LINK: Gabe Kapler on the Information Gap

Gabe Kapler wrote a fascinating piece for WEEI today, in which he discusses the problems that will arise from the different ways players evaluate themselves versus how they’re evaluated by front offices. An excerpt:


Times have changed, but substantially less among players. While progressive front offices have altered the way they evaluate us, we have lagged far behind in the way we grade ourselves. It’s akin to unhealthy communication in a relationship.

Imagine a husband taking out the trash everyday and feeling pretty good about handling his obligation. Meanwhile, his wife thinks, “I wish that lazy bum would wash the dishes once in a while!” If expectations aren’t discussed regularly, they become mismatched. And we are in that place now in baseball.

The player still thinks he’s going to make a boatload of money because he’s hitting .300, and he might … but not because he’s excelling in that statistic. He may be shocked to find that he’s not in as high demand as a guy dominating a peripheral measurable.

The timing of this piece is interesting, given Brandon Phillips recent comments about how he felt deceived by the Reds front office after they gave Joey Votto a $200+ million contract extension. Because of the pervasive use of batting average and runs batted in, Phillips might see himself as Votto’s equal, or at least think that the gap isn’t particularly large, when in reality he’s not even in the same realm of value, which their contracts ended up reflecting.

My feeling is that the responsibility to educate the player about how he’s actually being evaluated probably falls to their agent, however. They’re the ones communicating with the teams in contract negotiations, and they’re the ones with credibility on these issues. Agents are aware of the changing tools that teams are using to evaluate players, and more and more, they’re using similar tools themselves. If that information isn’t filtering down to the player themselves, the player’s representative is likely in the best position to change that.

Anyway, check out the entire article. It’s worth a read.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Benzedrine
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Benzedrine
3 years 1 month ago

Reitred platoon outfielders appear to the new crop of players with awesome insight.

James
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James
3 years 1 month ago

New market inefficiency

dtf_in_dtl
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dtf_in_dtl
3 years 1 month ago

Do I feel like they lied to me? If someone tells me they don’t have no money and you find $200 million somewhere, what does that sound like? You tell me.

Wasn’t Phillips more upset that the front office said they were broke, not that he thinks he should get paid like Votto?

attgig
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attgig
3 years 1 month ago

yeah, it sounded like he felt hurt that the front office signed Votto who still had years remaining in his contract before they signed Phillips who’s contract was expiring. And then gave Votto a bunch of the money, and told him that they “only” had 72 mil left over.

attgig
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attgig
3 years 1 month ago

If we’re talking about peripherals that the players aren’t looking at…how about some other “peripherals” that nobody’s looking at but Phillips kinda talks about in the article… about making the game exciting. If Votto’s a good but boring player but will only draw baseball fans who recognize his greatness, while Phillips makes baseball fun and brings in casual baseball fans into the ballpark because they love watching him make the game fun, doesn’t that count for something?

how about some extra millions for the number of twitter followers? jersey’s/tshirts sold. extra people in attendance for your bobble head night.

seems like contracts should account for personality or pizzaz that draws extra fans through the gate or extra people watching just for you… how you quantify that??? maybe there should be a contractsgraphs.com…..

Benzedrine
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Benzedrine
3 years 1 month ago

I think this could be measured using Google Analytics to see how many times a player has been searched on the web.

paperlions
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paperlions
3 years 1 month ago

Fans really only go to see winning teams. Exciting/good starting pitchers might seem to be different, but really it is just fans wanting to see winning baseball and recognizing that having an ace on the hill significantly changes the equation.

The Cardinals “lost” Pujols and their attendance has gone up 2000/game each year since. The Angels signed Pujols, Wilson, and Hamilton and added Trout…and their attendance has gone down each of the last two years.

Win games and fans show up no matter who is on the field. Lose games and fans don’t, no matter who is on the field. It really is that simple.

MrMan
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MrMan
3 years 1 month ago

Yes, you’re right. But that doesn’t fully negate attgig’s point. Regardless of whether a team is winning or losing…two players with equal on-field production could differ significantly in terms of how much interest / revenue they’re generating.

In this case…the Reds are winning right now so lots of attendance / interest in the team. Let’s assume that Votto is not an exciting personality, doesn’t drive jersey sales, online metrics, etc. Let’s also assume Phillips in fact does drive these things, with the numbers being so overwhelming that’s it’s obvious fans are more motivated to spend for Phillips than for Votto.

Assuming all that…I think you could make an argument that these off-field metrics could and should play a role in player compensation.

On the other hand, my totally non-scientific hunch is that fan interest and willingness to spend money is closely related to on-field player performance and there would not be many instances where a poor player drives revenues while a quality player does not.

cass
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cass
3 years 1 month ago

It’s very frustrating to hear Kapler talking about hitters being evaluated based on “exit velocity/speed off the bat” when we as fans do not have access to that information. I feel like MLB wants to treat us like sheep and be forced to accept that the front offices know better. It’s very frustrating to have our knowledge of the game and ability to analyze performance handicapped by lack of access to information.

I wonder if fans should be more vocal in demanding access to these new statistics?

FromSomeFrontOffice
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FromSomeFrontOffice
3 years 1 month ago

Some teams evaluate players based on the exit trajectory of the ball, but I think you would find that this analysis is in its infancy. Of course it would be great to provide fans with this information, but at this point it’s hard to tell what sort of competitive advantage we stand to gain from it.

Take WAR for example – great metric, but now that anyone can go to FanGraphs to get it, it’s value is somewhat reduced in the eyes of a team.

BenRevereDoesSteroids
Member
BenRevereDoesSteroids
3 years 1 month ago

The problem with letting everyone have your fancy new state-of-the-art evaluation techniques, is that everyone will have your fancy new state-of-the-art evaluation techniques. Believe it or not, it is in a team’s best interest to be a step ahead of some guy watching the game in his La-Z Boy at home.

BrianB
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BrianB
3 years 1 month ago

Saw Kapler quoting a stat from Fangraphs in one of his tweets last week.

Good man.

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