Poster Title (Current Submission)

Comparative Advantage in the Bullpen

Major(s)

Economics, Finance

Minor(s)

Theatre Arts

Mentor Name

John Solow

Mentor Department

Economics

Abstract

Understanding the relationship between players’ performance and their pay is perhaps the longest running issue in sports economics, going back to the pioneering work of Gerald Scully [1974]. While a considerable amount of this research in baseball has involved hitters, relatively little has been done on pitchers. As Krautmann, Gustafson and Hadley [2003] have pointed out, there are two reasons for this: measuring pitchers’ performance independently of their teammates is difficult, and different pitchers perform different roles on the team, giving rise to pay structures that reward different aspects of performance depending on whether the pitcher is a starter or a reliever. In this paper, we make a first attempt at examining the factors that determine the role that a major league pitcher plays on a team. We do this using a qualitative choice model of the roles played by pitchers in the 2006 major league season. The task is made difficult by the fact that we do not get to observe the underlying characteristics that we suspect matter to the determination of a player’s role, but are limited to observable performance variables. Some of these variables are themselves the endogenous result of decisions about roles or strategies.

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Comparative Advantage in the Bullpen

Understanding the relationship between players’ performance and their pay is perhaps the longest running issue in sports economics, going back to the pioneering work of Gerald Scully [1974]. While a considerable amount of this research in baseball has involved hitters, relatively little has been done on pitchers. As Krautmann, Gustafson and Hadley [2003] have pointed out, there are two reasons for this: measuring pitchers’ performance independently of their teammates is difficult, and different pitchers perform different roles on the team, giving rise to pay structures that reward different aspects of performance depending on whether the pitcher is a starter or a reliever. In this paper, we make a first attempt at examining the factors that determine the role that a major league pitcher plays on a team. We do this using a qualitative choice model of the roles played by pitchers in the 2006 major league season. The task is made difficult by the fact that we do not get to observe the underlying characteristics that we suspect matter to the determination of a player’s role, but are limited to observable performance variables. Some of these variables are themselves the endogenous result of decisions about roles or strategies.