Sunday, December 7, 2008

Two Follow Ups: Underpaid Second Basemen And What Happens When Players Cut Down On Strikeouts

A recent report called Increase in MLB salary slowed in 2008 shows that only relief pitchers get paid less than second basemen. Here is the key exerpt:

"Among regulars at positions, designated hitters had the highest average at $7.5 million, followed by first basemen ($7.1 million), third basemen ($6.6 million), shortstops ($5 million), outfielders ($4.8 million), catchers ($3.7 million), second basemen ($3.5 million) and relief pitchers ($1.9 million)."

So second basemen are only half as valuable as designated hitters? Hard to believe. A few months ago I posted a study called Have Second Basemen Been Underpaid?. I found in regressions that, holding hitting performance constant and accounting for free agent/arbitration status, that being a second baseman had a negative effect on salaries.

For the other issue, two weeks ago, I posted Should Ryan Howard Try To Strikeout Less?. The basic idea was that from year to year, there was a positive correlation between player's change in strikeout frequency and change in contact average.

But a commentor named Vince at the The Sabernomics blog said:

"Could this just be a selection effect? If your strikeout rate rises and your contact rate falls, then you might get benched and not show up in the sample."

My response was:

"There were 267 players in 2005 who had 300+ ABs. 200 of them also had 300+ ABs in 2006. So it is possible that those 67 who did not make it to 300 in 2006 were benched for poor performance (which would include a low contact average).

But I took those 67 guys and found the ones who had atleast 100 ABs in 2006 (I think anything less is a small sample size). That left 41 guys. The correlation between their change in strikeout frequency and change in contact average was .037. So it was still positive for the ones who were “selected out” but not as strong an effect."

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