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Friday, April 04, 2014

Baseball’s Best Farm Systems: How Much Do They Matter?

He found an effect similar to what Andrecheck observed: The best farm system was worth 41 more nonmarket WAR than the worst farm system over the subsequent five seasons.

But Swartz also underscored the risk involved in banking on prospects. A team’s organizational ranking didn’t explain anywhere near as much of its subsequent nonmarket WAR as its payroll explained its future auction-market WAR. Or, as Swartz wrote, “Payroll … can tell you about four times as much as about the difference between teams over the next five years as farm-system rankings can.”

 

Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: April 04, 2014 at 02:38 PM | 9 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: baseball america

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   1. cardsfanboy Posted: April 04, 2014 at 08:18 PM (#4679660)
Mostly skimmed the article, but it seems that he is saying that payroll is much better a predictor for future success than quality of farm system. I have no problem believing it's a better predictor of success, it's the "much" part that I'm having a hard time accepting. Considering this is about ranked prospects, which is dealing a lot with hype, then a good team should be able to make quality trades of these guys to improve the team, while keeping payroll down.

Maybe the next study in this article is to do a return on investment, looking at whether teams who trade ranked prospects get a higher war return than the team that gets the prospect. This might signal whether willing to trade hyped prospects is a better strategy than holding on to them or not.
   2. valuearbitrageur Posted: April 04, 2014 at 10:57 PM (#4679729)
Probably lots more variance / luck in results from farm systems , and also there is skill in deciding which prospects to keep/trade.
   3. Dr. Vaux Posted: April 05, 2014 at 01:54 AM (#4679787)
Wouldn't a lot of high payroll teams be worse five years later because they were at the high end of the success cycle when the payroll measurement was taken? The Phillies in 2009, for example, or the Tigers today, who will almost certainly have a losing record no more than two years from now, let alone five.
   4. bjhanke Posted: April 05, 2014 at 02:30 AM (#4679795)
These are all good points, but there's one that I think is missing that may be the most important: Teams with high payrolls also tend to be the teams that pay their executives the most, and so have the best organizations. That is, "a good team should be able to make quality trades" is true, but not complete. "A good front office should be able to make quality trades" is closer. And "payroll" and "good front office" are linked. Both mean spending more money than the competition. Now, the big counter to this is "a good owner." You can spend a lot of money and still put out a bad team, if you never ever hire an executive who has the will to stand up to you. If you do that, you will not have a good front office. But, in general, unless you're Bill Veeck or somebody, the quality of your front office will depend on how much money you spend on it just as much as the quality of your veteran free agents does. - Brock Hanke
   5. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: April 05, 2014 at 03:27 AM (#4679802)
“Payroll … can tell you about four times as much as about the difference between teams over the next five years as farm-system rankings can.”

This is baseball. Payroll tells you more that just about everything else combined. Yeah, it's not a straight line, but the rich teams are usually going to win. It's designed that way.
   6. cardsfanboy Posted: April 05, 2014 at 04:23 AM (#4679804)
This is baseball. Payroll tells you more that just about everything else combined. Yeah, it's not a straight line, but the rich teams are usually going to win. It's designed that way.


This is the part I argue...the implication here is that "payroll determines" and that is far from the truth...Payroll matters...nobody is doubting this, but you can look at a team like the Rays and see how they leverage their payroll into a quality team... Heck you could argue that even the Yankees with their great teams, did a fantastic job of insuring their quality players stayed Yankees.

Payroll matters of course, but it's as much about a teams willingness to spend as it's about the teams intelligence often enough. The teams willing to spend, are absolutely the teams with the higher baseball iq, on average.
   7. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: April 05, 2014 at 11:14 AM (#4679869)
Wouldn't a lot of high payroll teams be worse five years later because they were at the high end of the success cycle when the payroll measurement was taken?


Maybe, but keep in mind that part of what cripples those teams is that their good players age and get worse -- but not any cheaper. The Phillies' payroll is something in excess of $170 million this year, and was last year, and they're terrible. The Mariners maintained high payrolls for quite a while after they quit winning. The Cubs were expensive and terrible for a while. Part of what's going to be trouble for the Tigers in a few years is that Cabrera, Kinsler et al will be in their mid thirties but getting paid like they're in their mid-20s. Sure, the perennially awful teams are usually very cheap, but teams that win purely through financial muscle often find themselves in the unenviable state of being expensive and bad simultaneously. It's a rare franchise -- basically Boston and New York -- that manage to almost never have a losing season, no matter how much they're able to pay for players.

In other words, there are plenty of very high payroll teams that are good bets to be better in five years than they are today.
   8. cardsfanboy Posted: April 05, 2014 at 12:08 PM (#4679888)
In other words, there are plenty of very high payroll teams that are good bets to be better in five years than they are today.


How does the first paragraph you wrote, vibe with the concluding sentence?

And payroll muscle isn't strictly limited to the teams who spend the most. At least in regards to considering their minors, it's also teams willing to spend to keep their talent. For all the grief that the Yankees have been given over the years the primary core of their team has been homegrown and augmented with (lots of) free agents.

Teams in the 80-110 mil range should be considered as teams willing to up their payroll.
   9. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: April 05, 2014 at 12:57 PM (#4679907)
How does the first paragraph you wrote, vibe with the concluding sentence?


Did you read it? It might help.

The Phillies are currently expensive and terrible. In five years, many of the guys that make them expensive and terrible will be retired. They're a good bet to be both better and cheaper.

The Mariners were expensive and terrible for a long time. They no longer have most of the players who are responsible for this; they are both better and cheaper.

Some of this is simple regression to the mean: if you have an expensive last-place team, they're unlikely to be a last place team five years from now. And there are a fair number of expensive last place teams.

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