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Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Fan front office approval ratings are higher than ever. | Sports on Earth

And fans have noticed. On Tuesday, Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan wrote a post asking his readers to vote on whether or not they thought their favorite team’s front office was “very good,” “good,” “average,” “bad” or “very bad.” I don’t have any data from polls 20 years ago, but there is no way such a poll would have been nearly as positive as this one. Let’s go under the presumption that any team that has 51 percent or more of its fans at least calling its front office “average” or better is generally happy with its front office. So how many teams have a worse than 51 percent approval rating in Sullivan’s poll? Five. The Marlins, Mets, Orioles, Reds and Tigers. And even those can be seen as outliers in the current moment: The Marlins have a new ownership group facing its toughest decision in a decade, the Orioles and the Tigers are about to begin a long rebuilding process, the Reds seem behind every other team in their division (though are doing a better job, I’d argue, than the poll suggests) and half the fun of cheering for the Mets is complaining about them. Fans of 25 of the 30 baseball teams are actively pleased with their front offices, according to those polls. That’s sort of amazing, right? Only one team gets to win the World Series, you know.

But that’s the world we live in now. Our default is to assume competence in our executives. That’s a greater change than I think we’ve appreciated. Not too long ago, we cheered a movie in which Billy Beane outsmarted the good ol’ boys network. Now everybody is Billy Beane. And we’re all collectively more satisfied. Even though … well, everybody still has the same record. The collective baseball record is still .500. There is still only one champion.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 06, 2017 at 02:06 PM | 26 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: fans

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   1. cardsfanboy Posted: December 06, 2017 at 06:17 PM (#5587686)
I went to the poll and voted on just three teams, just so I can see the results, the A's are shockingly at 9% very good, 33% pretty good and 37% average(meaning that 79% of the fans see them as average or better, and I just can't fathom that.

Cardinals are 28% very good, 48% pretty good and 17% average giving them a 93% at average or above, the Cubs are loved by their fans... 73% very good, 20% good and 3% average..(I voted very good for them so you can't blame me for the hate that they got from 3%.)

Of course this is still a selected sample, featuring people who visit Fangraphs and probably doesn't represent the average fan viewpoint.
   2. ?Donde esta Dagoberto Campaneris? Posted: December 06, 2017 at 07:18 PM (#5587722)
I don’t have any data from polls 20 years ago, but there is no way such a poll would have been nearly as positive as this one


Wow. If you stand in just the right spot, you can actually feel the science.

More interestingly, looking at https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/MLB/bat.shtml this link, it appears that run scoring in MLB dropped to levels not seen in nearly 40 years in 2014. Thereafter, an explosion of HRs has brought scoring back in line with traditional norms.

Ignoring the HR issue, is there a primary thought (on this site or within sabermetrics generally) as to why scoring fell to that point at that time? Given that sabermetrics was reaching its maturity in terms of its impact on MLB front-offices at that point (in the sense that analytics were now a part of just about every GM decision,) is there any consideration to the idea that the sabermetric understanding of offense was not as great as it could have been and that's why scoring was down. Or, is the low scoring attributable to the sabermetric advance on the pitching/defense side? Or, of course, does the run-scoring level have as its primary cause something outside of sabermetrics?

Just curious if anyone has some thoughts on this. If this has come up in any other thread(s), a link would certainly be appreciated.
   3. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: December 06, 2017 at 07:44 PM (#5587742)
Ignoring the HR issue, is there a primary thought (on this site or within sabermetrics generally) as to why scoring fell to that point at that time? Given that sabermetrics was reaching its maturity in terms of its impact on MLB front-offices at that point (in the sense that analytics were now a part of just about every GM decision,) is there any consideration to the idea that the sabermetric understanding of offense was not as great as it could have been and that's why scoring was down. Or, is the low scoring attributable to the sabermetric advance on the pitching/defense side? Or, of course, does the run-scoring level have as its primary cause something outside of sabermetrics?

Isn't there widespread support for the theory that MLB has been tweaking the balls over the past few years to restore offense to PED-esque levels?
   4. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: December 06, 2017 at 07:47 PM (#5587744)
Giants:

- Very Bad: 5.75%
- Pretty Bad: 15.75%
- Average: 39.06%
- Pretty Good: 32.45%
- Very Good: 6.98%

Pretty close to a normal distribution, all things considered.
   5. Jeff Frances the Mute Posted: December 06, 2017 at 08:49 PM (#5587764)
Highest percentage "Very Good":

Astros: 79.28%
Dodgers: 75.49%
Cubs: 73.78%
Indians: 61.2%
Yankees: 50.3%

That ranking is pretty close to the outcome of the teams in the playoffs. Perhaps people are subconsciously taking that into account when they are ranking the teams or perhaps the best front offices have assembled the best teams.
   6. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: December 06, 2017 at 09:20 PM (#5587769)
Dodgers have too much dead money on their books to be considered "Very Good," IMHO. Unless you discount the legacy costs of the prior administration entirely (it's not clear from Jeff's instructions how to treat front offices that had changed leadership).
   7. stevegamer Posted: December 07, 2017 at 01:46 AM (#5587828)
That ranking is pretty close to the outcome of the teams in the playoffs. Perhaps people are subconsciously taking that into account when they are ranking the teams or perhaps the best front offices have assembled the best teams.


True. I think how the teams have played has to be a major consideration, since it's the product the management is responsible for.


Since it was done 2.5 years ago, I'd think you've got deal with who is in charge now, and their full track record, emphasizing what they've done lately. Some of course ( see the Braves) are just what you think it's going to be or how do you feel. The most interesting takes, to me, are on the following teams.

A's:

Average 37.14%
Pretty good 33.77%
Pretty bad 15.72%
Very good 8.79%
Very bad 4.58%

This is down from the prior survey, where almost 88% said they were pretty or very good. The A's have finished last 3 years in a row, but seem to still get a pass due to Billy Beane. Moneyball has prettymuch insured that he will never be seen as below average, no matter the results. Which makes them the opposite of sabermaterics' seemingly favorite whipping boys...

Royals:

Average 41.14%
Pretty bad 23.74%
Pretty good 22.77%
Very bad 7.09%
Very good 5.26%

The last poll was better for them as well, but then again they had just won the World Series, and had 2 straight AL pennants. Even then they received 10.5% votes that said bad. They have finished 3rd in the division twice since then. If 2 World Series appearances with 1 win gets you a pretty bad vote, you can tell the voters don't like you very much.

I think the worst team in the first poll was the Phillies with 95% votes that covered the "bad" options. This time, it seems like the marlins are the bottom dwellers at 98% "bad" votes.

Best for first polls is likely the Cubs with 97% voting for one of the "good" options, they got over 97% in second poll as well but Astros & Indians were higher than even that with 98% giving a grade that had "good" in it.
   8. Brian C Posted: December 07, 2017 at 01:58 AM (#5587829)
The Marlins have a new ownership group facing its toughest decision in a decade

This is exactly why the Marlins fans don't like their front office, I assume. Because in reality, they're not facing a difficult decision at all - they have a wonderful player to build around and a couple others that will help. But they're acting like they have a tough decision because they've apparently decided they want to do something really dumb. Way too much of the press is gullible enough to fall for it, but the fans are smart enough to see through the BS. Ergo.

In other news, my belief is that if you asked most fans 20 years ago what they thought of their front office, they'd have said, "who dat?" I'm not saying that GMs were previously anonymous or anything like that, but they're the focus of a lot more attention now than they were back then. It seems like nowadays more baseball fans have a strong opinion about their team's GM than they do their team's manager. That's what Moneyball did more than anything, was bring these guys into the spotlight in a way they had not previously been.

And in still other news, I actually agree that most front offices are pretty good and deserve high rankings. It's way different than other sports, where there's still a bunch of completely foolish front offices. Good lord, just look at the sorry state of the NFL these days - there's a good dozen franchises with front offices that exist mostly for Mike Tanier to (justifiably) make fun of. But MLB front offices seem like an extremely talented group. It's very interesting that that's the case.
   9. stevegamer Posted: December 07, 2017 at 02:24 AM (#5587832)
And in still other news, I actually agree that most front offices are pretty good and deserve high rankings. It's way different than other sports, where there's still a bunch of completely foolish front offices. Good lord, just look at the sorry state of the NFL these days - there's a good dozen franchises with front offices that exist mostly for Mike Tanier to (justifiably) make fun of. But MLB front offices seem like an extremely talented group. It's very interesting that that's the case.


#1 on that list is the one with guys in it who were formerly well thought of in MLB front offices. The current Browns incarnation is sadder than the St. Louis Browns.
   10. ptodd Posted: December 07, 2017 at 02:57 AM (#5587835)
For the most part these are the same folks who have been brainwashed into supporting the neoliberal economics that allows the corporate elites to wipe out the middle class and transfer wealth to the top 1%, who then invest the loot in the likes of China, buy back their own stock or just invest in financial instruments that have no tie in with the productive (whats left of it) real economy. Those who have jobs are nothing more than wage slaves w/o much of a pension and no bridge for when they are forces out in their 50's to Medicare/SS (which they support cutting). Their kids are destined to a life of serfdom paying down a college loan for ludicrous tuitions at schools with endowments the Pope envies, and pay interest on loans that were created on a spreadsheet or as some say -out of thin air (as all loans are).. Qadaffi used to pay for his citizens tuition and did not allow usury. Not that I am a fan.

The baseball equivalent is sky high ticket prices, cable fees while minor leaguers earn poverty wages, and Player compensation is declining relative to owner revenue and franchise valuations. These same folks support building/financing stadiums for these billionaires and cheer when their FO declines to pay market rate for a player on their team for 6 years who made below market rates while also cheering when one of their star players loses in arbitration after years of league minimum or league pay. Maybe it makes them feel better about their paltry 3% raise, all of it destined for interest payments or insurance premiums/copays/deductibles or sky high ticket prices/cable fees. Half of these cheap skates cant even make the post season once a decade even with the 2nd WC but every prospect is hyped and gives the faithful reason to hope as much as a religious zealot hopes for paradise
   11. ptodd Posted: December 07, 2017 at 03:14 AM (#5587836)
#2. Run scoring declined due to the yearly expansion of the strike zone that was designed to show that Bud was winning the war on steroids (after sitting on his hands for a decade). When Bud left , Manfred took over. In the 2nd half of 2015 a juiced ball was introduced. Bud also introduced a juiced ball when he took over in 1993 to introduce the steroid era. There is some thought besides a small bump in COR , still kept in the range of MLB broad spec (upper end now) the seams were changed reducing drag and increasing carry, and messing with pitchers breaking stuff.

Has nothing to do with saber metrics, just economics. Bud had enough power that owners let him get away with rolling back offense to help his legacy, which hurt attendance in some markets, but Manfred is playing for his next contract so has to reverse this. Sabermetrics plays a role in the ball option being
Chosen since pitch f/x makes a significant roll back in strike zone detectable, much more so than the incremental changes over 7 years
   12. Ben Broussard Ramjet Posted: December 07, 2017 at 04:32 AM (#5587837)
I wonder if the timing of this will affect the results too much - offseason, before FA signings have gotten into full swing, seems to me to be a time when every team's fans can dream of potential signings (Ohtani this year, of course) and the use of payroll not yet allocated, without having to confront many realities. But I'm not sure what time of year would be better. All-Star Break? By that point, you probably know if you're going to be good or bad and if you're going to be a buyer or a seller. Maybe after the trade deadline.
   13. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: December 07, 2017 at 04:48 AM (#5587838)
I wonder if the timing of this will affect the results too much - offseason, before FA signings have gotten into full swing, seems to me to be a time when every team's fans can dream of potential signings (Ohtani this year, of course) and the use of payroll not yet allocated, without having to confront many realities. But I'm not sure what time of year would be better. All-Star Break? By that point, you probably know if you're going to be good or bad and if you're going to be a buyer or a seller. Maybe after the trade deadline.

It's a good point.

Maybe the best time to evaluate the off-season is right before spring training, when most of the major moves have been made and rosters are more or less set. GMs should be evaluated based on the decisions that they made given the information that they had at the time. If you go too far into the season, then you risk results events out of control (e.g., an injury) that adversely impact the standings sway the results.

At the same time, you need a chance to evaluate whether a move paid dividends. The fact is, it's hard to evaluate a multiyear free agent signing until a few years into the deal. But by midseason you'll have a good idea about whether a NRI or smaller contract paid out.

There was a listener question on Effectively Wild a few weeks ago where the question was something along the lines of:
a) Would you rather have your GM be able to predict star free agents with greater precision; or
b) Would you rather have your GM be able to predict the minor league free agents who become average major leaguers with greater precision?

Ben and Jeff went back and forth, but both settled on (b). And I think that's right. If you don't pay market FA rate for average production, then you can have a greater margin of error on the big ticket free agents. And, by and large, there isn't much heterogeneity anymore with the big ticket free agents. It's a combination of opportunity and luck (mostly in the realm of health).
   14. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: December 07, 2017 at 09:25 AM (#5587871)
and half the fun of cheering for the Mets is complaining about them.

This video exemplifies modern Mets fandom.
   15. Rally Posted: December 07, 2017 at 10:00 AM (#5587882)
Ignoring the HR issue, is there a primary thought (on this site or within sabermetrics generally) as to why scoring fell to that point at that time?


It's very easy to find the root cause - strikeout rates. From there we could look at:

1. selection of catchers for framing ability increases called strike rate
2. pitchers throwing harder in increasingly specialized roles
3. pitchers optimizing movement on their pitches since they do something like try a new grip, and right after the game see objective data on the results of their experiment.
   16. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 07, 2017 at 10:29 AM (#5587896)
It's very easy to find the root cause - strikeout rates. From there we could look at:

1. selection of catchers for framing ability increases called strike rate
2. pitchers throwing harder in increasingly specialized roles
3. pitchers optimizing movement on their pitches since they do something like try a new grip, and right after the game see objective data on the results of their experiment.


Didn't they explicitly increase the strikezone? I think that matters more than all the other factors combined.
   17. TDF didn't lie, he just didn't remember Posted: December 07, 2017 at 10:54 AM (#5587911)
The Reds:

Very good – 1.4%
Pretty good – 9.15%
Average – 35.41%
Pretty bad – 43.7%
Very bad – 10.33%

Personally, I think they're average to pretty good. Yes, the Homer Bailey contract was a mistake, but that's the only glaring one.

* They recognized they need to rebuild ("pretty good"), and seem to have done so competently (certainly at least "average" if not "pretty good")*
* They recognize they aren't at a position where big FA signings are going to make them a playoff team (at least "average")
* They recognize Votto's worth and aren't trying to trade him simply to dump his payroll (at least "average")
* They recognize that Cozart isn't worth a QO, despite how well he played last season (at least "average")
* They don't seem to be making decisions based on how popular they are with the fans (definitely "pretty good")

It's just tough to say they're doing anything that you would think is worse than the average FO would do.

*The one thing they could be dinged for is not recognizing the need to rebuild quite soon enough, but people forget that the differences between 90-win '13 team and 76-win '14 included:
Joey Votto playing 100 fewer games, accounting for a drop in 4 bWAR.
Jay Bruce turning into a pumpkin, accounting for a drop in 6.4 bWAR.
The aforementioned Bailey getting hurt again.
Mat Latos getting hurt.**

**The '13 Reds featured 4 pitchers who made at least 31 starts, none of whom were Alfredo Simon. The '14 Reds featured 3 such pitchers, one of whom was.

   18. fra paolo Posted: December 07, 2017 at 11:02 AM (#5587918)
This is exactly why the Marlins fans don't like their front office, I assume. Because in reality, they're not facing a difficult decision at all - they have a wonderful player to build around and a couple others that will help. But they're acting like they have a tough decision because they've apparently decided they want to do something really dumb.

I don't consider myself a fan of the Marlins. I just live around there. But...

The problem for the Marlins is that they just don't have the pitching to support what is a decent lineup, at least. And they've got no way to acquire the pitching. It's pretty clear that they are bumping near the edge of any reasonable payroll limit, so they can't afford to buy a rotation. And they just don't have anyone on the farm who can contribute after trading away Luis Castillo to go all-in on 2017. They also lack organisational depth as a whole.

It annoys me that they are going to tear-down and rebuild again, but they really are facing a difficult decision of trying to compete for one or two more seasons with what they have, or deciding that 2017 was their shot (which was the case going back a few seasons, you can see them building-up towards it) and because of pitching issues it just didn't work out for them.

The reigning fashion is that the success of the Cubs and the Astros has made 'trust the tear-down and rebuild' the Magic Elixir for bringing hope and fait to the fans.
   19. Blanks for Nothing, Larvell Posted: December 07, 2017 at 11:10 AM (#5587922)
I don’t have any data from polls 20 years ago, but there is no way such a poll would have been nearly as positive as this one.


Well that settles it, then.

And of course the front office fetishization that has come into vogue over that time is far more bug than feature.
   20. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 07, 2017 at 11:51 AM (#5587955)
I don't consider myself a fan of the Marlins. I just live around there. But...

The problem for the Marlins is that they just don't have the pitching to support what is a decent lineup, at least. And they've got no way to acquire the pitching. It's pretty clear that they are bumping near the edge of any reasonable payroll limit, so they can't afford to buy a rotation. And they just don't have anyone on the farm who can contribute after trading away Luis Castillo to go all-in on 2017. They also lack organisational depth as a whole.

It annoys me that they are going to tear-down and rebuild again, but they really are facing a difficult decision of trying to compete for one or two more seasons with what they have, or deciding that 2017 was their shot (which was the case going back a few seasons, you can see them building-up towards it) and because of pitching issues it just didn't work out for them.


But as discussed above, the Reds have shown you don't need to jettison your franchise player to start a rebuild.

Trading Stanton isn't about rebuilding; it's about goosing the owners profits to pay off the debt from the ridiculous overpay for the franchise.
   21. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: December 07, 2017 at 12:09 PM (#5587972)
[1] When a movie gets made about your GM and it stars Brad Pitt, you can live off of reputation for a while.
   22. Rally Posted: December 07, 2017 at 02:08 PM (#5588110)
*The one thing they could be dinged for is not recognizing the need to rebuild quite soon enough, but people forget that the differences between 90-win '13 team and 76-win '14 included:


I remember Johnny Cueto missing most of a season and thinking that should be on the list, but looking it up I see Johnny made only 11 starts for the 90-win 2013 team, and the next year came back to win 20 (plus a 2.25 ERA and league leading K total) for the 76 win team.
   23. fra paolo Posted: December 07, 2017 at 03:21 PM (#5588217)
But as discussed above, the Reds have shown you don't need to jettison your franchise player to start a rebuild.

I don't consider the situations equivalent. Stanton is at peak form right now, and he's got several good players to help him in the lineup. After a couple more seasons those players are going to be expensive, while Stanton is likely going to be past his best.

Votto and the Reds right now is more like Stanton and the Marlins will be in, like, 2023 or something, than 2017. The 2011 Reds had better pitching than the 2017 Marlins, although Edinson Volquez was on both teams, and despite other similarities, the gap between the prospective rotations of the 2012 Reds and the 2018 Marlins is enough that I wouldn't bet on the 2018 Marlins having a shot at a first-place finish like the 2012 Reds achieved.

I don't believe the Marlins have to trade Stanton. But if they don't trade him, they are still basically a circa-.500 team that is going to keep becoming a more expensive .500 team in the next couple of years, unless they get lucky somehow with someone like Trevor Richards finding an unexpected new level of performance.
   24. flournoy Posted: December 07, 2017 at 05:14 PM (#5588315)
Are the Braves the only team for which the plurality of votes were cast for "Very Bad?" As a Braves fan, I voted for "Pretty Bad." The author indicated that he really didn't know what to say with regard to the Braves, and neither do I. I think Anthopoulous will do a good job, but I find it impossible to give the team a grade of average or better given the current circumstances.
   25. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 07, 2017 at 05:44 PM (#5588335)

I don't believe the Marlins have to trade Stanton. But if they don't trade him, they are still basically a circa-.500 team that is going to keep becoming a more expensive .500 team in the next couple of years, unless they get lucky somehow with someone like Trevor Richards finding an unexpected new level of performance.


And there's nothing wrong with that. There's no reason not to be a .500 team while you rebuild your farm system, except putting more money in the owners pockets.

.500 talent teams often win 85-90 games, and go to the playoffs. 1 SD in performance is ~7 wins in MLB.
   26. RMc's Unenviable Situation Posted: December 08, 2017 at 09:30 AM (#5588636)
Tigers:

Average 0%
Pretty good 0%
Pretty bad 0%
Very good 0%
Very bad 100%

Of course, I'm the only voter.

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