...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Baseball Motivation, Pt. 2

As promised, I'm checking back in with you about those new-contract-year players and their possible plummeting motivation. Click here for the original post. I did say that I'd revisit this at the end of the year, but the anticipation was killing me. Okay, maybe I was just a little bit curious.

The batters' charts are below:
41 games through the season on the left; 81 games through the season on the right --

The pitchers' charts are below:
41 through the season on the left; 81 through the season on the right --

2008 estimates courtesy of ESPN.

Here's the color key again:

Red = Large decline in production or serious injury during season.

Pink = Small, but noticeable decline in production and/or minor injury.

Gray = Generally equal to previous year.

Light Blue = Small, but noticeable increase in production.

Blue = Large increase in production

At the quarter mark -- Pitchers: 2 had a large increase, 1 had a small increase, 6 remained similar, 3 had a small decline, while 11 had a large decline. 48% large decrease, 61% noticeable or worse decrease.

Batters: 0 had a large increase in production, 3 had a small increase, 2 remained similar, 3 had a small decline, 14 had a large decrease. 64% experienced a large decrease, 77% experienced at least a noticeable decrease.

Now at the halfway point -- Pitchers: 2 had a large increase, 3 had a small increase, 5 remained similar, 5 had a small decline, while 8 had a large decline. 35% large decrease, 56% noticeable or worse decrease.

Batters: 1 had a large increase, 1 had a small increase, 5 remained similar, 4 had a small decline, 11 had a large decline. 50% had a large decrease, 68% had at least a noticeable increase.

So despite the larger sample of games, there isn't a large change, though there is a noticeable trend towards the center, see below for another color-coded example of the results:

Pitchers 1/4 mark: 2 - 1 - 6 - 3 - 11
Pitchers 1/2 mark: 2 - 3 - 5 - 5 - 8

Batters 1/4 mark: 0 - 3 - 2 - 3 - 14
Batters 1/2 mark: 1 - 1 - 5 - 4 - 11

If you look at each set of the three center (light blue, gray, and pink) numbers, the non-extreme categories, the pitcher total went from 43% to 57%, while the batter total went from 36% to 45%. My bet is that it continues to trend towards the middle like reliable larger samples should.

Still, GMs are only getting a positive (increased) return on their investments 15% of the time while they're seeing a decline 62% of the time.

It will also be interesting to see what happens in terms of injuries to these players. At the moment exactly 1/3rd of them have been hurt during the season. If one of my crap theories from before is true, then we should see a lot of injuries due to an adjustment in many of the players' supplements. Also the injury factor should play a large role if another of my crap theories is true: overpaying for older players.

Here are some other thoughts......Robinson Cano hits like Luis Castillo every first half, then hits like Lance Berkman every second half, so he'll likely be able to pull up to .280-ish and about 20 HRs by year end. Unless he gets hurt. Miguel Cabrera is making me sad. I really thought that he and Pujols would be racing to 3000 hits and 700 HRs 15 years from now. Ryan Howard also has great second halfs (halves?). Unless he gets hurt. Holliday will never catch up to last year's numbers. Halladay will. Again and again. Unless he gets hurt. Despite the Tigers' recent run, MAN did they do a bunch of bad signings. K-Rod, Nathan, and Mo Rivera are studs, and deserve their dough. I cannot prove anything that I just typed in this paragraph. Yet.


  1. Cano is already starting to pick it up. And I picked him up on my fantasy team. He's always good in the second half.

    Your theory is so obviously true, you should be sending this research to MLB owners. They like spending money on name players though. I think they know it doesn't work - they don't care.

  2. Thanks for the support! Good pick on Cano. I'm thinking he'll hit 10 HR and bat around .300 for the second half. I wondering if GMs will ever turn the corner and invest their bosses' money better. Billy Beane of the A's is too extreme to be a positive example because his team can never finish. I'm curious to see how this list plays out at the end of the year. Great pitching this year, though.