Thursday, January 26, 2012

Minnesota Twins Spring Training!

Is it Spring Training Yet? I can't wait for the Spring Training games starting March 3rd at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers!

Here is a little bite of the Spring Training Schedule at Hammond Stadium:

3/3 Twins v Rays

3/5 Twins v Red Sox

3/8 Twins v Rays

3/9 Twins v Cardinals

3/11 Twins v Yankees

3/13 Twins v Blue Jays

3/15 Twins v Pirates

For more you will just have to check back! Or... I suppose you could go to the official Twins site, but I give you a much better presentation =)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Most Anticipated Series of the Year

While it is early to say whether or not the end of the season will matter in terms of the playoffs, I am guessing there will be a lot of weight on the last home series of the 2012. The Detroit Tigers will be in town at Target Field from 9/28 -9/30 and it is going to be a big deal.

What is your most anticipated game of the year?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Moral Hazard of the Designated Hitter (Part 4 and Final)

A majority of this paper has highlighted a cost associated with the designated hitter rule: moral hazard problem. There exist other costs as well. The designated hitter rule, which ultimately leads to more hit batsmen, could unnecessarily increase the risk of injury.21 With only a little over 60 feet separating a pitcher with a 90 mile-per-hour fastball and the batter at the plate, there exists the potential for tragic results should the pitch make contact with the batter. In addition, there exists potential for a bench-clearing brawl as a form of retribution against the pitcher should the pitch hit the batter.22 These are serious costs.

Some of the costs mentioned, however, have already been addressed by the MLB. The MLB requires all batters wear some type of protective helmet while at bat and that balls be replaced early and often in order to reduce the risk of serious injury.23

While bench-clearing brawls may be dangerous to players, and despite how perverse it may be, fans most likely gain some utility from witnessing such events.24 Many sports fans, especially fans of hockey or football, enjoy watching aggression. Why wouldn’t baseball fans? Further, as previously discussed, the implementation of the double-warning rule has overshadowed the moral hazard created by the designated hitter rule and has resulted in more hit batsmen in both leagues. Clearly, if safety was the first priority, the double-warning rule would be repealed first, reducing the number of hit batsmen in both the AL and the NL.25 Nevertheless, most hit-by-pitch incidents involve minimal or no injury.26

In closing, although statistical data indicates the designated hitter rule creates a moral hazard in the AL, this hazard is somewhat overshadowed by the double-warning rule. If the designated hitter rule were to be eliminated, the moral hazard would not disappear, but be the consequence of another source. In the American League, teams and fans clearly benefit from the increased offense and attendance. This benefit must be compared to the potential of injury to the players, among other costs. Through cost-benefit analysis, baseball fans can see that the marginal benefits of the designated hitter rule exceed the marginal costs of the designated hitter rule, though the costs include moral hazard.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Moral Hazard of the Designated Hitter (Part 3)

It is important to note that this exact analysis is relevant to 1993. In 1994, for the first time since the designated hitter rule was introduced, the NL had more hit batsmen than did the AL. This has been true every year since 1994, with the exception of 1996 [Appendix B]. In 1994, MLB introduced another rule called the “double-warning rule”. 11 Under this rule, the umpire warns both teams if he believes a pitcher has intentionally hit a batter and, if a retaliatory hit follows such a warning, the offending pitcher and his manager are immediately ejected.12

Essentially this rule means that pitchers in both leagues have “one free hit” before both sides are warned.13 As a result of this rule, NL pitchers are now behaving like AL pitchers and a moral hazard now exists in both leagues. From 1994, the amount of batters hit by pitchers in both leagues has risen, though more significantly in the NL, to where they are now similar [Appendix B]. The double-warning rule has helped masked some of the moral hazard of the designated hitter rule and, should MLB extinguish the designated hitter rule, the moral hazard would simply stem from a different source.

Like almost every rule or law, the designated hitter rule has both its benefits and costs. Though the moral hazard problem is considered a disadvantage of the rule, there still exists the possibility that the benefits of such a rule could outweigh the costs. After some analysis, it will become clear that the marginal benefits of the designated hitter rule will exceed the marginal costs of the designated hitter rule. Advantages of the designated hitter rule were touched on lightly earlier in the paper.

First, the designated hitter rule increases a team’s offensive output, resulting in higher ballpark attendance. In 1972, the AL scored 824 fewer runs than the NL, with almost 200 fewer home runs [Appendix C]. 1415 A season later, in 1973, the AL had 252 more runs scored than the NL, while hitting 377 home runs on the year, 2 more than the NL [Appendix C].1617 According to Buehler and Calandrillo, economists Bruce Domazlicky and Peter Kerr found that an estimated 2,211 additional fans per opening can be attributed to the designated hitter rule.18

Second, the rule has the ability to extend the careers of older players or players plagued by an injury. For example, the rule allowed Jim Thome to play 6 more years as a designated hitter after being removed from defensive duty.19 Without the rule, Thome would have never reached his 600th home run. Similarly, the rule helps ease injured players back from recovery. Super star Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twin’s is expected to move to the designated hitter while recovering from his ongoing concussion symptoms as well as other ailments.20 Morneau may not be healthy enough to contribute defensively, but the designated hitter rule will allow him to continue his MLB career; a NL player with the same health complaints may be forced into retirement.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Moral Hazard of Designated Hitter (Part 2)

According the Major League Baseball, the designated hitter rule provides as follows: “A hitter may be designated to bat for the starting pitcher and all subsequent pitchers in any game without otherwise affecting the status of the pitcher(s) in the game…” [Appendix A]5 The rule goes on to state, among other things, that the designated hitter rule is not a mandatory one; a team can choose whether or not to adopt it.

After a period where pitchers dominated the game, leading to low-scoring ball games and decreased attendance, the AL implemented the designated hitter rule in 1973 with the goal of increasing offense and attendance by swelling the talent pool of batters in the lineup.67 Traditionally, competing teams field nine players who must both play defense and contribute offensively at the plate. When a team chooses a pitcher, who is responsible for putting the ball in play, they look at their pitching talent and ignore their batting talent. This tends to result in pitchers with relatively poor batting skills because their development has been weighted toward their primacy role. The designated hitter rule allows for a team to replace this ‘weak link’ with a player possessing greater offensive abilities, ultimately increasing the total offensive output.8

Though the rule succeeded at turning the AL into a power league, the success came at a cost. Because they are not required to appear at the plate, AL pitchers can throw at opposing batters with greater impunity than NL pitchers, who must take their turn at the plate, resulting in the AL having more batters hit by pitches than the NL. In other words, NL pitchers must internalize the cost of hitting an opposing batter, by facing the opposing pitcher at the plate; AL pitchers play without direct retaliation. From 1973 to 1993, the AL had 2,526 more hit batters than did the NL, with the AL having, on average, 475 hit batters per season, while the NL tallies in at, on average, 350 batters plunked [Appendix B].910

The results show that AL pitchers became much more willing to throw at batters after the designated hitter rule went into effect, creating a classic moral hazard problem. Pitchers who do not have to bat, where there is the potential for retaliation, are more willing to risk plunking batters than pitchers who do bat.