Jim Callis of Baseball America crunched the numbers for the past five drafts and reports that the Pirates led all MLB teams in spending by handing out $52 million in total signing bonuses.
Much of that has to do with having the No. 1 pick once, the No. 2 pick twice, and the No. 4 pick twice during that five-year span, but this year for example the Pirates also shelled out $5.5 million on consensus top-10 talent Josh Bell after he dropped to them in the second round because of high bonus demands.
Joining the Pirates in spending more than $50 million during the past five drafts is the Nationals at $51 million, much of which went to back-to-back No. 1 overall picks Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.
Boston ranks fourth in 2007-2011 draft spending at $40 million despite not having any top-10 picks, which shows that the Red Sox are taking significant advantage of other teams passing on top prospects due to bonus demands. Similarly the Yankees have spent $34 million on draft picks since 2007, which is well above the “slot” recommendations for where their actual picks have been.
At the other end of the spectrum the White Sox spent just $18 million and the next-lowest team, the Marlins, spent $21 million. You can see the full breakdown by clicking here.
If you are old enough and lame enough as I am, you may have lurked around on sabermetic message boards in the 1990s. If you did, you may have heard of Sherri Nichols, who back in the day, was a significant contributor to the advancement of statistical analysis, particularly defensive analysis.
While it’s probably better that not everyone is as old and nerdy as me, the downside of it is that most people haven’t heard of Nichols and know nothing about her contributions. That changes today with Ben Lindbergh’s excellent analysis of Nichols and her work over at The Ringer, which I recommend that you all read.
The short version: Nichols is the one who planted the seed about on-base percentage being valuable in the mind of Baseball Prospectus Founder Gary Huckabay, back in the late 80s. She’s also the one most responsible for the rise of zone-based defensive metrics in the 1990s, such as Defensive Average, which she created and which served as the basis for other such metrics going forward. She also played a critical role in the development of RetroSheet, which collected almost all extant box score and play-by-play information going back to the turn of the 20th century, thereby making so much of the information available at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs possible. A key contribution there: making the information free and available to everyone, rather than closing the underlying data off as proprietary and either charging for access or keeping it in-house like some recent data collectors have chosen to do. Ahem.
A larger takeaway than all of Nichols’ contributions is just how loathe the baseball community was to listen to a woman back then. I mean, yeah, they’re still loathe to listen to women now, as indicated by the small number of women who hold jobs in baseball operations departments, but back then it was even worse, as evidenced by Lindbergh’s stories and Nichols’ anecdotes.
A great read and a great history lesson.