Batters' Salaries After an All Star Year Compared to Their Production

Thursday, August 21, 2014

This post goes along with a previous post in which I found that " All-Star selection can increase a player's salary significantly; on average by $1,517,550." Read the previous post here. What I did not demonstrate in the previous post, but intend to explain in this post is how that increase in a player's salary the year after an All-Star team selection relates to their statistical performance in that same year.

I used the same data that I compiled for the previous post, which included the list of All-Stars from 2002 - 2013 and their salaries before and after they were selected to the All-Star team, and added those same players core season statistics. For this post I am only going to deal with the batters, therefore I deleted the pitchers from my dataset as to not skew the calculations.

What I found was somewhat alarming, but not all that surprising. As I mentioned before, a player's salary increases by about $1.5 million on average the year after they are an All-Star. When I eliminated the pitchers from this list I found that batters ordinarily see an increase in annual salary of $1,426,104; a little less, but still a significant increase. As you look at the table, you will see that although teams tend to pay their batters more for making the All-Star team they do not necessarily see an increase or even a sustained level of production the following year from those players.

With that being said, in the grand scheme of things a drop off of an average of 18.1 Runs Created from one year to the next could be nothing more than simple regression. There will be years in which a player over performs for whatever reason. This does not mean the player is "overrated" or that he won't have another good year in the future. It simply means that if a player is a consistent .750 OPS guy and he has a year in which his OPS is .820 it's safe to say the next season he would be due to regress.

Also, I did not include age in my query of this dataset, but it should not be ruled out. If I'm not mistaken, with exception to perennial All-Stars (i.e. Jeter), players tend to make the All-Star team during their prime year(s) meaning 25-28 year old. As a whole, this slight drop off in production might be nothing more than age taking its toll.

So back to the question I posed in the previous post on whether an increase in a player's salary for making an All-Star game is justifiable for teams based on the future production of that player. At least with regards to the All-Star batters I would have to say no. Even though the overall average decrease in Runs Created was minimal, 18.1, it was still a decrease. I'm not saying don't reward the player at all, but it seems much more suitable in this case for teams to pay one time bonuses to players instead of increasing their annual salaries. Why pay a player a higher salary and ultimately shrink your payroll that much more for a guy who performed well for 90 games or so? This allows more risk to creep back into a team's decisions. I say, leave the salary raises for current players that prove they can consistently perform at a high level for multiple seasons or save the money for free agent acquisitions.

The way the system works right now, a player can take advantage of a half seasons worth of good games or even a strong marketing campaign to elevate their annual salary by $1.5 million. Teams that have to scrape every penny to obtain and keep good players should pay close attention to these kinds of findings so they are not poorly allocating scarce resources. Its Economics 101.

(SQL query of Lahman database using the Salaries, Batting, and AllStarFull followed by data manipulation in R studio)


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