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September 2014 - 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.

Dominant Setup Men

Strong setup relievers have a major impact on team success and should see their salaries continue to rise this offseason. Research shows they are getting better each season, and impacting more game outcomes.

A FiveThirtyEight blog post titled "How Bullpens Took Over Modern Baseball" detailed how more relievers take the mound per game than ever before, and they're limiting offense better as well.

To further demonstrate the importance of relievers, far more one-run games take place now compared to 10 years ago. Through September 10, one run decided 30.5 percent of all 2014 MLB games. In 2004, the percentage was just 26.3. This means relievers pitch more often with games hanging in the balance.

Relief pitchers - especially setup men - are also maintaining leads better than ever. The chart reveals the percentage of leads held since 2004.

Teams have held 87.5 percent of their leads after six innings this season, versus just 84.9 percent in 2004. In the same timeframe, clubs have maintained leads slightly less often when leading after eight innings. This shows that the upgrade has come in the seventh and eighth innings, but not the ninth. What changed? Compared to 10 years ago, more teams today have three or more strong relievers to preserve leads.

Four Key Trends for Arbitration

The agent/player side had an excellent offseason last year. Among the 30 arbitration cases that settled after the exchange (excluding multi-year contracts), 16 signed deals above the midpoint compared to just eight below. With the regular season winding down, here are tools and trends to help agents representing arbitration eligible players.

Marginal Value. If division and wild card races get decided by one or two games, marginal value will become a factor in numerous arbitration cases. Under the current playoff format, winning a division - and avoiding the Wild Card Playoff Game - doubles a team's odds of winning the World Series. A previous newsletter article on Austin Jackson explained this concept.

Pitch Framing. This has become a hot topic in the baseball analytics community, and it will impact catcher's arbitration cases. Hank Conger and Rene Rivera - two first-time eligibles - both excel at getting strike calls and saving runs with their pitch framing skills.

Remarkable Relievers. As detailed in the previous article, MLB is filled with dominant relief pitchers that impacted team success.

Online Presence. Since the arbitration criteria includes "special qualities of leadership and public appeal", agents can build exhibits highlighting their player's digital presence and fan appeal. This creates opportunities to emphasize Twitter follower counts, Google rankings, Klout Scores, and social media sentiment analysis in arbitration briefs. Those same tools also make a great addition to free agency packages.

Our packages tell compelling stories with sports analytics, and provide indisputable proof of player value for arbitration and free agency.

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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