests on resiliency were engaged in the 1920s, with the results always reported as being within norms. (Remember: no six sigma data sets, statistics, or quick linear regression analysis of that level was years off in the future.) One can also imagine a low-level tester being ‘persuaded’ to reach conclusions, if only to bolster confidences in the internal structure and repeatability of manufacturing baseballs.

By 1930, the ball was tinkered with again, almost in lockstep with the stock market crash of October 29, 1929. The National League of 1930 was no fun for pitchers with a 5’6” CF Hack Wilson smashing 56 home runs and establishing an unreachable standard of 190 RBIs. This did not go unnoticed as Cubs SS Woody English offered: “In 1931 the owners decided the ballplayers were hitting too many home runs. We realized something was different in ’31 almost from the start of the season. You hit balls like you always hit them, and they’d plunk, sound like they didn’t have anything inside…” (Golenbock, Wrigleyville: A Magical History Tour of the Chicago Cubs 1996, 227)

So it seems lazy now – and more about demonizing – “steroid, bad” like a much mocked George W. Bush, Rangers owner, no less – than any indisputable or statistical evidence. (What percentage of improvement was there 10%? 20% 5%?) At the top of the talent heap, I concede there is plenty to be gained from that extra 2% over your opponents. As a hitter, bat speed increase, recovery from muscle strains and pains, I can concede that.
















A 2nd graph above (from a forthcoming work).

But what other factors could have played a role? Ballparks cozier? Strike zone shrinking? Ball bats designed better for their mashing ilk? And the baseball…the one Colorado had a heck of time adjusting in a humidor to properly address weight and size constraints.

As stated, the last time offense peaked was 1930. Aw, the good ol’ days for the Chicago Cubs, the highest scoring offense ever in modern franchise history – Hack Wilson, 190RBIs (meaningless…) – and those Cubs didn’t go to the World Series either. But they did the year before. Still, it was good to be a Cubs patron as they pounded out 998 Runs, about 400 more than their modern incarnation will in 2014.

So, watch that baseball thingy. It might change again – 20 or 30 years hence.




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Farm System Rank: 2-3 Years Before It Takes A Slight Effect

On Bleacher Nation yesterday, a conversation was had that gets started over an over about how much MLB Farm System rankings matter, particularly Baseball America, one of many that do a pre-season estimation of what a franchise has percolating in its future. Of course, like accounting Balance Sheets, it’s a snapshot in time by one outlet whose model is to create excitement and discussions based off what it sees out of the 16-24 year old set down in the dusty minors.

BA Rankings

To cut to the quick, I compiled the rankings of farm systems from 2007-2013 and compared them to what teams achieved for wins between (2011-2013). I ran various regressions; multiple years; look at the wins from just 2012-2013; compared against the avg. system ranking for the time span; deviation; and absolute variation from year-to-year movement up and down.

The results: 2009 was a key year for predicting 2011-2013 win totals in that it was statistically significant. The R-square was low (less than .20 by itself) and when you include multiple years (which I did not weight – a technique to try later) this R-squared improves to about .35, but with more explanatory variables (up to 7 years).

So, what to say?

1) I am doing other prospect analysis that reflects international (undrafted) free agents is the huge piece to the puzzle on understanding a successful team’s future. (Which should not surprise – about 20%+ of BA’s Top 100 prospects over the past 25 years have rank after signing as an undrafted FA – and many were top-end performers.)

2) That it has to be more about who is developing them – the teams like the A’s, Braves, Cardinals, Red Sox, Rays (who, on average, ranked highest in this span) are getting talent enough to the bigs. The connection is fairly weak to farm system rankings. (But this is affected by guys that leave – churn out – to the bigs.

3) And well, are these rankings between 5-10 or 15-22 really all that much different? Is it number 1, then 2-5, then everybody else down to 25, then 5 really bad farms. And jumping 10-20 spots in one year because you added a no. 1 overall (who is projected to add 20WAR on average in a career, if some analysts are spot on). Does that really make the farm better or is it just saying the ticket at the top moves rankings 10 spots?

2009 BA Rk













But I digress there. Not a completed analysis, just a snapshot.


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Montreal Expos : A Brief Expose on the Plights of this Franchise


I recently completed a rough edit on the Montreal Expos franchise. It is 20 pages long; so not as detailed as Jonah Keri’s Up, Up, and Away(above), but it covers some of the same history with my penchant for graphs and tables and the like.

I always wished, growing up, the Cubs could have magically had much of the Expose front-line talent at Wrigley. But I digress there early on in my paper. Thereafter, we start with the management, the ballpark, and go on to talent acquisition.

The Expos got so close twice. The PDF mentions connection to other sections – which are in process – and so, I figure to complete the big book sometime in July, depending on how much gets done in May and June.

So enjoy this snippet! And pick up Jonah’s book too!





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Our Baseball Presidents, Part 2

Nixon likely had the best fan connection to the sport. Avidly aware of the game, and documented his stuff. Meanwhile George H.W. Bush likely had the best skills, though Dwight Eisenhower, Bill Clinton and Harry Truman were very proficient. (Eisenhower a high school player, and self-proclaimed semi-pro.) John Thorn again writes up a gem.

Our Game

Teddy Roosevelt's Lifetime Pass, 1907 Teddy Roosevelt’s Lifetime Pass, 1907

Let’s resume our racehorse run through America’s baseball Presidents. When last we left our heroes, William McKinley had just promised to throw out the first pitch at the Washington home opener in April 1897 ( Although more than a hundred Senators and Congressmen showed up, and the club constructed a Presidential box complete with bunting, the honoree did not appear. Six months into his second term, an assassin’s bullet and ensuing medical malpractice brought us a new man in the White House: Theodore Roosevelt, who advocated a strenuous life and vigorous sport but detested baseball. His sons Kermit and Quentin played baseball but their exploits elicited little interest from Dad. Daughter Alice Roosevelt Longworth said, “Father and all of us regarded baseball as a mollycoddle game. Tennis, football, lacrosse, boxing, polo, yes: they are violent, which appealed to us. But baseball? Father wouldn’t even…

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Our Baseball Presidents

Part II provides the modern connections. In my forthcoming book, I name chapters on behalf of the Presidents. John Thorn does great justice always to the sport.

Our Game

Lincoln learns of his nomination, 1860,  by Homer Davenport Lincoln learns of his nomination, 1860, by Homer Davenport

The other day I posted an article about Woodrow Wilson that attracted rather a lot of attention. While preparing that story I inevitably came upon a number of odd bits about our other Presidents and their ballplaying days and ways. The subject has been well covered by others, particularly in terms of first pitches and World Series victors’ visits to the White House. My friends Bill Mead and Paul Dickson wrote a fine book on the subject twenty years ago, Baseball: The Presidents’ Game. Because there’s no point to my doing indifferently what they have done well, I’ll provide here a racehorse run through Presidential baseball bits that may yet be unfamiliar; not every POTUS will get a nod. Some of these notes reflect recent research.

George Washington: First in war, first in peace, and first prez to play ball. General Washington…

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Draft, International Values Increase By 1.7 Percent

The money MLB teams will spend to secure the next superstar.

Callis' Corner

The assigned values for picks in the top 10 rounds of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft and for each team’s four international slots have increased by 1.7 percent over last year’s figures, according to a document I’ve obtained.

The total of the Draft bonus pools for all 30 clubs equals $205,786,400. The total of the international bonus pools for all 30 teams is $79,194,000. The industry as a whole spent $219,302,880 on Draft bonuses in 2013, and had paid out $88.7 million on applicable international bonuses through Feb. 9 (the signing period runs through June 15).

The Marlins, who have more selections (13) in the first 10 rounds than any club, have the highest Draft pool at $14,199,300. The Astros, who own the No. 1 overall choice for an unprecedented third straight year, rank second at $13,362,200. That top pick is valued at $7,922,100, just shy of the all-time Draft…

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Miguel Cabrera: Detroit and High Finance

The Tigers have made the biggest moves of the 2014 off-season. Late 2013, they swapped Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler, to the latter’s delight, given his recent comments on Texas GM Jon Daniels. Detroit gained substantial salary relief – $76M over Fielder’s contract – enough to consider extensions offers to Max Scherzer and Miguel Cabrera.

Scherzer was reported to have turned down $24M for 6 years. $144 million to a soon-to-be 30 year old pitcher is no small offer. Though, given the $155M Masahiro Tanaka contract, and Kershaw’s megabucks of $215M, it wasn’t top dollar for this Scott Boras client. After the statements made by Detroit, it seems pretty difficult to see Scherzer hanging around.

But no one could have projected the Cabrera extension. Seemingly, the biggest overpay ever, Robinson Cano not far off this basic, money-crazy path. As Dave Cameron stated:

“This isn’t a young player with breakout potential whose cost could dramatically increase as he gets closer to free agency. In reality, Cabrera’s value can only really go down, given that even he likely can’t put up another 192 wRC+ season. The Tigers already paid for the rights to his 2014 and 2015 seasons, and while Cabrera might have wanted a long term commitment, they didn’t have to give him one now.”

But to be also fair, Cabrera’s enormous gain was Fielder’s and Scherzer’s loss as Detroit didn’t hurt themselves as much people think.

1) At a discount rate of 3.5%, Cabrera’s contract (excluding his prior deal and future options) is worth about $199M.

2) Scherzer’s potential 6-year contract would have been valued at $123M.

3) Scherzer will cost Detroit $15.5M in 2014. If Detroit does not get to the playoffs, or is not even close in July, Scherzer, hits the trade block. If they are playoff bound, he’ll pitch for his biggest payday ever. It very well behooves Detroit to trade him – certain to get a top 10 pitching prospect or 2 top bats –  if the right contending team is in the hunt. A team that has a closing window of opportunity (Baltimore – with Chris Davis) and might be close and has pitching prospects Detroit covets. Detroit may be better in 2015 with SS Iglesias back, and say another pitcher to plug into their rotation. Or rising OF prospect to plug into their lineup.

4) Fielder trade savings are at $64M for the duration, if Detroit buys out the final year of the Kinsler’s contract.

5) The biggest hit to the Detroit’s finances are long-term (greater than 7 years), not short (1-7 years).

6) The owner is not looking 7 years out, as Cameron reflected rightly, 84-year old men (Ilitch) are not worried about the overall sustainability of a baseball franchise. They have a billion reasons not to really care. Even if they lose $20-40 million, they won’t go broke. And they won’t lose 20-40 million…

7) TV deals to come are expected to provide more revenues than the cost of even this ONE contract. (Even if that market is changing too – in decline by 2018 or 19.)

The point is: Detroit could have been much more conservative with its offer. But, the money saved on the Fielder trade, and now, the unlikelihood of signing long-term Scherzer, makes this move a slight wash in red ink, not a gusher. Could Detroit have spent better? Sure. Has that been their calling card recently? Nope.

A further breakdown shows that if interest rates rise to more normal, historical levels (5-6%), the money will not be a substantial issue (see below). Sure, 31M is a whole lot of money for a certain decline in Miguel’s performance. But here’s a thought: will he be more productive than Alfonso Soriano and his 18M in 2014 (1 WAR); or will Miguel maintain 3-5 years all-star levels of performance which will lead to a Detroit World Championship, then fall completely apart??

Cameron thinks not, as this quote states: “As good as Miguel Cabrera is now, the history of big heavy guys in their mid-to-late 30s is almost universally awful. Guys the size of Miguel Cabrera just don’t age well, as their bodies begin to betray them and they spend significant periods of time on the disabled list.”

Albert Pujols. Matt Kemp. Carl Crawford. Ryan Howard. Alex Rodriguez…(aside from PEDs)

Lastly, while I think it is bad precedent to shell out $31M a year for any player (especially, over 30) in any sport, it is the nature of the beast. As long as millions of fans pay billions in cash to go to games, and enough multi-billion dollar television deals get made (though valuing rights for 25-30 years to me is pretty arbitrary, given NO ONE knows what landscape will exist), players will get their percentage of the revenues. Owners will spend $500M, or more, in an offseason, to secure name guys as both LA teams, Detroit, New York, Texas, and Philadelphia haven’t shown much restraint recently on doing this exact method.

So, why would that change, ever?



Calculated Cost of Extension of Miguel Cabrera

Calculated Cost of Extension of Miguel Cabrera











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TV Economics of Baseball: Bubble of Money Will Drive Up Salaries And Burst

Touched on the TV Model changing…worth a read, given the recent FA spending noted at and others.

Deepcenterfield MLB

Your Dollars At Work To Fuel A Bubble

Unless you have been in a coma since 2008, you have heard that the U.S. Fed has employed quantitative easing (QE) to increase liquidity for their BFFs: the U.S. Banks. From investopedia:

A government monetary policy occasionally used to increase the money supply by buying government securities or other securities from the market. Quantitative easing increases the money supply by flooding financial institutions with capital, in an effort to promote increased lending and liquidity.

Onto the MLB. The TV powers that be, have employed a similar type of quantitative easing, providing a huge liquidity bump for the 30 MLB teams bottom lines. (For the actual watching of Fox, TBS, or ESPN a fan can just watch with sound on mute while listening to someone more tolerable.)

The megadeals: ESPN will increase their contribution from $306 million to $700 million per…

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Macrosabermetrics: Evaluating MLB Team Resources to Produce Wins (1998-2013)

There are many models generated in the field of sabermetrics. From the Pythagorean Run expectation (exponent 1.83ish), OBP/SLG to get runs scored; to linear weights, wOBA, position weight, and FIP to find WAR. And more models are focused on the microsabermetrics: swing%, balls outside the zone, pitch f/x, field f/x, event sequencing, and so on. I tend to the macro side, because things are clear enough to see for the average fan.

For this study, I referenced and used the following sites:

  • Baseball Prospectus – player compensation; draft model for value Andrecheck
  • Baseball America – top 100 prospects by year
  • Baseball Reference – salary, WAR and trade study (nixed)
  • Beyond the Box Score – a study on $/WAR by year back to 1996
  • Cot’s Contracts – salary comparison
  • Economics Website ( – inflation index
  • Fangraphs – Rookie WAR by year and type from 1998 to 2013; WAR by teams.
  • Sean Lahman Database (2013 version) – salaries, wins, etc.
  • USA Today – salary comparison

As you can tell, I didn’t just reference one or two sites for salary. In fact, by my account, they all differ in one way, or another. Bonuses applied differently; incentive payouts unadjusted; deferred payments not considered in the salary basis. But for the most part, the differences were small in comparison to Lahman, maybe 500K to 2M per year, about 30% spot on compared to Cot’s. So instead of looking into 480 teams and 25-30 players and seeing where the problem lay, I went with GED (Good Enough Data). When its totaling to 1.5B or 3.1B(Yankees), what’s 10M among baseball billionaires?

Salaries Son

You can’t win in the regular season without money in baseball unless you are Billy Beane. That would be the first substantial conclusion to draw from this analysis. Oakland is the best run, most efficient organization over the last 16 seasons. And it is not really all that close. But let’s get to the meat of what was done.

  1. Compiled Salaries
  2. Inflation Adjustment – it resulted in nearly identical R-squared to basic salaries
  3. Rookie Salaries by Year set baseline for salary on a team
  4. Baseball America Top 100 prospects from 1990-2014 generates model for WAR similar to a draft study performed
  5. Fangraphs Rookie WAR relates to prospects success rate (assumption); though it would not be that hard to do the finite analysis
  6. Average WAR for period is set at $4.8M/WAR
  7. Minimal Salaries for having a team are calculated for the duration
  8. Wins for 1998-2013; WAR level at .294 times 162 games for 16 seasons.
  9. Calculate Win Expectations for further analysis
  10. Test a Bullpen theory
  11. Do Math on outlier teams
  12. Linear Analysis and Graphs
  13. Note: I compiled the salaries together because it shows closely the total investment in ballplayers over a span. If you buy FAs just for a season, to bump payroll (Miami), but sell them for prospects, at some point, the investment is basically the dollars shelled out and the prospects received. If they are rated well, and turn out for you, you gain value (thus the prospect value).

These are the charts:


As you can see rookies have been producing more as of late, particularly pitchers. Rookies are accounting for 8-12% since 2005, around the time Moneyball and sabermetrics started influencing FOs. Or as salaries rose, finding cheaper talent (relievers, for one) made sense. Lots to explore, but just one piece.


Next BATTER WAR as it relates to salary. Chicago, Washington, and Pittsburgh were woeful compared to what others did for the same price or less. Even Oakland, which will see pitches even better, did fairly well. Boston, Cleveland, Atlanta and St. Louis get bang for the bucks.


Pitching was the key to Oakland’s success over the last 16 seasons. Huge differential from the MLB trend line. San Diego and Milwaukee show their weakness here for the dollar spent. Minnesota is also hugely effective. As you will notice, wherever the Yankees are on the left, Boston is about 20-30% behind on cash, but “in the ballpark” on results.

Baseball America and Fangraphs information

Baseball America and Fangraphs information

Prospect equation graph for perusal again. I used this as a basis to formulate what the theoretical prospect WAR should be. As guys are on the list 2-3 seasons, it’s very crude. Yet, it’s a start to seeing how far it falls off.

Macrosaberfinal  this gives a summary of what is in the next graph.

I did not include everything in this analysis for show.  But the graphics and the excel file show a tendency that the best FO team management over the past 16 years were:


Best Teams

  1. Oakland A’s
  2. Atlanta Braves
  3. St. Louis Cardinals

While, the Worst Teams were:

  1. Baltimore Orioles
  2. Chicago Cubs
  3. Detroit Tigers
  4. Kansas City Royals
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates

Now, recently history (2011-2013) can’t undo bad franchise operations of the prior decade; neither can a few bad seasons undo the great run of the Yankees – who are decidedly average – and drove the outlier too. (More money always helps.)

Oakland developed their rookies compared to their prospect rankings at a 16% clip. The Cubs, at 3.77%. By prospect rankings done by Baseball America, the Cubs had greater potential in their minors, yet, their rookies failed at nearly a 4x clip to the A’s. (Again: this is not a perfect analysis – rookie players tend to be highly thought of prospects, else they would not receive the MLB promotion…not all, but enough to draw a link.) This shows why the Cubs are hard at the minor prospecting and development academy.  Tampa Bay and St. Louis did fairly well; though Tampa had a streak of a highly-rated system.

Yet, based on the analysis, prospects development rate showed no correlation to winning. The adjusted R-squared was minutely negative. In short, it might not give all the advantages some say it does.

On the final graphic, if you REMOVE Oakland from the analysis, the R-squared jumps to 68.9%. Meaning more than 7% of the variation is due to Oakland’s performance. I’d say that suggests just how different they are from the rest.

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