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Is Stability in the Lineup an Indicator of Teams Success/Popularity?


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#1 Sampo Gida

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 12:24 AM

A comment on the main board got me thinking about the lack of stability in the lineup since 2009.  The team has been less successful in this period and less popular than in the golden years from 2003-2008. 

 

Opening Day or most of season lineups from 2009/2010/2011/2012/2013

 

1B You/Youk/Agon/Agon/Napoli (3/5)

*2B Pedey.......................... (1/5)

SS Lugo/Scutaro/Scutaro/Aviles/Drew (4/5)

3B- Lowell/Beltre/Youk/Youk/WMB (4/5)

LF- Bay/Ellsbury/Crawford/Ross/Gomes (5/5)

*CF- Ellsbury/Cameron/Ellsbury/Ellsbury/Ellsbury (2/5)

RF- JD/JD/JD/Sweeney/Victorino (3/5)

C - Tek/V-Mart/Salty/Salty/?? (3/5)

*DH Papi.............. (1/5)

 

Mgr Tito/Tito/Tito/Bobby V/Farrell (3/5)

 

Instability Index (including manager)  29/55  53

 

Except for 2B, CF and DH it's been pretty much a different lineup every year and a different manager the last 3 years.

 

Just for the heck of it, lets look at the very successful and popular Red Sox teams of 2003-2008 for comparison

 

*1B Millar/Millar/Millar/Youk/Youk/Youk (2/6)

2B Walker/Bellhorn/Bellhorn/Loretta/Pedey/Pedey (4/6)

SS Nomar/Pokey/Renteria/Agon/Lugo/Lugo (5/6)

*3B Hillenbrand/Mueller/Mueller/Lowell/Lowell/Lowell (3/6)

*LF Manny/Manny/Manny/Manny/Manny/Manny (1/6)

*CF Damon/Damon/Damon/Coco/Coco/Jacoby (3/6)

*RF Nixon/Kapler/Nixon/Nixon/JD/JD  (3/6)

*C Tek/Tek/Tek/Tek/Tek/Tek (1/6)

*DH Papi/Papi/Papi/Papi/Papi/Papi (1/6)

 

*Mgr Little/Tito/Tito/Tito/Tito/Tito (2/6)

 

Instability Index (including manager) 25/66  38

 

Except for SS and 2B there was a fair amount of stability, much more so than in 2009-2013

 

 

For the sake of comparison here is the Yankees 2009-2013

 

*1B Tex.......................(1/5)

*2B Cano...................(1/5)

*SS Jeter..................(1/5)

*3B Arod/Arod/Arod/Arod./Youk (2/5)

*LF Damon/Gardner/Gardner/Gardner/Gardner (2/5)

*CF Gardner/Granderson/Granderson/Granderson/Granderson (1/5)

*RF Swisher/Swisher/Swisher/Swisher/Ichiro (2/5)

C Posada/Posada/Martin/Martin/I??? (3/5)

DH Matsui/Johnson/Posada/Ibanez/??? (5/5)

 

*Mgr Girardi......................... (1/5)

 

Instability Index 19/55  35

 

With the exception of DH and C they have been pretty stable from 2009-2012, although 2013 seems to be the start of a period of instability and we hope lack of success.

 

At least in these 2 examples the more popular and/or successful teams have had more stability than the 2009-2013 Red Sox.  Nothing earth shattering I guess since more changes are made when teams don't do well.   Perhaps instability is a consequence of lack of success and not a causative factor, although in the Yankees case it may be predictive in 2013.

 

However, some of the changes that have contributed to the instability have not made the team any better, and may have made them less popular.  Losing Bay for example in exchange for the elderly Cameron.   Beltre (or V-Mart) for Adrian Gonzalez.  Paps for Bailey.  Ross for Gomes. 

 

From the viewpoint of fan interest and fan loyalty I wonder if the instability in the lineup has something to do with falling ratings and slumping ticket prices on the secondary market beyond the teams lack of success.  It's hard on fans when their favorite player (or manager) has a shelf life of 2 years or less on their favorite team. I doubt Werners marketing report made this point.

.

 



#2 MakMan44


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Posted 27 January 2013 - 01:20 AM

I think it is to an extent because it help establish a bond to the team. I will always love the Red Sox but the only player I love is Pedey because I don't see him being traded or moving to another team in FA. If people are able to bond with the players and therefore the team it will no doubt help the success (finically speaking) of the team.   



#3 FinanceAdvice

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 10:15 AM

Hey Sampo Gida,

 

Excellent figures/stats and thanks very much for posting.  I agree that stability does help team success.  I do view it in the context of helping build team chemistry.  Great quote from the book Moneyball.  I paraphrase.  You have to get real close to your teammates, smell their sweat and feel their joys and sorrows and when you do that you become a cohesive team".

 

I'm a big believer in team chemistry first in helping teams win.  To me it is more important than talent. Perhaps its best to give an example.  2004 had great team chemistry and won it all.  2010 perhaps had more talent, at least on paper, and look where that got them, 



#4 inoffensiv philosophy

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 12:08 PM

Are we sure that we have this the right way around? What kind of teams are likely to have a lot of turnover amongst their starters? The answer to me seems to be: i) bad teams (they have bad players they want to get rid of); and ii) old teams (old players retire and get injured more, they also have shorter leashes because they don't have 'upside' -- on the other hand, some underperforming or balky veterans may have unmovable contracts and so stay in the lineup through struggles anyway). The Sox have been okay-bad the last three years (5th, 5th and 12th in wins the AL) and old (1st, 2nd and 5th in BatAge per BB-Ref). Most teams in the AL have been either better or younger (rarely both) in that three-year period.

 

As for popularity -- again, I think winning is the thing. Winning teams are usually popular, and losing teams -- especially old, expensive ones -- are unpopular. Stability and popularity might correlate independently of winning to some degree -- young prospects tend to be popular because fans have seen them come up, because they're underdogs, and because, unlike free agents, who are almost always overpaid relative to production, they don't have to do a whole lot to be worth their contract. A team of young, hungry, drafted-by-the-organisation 1 WAR players wouldn't be popular for long -- although I wonder if, in that scenario, the FO might bear more of the brunt of disaffection than the playing staff (the situation in KC might be the nearest thing to data pertinent to this issue).



#5 Sampo Gida

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 07:28 PM

Are we sure that we have this the right way around? What kind of teams are likely to have a lot of turnover amongst their starters? The answer to me seems to be: i) bad teams (they have bad players they want to get rid of); and ii) old teams (old players retire and get injured more, they also have shorter leashes because they don't have 'upside' -- on the other hand, some underperforming or balky veterans may have unmovable contracts and so stay in the lineup through struggles anyway). The Sox have been okay-bad the last three years (5th, 5th and 12th in wins the AL) and old (1st, 2nd and 5th in BatAge per BB-Ref). Most teams in the AL have been either better or younger (rarely both) in that three-year period.

 

As for popularity -- again, I think winning is the thing. Winning teams are usually popular, and losing teams -- especially old, expensive ones -- are unpopular. Stability and popularity might correlate independently of winning to some degree -- young prospects tend to be popular because fans have seen them come up, because they're underdogs, and because, unlike free agents, who are almost always overpaid relative to production, they don't have to do a whole lot to be worth their contract. A team of young, hungry, drafted-by-the-organisation 1 WAR players wouldn't be popular for long -- although I wonder if, in that scenario, the FO might bear more of the brunt of disaffection than the playing staff (the situation in KC might be the nearest thing to data pertinent to this issue).

 

The thing is ratings were declining as far back as 2009 when they made the playoffs which prompted Werner to hire a marketing study in 2010.  The team was still winning in 2010 until a rash of injuries struck close to the ASB, and in 2011 they were the best team in baseball up to September, and ratings were still down and it was getting easier and easier to buy tickets on the secondary market.   So popularity was dropping even as they were winning.

 

Some turnover from Y2Y is normal and even healthy, and I pointed out that bad teams would tend to have higher turnover.   However, even the Royals  from 2009-2013 have a slightly lower instability index than the Red Sox have had and they have had much worse teams and lose players for no other reason than they can not afford them as a small market team.  Too much turnover over a sustained period is probably not healthy. 

 

Perhaps a popular player, among fans and teammates  has an innate value not reflected in his stats or WAR.   An intangible if you will (which is being discussed on VALs thread on the mainboard).  If you could estimate that value, it would be considered as part of the decision making process to change Player Y for Player X where X is the popular guy you have and Y on paper is perhaps 0.5 WAR more valuable based on stats alone.  Do the intangibles provided by Player X offset the slightly higher on field skills provided by Player Y (or same skills but lower cost) ?

 

Another consideration vis-a-vis popularity is does winning breed apathy?   Can too much winning be a bad thing?  Could it be you need to lose once in a while to regain fans attention and get them to appreciate winning more when you start winning again?  Might need another thread for that one.



#6 BoredViewer

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 12:37 PM

I'd say stability mostly reflects a player having good performance and an acceptable contract. To the extent that it's obviously good to have lots of guys that perform well and match or exceed the value of their contracts... yeah... successful teams probably show more stability than unsuccessful teams. I don't think "stability," in and of itself makes a team better.

#7 Hugh G Rection

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 02:24 PM

Another huge reason for positional instability is the fact that the last 3 or 4 years have been absolutely attrocious when it comes to injuries. In 2004 the team was remarkably healthy, other than Trot. They used the same 5 starting pitchers for the entire season. The last couple years they've had to scramble just to be able to cover all the people on the DL. That leads to  higher turnover rates when it comes to signing players and letting them go. You don't often re-sign a player who is always hurt.  Infact you try to get him off the team as quickly as possible ie. Carl Crawford. Injuries lead to players being called up too early, players playing out of position and grabbing players off the scrap heep that you wouldn't normally sign ie. Marlon Byrd.


Edited by Hugh G Rection, 28 January 2013 - 02:25 PM.





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