A Critical Look at Some Analyses of Major League Baseball Salaries

By Hoaglin, David C.; Velleman, Paul F. | The American Statistician, August 1995 | Go to article overview

A Critical Look at Some Analyses of Major League Baseball Salaries


Hoaglin, David C., Velleman, Paul F., The American Statistician


1. INTRODUCTION

Before the 1988 Annual Statistical Meetings, the Statistical Graphics Section of the American Statistical Association made available salary data for 439 major league baseball players, along with various career and 1986 performance statistics and team attendance figures, challenging members of the ASA to analyze the data and present their analyses at a poster session. This exposition was announced at the 1987 Annual Meeting and in the September-October 1987 issue of Amstat News. No detailed instructions were distributed, other than a challenge to answer to question: "Are players paid according to their performance?"

One hundred twenty-seven groups asked for the data, and 15 of these presented analyses. Subsequently, Colin Mallows suggested to the authors (who had not participated in the exposition) that we synthesize lessons from the experience. The 15 presenters were contacted and asked to complete a summary questionnaire and to provide their papers (as prepared for the 1988 Proceedings of the Section on Statistical Graphics).

In this article we review the methods used in those 15 analyses to find a statistical model that responds to the question of whether players are paid for performance. We aim to learn which methods and approaches seem most successful in revealing the structure of these data. Those parallel analyses offer a unique opportunity to compare and constrast a variety of approaches to data analysis. We hope this comparison can provide guidance to others who have data to analyze.

The exposition was not a competition. The groups took many different approaches, and some of these were experimental, reflecting the goal of the exposition to encourage participants to try a range of new methods. Indeed, some of the least "successful" analyses have taught us the most about choosing methods of analysis.

We stress that the use of baseball as a source of data is a choice of convenience. Others have noted that professional baseball offers an unusually rich source of data that are quite complete over a long time period. The ASA challenge took advantage of this wealth of data to present one set of data within a larger framework to many teams of data analysts. The present review examines the methods used by the statisticians; our goal is not to reach a deeper understanding of baseball salaries. We do not propose that any of these analyses would be particularly appropriate for understanding or arbitrating baseball salaries. Indeed, none of the participants professed any sophisticated knowledge of baseball or of previously published analyses of baseball players' salaries. In this, the participants more closely resembled statistical consultants, who often are not expert in the discipline from which the data arise, but who nevertheless are called on to advise and assist in an analysis.

The question of whether salary reflects performance provides a focus for our review. We prefer models that account well for the relationship between performance and salary, and we seek models that are both parsimonious and interpretable. In this discussion we consider the models that were most parsimonious, most interpretable, and best fitting to be the most successful, because these are often good criteria for statistical analyses. Other analyses of baseball players' salaries may have other goals and might therefore lead to other models. We seek to identify the methods that led to the most parsimonious and best fitting models and to understand why these methods worked better than others.

All the analyses were performed with commercially available software. This could not have happened even five years before, and it highlights an important aspect of this review: all the methods used in these analyses are readily available.

2. THE DATA

Salary data for 439 major league players (263 hitters and 176 pitchers) came from the April 20, 1987 issue of Sports Illustrated; various career and 1986 performance statistics came from the 1987 Baseball Encyclopedia Update; 1986 team attendance figures were obtained from the Elias Sports Bureau. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Critical Look at Some Analyses of Major League Baseball Salaries
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.