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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Learning Unethical Practices from a Co-worker: The Peer Effect of Jose Canseco

This paper examines the issue of whether workers learn productive skills from their coworkers, even if those skills are unethical. Specifically, we estimate whether Jose Canseco, one of the best baseball players in the last few decades, affected the performance of his teammates. In his autobiography, Canseco claims that he improved the productivity of his teammates by introducing them to steroids. Using panel data on baseball players, we show that a player’s performance increases significantly after they played with Jose Canseco. After checking 30 comparable players from the same era, we find that no other baseball player produced a similar effect.

Interesting stuff. The authors accounted for the most obvious possibility that occurred to me immediately (several players having an inordinate impact on the results), and still found evidence of a performance boost post-Canseco.


Mike Emeigh Posted: February 06, 2008 at 02:34 PM | 5 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: steroids

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   1. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: February 06, 2008 at 03:05 PM (#2684701)
That is one hellacious broad definition of the phrase "one of the best baseball players". Now I'm going to RTFA, if you don't mind...
   2. DCA Posted: February 06, 2008 at 03:35 PM (#2684728)
"one of the best baseball players"

why? on performance alone, Canseco is a borderline HOF -- though on the short side of the line. he's essentially Jim Rice, 10 years later.
   3. Rickey! the first of his name Posted: February 06, 2008 at 03:44 PM (#2684739)
...on performance alone, Canseco is a borderline HOF -- though on the short side of the line. he's essentially Jim Rice, 10 years later.

Yep. The "last two decades" takes us back to 1987-88. From 1987 through 1991 Jose Canseco was one of the most feared hitters in the game, a 40-40 threat, a yearly candidate for MVP, a repeat winner of Silver Slugger awards and a constant presence at the All-Star game. After a brief lull in 1992 he returned to stature with the Rangers in the mid 90s.

Jose Canseco is, by all accounts, stupid. He is, be every account, a fan of chemical training. He is a horrific defender. And for a 5-10 year period in the late 80s and early 90s he was one of the best players in baseball. He's not Barry Bonds, but he's a hell of a player regardless.
   4. DCA Posted: February 06, 2008 at 03:54 PM (#2684749)
I just read the paper ... it looks like they only looked at raw totals -- HR, BB, K, IBB, RBI -- and not rate stats, which is a critical error in the analysis. It could just be that the post-Canseco players got more PT. Not to mention that IBB and RBI are very team-dependent. In table 9 see the declines for Griffey, Bonds, and Belle, similar in magnitude to the increase for Canseco, would suggest a PT effect.

This doesn't explain the BA/SLG effect, but that's smaller and actually Canseco trails Palmeiro.
   5. Phil Birnbaum Posted: February 06, 2008 at 04:26 PM (#2684768)
I agree with DCA ... the effect is almost all in more playing time. More comments here.

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