Look, another article about the juiced ball! I know, I know. At this point, the narrative of the juiced ball has been written from many angles. (For anyone reading this who is somehow not familiar with that narrative, Jay Jaffe’s piece from June is replete with graphs, tables, and external links.)
As fans, this narrative is interesting, as it contextualizes the product we see on the field. It feels like there are more home runs — hey, there are more home runs! It’s human nature to wonder why. Baseball writers have tough jobs, and they need something to write about. Many baseball writers have tried to tackle the “why” to satisfy both reader curiosity and their editor’s article quota.
While this narrative is interesting for fans, for teams, it’s of massive importance financially. Teams have payroll budgets, and presumably, some of those teams will have room in those budgets for free agents this offseason. Teams also have players under contract who are eligible for arbitration, on whom the team must place valuations in advance of submitting a figure to arbitrators or deciding to non-tender the player. In short, teams have financial decisions to make, and they rely on all the information at their disposal to make them. Wasted dollars represent opportunity cost more than anything, in a league where advantages are razor thin and random variance plays such a key role in success or failure from year to year. Read the rest of this entry »