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18 Minutes of Me, & More Moneyball

I talked with Tom Keene on Bloomberg Radio's "On The Economy" program Tuesday evening (the direct link to the podcast is here). The discussion was on the economics of baseball, record-setting attendance, the joys of parity -- and my strong suspicion that they are vastly over-rated in the current discussion -- and lots on Moneyball-related issues. It was a very pleasant discussion. But when Tom asked me about the failure of the Mets to make the playoffs, I naively used the word "catastrophe." And though we spent all of 20 seconds on the Mets, the headline for the show is "Sauer, Economist, Calls Mets' Collapse a Catastrophe." Color me amused.

Those of you interested in the nitty gritty of the Moneyball discussion may want to read a recent paper written with Jahn Hakes. In "The Moneyball Anomaly and Payroll Efficiency", Jahn and I argue that the mis-pricing of on-base percentage is tied to "plate discipline." We extend the period of analysis of our 2006 paper to over 20 years, from 1986-2006. We find that returns to plate discipline are weak prior to 1995, become sporadically significant in the late 1990s, and increase sharply in 2004 and 2005. The paper is forthcoming in the International Journal of Sport Finance, in a special issue focused on the Moneyball theme. Ours is surely not the last word on the subject.