Benjamin Morris of Five Thirty Eight posted an article yesterday in which he used a handful of statistical methods to estimate how much the Athletics, led by GM Billy Beane, have exceeded expectations. For those not familiar with Beane, he was the central figure in the book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, authored by Michael Lewis and released in 2003. Beane didn’t let the Athletics’ status as a small-market team deter him from building a contender; instead, he looked for market inefficiencies. For example, at the time, teams were devaluing players with high on-base percentages because of low batting averages, so he was able to sign Scott Hatteberg, among others, and enjoyed great success as a result.
From the time Beane took over the A’s in 1998 through 2013, the club has gone 1,396-1,194 (.539). They have reached the playoffs seven times in those 16 seasons. The A’s enter tonight’s action at 63-38, poised to win the AL West for a third consecutive season.
So what did Morris find? Since the start of this millennium, the Athletics have won 180 more games than we would expect, given their payroll. Then, using various estimates pertaining to the price of a win, Morris suggests that the A’s have exceeded expectations by $1.38 billion. The next-best team, the Angels, comes in at $702 million. On the other end of the spectrum, the Royals have under-performed expectations by nearly $800 million. If statistical wizardry is your bag, then the column is certainly worth your time.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman says thatClayton Kershaw is unlikely to need back surgery for the herniated disk that sidelined him for more than two months during the season.
Friedman says that Kershaw feels good and that he doesn’t anticipate surgery. It was unclear if that would be the case because, even as Kershaw came back in September and pitched deep into the playoffs, often on short rest, everyone was fairly tight-lipped about how Kershaw was feeling.
For what it’s worth, Kershaw looked sound mechanically, even if was up and down at times in October.
Ticket prices for the World Series are always ridiculous, but this year things are heading to a whole new ridiculous level.
Now, to be clear, some of the figures you hear are not what will be paid for tickets. The Associated Press has the de rigueur story of ticket holders asking, like, a million dollars for their tickets and ticket seekers willing to give all kinds of in-kind goods and services for a chance to see the Cubs play in Wrigley. A lot of that noise will never amount to any real transaction and, in some cases, will likely end up with someone getting arrested. It’s crazy time, you know.
But even if those million dollar and sex-for-tickets stories end up being more smoke than fire, people will end up paying astronomical prices to get in. Some already are. ESPN’s Darren Rovell reports that someone paid $32,000 on StubHub for 4 seats in the front row by the Cubs visitors dugout for Game 2 at Progressive Field in Cleveland. The prices in Wrigley Field for Games 3, 4 and, if necessary, 5 will likely go higher. There’s a ton of pent-up demand on the part of both Cubs and Indians fans, after all.
Still: trying to imagine how an in-stadium experience, no matter how long someone has been waiting for it, is worth that kind of scratch. Guess it all depends on whether that kind of money constitutes that kind of scratch for a given person.