Thursday, April 01, 2004

Clarifying the experience question

I'm not sure I was clear in my previous entry about the question I was asking. We see that Bavasi puts a premium on "experience," which usually means "old." I am not asking whether older players are better than younger ones, because plenty of work has been done on the age-production curves--when most players peak in their production, and how they decline. Preferring an older player to a younger one--for instance, preferring Rich Aurilia over Carlos Guillen--strikes me as fairly counterproductive. The question is whether years of major league play correlate at all with success. If we compare players with statistically similar profiles, will the one with more major-leauge (or post-season) experience be more likely to improve than the inexperienced one? My instinct is to say "of course not"--but just going on instinct is no better than what Bavasi is currently operating with. I don't have the time or knowledge to put together that sort of a report, but I wonder if anyone has.

A Google search brings upthis article from ESPN and Baseball Prospectus which looks at experienced teams, but that's not the same thing. The google search also brought me to this old exchange by some folks of the Baseball Primer persuasion, who wonder if experience (rather than age) matters for pitchers more than for batters.

Anyone who knows something substantive about this, please drop me an email.

So will the M's be the next Baltimore? That sounds like what Derek Zumsteg fears, when he predicts (in a Seattle Weekly article featuring him and USS Mariner) that "in three years, they’ll be playing .400 ball, will be losing money, and won’t know what hit them: ‘We have such a great bunch of veteran guys! How could this happen?'" (assuming things don't change in the M's front office).

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