Monday, February 28, 2011

Voting Method and ROY

I realize I'm a little late on this issue, but there was a minor storm about one writer's ballot for NL Rookie of the Year. One voter from Pittsburgh voted for Buster Posey first and then for two Pittsburgh Pirates second and third. There have been suggestions that this was defensible (see here and here). He has been criticized for homerism.
The voter himself defended himself by saying that he picked Posey (the eventual winner) first. (Since he defended himself on Twitter, it is hard to find the appropriate tweets). He just used his second and third place votes to recognize flying under the radar Pirates, but picked the best player first. However, I think the fact that he picked Posey first makes his other picks even more irresponsible.

The key decision for the award was Posey vs. Heyward. Since 1st place votes are worth 5 points and 2nd place votes are worth 3 points, a voter who had Posey first and Heyward second would increase his top choice by 2 points. However, Kovacevic increased Posey by 5 points over Heyward. If his motivation was for Posey to win, this was pretty close to the perfect ballot. I actually would have preferred if he had just chosen three Pirates or three random players. In that case his ballot would have had no influence on the final outcome. Or he could have just picked the two Pirates first and second and then picked Posey third.

Part of the problem is that, according to Arrow's Impossibility Theorem, there is not a perfect way to design a ranking method among more than two alternatives. The choice of a Borda count method pretty much opens up the possibility of strategic voting. I do not think his intent was strategic, but his ballot looks exactly like that of a strategic voter trying to help Posey.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Financial Impact of the Wainwright Injury

Fangraphs has a discussion of the financial impact of Adam Wainwright being out for the entire season. The article estimates the impact as approximately $16 million based on lower attendance and a lower probability of making the postseason. The calculation suggests that Wainwright is worth about 4 wins and that would translate to the average team lower attendance worth about $10 million.

One problem with this analysis as I see it is that the Cardinals are not an average team. I have a paper that looks at the relationship between attendance and winning percentages but does not assume that all teams' fans are the same. In looking at the 12 National League teams that have been in existence since 1969, I found that the Cardinals' attendance was the least responsive to in-season changes in team performance.* In case you are curious, the Expos' and Dodgers' fan bases were the most responsive. My findings would suggest that the financial impact on the Cardinals will be less than it would be on the average team from which the numbers are derived.

Of course that does not mean that there is no impact, especially given that the Cardinals win expectation before the injury was right on the cusp of being a playoff team.

*The results for the Cubs, Astros and Giants are less reliable because of the number of sellouts those teams experienced. There are methods to deal with the sellout issue, but I was using an econometric technique to deal with a different concern and not compatible with the solutions to sellouts. It is possible that all three of those teams, especially the Cubs, would have smaller responses to winning than the Cardinals, but the Cardinals would still be near the top regardless.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Escondido Beavers

In a previous post, I discussed the Portland Beavers moving to Tucson. Eventually the plan is for the team to move to Escondido, near the major league affiliate in San Diego. When I wrote my paper on the determinants of the locations of minor league baseball teams, I specifically ignored cases where a minor league team is located in the same metropolitan area as a major league team. Partly this choice was because my econometric method did not allow for this possibility, but mostly because this phenomenon did not happen very often. In fact, the league rules pretty much give the major league teams territorial rights to keep minor league teams out of their metropolitan area. The exceptions to these outcomes are either because the minor league team predates the major league team (i.e., the Tacoma Rainiers) or because of the minor league team using creative geography to be just outside the territorial zone (i.e., the Kane County Cougars).

However, in the years since I wrote my paper, the major league teams have decided that either minor league baseball is a complementary good, as opposed to a substitute good, or that having their AAA affiliate nearby is enough of a positive to make up for the substitution effect. The Gwinnett County Braves, the Escondido Beavers and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs all represent examples of teams bringing their AAA affiliate into their metropolitan area, or just outside of it in the case of the IronPigs. Having the AAA affiliate close makes it easier to call up players in case of injury. My guess is that over time the increasing value of proximity of the AAA players and that the changing nature of baseball markets, making minor league and major league baseball more complementary, have both increased the teams' willingness to bring their affiliates into their home markets.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Miracle on Ice

Today is the 31st Anniversary of the United States win in hockey in the Olympics over the Soviet Union. This morning I heard on television this mentioned as not being the gold-medal game, which is correct. That statement was followed up with the next game against Finland being the gold-medal game, which is how it is often described. However, this was not the case either. The final round was a round robin. If the US had lost, Finland would not have won the gold, the USSR would have. As it turned out, Finland did not receive any medal. Lastly, it is even possible that the game could have ended in a tie, which actually makes the US-USSR game more exciting, because a tie would have meant the USSR would have won the gold. Since the US-Finland game was not a game between two teams vying for a gold medal, the term "gold-medal game" seems incorrect for me.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Suggestion on How to Fix Overtime

Over at Advanced NFL Stats, they have some suggested rule changes for the NFL. One of them is for changing the overtime rules (#11). Their suggestion is for the home-team to automatically get the ball in overtime. This approach has one big advantage to it, that the teams know who will get the ball in overtime, so that they can play the game in regulation with that knowledge. The team that knows they will not get the ball will be more willing to play to win the game in regulation. The problem with their approach is that giving the advantage to the home team seems arbitrary.

My suggestion is to treat overtime as a third half, continuing the coin toss from the beginning of the game. Also if you defer until the second half, you lose out on choosing for the overtime. And if you really want the option in overtime, then you can choose to defer from the second-half choice. It balances out the original winner’s value in they would lose the ability to defer unless they are willing to sacrifice the overtime choice. Everything going into overtime is known ahead of time. It is not gimmicky like a lot of other approaches, i.e. the college football overtime system. It does not change things very much, so it is should not be too controversial.

I honestly do not know if anyone else has suggested this before. If I come across someone else who suggested this earlier, I will give him or her credit.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sears and Customer Service

Free Money Finance recently had a disastrous experience with Sears customer service. I can relate as I had a run-in with Sears last fall. The two-year old lawnmower that I had bought from Sears had broken down. I took it to them to look at. After a week, I got a call saying it was ready to be picked up. When I got there the clerks at the store looked at me like I was stupid, since there was no way that it would be ready that quick. I went home and waited an additional two weeks for my lawn mower. In the meantime I got a robo-call survey from Sears about the service I had received. The computer system had become convinced that they had returned my lawnmower to me. Since I had not gotten my lawnmower yet, I ignored the survey, but they kept calling back until I took it. Then when I finally did get my lawnmower back, the robo-calls started again.