Do Better Players Have More Twitter Followers?

I was reading R.J. Anderson’s recent article on Jason Heyward and Twitter when this question struck me. Obviously better players tend to be more popular, but Twitter offers access to a player’s thoughts, the quality of which might be independent of a player’s ability on the field. So there is at least the possibility that the best players might not have the most popular Twitter accounts.

Here I use FAN projected WAR as a measure of ‘how good’ a player is and compare that to his number of Twitter followers. The number of followers is on a log scale to accommodate the huge range in number of followers (under a thousand to over a million). Players with less than 15 fan projections were left out except for Jason Heyward, whom I just could not leave out. For him I used his current 2.1 WAR plus his CHONE projected rest of the season 1.6 WAR. I got the list of MLB players with Twitter accounts here.

First off the clear outlier is Nick Swisher (@NickSwisher). He has over 1.2 million followers, while his teammate CC Sabathia (@CC_Sabathia) is a distance second with just over 50 thousand followers. Ignoring how Swisher got so many followers, there is a slight trend for better players to have more followers — the linear relationship between projected WAR and log(followers) has a p value of 0.07 and an r-squared of 0.08, and on average each additional win results in 1.25 times more followers. This linear relationship between projected WAR and log(followers) is an exponential relationship between projected WAR and actual number of followers

With Swisher removed there is enough room to plot the remaining players identified by their Twitter account names.

Here it looks more like the lower limit of number of followers is determined by a player’s projected WAR and then there is considerable variation above that limit. For example, David Ortiz (@davidortiz), Carlos Delgado (@carlosdelgado21), and C.J. Wilson (@str8edgeracer) are low projected WAR players with lots of followers. Ortiz and Delgado probably because they both have long histories as very good players and Wilson because he has a particularly active and interesting twitter account.

So there is a weak trend towards better players having more followers with considerable variation based on small market/big market, the player’s history, the quality and quantity of his tweets and any number of other things.



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Dave Allen's other baseball work can be found at Baseball Analysts.


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Andy S.
Guest
Andy S.
5 years 11 months ago

Now do it for managers!

M Li
Member
M Li
5 years 11 months ago

which manager(s) have twitter accounts??

23553
Member
23553
5 years 11 months ago

What is the line of best fit + correlation?

Brandon
Guest
Brandon
5 years 11 months ago

lol I love this. Just yet another reason why Fangraphs is the best website on the internet. Where else can you get this kind of hard hitting twitter analysis?

Shaggychild
Member
Shaggychild
5 years 11 months ago

Agreed! This is Fangraphs at its nerdiest/best.

Can we next find some way to quantify high school popularity? What sort of UZR equivalent can we uncover?

syh
Member
5 years 11 months ago

We need some kind of True Twitter Talent statistic to really take this to The Next Level™

LMack
Member
LMack
5 years 11 months ago

Why Nick Swisher?

BobLoblaw
Guest
BobLoblaw
5 years 11 months ago

Yeah, how DID he get that many?

frtk
Guest
frtk
5 years 11 months ago

Everybody loves Swisher!

Resolution
Guest
Resolution
5 years 11 months ago

He’s the man, plain and simple.

Bob Dylan
Guest
Bob Dylan
5 years 11 months ago

why isnt there a leaderboard for this on the site?!?! this is an outrage!!!!

RonDom
Guest
RonDom
5 years 11 months ago

I’m gonna take a shot and say manbearwolf is Randy Wolf and if so… that’s pretty awesome.

spindoctor
Member
spindoctor
5 years 11 months ago

manbearwolf is John Baker

spindoctor
Member
spindoctor
5 years 11 months ago

*clap*

PJ
Guest
PJ
5 years 11 months ago

I started reading this thinking you were just joking around, then I couldn’t tell… What is it? Are you serious or is this uber-sabermetric satire?

jw
Guest
5 years 11 months ago

@TheGarfoose!!!

number 5
Guest
number 5
5 years 11 months ago

total nerd win

have you tried doing career WAR instead of projected WAR? Ortiz and Delgado are both players who’ve had their glory days. They’re household names because of some amazing years they’ve had in the past, regardless of where they are today.

frtk
Guest
frtk
5 years 11 months ago

You forgot ARod (@IAmCentaur) ;)

xeifrank
Member
5 years 11 months ago

Did adjust for park?

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
5 years 11 months ago

Subscribed to Dexter Fowler’s feed for a while, but it just got depressing:

“0 for 4 today. 2 K’s.”
“0 for 4 again. ONLY 1 K THO!”
“0 for 4. Skip gonna give me a day off.”
“One day off turned into six. Week’s vacay!”
“0 for 3 with a walk!! AWWWW YEA!!!1!”
“0 for 4, GIDP. I hear Colorado Springs is nice.”

Auckland Backpackers
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

haha … the one who is posting the comments :D

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