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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Baseball Therapy: One Simple Anti-Tanking Solution - Baseball Prospectus

No thank you. If you want to add another wild card team, add another single game playoff between the 2nd and 3rd seeds. Keep the advantage for winning your division.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 23, 2018 at 12:24 PM | 68 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: tanking

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   1. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 23, 2018 at 12:29 PM (#5611728)
Don't you mean "no tanks?"

-- MWE
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 23, 2018 at 12:43 PM (#5611734)
Awful. 8 teams per league and the 8th seed gets a shot at the #1 seed in a 3 game series.

So last year the 77-win Marlins get a shot at the 104 win Dodgers in a 3-game series? Asinine.

Perfect way to reduce the regular season to irrelevancy like in the NBA and NHL.
   3. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: January 23, 2018 at 01:06 PM (#5611746)
Pass. Pass. Pass. A thousand times pass.

I've never really gotten the anger for 'tanking' - nor do I see any need to address what I think is a non-problem...

But if you want to add an NBA-style lottery system to the top of the amateur draft, fine. If you want to add a salary floor tax, fine.

Beyond that, who cares... teams rebuild. They always have. Just because smarter - and more successful - modern GMs have decided that the financial penalties of a couple lost seasons are far outweighed by the benefits of increasingly frenetic talent hoarding doesn't mean we have a problem.

   4. BDC Posted: January 23, 2018 at 01:09 PM (#5611750)
Yeah, I'm not seeing it. The idea is supposed to be that teams won't tank if they can get somewhere by finishing eighth. But I think the opposite happens: if you can get somewhere by winning 77 games, why not aim for a 69-win potential and hope a few baseballs bounce right?
   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 23, 2018 at 01:11 PM (#5611755)
I've never really gotten the anger for 'tanking' - nor do I see any need to address what I think is a non-problem...

I think it's a problem, but the solution is simple. Just cap all shared rvenue at the major league payroll.

If a team wants to run a $30M payroll, fine. But your shared rvenue is going to get cut from $60-80M down to $30M.

Rebuilding is fine. But, it shouldn't be hugely profitable.
   6. BrianBrianson Posted: January 23, 2018 at 01:13 PM (#5611757)
The reason you can't tank effectively in baseball, while you can in basketball, is that individual basketball players are far more important, and individual basketball prospects are far easier to predict, than baseball players and prospects.

Why? Baseball has more players, and less control of who's involved in the play. So - you could move in that direction. A bigger field, more bases, more fielders, a longer lineup, force a pitching change between each inning ...

</sarcasm>

In seriousness, if you're so dumb you can't figure out a 50-something win team isn't tanking, but merely terrible, what if we just award each team 81 wins, and go straight to elimination rounds?
   7. SoSH U at work Posted: January 23, 2018 at 01:15 PM (#5611760)
If you want to add another wild card team, add another single game playoff between the 2nd and 3rd seeds.


I can't figure out what you mean by this. On the other hand, I'm almost certain I'd oppose it.

We simply don't need more crap shot in the postseason. But one of my objections to the expansion from one WC to two was the inevitable push to even more.

   8. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: January 23, 2018 at 01:17 PM (#5611763)
FTR -

I think the line needs be held right where it is on 2 WCs. I will utterly, adamantly, and loudly oppose any expansion of the playoffs. I'm not particularly thrilled with 2 WCs and the WC play-in game -- if it were up to me, we'd go back to a single WC just to produce the pair of postseason quartets.

However, no way, no how, should any sort of league reconfiguration, expansion or whatever else grow the number any more. The current line is far as I am willing to go.

Keep pushing it and we'll go back to 4 divisions, no wildcards for anyone, and a strict LCS -> WS.... Don't make me get on board with the REAL get-off-my-playoff-grassers and consider no divisions for anyone - best record in each league meets for WS.... because god help me, I'll do it!
   9. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: January 23, 2018 at 01:22 PM (#5611766)
I think it's a problem, but the solution is simple. Just cap all shared rvenue at the major league payroll.

If a team wants to run a $30M payroll, fine. But your shared rvenue is going to get cut from $60-80M down to $30M.

Rebuilding is fine. But, it shouldn't be hugely profitable.


That's fine, too.

I don't have any real problems with financial penalties for 'tanking' -- especially now that the parameters of INTL FAs and draft slots have become so formalized that a tanking team can't really even say "But we spent bonzo on young Dominicans and more than anyone else on the draft!".

I wouldn't want to make the penalties so prohibitive that everyone gets quasi-forced into throwing up patchwork hail mary's every offseason -- but if your basic structure means that the worst teams in the league are ultimately the least profitable, sure. I can sign onto that.
   10. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 23, 2018 at 01:22 PM (#5611767)

I think the line needs be held right where it is on 2 WCs. I will utterly, adamantly, and loudly oppose any expansion of the playoffs.
Agreed 1000%.
I'm not particularly thrilled with 2 WCs and the WC play-in game -- if it were up to me, we'd go back to a single WC just to produce the pair of postseason quartets.
I'm torn on that. On the one hand, the fewer teams making the postseason, the better. On the other, the WC game is a real and significant penalty that creates a meaningful incentive for a team to try to win its division. The previous one-WC system basically gave no benefit whatsoever for coming in first place.
   11. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: January 23, 2018 at 01:25 PM (#5611770)
the WC game is a real and significant penalty that creates a meaningful incentive for a team to try to win its division. The previous one-WC system basically gave no benefit whatsoever for coming in first place.


This is my feeling. I like that winning the division has a genuine reward.
   12. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 23, 2018 at 01:30 PM (#5611773)
Even simpler solution: The owners (and GMs, probably) of all teams that win fewer than, say, 70 games have to attend a weeklong seminar on baseball economics conducted by our very own YR. If that's not enough, hold it in Buffalo in January or something.
   13. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: January 23, 2018 at 01:31 PM (#5611774)
I'm torn on that. On the one hand, the fewer teams making the postseason, the better. On the other, the WC game is a real and significant penalty that creates a meaningful incentive for a team to try to win its division. The previous one-WC system basically gave no benefit whatsoever for coming in first place.


OK, that's a fair point. I suppose that so long as we keep it a single game, I can accept it.
   14. SoSH U at work Posted: January 23, 2018 at 01:40 PM (#5611783)
On the one hand, the fewer teams making the postseason, the better. On the other, the WC game is a real and significant penalty that creates a meaningful incentive for a team to try to win its division. The previous one-WC system basically gave no benefit whatsoever for coming in first place.


The system made finishing as first runner-up less valuable than it once was. It did so by making finishing as the second runner-up more valuable.

Sometimes it will be a good thing. Other times it will be a crappy thing. Ultimately, you're just letting one more undeserving team into the playoffs, and opening the door a little to even more crappy teams getting invited in.
   15. Khrushin it bro Posted: January 23, 2018 at 02:16 PM (#5611821)
I'd be down to send the Astros back to the NL (A's fan).
   16. Zach Posted: January 23, 2018 at 02:19 PM (#5611829)
I think the article ignores the incentive to be good during the regular season due to attendance and sales. Each team has 81 home games, with visitors spending something like 50 bucks apiece. Changing regular season attendance really adds up. Postseason success is nice, but we're still only talking about a few games.
   17. Dr. Vaux Posted: January 23, 2018 at 02:20 PM (#5611831)
Once you can make the playoffs without finishing in first place, why should there be an advantage to finishing in first place? It's already been decided that you can win the "championship" without having finished in first place, which is basically dogs and cats sleeping together anyway.
   18. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 23, 2018 at 02:24 PM (#5611836)
Once you can make the playoffs without finishing in first place, why should there be an advantage to finishing in first place? It's already been decided that you can win the "championship" without having finished in first place, which is basically dogs and cats sleeping together anyway.

That cat was out of the bag once you introduced divisions. Why is 88-74 in crappy division better than 98-64 in a great one?
   19. Zach Posted: January 23, 2018 at 02:26 PM (#5611837)
On the other, the WC game is a real and significant penalty that creates a meaningful incentive for a team to try to win its division. The previous one-WC system basically gave no benefit whatsoever for coming in first place.

I also feel like it incentivized the Yankees / Red Sox superteams of the early 2000s. If one of those teams won the division, great; if not, the wildcard was a perfectly acceptable fallback. It got to the point where other teams weren't investing because they couldn't see a competitive window.

(At least that's what it looked like for a fan of the perpetually uncompetitive Royals.)
   20. Ziggy: The Platonic Form of Russell Branyan Posted: January 23, 2018 at 02:44 PM (#5611874)
Don't make me get on board with the REAL get-off-my-playoff-grassers and consider no divisions for anyone - best record in each league meets for WS.... because god help me, I'll do it!


This isn't far enough. One league, best record after 162 games (or whatever) wins it. No postseason.
   21. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: January 23, 2018 at 02:48 PM (#5611882)
This isn't far enough. One league, best record after 162 games (or whatever) wins it. No postseason.


One league. Best record lives. Every other team is executed.

Now we're getting somewhere!
   22. Bhaakon Posted: January 23, 2018 at 02:52 PM (#5611886)
I think the article ignores the incentive to be good during the regular season due to attendance and sales. Each team has 81 home games, with visitors spending something like 50 bucks apiece. Changing regular season attendance really adds up. Postseason success is nice, but we're still only talking about a few games.


Yeah, but revenue generation per win isn't linear. The difference in attendance between 60 and 65 wins is a hell of a lot smaller than the difference between, say, 80 and 85 wins, or 85 and 90 wins. Real gains in attendance don't kick in until the fans think the team is legitimately challenging for a playoff berth, so forking out an extra 40 million on free agents to turn your hundred loss team into a 95 loss team is going to be a losing proposition. Forking out for those extra 5 free agent wins when they're the difference between .500 and wildcard contender is another story.

   23. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 23, 2018 at 02:58 PM (#5611893)
One league. Best record lives. Every other team is executed.

But what if, say, Ohtani and Trout have spectacular years and lead the Angels to the best record despite -1.8 WAR from Pujols.

Does Pujols get to live? Should he?
   24. Stevey Posted: January 23, 2018 at 03:05 PM (#5611905)
If a team wants to run a $30M payroll, fine. But your shared rvenue is going to get cut from $60-80M down to $30M.

Rebuilding is fine. But, it shouldn't be hugely profitable.


You'd probably find the majority of the non-decision makers okay with this. But for about 20 of the only 30 people who get a say in this, it's a complete non-starter. As fantasies go, perfect. But is there something that can actually be implemented?
   25. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 23, 2018 at 03:13 PM (#5611923)
Even simpler solution: The owners (and GMs, probably) of all teams that win fewer than, say, 70 games have to attend a weeklong seminar on baseball economics conducted by our very own YR.


I’ve lectured in front of 20 dead bodies, good to knows it’s prepared me for something.
   26. Blastin Posted: January 23, 2018 at 03:14 PM (#5611924)
This is my feeling. I like that winning the division has a genuine reward.


I honestly think part of the reason the yanks came up short is their entire bullpen was shot after that first game. Sure, Severino pitched terribly, but it wouldn't have mattered nearly as much in a 5 game series (as we saw when Gray pitched poorly). They held on, barely (I don't really know how Cleveland didn't put that away...), but yes, winning the division is absolutely a bonus.

(Of course, Boston lost, but, well, I just don't think they were as good as the numbers say.)
   27. Astroenteritis Posted: January 23, 2018 at 03:16 PM (#5611932)
I've never really gotten the anger for 'tanking' - nor do I see any need to address what I think is a non-problem...


A thousand times this. Humans waste an awful lot of time looking for solutions to problems that don't exist, and ignoring problems that do exist.
   28. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: January 23, 2018 at 03:25 PM (#5611942)
But what if, say, Ohtani and Trout have spectacular years and lead the Angels to the best record despite -1.8 WAR from Pujols.

Does Pujols get to live? Should he?


They get the option of serving him to teams to be executed as a last meal.
   29. Dr. Vaux Posted: January 23, 2018 at 03:29 PM (#5611947)
That cat was out of the bag once you introduced divisions. Why is 88-74 in crappy division better than 98-64 in a great one?


I'm sure I would have hated divisions if I'd been around when they were introduced. Still, even though I grew up used to it, it seems like at least finishing first among an arbitrary group of teams is better than not even finishing first among that arbitrary group. The problems with that are well understood, of course. The best way, if there need to be multitiered playoffs, is to take the top however many records, without divisions, and play actual series. I caterwauled to a probably embarrassing extent when the change was made, but it still just plain doesn't make any sense to me that someone thinks it's an improvement on the three divisions, one wildcard system to have a new system where an even worse team can advance even more randomly.
   30. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 23, 2018 at 03:43 PM (#5611959)
You'd probably find the majority of the non-decision makers okay with this. But for about 20 of the only 30 people who get a say in this, it's a complete non-starter. As fantasies go, perfect. But is there something that can actually be implemented?

It's zero sum among the owners, so they have no collective bias.

The only teams that really benefit from the current situation is a few bottom feeders. The Cubs payroll never fell below $90M in their rebuild. The Mets never went below $85M in the post-Madoff cash siphoning.

The only teams that have run payrolls much below $60M in the recent past are Miami, Tampa, Houston, and San Diego.
   31. BrianBrianson Posted: January 23, 2018 at 03:50 PM (#5611965)
All the proposals read pretty much the same "Punish teams that are doing badly/make it harder for them to win". Well, that just leads to a permanent underclass. I suppose you'd stop accusing them of tanking because they'd never get good, they'd just keep sucking.
   32. Sleepy's not going to blame himself Posted: January 23, 2018 at 03:51 PM (#5611966)
Beyond that, who cares... teams rebuild. They always have. Just because smarter - and more successful - modern GMs have decided that the financial penalties of a couple lost seasons are far outweighed by the benefits of increasingly frenetic talent hoarding doesn't mean we have a problem.
I wouldn't call the Cubs (or the Astros) more successful, and I certainly wouldn't call their GM's "smarter". Hell, the Pirates have won 20 more games than the Cubs since 2012. And the Astros are 78 games under .500 with Luhnow as GM - even with a world series win, that's not "successful".

Luhnow and Epstein chose to put their fans through hell, and their fans' patience was rewarded, but their choices robbed us of good baseball in those years. Teams like the Cubs and Astros should always be competitive and when they decide to place expedience over I think that is definitely a problem.
   33. Batman Posted: January 23, 2018 at 03:53 PM (#5611968)
A thousand times this. Humans waste an awful lot of time looking for solutions to problems that don't exist
Baseball needs an infomercial to advertise the solution to tanking.

Voiceover: FANS! DOES THIS HAPPEN TO YOU???
(black and white video of the 2017 White Sox playing their version of baseball)
VO: WELL YOU SHOULD BUY A ####### WHITE SOX SNUGGIE!!!
(color video reminding us that Jose Abreu is still there and 2005 happened)
VO: ORDER YOURS TODAY BEFORE YOUR STUPID KID GROWS UP TO BE A CUB FAN!
   34. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 23, 2018 at 03:56 PM (#5611971)
All the proposals read pretty much the same "Punish teams that are doing badly/make it harder for them to win". Well, that just leads to a permanent underclass. I suppose you'd stop accusing them of tanking because they'd never get good, they'd just keep sucking.

No, it doesn't punish them. It just prevents them from making $50M a year in pure profit while fielding a 50 win team.

It's absurd that a 50 win team darwing 1.2M fans can be more profitable than a playoff team, but that's the reality in MLB with the big increase in shared revenue.

What is the logical argument that owners should be allowed to pocket shared revenue as profit? The whole point of shared revenue is to let small market teams be competitive.
   35. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: January 23, 2018 at 03:58 PM (#5611974)
I wouldn't call the Cubs (or the Astros) more successful, and I certainly wouldn't call their GM's "smarter". Hell, the Pirates have won 20 more games than the Cubs since 2012. That's sad.


Well, selective endpoints and all...

Luhnow and Epstein chose to put their fans through hell, and their fans' patience was rewarded, but their choices robbed us of good baseball in those years. Teams like the Cubs and Astros should always be competitive and when they decide to place expedience over I think that is definitely a problem.


As much as I could probably just point to old Gonfalon threads rather than rehashing this yet again (to the annoyance of many, I presume) -- but the Cubs weren't playing good baseball when Theo took over... and based on what they had in-house and what was realistically available, they weren't going to be playing good baseball any time soon.

Just speaking for the Cubs - they've played in three straight LCS's, and none of them were 85 win flukes with a few career years getting them past the hump.

The lean years were certainly lean - but finally breaking the schneid sandwiched in between two other LCS appearances beats anything any Cubs fan has seen since long before modern parameters of and ideas about team construction even existed.
   36. BDC Posted: January 23, 2018 at 04:10 PM (#5611992)
I wouldn't call the Cubs (or the Astros) more successful, and I certainly wouldn't call their GM's "smarter". Hell, the Pirates have won 20 more games than the Cubs since 2012. And the Astros are 78 games under .500 with Luhnow as GM - even with a world series win, that's not "successful".

Luhnow and Epstein chose to put their fans through hell, and their fans' patience was rewarded, but their choices robbed us of good baseball in those years. Teams like the Cubs and Astros should always be competitive and when they decide to place expedience over I think that is definitely a problem.


As Zonk was saying, I just don't know about this. It's your experience and feeling, so I won't deny it. But it's hard to see the Cubs and Astros as ultimately cheating their fans. (Unless, I suppose, certain fans died during the rebuilding years and never saw the WS titles. But a whole lot of Cubs and Astros fans had already experienced that.)

If it were a matter of selling your soul for one WS title and immediately redescending to <.400 baseball … even then, it might be worth it to a franchise that had been waiting between 55 and 108 years. But as Zonk points out, the Cubs and Astros have both been pretty good for a few years now. Both have eagerly spent money to get over the top, as soon as they got a little momentum going. Both look to contend next year. What was the problem with rebuilding? Could they have gotten as good as they are now while still winning 85-90 games every year in between?

The real tanking problem is the Marlins, always disbanding when they get any good players at all; but as Zonk says (again) we've had a certain number of threads on that :)



   37. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: January 23, 2018 at 04:48 PM (#5612040)
This "solution" is way way way worse for baseball than a couple teams tanking.

   38. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 23, 2018 at 04:56 PM (#5612046)
They get the option of serving him to teams to be executed as a last meal.

Eh, he's probably pretty gamey by now.
   39. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 23, 2018 at 05:14 PM (#5612059)
Teams should be able to “tank” to whatever extent they want, as long as they aren’t expecting other teams to pay for it. Cubs tanking is fine. Marlins tanking is repugnant.
   40. Sleepy's not going to blame himself Posted: January 23, 2018 at 05:14 PM (#5612060)
Well, selective endpoints and all...
Selective endpoint covering entire tenure of the current Cubs and Astros GM's leadership, right? Both took over after the 2011 season.
As Zonk was saying, I just don't know about this. It's your experience and feeling, so I won't deny it. But it's hard to see the Cubs and Astros as ultimately cheating their fans.
I don't give a damn about the Cubs fans. The decision to tank made the cards-cubs rivalry much less fun. They were cheating baseball fans, even if Cubs and Astros fans were OK with it.
   41. cardsfanboy Posted: January 23, 2018 at 05:41 PM (#5612078)
The solution in the article is horrible, the solution proposed by Snapper in 5 is excellent. It's all about the money, teams aren't really tanking to get draft picks, they are tanking because they have a five year plan on acquiring, developing players, revamping their minor leagues to better serve the team, and realize that it's not worth their time or moneyy to bother being competitive for a few years while the system is being put into place(and in fact could be detrimental, a surprise year contending for a team that didn't plan on it, might force the ownership into a panic move, like trading a prospect for a missing piece, that isn't going to really help the team long term, the tanking concept removes that potential from the equation) and of course, once that decision is made, it then becomes time to trade off players you recognize won't be part of the success cycle while their trade value is the highest for a few lottery picks.


I disagree with the person that says this isn't a problem, as a fan of the game, I do think this is a problem, and if I was a fan of a team that was doing it, it would really bother me. And of course there is also the possibility that tanking doesn't ultimately help long term if the ownership group isn't as smart as they think they are. The three to five years it takes to do a good full rebuild by tanking, in the wild card era, probably means that the team did miss out on a real chance of getting into a wild card game(especially assuming the gm is as smart as he thinks he is) and there is no guarantee that the team actually will have a 5 year or longer period of being competitive. I mean the Red Sox have actually finished in last place since Theo was the gm. (not saying the Red Sox tanked, saying that Theo's recent influence didn't guarantee the team was competitive for years after he left...or even one season-- what is to say that the Cubs don't hire another Cherington after Theo moves on to the Dodgers?)
   42. Stevey Posted: January 23, 2018 at 05:51 PM (#5612082)
It's zero sum among the owners, so they have no collective bias.


But they don't vote as a monolith, but on their own, so they each will have their own bias. 20 or so teams are going to be eligible to be net recipients in revenue sharing. They aren't going to give that away.




The only teams that really benefit from the current situation is a few bottom feeders. The Cubs payroll never fell below $90M in their rebuild. The Mets never went below $85M in the post-Madoff cash siphoning.

The only teams that have run payrolls much below $60M in the recent past are Miami, Tampa, Houston, and San Diego.



So far. This whole burn it to the ground completely rebuilding is way too new to state definitively that only a few could benefit.
   43. AndrewJ Posted: January 23, 2018 at 06:49 PM (#5612117)
Once you can make the playoffs without finishing in first place, why should there be an advantage to finishing in first place? It's already been decided that you can win the "championship" without having finished in first place, which is basically dogs and cats sleeping together anyway.


That cat was out of the bag once you introduced divisions. Why is 88-74 in crappy division better than 98-64 in a great one?

And the 1950 NL-champion Phillies' 91-63 record would have only been good for fifth in the AL that season. So what?
   44. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 23, 2018 at 06:55 PM (#5612120)
And the 1950 NL-champion Phillies (91-63) would have finished fifth in the AL that season. So what?

So, don't worry about 2nd place teams being in the playoffs.
   45. BrianBrianson Posted: January 23, 2018 at 06:55 PM (#5612121)
What is the logical argument that owners should be allowed to pocket shared revenue as profit?


A game takes two teams - historically, gate revenues were shared when they were the biggest chunk of revenue. Because fans don't shell out for batting practice.

It's absurd that a 50 win team darwing 1.2M fans can be more profitable than a playoff team, but that's the reality in MLB with the big increase in shared revenue.


What playoff team is taking it's money management strategy from The Dark Knight's Joker?
   46. Greg Pope Posted: January 23, 2018 at 07:09 PM (#5612125)
Teams should be able to “tank” to whatever extent they want, as long as they aren’t expecting other teams to pay for it. Cubs tanking is fine. Marlins tanking is repugnant.

I rarely agree with YR on the revenue stuff, but this is spot on.
   47. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 23, 2018 at 07:21 PM (#5612130)
A game takes two teams - historically, gate revenues were shared when they were the biggest chunk of revenue. Because fans don't shell out for batting practice.


He didn't ask why revenue should be shared. He asked why shared revenue should be pocketed by owners instead of invested in the on-field product.
   48. ptodd Posted: January 23, 2018 at 07:29 PM (#5612136)
The problem is not the lower tier teams, its the middle tier teams. There needs to be more of a financial incentive to make the post season. That can come from revenue sharing dollars. Also playoff teams get the 11-20 draft picks and the middle tier non playoff teams get the 21-30 picks
   49. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 23, 2018 at 08:14 PM (#5612151)

That cat was out of the bag once you introduced divisions. Why is 88-74 in crappy division better than 98-64 in a great one?
One could make the same argument about leagues.
   50. BDC Posted: January 23, 2018 at 08:58 PM (#5612173)
I dunno. People seem to have very strong feelings about it, but I have no more problem with a pro team strategically conceding this year and next so that they can build a contender than I do with them sending out two emergency starters so that their two top rotation guys can get over minor injuries and return healthier.

The questions that would concern me are: Is the team on the field giving full effort tonight? and Does the management intend to build a winner in the long run? If so, as many have said, the teardown/youth-movement strategy has been around forever and is not unsportsmanlike at all.

I guess what I'm kind of saying is that I would be happy for the Rangers to try some rookie in center field next year rather than pay Carlos Gomez another $11M :)

   51. AndrewJ Posted: January 23, 2018 at 09:09 PM (#5612176)
That cat was out of the bag once you introduced divisions. Why is 88-74 in crappy division better than 98-64 in a great one?


One could make the same argument about leagues.

See post #43. And every Selection Sunday there are invariably two or three 21-9 teams left out of the NCAA tourney while two or three 18-13 teams sneak in. C'est la vie.
   52. Walt Davis Posted: January 23, 2018 at 09:52 PM (#5612186)
#5 ... and to amplify #24 ... There is "common revenue" and there is "shared revenue." "Common revenue" is the national TV deal, merchandising, MLBAM, etc. Even in fantasy land you'll ever get teams to agree that is not their money to do with what they want. The common reenue is shared equally among teams. The "shared revenue" is the (non-lux-tax-related) money shared by big markets with smaller markets and, at least in fantasyland, that's the money you might force them to spend -- i.e. it's one thing to get the big markets to participate in a system where they have to subsidize the competition in order to maintain the overall product and marketing, it's something else if that money goes into Loria's pocket.

It's been a while since I've seen a breakdown between those two but my memory is that it was about 50/50 and added up to about $70 M. Probably the best you could get in fantasyland is that teams have to have a payroll equal to the absolute minimum (about $13-14 M) plus their shared revenue take, putting min payroll around $50 M. That's about the least anybody gets away with these days anyway.

Could they have gotten as good as they are now while still winning 85-90 games every year in between?

Hard to say. But (1) they might have made the playoffs and won a WS in the years they were winning those 85-90 games and (2) this is what we fans are hoping will be the case 3-6 years from now (i.e. that they are still good) so if it's possible now it was possible (maybe less likely) then.

Again, the Cubs' reward for the misery were Bryant, Schwarber and Happ. Bryant is obviously a huge reward but he isn't solely responsible for pushing them from 90-105 losses a year to 60-70. The Astros' reward is Correa and Bregman -- again very nice players but they didn't transform the franchise.

Now it's true that pretty much the only way a team can acquire the early years of a Bryant or Correa (or ARod or Griffey or Harper) is to really stink up the joint in the right year. It's also how you get Mark Appel (picked before Bryant). And baseball being a funny game, the Bryant draft year was the same year the Yanks got Aaron Judge with the 32nd pick (via the Indians!).

Clearly higher picks are better on average but the draft is such a massive crapshoot it's not clear how much advantage you're really going to get from tanking. The 2006 1st round has 3 superstars -- Evan Longoria #3, Kershaw #7, Scherzer #11. Lincecum was #10 and #21 Ian Kennedy has cracked 10 WAR.

Rays -- 67 wins
Dodgers -- 71
DBacks -- 77
Giants -- 75
Yanks -- 95

That 2005 DBacks team is the sort of thing we're talking about. Several vets in decline, some young pitchers on the way, they had some choices to make that offseason. They signed Glaus as an FA -- he had a good year. They signed Counsell and Clayton to be (hopefully) non-terrible at 2B and SS. They traded Randy Johnson for Javy Vazquez and stuff, some of that stuff then part of a trade for Shawn Green. They signed Shawn Estes to eat some starts and Tony Clark to be on the bench (and they probably didn't expect a big Chad Tracy year).

Those are classic "drive for 75" style moves. Maybe they hoped for more from Green and they did sign Glaus for 5 years (then traded him at the end of year 1), so maybe contention was a possibility. Given the Padres won the West with 82 wins, everybody was in contention that year.

Anyway the drive for 75 was successful, the ended up with the mediocre #11 pick and still got Scherzer. Obviously the other teams that won about 75 games didn't fare so well in that draft but neither did the teams with #1 or #2 picks (Hochevar and Greg Reynolds) although hopefully #4 is becoming a stud reliever (Morrow) and #5 definitely has (Miller).

So, for example, the Royals stunk (intentionally or not) from 2005-7, "earning" the #1, #2 and #3 picks respectively. Those become Hochevar, Moustakas and Hosmer, a total of 28 WAR in their control years. That seems about typical -- for 2005-7, average WAR for a 1-5 pick (so far) is about 12 so you'd expect about 36 if you picked in the top 5 for three years. It would be fairly common for all/most of that WAR to come from one player.

That was 299 losses over those 3 years. Over the next 5 years, they were still 110 games below 500. In the subsequent 5 years they were 52 games over 500, made 2 WS and won one. That was a lot of suffering.

Now if you're a big payroll team, taking a dip through the bottom end to add 25-45 WAR over 6 years might be worth it since you can start spending again to build the baseline team that you're adding those wins to. But you probably better not do it very often and you better hope it works.

Flukily enough, on average you'd have done about as well picking 6-10 as 1-5 -- it's only about 1.5 WAR less. That was due to Kershaw and mainly it looks like you could expect a bit more than half as much WAR picking there. So no we're talking about an edge of about 18 WAR over 6 years by picking top 5 rather than next 5. Those are roughly your 70-75 win teams. So lose maybe 18 more games in years 1-3 to win 18 more games in years 6-11. (or whatever)

Things start to drop off pretty substantially after that. There were 6 big players drafted in the 1st round incl supplemental after #10 -- Scherzer, Heyward, Porcello, Kennedy, Frazier, Donaldson (he took a long while) along with a reasonable number in the 6-12 WAR range and a whole lot of nothing. Given the number of picks we're talking about, I'm not sure the average is more than 2-3 WAR over 6 years and that's almost all due to being lucky enough to draft the 20-1 pick that will become a star (i.e. you get 20-30 or you get nothing). But now we're also talking about the Royals losing 100+ more games over 3 years in order to win 36 more games over 6 years at some point in the fairly distant future.

Fortunately the Cubs hit the jackpot on Bryant and the Astros on Correa. And they played service time games so they will likely clear 40 WAR and Correa's got a shot at 50 in his nearly 7 years of control. The teams will likely make every effort to sign the players into their FA years. So their gambles probably did pay off, certainly they've paid off about as well as you could possibly hope. The Royals didn't do so well, really getting just one good regular season out of it but did hit the jackpot on their two trips to the playoffs.
   53. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 23, 2018 at 10:13 PM (#5612196)
#5 ... and to amplify #24 ... There is "common revenue" and there is "shared revenue." "Common revenue" is the national TV deal, merchandising, MLBAM, etc. Even in fantasy land you'll ever get teams to agree that is not their money to do with what they want.

They'll agree to whatever 20 owners want. There's no inherent reason that money needs to be shared equally. MLB would generate 99.9% of that revenue if they unilaterally kicked the Marlins out of the league.
   54. Nero Wolfe, Indeed Posted: January 24, 2018 at 02:27 AM (#5612226)
Baseball isn't set up for it, but the obvious answer to tanking is relegation.
   55. Sunday silence Posted: January 24, 2018 at 04:54 AM (#5612228)
I've never really gotten the anger for 'tanking'


Shoeless Joe Jackson says "Hello."
   56. Omineca Greg Posted: January 24, 2018 at 05:29 AM (#5612230)
If cost is no object, I would go with the FGM-148 Javelin as both a simple and effective solution. I know a lot of posters here make good bank, but I'm not ashamed to say that at $78 000 per missile, I wasn't able to purchase very many (psst...American military equipment is really overpriced) I had two choices: cut back on expensive whisky and save up (many a mickle makes a muckle) OR don't anger any people who command armoured divisions...I went with the latter, and I don't regret my decision for a moment.

If for some reason, you're on a budget, and you still want to go up against someone who owns a tank (to bring this back to baseball, say if an owner wasn't fielding a competitive team and pocketing all the revenue sharing instead, pretty soon they could have a nice battalion happening. I bet Jeffrey Loria can re-shoot Patton by now). Anyway, say Jeffrey rips you off an a sculpture (instead of being the Henry Moore you were promised, it was done by James Bond's cousin) and you want to take revenge but are too intimidated by his column of approaching armoured vehicles, I would recommend the РПГ-7. Or an RPG-7 to you Англоговорящий люди.

Now, I know what most of you are thinking..."An RPG? That's what me and my friends play in the basement (if my mom lets me). I'm a half-orc wizard, Level 6!"

Shut up loser!

Why would you be a half-orc wizard? That's like being an Ominecan citrus grower, just plain stupid.

But besides that, in the real world, RPG stands for Ручной Противотанковый Гранатомёт, or Handheld Anti-tank Grenade Launcher. Those missiles only cost a couple of hundred bucks, sometimes less, depending how badly whatever despotic government you're dealing with needs hard currency. The Republic of Chad is usually a good bet, or درہ آدم خیل‎ but که تاسو په پښتو نه پوهيږئ، هیڅ امکان نشته, so I would stick with Chad.

Always happy to help.
   57. manchestermets Posted: January 24, 2018 at 07:15 AM (#5612233)
But besides that, in the real world, RPG stands for


Report Program Generator.

I once had a job programming in RPG in an organisation whose IT department blocked any web pages mentioning RPG, on the assumption that it was referring to the games. It's always fun when employers actively put obstacles to doing your job in front of you.
   58. BrianBrianson Posted: January 24, 2018 at 09:17 AM (#5612252)
He didn't ask why revenue should be shared. He asked why shared revenue should be pocketed by owners instead of invested in the on-field product.


Every owner is making money on their team.

MLB would generate 99.9% of that revenue if they unilaterally kicked the Marlins out of the league.


But given that your definition of "tanking" means every team tanks from time to time, we'd soon have a zero team league. Then MLB's revenue would be well down.

   59. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 24, 2018 at 09:27 AM (#5612257)
But given that your definition of "tanking" means every team tanks from time to time

No it doesn't. My definition for punishment purposes is MLB payroll < non-local revenue (national TV, MLBAM, revenue sharing).

Very few teams ever do that. The Cubs did not. The Mets never did, even post-Madoff.
   60. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: January 24, 2018 at 09:54 AM (#5612274)
Despite being among the non-concerned over tanking -

I have no problem with Snapper's revenue proposal.

One or two CBAs ago - I think one COULD have made a compelling case for teams saving on major league payroll to spend on young talent acquisition (whether blasting by slot totals in the draft or dumping buckets of cash into the INTL FA market). That's just not the case anymore - penalties and rules are now so stringent that teams are pretty much tied to their pools.

We might haggle over the details of implementation - but I think the core concept that a team shouldn't be seeing its profit margins rise (at least, as a function of shared revenue) during a tank rebuild; they should in fact, see those margins fall (again, as a function of shared revenue) is a perfectly fine one.

   61. Rally Posted: January 24, 2018 at 10:11 AM (#5612282)
The Astros' reward is Correa and Bregman -- again very nice players but they didn't transform the franchise.


Dissecting the Astros shows a very balanced source of wins. In one of their tanking years they won 51 games, with team WAR totals of 5.2 (hitters) and 3.2 (pitchers). Last year they got almost that much (8.3) out of Altuve alone. Altuve was already in the system well before the tank, and was even there (as an 18 year old in rookie ball) when the Astros still had a decent 86 win team in 2008.

Last year they had 53.2 WAR overall, and 53.6 from their better players, hitters above 1.2 and pitchers above 1.8. The lower WAR players balance out with the negative WAR players. Of that 53.6, it breaks down like this:

12.2 players already in the system (Altuve and Keuchel, their best player and pitcher)
10.4 high draft picks from tanking (Correa and Bregman)
8.8 free agents (Reddick, Morton, Gurriel)
6.8 trades where Astros were collecting young unproven talent (Marisnick, Peacock, Devenski)
6.1 win now trades (Verlander, McCann, Gattis, Giles)
5.0 Normal draft pick (Springer, #11 overall when team was merely bad but not yet tanking)
4.3 Rule 5 (Marwin Gonzalez)
   62. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: January 24, 2018 at 10:34 AM (#5612299)
Was Singleton acquired by the current Astros regime?

I just note him because I saw he just got his 3rd pot suspension (100 games)....
   63. Spahn Insane, stool of Tarantino Posted: January 24, 2018 at 11:24 AM (#5612358)
Selective endpoint covering entire tenure of the current Cubs and Astros GM's leadership, right? Both took over after the 2011 season.

Yes, but you introduced a third comparator (the Pirates), whose three best seasons of the last 25 years were concentrated in the middle of that stretch, to make the argument that the Cub rebuild hasn't been successful (in that the Pirates have won 20 more games over the stretch you chose). (This is leaving aside that evaluating a rebuild's success based on aggregate regular season win totals is silly. I'm a Cub fan who's paid as close attention to the Epstein regime as I've paid to anything sports-related in my life, and the Cubs' multi-year regular season record as compared to the Pirates' quite literally never occurred to me before reading this thread. Ask Pirate fans whose 2012-17 period they'd rather have, theirs or the Cubs'.)

I don't give a damn about the Cubs fans.

Well, then, you might avoid characterizing our experience watching the Epstein rebuild on our behalves (to wit, "put their fans through hell"), particularly since it doesn't align with reality, lest one accuse you of concern trolling.**

**Irony of my cautioning you to avoid concern trolling acknowledged.

The decision to tank made the cards-cubs rivalry much less fun. They were cheating baseball fans, even if Cubs and Astros fans were OK with it.

Ah, there's the hedge. The 2012 Cubs had neither a moral nor ethical obligation to engage in a Quixotic quest for 78 wins as opposed to 61 in the interest of pleasing baseball fans generally or, certainly, Cardinal fans specifically. For me, unwatchable though the 2012-13 Cubs' major league product was, it was exciting to see the building blocks of the current team being drafted/assembled/developed/acquired down on the farm, and a joy to see it actually come to fruition as a winning major league team. (And it's not like the 2010-11 seasons, pre-"tank," were any picnic either.) I certainly didn't see it as "going through hell;" these were far from the first craptastic Cub seasons I've witnessed, but they were the first that portended much better things to come. God knows this topic was beaten to death from roughly December 2011 to at least midseason 2015, but there was no set of realistically available acquisitions the Cubs could've made during the 2011-12 offseason that would've made that steaming pile of dog crap into an instant contender. The best they could've done was to mask the odor a bit, which would not have fooled any of us who've seen more 73-78 win seasons in the past 35 seasons than I can keep track of. The only thing the decision not to go that route deprived baseball fans of was more rudderless Cub organizational management with, given good luck, the occasional random success.

In any event, I'm guessing you didn't object to the Cubs' usual state of non-competitiveness as compared to the Cardinals over the course of the last several decades pre-2012 (when they were not "tanking," but merely directionlessly sucking in perpetuity with the occasional fluke postseason appearance), so I'm trying to put my finger on what might've changed in the meantime...




   64. Spahn Insane, stool of Tarantino Posted: January 24, 2018 at 11:48 AM (#5612388)
To be clear, I agree that the system should be tweaked to disincentivize tanking, but that doesn't change the reality that the Cubs behaved entirely rationally (and effectively) within the confines of the current system during their rebuild, given the state of the organization at that time.

I think what the Marlins are doing is appalling. Going into this offseason, that team had a very solid offensive core (with probably the best outfield in baseball) before holding their latest fire sale--that's a team that with a couple of shrewd acquisitions on the pitching side could've been WC contenders. The 2017-18 Marlins' circumstances were not in any way similar to those of the 2011-12 Cubs.
   65. Sunday silence Posted: January 24, 2018 at 12:08 PM (#5612418)
Ask Pirate fans whose 2012-17 period they'd rather have, theirs or the Cubs'.)


cubs
   66. Omineca Greg Posted: January 24, 2018 at 02:06 PM (#5612570)
I once had a job programming in RPG in an organisation whose IT department blocked any web pages mentioning RPG, on the assumption that it was referring to the games

It's also possible they didn't want you dealing arms to developing nation war criminals on company time. "Possible" is understating it, unless you worked for the IT division of Nestlé or Monsanto ("Learn what we're doing to nourish the world!") and you were giving them their regular cut, I'm assuming in most other situations, IT departments definitely do not want you dealing arms.

If you were playing Guild Wars on a Somali server, both kinds of sirens would go off. I'd avoid the ".so" country code like the plague, but don't let me tell you what to do. I hate it when IT workers come and tell me things like, "You're rushing the turns on your croissant dough", so I like to stay out of other peoples' business. "Let every fox take care of his own tail." that's what I always say.
   67. BrianBrianson Posted: January 24, 2018 at 02:06 PM (#5612572)

No it doesn't. My definition for punishment purposes is MLB payroll < non-local revenue (national TV, MLBAM, revenue sharing).


This isn't normally what you refer to when you say "tanking" - you keep tying to (bizarre) ideas about winning, which that definition doesn't touch on. That putting your nephew in the bullpen drawing a $40 Million/year salary would mean you're not "tanking" is daft.
   68. cardsfanboy Posted: January 24, 2018 at 07:50 PM (#5612914)
I'm a marine, and still RPG has always meant Role Playing Game to me. (and yes I get it works for rocket propelled grenade launcher but what you learn at 13 supersedes what you learn at 18.)

(and as an old school role player.... there is no such thing as a computer role playing game.... I have a kid that works for me who gets upset with me when I say that, and I generally just ask a question about how much freedom in a computer game you have as a player to basically f-....over the GM's plan...and he can't provide any real way that it works.... and that is when I tell him, there is no such thing as a computer role playing game.....we are still about 8 years away from that)

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