Clearing Up The Trade Value Origins

If you’ve found FanGraphs today because of Bill Simmons, first off, hi! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, this message on twitter from Simmons might clarify:

Just stumbled acrouss this link: There is no honor on the internet.

Likely due to the Adrian Gonzalez trade, it looks like Bill found the trade value series from this summer, and there is no mention of the fact that this series was adapted from the NBA version of this column that he’s been running for years. Well, Bill, I’m sorry that you found the series that way, and that it appears that I have not given you credit for the idea. Because, over the years, I’ve attempted to make it very obvious that this was your idea to begin with.

The first trade value post I ever did was in the winter of 2005, over on USS Mariner. Here is the opening paragraph of that piece:

I imagine most of you probably have read a Bill Simmons column at least once. While he’s not much of a baseball analyst, his stuff is a fun read, and he has a running column he does every year ranking the top 40 players in the NBA in terms of trade value. Analytically, its a puff piece, full of cliches and unsupported arguments that, in the grand scheme of things, mean nothing. But every year, I enjoy reading it. It’s not serious analysis, but variety is the spice of life. So, as we enter the Week Of Insane Rumors, I figured I’d kick it off with my baseball version of his idea, and rank the 40 most valuable commodities in baseball. I’ll let him summarize the rules, though I’ll change the examples for those of you who don’t follow the NBA…

His name appears in the very first sentence of the very first trade value post I ever did. When I did an update 16 months later, I again explicitly mentioned that I was doing a baseball version of Simmons’ basketball column. In 2008, when I moved the series to FanGraphs, I again gave Simmons credit as the originator of the idea. And, in the introductions of last year’s series, Simmons is noted as the originator of this series.

Four years, four posts, four times Simmons was explicitly given credit for the series. It is unfortunate that the only year that his name didn’t appear in the introduction is the one he stumbled across, which gave the false impression that I’ve tried to take his idea and pass it off as my own. I have updated that post to add in recognition once again, and if Bill feels it is necessary, I will continue to do so in future years.

Bill, sorry you found the trade value series that way. I apologize if you felt plagiarized. That was never my intention, and I have tried to make sure that you were credited for the idea.

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Dave is a co-founder of and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

100 Responses to “Clearing Up The Trade Value Origins”

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  1. Tim says:

    Fours years on, you should find an original structure. His concept isn’t terribly original, but his format is–it is something that you can never find in the short form medium of newspapers and magazines.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Brad Johnson says:

      It’s not exactly a complicated format. In fact, it’s probably the most intuitive and easily accessible way of presenting the information. It seems counter-productive to take the time to develop a new, less appealing format just because Bill Simmons thinks the end-product looks like something he does for another sport.

      Dave, I’m not sure that paragraph you quoted is going to mollify him…

      +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Tim says:

        Sure, it’s intuitive and basic. But, where would you read an elaborated list of that kind in a sports publication? The original credit given, which was more of a backhanded compliment, says the same, it credits the format.

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      • Brad Johnson says:

        To answer your question, the internet, specifically a site specializing in evaluating value, kind of like Fangraphs…

        Look all I’m saying is there’s no reason to change the format. Just say “Bill Simmons has been doing this with basketball since (whenever) and this is our Xth installment here at Fangraphs.”

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  2. JH says:

    Obviously you’re going for more of a moral purity thing here, but in case it helps you sleep easier, Simmons has absolutely no legally recognized intellectual property rights in the idea of the trade value series.

    +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Not Actually Bill Simmons says:

    You tried? Well then why didn’t you include a mention on this year’s version? Doesn’t seem like you tried very hard. “Forgetting” to cite is ridiculous and you know it.

    “The dog ate my homework” is not a valid excuse.

    -116 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • JD says:

      Get a life.

      Dave has been giving credit to that blowhard hack for basically half a decade.

      +37 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • mbrady16 says:

      Probably not the real simmons. However, if you really compare the content of the two “columns”, they are nothing alike. Simmons’ columns have always focused on your storytelling and banter (with yourself). Typically Simmons doesn’t offer much in the way of statistical analysis. Oh, and Bill Simmons didn’t invent the idea of “trade value” nor the idea of writing about it.

      Really, a passing bit of credit is all that is warranted here I think.

      +24 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • philosofool says:

      Yes, after four straight years of acknowledging the originator of the idea, he’s decided instead to steal it. Next week he’s going to walking into the Louvre, set off all the alarms, call the police, and *then* try to run out with a Monet.

      +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Lee says:

      OMG – I have the best idea. Ever.

      I will… rank… players… according to their trade value!!!!!!!!!!


      I can’t even believe Dave cares about giving Simmons credit, and I’m pretty surprised that Simmons cared enough to tweet it. I mean, cmon! It’s A RANKING OF PLAYERS, ACCORDING TO TRADE VALUE. THIS IS NOT A MIND BLOWING CONCEPT.

      This is not his intellectual property. He did not copyright it.. nor could he. It’s not even remotely the type of thing you can claim ownership to.

      Even citing it… seems overkill. Completely unnecessary apology, but I understand why he did it. To show deference, and that’s totally cool.

      As for you, “Not Actually Bill Simmons”… I’m guessing you love RBI and pitcher wins. Just a hunch.

      +50 Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. dino says:

    as you explained and showed, its fairly clear that you have been giving credit where credit is due. a simple google search would have turned up more than just the 2010 trade value post, which would have shown credit given, thus rendering your belief/need to apologize to some vainglorious, partisan-hack scribbler…i mean “journalist” non-existent.

    +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Gregor says:

    The citation needs to appear on each version.

    My lord, which j-schools did you guys flunk out of?

    -63 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • philosofool says:

      Wrong. Any part of a continuous series needs give credit only once. You have only one bibliography in a multi-volume work.

      +28 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • mbrady16 says:

      Hey look, a “journalistic integrity” nazi appears on a blog! This is highly original and interesting.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • JH says:

      It actually doesn’t. It’s a different series, and ideas aren’t copyrightable.

      +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • philosofool says:

        Well, plagiarism isn’t a matter of copyright violation. I’m not saying that Cameron plagiarized–he clearly didn’t. But if the charge is plagiarism, then it a moral charge, not a legal one, and copyrights don’t have anything to do with the charge.

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      • JH says:

        I’m aware (see above, where I differentiated between moral purity and intellectual property rights).

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Lee says:

      Are you actually mentally retarded? There is nothing material taken from the original except the concept itself… which to say the least is extremely… not unique.

      +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Locke says:

      I love the air of educational superiority. That’s when you know you’ve got a real winner on your hands.

      +10 Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. John Hughes, Vince McMahon, and Aaron Spelling says:

    Now you know how I feel, Bill!

    +28 Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. ctr says:

    oh please, bill simmons still think he invented the 90210 reference…

    +17 Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. Guy who invented comments sections says:

    Where’s my citation?

    +49 Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. matty says:

    dave cameron is a joke

    -80 Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Michael Jordan says:

    Or, you guys can just stop making excuses.

    +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Mike Savino says:

    I don’t think Simmons is seriously pissed. He used twitter to announce it probably tongue in cheek.

    Simmons has to know that these things happen on the internet.

    Simmons has attended the last few stat conventions at MIT or wherever it is.

    Simmons absolutely knows about Fangraphs and what Fangraphs is about.

    Also, what’s with the Simmons hate? No, he’s not Bill James. Isn’t that okay? He’s a fun read to soak up your time at work or something. Nothing too deep. Nothing crazy. He’s like a grown up college kid with a laptop…fun to read, right? Absolutely nothing is wrong with that.

    +17 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • dls says:

      I doubt Simmons was being entirely serious…

      The ‘fangraphs community’ seems a bit insecure though, talk about an over-reaction.

      +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Bryz says:

        To be fair, it’s in response to all of Simmons’ followers that attacked Dave.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • matt says:

        To be fair as well, I think it’s mostly Dave’s followers that attack Dave. He has a way of attracting that strange crowd who will spend every waking moment stalking someone just so they don’t miss out on an opportunity to tell him they hate him.

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      • My echo and bunnymen says:

        That has to be a very interesting drinking crowd.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. Myk says:

    I saw that tweet by Simmons. I read all of his work, but it amazes me that he thinks he has some sort of ownership on the concepts of trade value. Especially since this site’s lists actually does what his entertainment piece pretends to do…

    Basically, you actually implemented the idea that he thinks he had…

    +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. What should I do? says:

    Should I tell you that you deserve credit for all the articles I write? They are MY articles.

    +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. mbrady16 says:

    Not that it matters at all now, but I doubt this was really necessary. There’s no wrong here. Just because Simmons draws a crowd doesn’t mean he’s all that respected or that he needs a blog post dedicated to “correcting” some perceived slight.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. James says:

    Simmons is a petulant child. He takes cheap shots at people and then when they fire back he pretends to be innocent and they’re being big meanies.

    +15 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • CircleChange11 says:

      I thought that was Jim Rome? Or Jay Mariotti?

      Actually … and unfortunately … it seems to fit a great number of “journalists”.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. doogolas says:

    Wow, Simmons was almost certainly kidding. God some people have a stick shoved way too far up their back sides.

    Nothing wrong with Dave just making a quick post about it if he feels bad.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. James says:

    Not saying that’s what happened here, I just can’t stand the guy.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. Locke says:

    Dave is being too nice. Completely didn’t warrant an apology. If anything, it warranted a “Fcuk off, Bill. And while you’re at it, learn something about advanced baseball metrics” tweet.

    Simmons is being a little girl. Ranking… players! Such an original idea.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • mbrady16 says:

      If Dave was truly copying Simmons, the series would’ve been 90% reality television references and 10% abstract personal feelings about the players themselves. Perhaps with a few irrelevant personal stories thrown in as well as a few words about hoodoo “curses” that obviously dictate performance in sports.

      +29 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • dickey simpkins says:

      No, Dave was being honest. If he wants to be taken seriously as a writer then this was the right thing to do. It was a small mistake and one that was instantly rectified. Only idiots feel the need to use this as a chance to bash Simmons and Fangraphs. Oh look, a #6 org. reference! A mention of Karate Kid and 90210! It’s all so relevant and hilarious!

      +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. Al Gore says:

    I demand credit from both Dave and Bill for using the medium I invented to disseminate their columns.

    +49 Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. Joe R says:

    Hey, my boss is the marketing director in my company.
    He says there’s no such thing as bad attention, so it must be true.
    (I’m a data analyst, I have no clue how marketing works).

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  21. griffstees says:

    That was the best pub you could hope for Dave. You should send him a gift basket.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  22. griffstees says:

    Actually his article about saber metrics lead me to search the Internet and find fan graphs.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  23. rancedance says:

    Wow. So if I rip an idea off for a book and turn it into a series, by the fourth series I can just ignore the fact that it was completely ripped off? What a joke.

    -43 Vote -1 Vote +1

  24. Navin V. says:

    I’m more upset about the Red Sox acquiring Gonzalez. So much evil.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  25. Get this!! I taught my dog how to swim last week. Now whenever he goes swimming, he gives me no credit. I mean… C’MON!!! Who was it that single-handedly got their daughter to like Scooby Doo?? Look no further… ME!!! And now she doesn’t even give me credit whenever she watches it. THERE IS NO HONOR IN THE SIMMONS HOUSEHOLD!!!!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  26. vivaelpujols says:

    I find it ridiculous that you would have to “cite” something as freaking obvious as a trade value post. I can guarantee that Simmon’s wasn’t the first one to think of it either.

    +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

  27. Nobody says:

    I love Fangraphs. Where else are the user comments as fun to read as the actual site content?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  28. Franco says:

    Simmons can unite even Fangraph posters to defend Dave. Sure, he’s an unabashed Mariner’s homer but he didn’t steal your idea you silly man.

    +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

  29. Chris says:

    Why has nobody mentioned that Simmons stole the running diary bit from Norm Chad? He even admitted it in a podcast with Chad.

    He doesn’t give credit to Chad every time he does one of those, so I think his hypocracy is annoying.

    +27 Vote -1 Vote +1

  30. Evan says:

    The fact that it’s Bill Simmons is incidental to Dave making this post, I think. Dave’s a professional writer, and he understands how crucial proper citation is. Intellectual and creative integrity are important, and whether Bill Simmons felt slighted doesn’t matter, Dave needed to make it right.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  31. LOL says:

    This shouldn’t be an apology, it should be a thank-you letter to Bill for giving this useless little blog traffic. I imagine that before today, the only people to read your terribly uninteresting “insight” are in your immediate family or close circle of friends (likely out of pity)…

    -59 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • dutchbrowncoat says:

      it did generate a lot of traffic, so thanks to all the haters for that. i actually hope that some of the readers directed here by simmons will see some of the content and be interested by it.

      this “useless blog” may not generate the traffic that a huge site like espn might, but it isn’t exactly trivial either. additionally, the site has contributed analysis to espn at their request, and it is has been confirmed that a number of mlb players and staff frequent the site.

      +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Angry Sam says:

      Ever wonder why you keep losing at fantasy baseball?

      +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • JH says:

      Um, you do realize that the 2009 AL Cy Young winner mentioned FanGraphs by name and said he really wanted to achieve a 10-WAR season, right? And that the 2010 AL Cy Young winner adjusted his approach to pitching because of an open letter Dave wrote on his other blog.

      You’re right. This blog is entirely without consequence. For anyone.

      +13 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • CaR says:

        Felix did absolutely nothing in response to the ‘open letter’ except take the advice of a few dissenting opinions in response to that particular little-league level analysis and start commanding his best pitch, the fast-ball. Sorry JH, Dave doesn’t quite have the reach that he, (or you) wishes.

        -11 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • LOL says:

        lmao, are you serious with this trash?

        If major leaguers listened to advice by the author, then why is he writing useless pieces and being compensated very little instead of sitting on an ML bench?

        -8 Vote -1 Vote +1

  32. Hey Bill Simmons!

    Fuck you.

    Hey Bill Simmons’ retarded fans!

    Fuck you.

    Next time you tell a joke you heard from another guy in the bathroom, make sure to give him proper credit. Next time you order a Big Papa Burger from A&W, make sure to let A&W know that they’re ripping off the Big Mac. Next time you use a Zune instead of an iPod, make sure to credit apple for coming up with the portable MP3 player idea.

    “No honor on the internet” huh? You’re right. It was not honorable to make a tweet to your thousands of followers that you’re dismayed by something. I don’t care if you said it tongue-in-cheek. That kind of thing doesn’t come through very well over the printed text. It is YOUR responsibility to make sure that you’re not abusing your status as a famous person with the ability to influence thousands of morons to act like morons on another website in order to harass one particular author who… if any of you fucking dipshits would have done your homework… has been crediting Bill Simmons annual article as the influence behind his version of said work.

    Hey Bill, you want to talk about honor for a second? Dave Cameron has taken the time to come back and mea culpa. When do we get to hear yours?

    +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Chuckles the Clown says:

      Nice try.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • CaR says:

      HAHAHAHAHAHA, had to know TIF would come storming in here like daddy on prom night. Did Dave’s skirt come back with a rip in it? I have to give it up to TIF though, unlike the usual sycophants and ass kissers that crawl around the net hoping to attach their name somehow with Cameron’s, you separate yourself by declining the smug, self satisfied Seattle blog member routine. Its kind of a challenge convincing the internet that you are a tough guy, good luck! Between guys like you and Jeff Nye, BBTF has an endless supply of material. I’m looking forward to another post of yours expressing your rage and how you just might have to kick some ass if everyone can’t agree that UZR is the best fielding metric, You’re a peach!

      -13 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • My echo and bunnymen says:

      Just like Cameron did, the zune improved on the ipod and the Papa Burger improved on the Mac.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  33. Petey Bush says:

    This response from Dave is great, hopefully the case is now closed.

    Unfortunately I can’t say the same for the reactions by all of the fangraphs regulars. Yeesh. You’re just embarassing yourselves at this point.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  34. markdash says:

    At this point, Simmons has to know that when he makes a post like that, it’s going to inspire his legions to come over and leave a million comments. In this case it wasn’t harmful, but I could see another situation where the site could slow or even crash due to high traffic.

    He can pretend that he doesn’t realize the consequences of his actions, but I’m sure he’s actually acutely aware of them. If he was really offended by Dave’s “theft” of his “idea,” he should have just written an email directly, got an explanation/addition the column, and that would have been the end of story.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • CircleChange11 says:

      At this point, Simmons has to know that when he makes a post like that, it’s going to inspire his legions to come over and leave a million comments.

      Uh yeah … that’s the point. He didn’t want cited, he wanted attention.

      It’s journalism 101.

      Dave, you’ve given enough credit to the guy that stole the idea first. Heh Heh.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  35. Tanner says:

    You’re a douche. Ripping off a column while also saying that the column is really lame is embarrassing.

    -38 Vote -1 Vote +1

  36. BoomerangEagle says:

    I first learned about Bill Simmons years ago from Dave’s introduction to this column.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  37. Sal says:

    ESPN and Fangraphs obviously have some kind of working relationship. Fangraphs writers have had several dedicated pieces on ESPN and the stats available here have been referenced in, what seems to me, a fair amount of baseball related articles recently.

    I really hope this was a clever marketing ploy to increase traffic to Fangraphs. That would be a brilliant harnessing of Simmons vast twitter following for the benefit of Fangraphs (…and potentially at some point ESPN???).

    Let’s face it, what’s the easiest way to get the twitter followers of Bill Simmons over to Fangraphs? Tell them how great it is or stoke a fire?

    All speculation, just throwing it out there for fun.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  38. Robert says:

    Hmmm.. I’m aware of Bill Simmons but Fangraphs is my homepage, honestly never read Simmons blog or listened to a podcast.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  39. Steve Marino says:

    1) Increased traffic to FanGraphs
    2) Bill Simmons annoyed

    Job well done. Nice one, Dave.

    +16 Vote -1 Vote +1

  40. fiveloko says:

    Good lord. I came here to get Clayton Richard’s xFIP so I could attempt a semi-intelligent post on my Giants board, and you guys are arming for war. If one of you can set aside the time, please post a picture of Simmons’ head on the plate at the center of the Round Table.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  41. Mike says:

    Isn’t Bill Simmons a sabermetric advocate? If so, I’m surprised he doesn’t read FanGraphs

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  42. Galt says:

    If Simmons thought his thing “inspired” someone else to do something similar, I can understand him making a quick comment on Twitter about it. Shame on him for not doing 5 minutes of research to see numerous references to previous versions and not think “gee, I should read some of the previous versions (linked right in the post he saw) to see if either a) he mentioned my inspiration previously or b) he’s not been doing this for 15 years Because I should could look like an ass if I post an accusation to my millions of followers and it turns out I’m all wet.

    But maybe he was busy, What’s pretty annoying and makes him the clear bad-guy here, is that after obviously seeing numerous replies on Twitter and surely some personal contact from Dave or someone else at Fangraphs, I find it really poor form that he hasn’t tweeted again thanking Dave for acknowledging Simmons 5 years ago when he first did it. If for nothing else than to stop these idiots from coming in and spamming forums.

    I’m a huge Simmons fan and as a former Bostonian have been reading him even before he was on ESPN. However, I’m also a huge fangraphs fan, and think that Dave is absolutely coming out A+ in this exchange.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  43. Sal says:

    After Bill get a positive shout out, like below, he still hates…so weird:

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  44. Kmoney says:

    Props to Dave for offering an apology. I like both writers… But truth be told Billy never tried the idea fir baseball. Dave should hve titled it “.my baseball trade rankings” an there would be nothing else said. Dave offers mch more statistical analysis and who else is writing ablout MLB right now. Keep up the good stuff Dave!!!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  45. VH1 says:

    We invented lists. No mention of VH1 in either Bill Simmons’ or Dave Cameron’s articles. Well there is probably is in Bill Simmons’ work, we just don’t read him.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  46. SethGrandpa says:

    I will just say this. And for context, I read both Bill and Dave all the time.

    Simmons admitted once to ripping off Norman Chad with the idea of running diaries. Chad did it first. Yet I’d never heard Bill mention that he co-opted the idea until he had Chad on his podcast, by which time he’d posted dozens of timestamp-as-the-gimmick pieces over the years. And he certainly doesn’t give credit to Chad every time (or ever) when he writes them.

    Taking a base idea and co-opting it to another venue isn’t plagiarism. Does every article based on a top 10 list give credit to the person who did the first top 10 list? No. Let’s not be dumb.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  47. GZ says:

    I think you just need to credit him in the initial year, not subsequent years, because you’re just updating the original idea with new data. Plus ranking players by trade value (performance+age+contract) doesn’t seem sufficiently novel to be proprietary.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  48. captgus says:

    Who is Bill Simmons, is he related to Ted?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  49. matt says:

    Seriously Dave, people with honor don’t do stuff like that; they use passive-aggressive tactics instead.

    /sarcasm off

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  50. Ennui says:

    The notion that people can own ideas doesn’t sit well with me. It works against the whole notion of Discourse (the ongoing written discussion about humanity), which should be the goal of any writer with integrity, rather than, say, develop that money-maker. Every time I write a love story about two lovers who die in the end must I attribute it to shakespeare? Don’t we all owe Al Gore royalties since we’re making bucks off the internet. Simmons is stumbling down a slippery-slope, and there’s no honor his purpose, only ego and, perhaps, greed.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  51. Haris says:

    Oh, man. Simmons was clearly joking and even if he wasn’t all of you need to get a life. You are singlehandedly validating everything the Bill Conlins and Joe Morgans of the world have said about us.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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