FanGraphs Baseball

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  1. Your estimated bonus thing doesn’t work, IMO. Players getting big bonuses out of college likely went to college in part because their bonus demands or signability caused them to slide in the draft out of HS. So a HS guy who wants 3 million dollars, if teams don’t take him in the first round he’s going to slide until a team takes a flyer on him late. So now you’re comparing an estimated bonus offer of, say, $133,916 (13th round by your estimate) to an actual bonus that’s much higher, even though they could have gotten that money (possibly more, say if he threw $3M out but then said maybe he’ll sign for $1.5M) out of HS.

    Am I interpreting things wrong?

    Comment by Kevin — April 7, 2011 @ 12:07 pm

  2. I hope one or your aspects is getting to the big leagues sooner, getting to arbitration sooner, etc.

    But I guess there is also the money you get paid as a minor leaguer. I have no idea what that is though.

    Comment by Joeiq — April 7, 2011 @ 12:15 pm

  3. Great analysis – particularly prescient is your observation that the few players with greatly improve their draft stock during college offsets the many who do not. Was any thought given to inflation as part reason for the increase? Since bonuses paid rises year-to-year, how much of the increased of salary following college is merely the result of annual bonus inflation.

    Comment by nicholj — April 7, 2011 @ 12:18 pm

  4. Yeah. The problem is that the methodology assumes that draft position correlates to talent or signing bonus. It doesn’t.

    The correct analysis would be to compare what a player turned down after HS to what he ultimately signed for out of college.

    Also: I assume that draftees who refused to sign out of HS, and then went undrafted out of college, were assigned a $0 bonus, for purposes of this study? If not, that’s a huge methodological flaw.

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — April 7, 2011 @ 12:19 pm

  5. You might want to check out an academic paper by Winfree and Molitor that looks at this issue. The general finding is that if a player is going to be drafted before the 10th to 12th round, then they should take the contract out of high school. For those drafted later than this, the expected value is higher for heading off to college and getting redrafted.

    The study includes expected lifetime earnings for the player and how that increases with the college education as well. Here is a link (may be gated, but if you’re going to do this analysis, I suggest reading it):

    http://jse.sagepub.com/content/8/4/378.abstract

    Comment by Millsy — April 7, 2011 @ 12:29 pm

  6. Looking forward to the rest of the posts. Personally, had I been in that position of being intelligent enough to go to college and talented enough to be worth a 6-figure bonus from MLB out of high school; my own breakpoint would have been to take the bonus if it was enough to pay for college (these days $200,000). You get better coaching in the pros and your coach is compensated on how many major-leaguers he produces not how many wins or revenue he generates for the school. For pitchers especially, I would worry about my college coach’s interests being aligned with mine.

    Comment by dangnewt — April 7, 2011 @ 12:38 pm

  7. A standard feature of a pro contract is for the professional team to pay for your college education following the end of your baseball career. Few take advantage of this option, but it’s there.

    So, take the pro contract and get a “4 to 5-year college scholarship” as a perk. Furthermore, it’s a multi-year scholarship, unlike the “1-year scholarship” the college is offering, which can be removed at the coach’s discretion regardless of academic performance.

    Why would you say that you get better coaching in the pros? There’s more players per coach, less contact with the coach, and the coach has far less influence/control over the player.

    In college, you’ll work with the coach during the fall, winter , and in the spring (and perhaps even over the summer).

    I would worry about my college coach’s interests being aligned with mine.

    I was thinking just the opposite. The professional coach/manager is probably far more concerned with his own promotion. My feeling is that college coaches are more “long term” in their thinking (same job, same school) than are professional coaches.

    I’ve had 6 friends play professionally. They left college early to go pro. They all said they wished they had stayed in college. If you want to be part of a brotherhood and close-knoit group, go play college baseball. Everyone is pretty much on the same page and pulling for each other to reach team goals.

    If you’re the “F— this team, I’m getting mine.” type of player. Go pro. It’s made for you. The guy that just patted you on the butt and said “Get the big hit, we know you can do it” is hoping you strike out so he can start next game. The same guy in college is hoping you really do get a hit, because he knows he’s not going pro, so a team accomplishment is his legacy.

    If you’re the type of player that would rather tell a coach to screw off than to listen to his bland, generic advice … then go pro. The player is more important than the coach at that level, and the coach’s only real job is to report to the manager whether you got in your swings/work or not. A college coach is going to expect that you listen, and has some influence over your playing time.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — April 7, 2011 @ 1:22 pm

  8. You also have to factor in the difference between being a pitching prospect and position player. Good pitchers are just abused at the college level, most of the coaches do not care if they shred their ace’s arm. Those concerns obviously do not exist for position players. So the risk of injury to a college pitcher is much greater and potentially much more serious to long-term career prospects. So the tipping point is likely different for those types of players.

    Comment by Phantom Stranger — April 7, 2011 @ 2:16 pm

  9. That’s basically the result I would expect.

    You see a shade of it even in the table above for the kids drafted in the 4th or 5th round.

    Comment by Blue — April 7, 2011 @ 4:12 pm

  10. Not only are the scholarships a year deal, there are also very few scholarships available. Each NCAA DI team is only allowed 11.7 scholarships. You have to be a rare talent to even get a full ride baseball scholarship, then maintain production/avoid injury to keep it year to year.

    Comment by UZR is a Joke — April 7, 2011 @ 4:18 pm

  11. Minor league salary is minimal, your bonus is infinitely more important to the decision.

    Back to the article, comparing bonuses between HS and college is not relevant. What is relevant is the relative value of the bonus and the monetary value of the college scholarship.

    Comment by Nate — April 7, 2011 @ 11:00 pm

  12. CC – You can’t possibly be that naive about team sports. I know several pro players and I can guarantee you that none of them thought the way you are talking. There’s something called life that gets in the way of your black-and-white split. It’s all about cost benefit analysis on an individual basis. if you are eighteen and offered 100G to pursue your dream or can go play at even a high level college, what kid do u know who says “well shit I hate my coaches and teammates so I’m going pro!!!”

    Comment by hunter — April 8, 2011 @ 12:19 am

  13. I calculated the bonuses for HS and college based on data from 2009-2010, so inflation should not be the cause of the increase.

    Comment by Reed MacPhail — April 8, 2011 @ 1:15 am

  14. I get into differences between pitchers and hitters in part 3.

    Comment by Reed MacPhail — April 8, 2011 @ 1:16 am

  15. I’m really trying to estimate the median bonus for players from each round. As I’ll discuss in the final installment, there are certainly players who slip because of signability, as you mention, so the model is not as applicable to those few.

    Yes, players who were not drafted were entered as having received a bonus of $0.

    Comment by Reed MacPhail — April 8, 2011 @ 1:20 am

  16. There are two types of inflation that should both be considered. First is actual, real money inflation which right now is almost 0, so no big deal. The second is bonus inflation. By deferring a bonus 3-4 years, you are betting that baseball inflation will be greater than real money inflation (almost certainly true). So an equally talented person 3 years from now is in a better $ position than they are right now.

    Comment by brad g — April 8, 2011 @ 2:40 am

  17. ================================
    “Why would you say that you get better coaching in the pros? There’s more players per coach, less contact with the coach, and the coach has far less influence/control over the player.

    In college, you’ll work with the coach during the fall, winter , and in the spring (and perhaps even over the summer). ”
    ================================

    CC –
    usually i agree with your posts bc they are generally well thought out. But in this case i just cant see how anyone would believe the statement you proposed.
    Do you really think college baseball players spend more time playing baseball, than professionals? dont you think most pros play basically year round?
    And as far as the quality of coaching is concerned, I dont believe that college coaches teach more baseball skill than pro coaches. No doubt they offer more in terms of “life’ coaching, but as far as identifying and polishing talent, i dont think its even really close.

    Perhaps your opinion was mostly based on the fact that all your friends had poor experiences (maybe unsuccessful?) in pro ball?

    Comment by cs3 — April 8, 2011 @ 4:03 am

  18. If they defer and are still equally talented in 3-4 years, baseball inflation has gone up, but hasn’t their potential decreased with age (and they haven’t improved)?

    Comment by Matt — April 8, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

  19. http://WWW.HENRYSBASEBALLCLUB.COM 781 891 0621 EVERY PLAYER IS DIFERENT I HAVE YET TO SEE 2 PLAYERS THE SAME!! BEST TO SIGN EARLY AS U MAY GET INJURED IN THE COLLEGE AND ALL THAT MONEY GOES POOF LIKE A MAGIC TRICK!! HARVARD UNIVERSITY HAS BEEN THERE FOR 300+ YEARS BUT UR YOUTH DOES NOT COME BACK!! MAKE THE CHOISE THAT FITS U. JUST SO U KNOW THE SAN FRACISCO GIANTS FOUND A 16 YEAR OLD DOMINICAN AND WROTE HIS FAMILY A CHRCK FOR 2.1 MILLION. IN INTERNATIONAL BASEBALL THEY CAN SIGN ANY ONE THAT THEY CHOSE. THERE ARE NO RULES ONE U LEAVE THE BORDERS OF THE USA!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by HENRY MUNEVAR — April 14, 2011 @ 3:19 pm

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