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September 2013 - Baseball

We provide agents with powerful statistical analysis and research for arbitration, baseball free agency and long-term deal negotiations. Call Steve Fall at 404-447-1861 for more information.

Projecting the Next Big Turnaround

Last year in The Sports Resource Newsletter, we identified Francisco Liriano as a candidate for a major turnaround. Does this year's free agent class include such a pitcher?

Our predictive model analyzes 12 factors to predict future performance for starters. All but two factors project favorably for Mike Pelfrey. While he might not rank among the league's top pitchers like Liriano, expect major improvement from Pelfrey in 2014. Here is how their free agency platform seasons match up (through September 24, 2013).

Like Liriano in 2012, Pelfrey has an FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching from well below his ERA. Poor luck - shown by both his high batting average on balls in play rate and a low left on base percentage - hurt his core stats.

The Twins ranked last in the American League in defensive efficiency this season. Pitching in front of almost any other defense next season will improve Pelfrey's numbers dramatically.

As with Liriano a year ago, Pelfrey made a high percentage of his starts against strong teams. Although he had a high ERA, Pelfrey posted walk, strikeout, and home run allowed rates close to his career averages. This all bodes well for 2014.

How can predictive analytics build value and help you market your free agents? Contact Steve Fall at or 404-447-1861 to discuss.

Arbitration Challenges and Solutions

After researching the past five seasons of arbitration data, we discovered some very positive news for agents and players. First-time arbitration eligibles from last offseason received an average 2013 salary of $2,241,063. That marked a 19.2 percent increase over the previous first-time eligible class (note: these numbers are only for player who filed for arbitration and signed one-year deals).

However, for some types of players, there remains a large gap between actual performance and arbitration salaries.

In a previous Sports Resource Newsletter, we demonstrated how to boost salaries for players at key defensive positions. There also remains a huge drop-off from closer to setup salaries. Relievers who work the ninth inning definitely have more value, but elite setup men are crucial to team success.

The best approach in this case is to emphasize relief stats independent of role. There are great analytical tools for this purpose which gain greater acceptance every year. Win probability added and save plus hold percentage show the value of relievers, whether they have opportunities to close games or not. Arbitration-eligible Brad Ziegler, who set up for most of the season, is a good example of a player helped by such metrics.

Are Your Arbitration Exhibits Indisputable?

One of the most important questions we answer when developing arbitration materials for a potential hearing is: can this exhibit be easily countered or dismissed on rebuttal?

Take a hitter with a track record of clutch performance, for example. What if he has underperformed in the postseason? Statisticians know that postseason stats are usually small samples with high variance, but what about an arbitration panel? While some "clutch" exhibits would still make a good addition to the brief, in this situation, it shouldn't be one of the central themes because it is easy for the club to counter.

This is why The Sports Resource includes a list of negatives and potential team arguments in our arbitration packages. It is kept separate from the brief as a tool to help agents prepare for their case. So the exhibits are all 100 percent positive, and we detail anything that could come up in a hearing.

The Sports Resource Blog, Twitter and Facebook

The Sports Resource Blog features posts of interest to sports agents. "Like" The Sports Resource Facebook page to receive insightful statistical information. You can also follow Steve Fall on Twitter at


Note: All players used in this newsletter and our sample charts are selected at random. None of the information comes from actual projects for agents. All projects and conversations are confidential.

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