Results for category "Baseball"

Baseball Crowdsourcing – Why Shouldn’t the Phillies Give it a Try?

Matt Riggleman 0 Comments

Wow – I never expected to take this long to write again. Life kind of got in the way. But finally, after much coaxing from Matt Horn – I’m firing up another post.

Let the Fans Have A Voice!

I’m a Phillies fan, but first and foremost I’m a baseball fan. I’m accustomed to the ebb and flow of baseball team’s and franchises and I watch the game still the same.

However, I am also a marketer, and as a marketer, I spend a good deal of time obsessing over how to deliver the best product or service to customers and potential customers alike. I also spend a good deal of time showing others of what their customer base really is and wants.

Which is why I think the Phillies are completely missing the boat. Without further delay – here’s a suggestion for Phillies management.

CrowdSource Decisions Regarding Personnel Moves and Trades

Phillies blogs - Google Search 2013-12-13 22-17-50The very idea would scare the crap out of the old boy baseball regime – but seriously – name a place where an organization could tap into a greater source of knowledge and information on baseball’s players and operations? This is no longer the era of the armchair quarterback. These days, individual fans have access to as much statistical facts and figures as many major league teams – and they’re driven by obsession and passion – who better to provide advice? Consider how your fan base would react if they actually felt a hand, albeit a small one, in decisions to sign a free agent (for example?). Again, using the social media networks cultivated by the marketing department for content distribution – try turning the tables and actually facilitating a two way conversation with the consumers of your brand and product. Consider for a second – given the moves Ruben Amaro has made over the last few years – Could the millions of people who have created the over 28 million pieces of content around ‘Phillies Blog’ really do much worse?

5 Bad Things Fans Fans Could’ve Warned Management About

Not to Sign Ryan Howard to a 25 mil. per contract: Everyone knows players of his body type/ability don’t age well – and why sign him before his contract ends?!

Don’t Spend a Ton for Papelbon – Everybody knows you don’t spend on a closer these days. For every Mariano – there are a dozen Joe Borowskis.. Go cheap.

Don’t Sign Ruiz to one of the largest contracts ever for a Catcher – Com’on – he’s already in decline and he’s no longer juicing. And he’s getting up there. Granted, this still be remains to be seen….but Com’on…

No Sacrificing the Future to win Now – Every fan wants continual success – not a couple good years. Quit giving up draft picks for older guys, stock the farm system, and promote from within. Winning teams have been doing it for years (including you once upon a time).

Hire a Freaking Stats Guy YESTERDAY! – Teams have been on this bandwagon since the early 2000s…why wait till November 2013?!


Thanks for reading – hopefully I can back on track and post more frequently. Have a good holiday!

Matt Riggleman

Using Psychology To Make the Best Fantasy Baseball Trades

I’ve been reading a lot lately about psychology and the way people respond to things. Anyone who knows me will tell you I spend wayyyyyy too much time figuring out why people do the things they do…and way too much time over analyzing things I should probably just leave alone. For example, I talked to a hibachi chef Friday night for an hour about how Lancaster Countians act differently then people anywhere else in the country (We both agreed to this point, and I’ve heard it from others). This kind of thinking has its pros and its cons – but it does provide a framework for describing why things go down the way they do most of the time.

Of course I’m rocking several fantasy baseball leagues – The big, longterm 16-team, 8×8 Roto Inglorious Bastardos, The 12 Team TFP Just for Fun 8×8 Roto You Dickey!, the a Weekly head to head 12 team full of people I don’t know, who don’t trade, and who I beat every year…not gonna’ lie. I’ve been playing in leagues for over 6 years now and I dig it..I think it actually makes me a bigger baseball fan and, believe or not, better at my real world job.

Trading, in my opinion, is the most important thing you can do to improve your team, and the single most enjoyable part of fantasy sports. Everything, from the offer created, to the evaluation, to the veto process is a lesson in psychology. Some of them are logical, some are them are completely irrational, but, just knowing a little basic psychology can help you pull off the ultimate value adds for your team. The info below is based on actual experience as well as some real research – not done for simply the purposes of fantasy of course…:O. The idea for the post comes from an ongoing text discussion with my buddy Matt Horn on how individual fantasy owners act the same way, year over year.  Leads to articles like this.

I just got done reading the book “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by David Kahneman. He started the field of Behavioral Economics and shared a Nobel Prize for his work. One of his primary theories is that decision making takes place in two distinct ways. System 1 decisions are sometimes referred to as ‘spur of the moment’, and many of them happen automatically, quickly and subconsciously. This part of the decision making process is biased by information readily on hand – and, surprisingly enough gets used over 90% of the time when people make decisions. The other side of this is System 2 thought which is slower, analytical and more logical (maybe I need to trust System 1 more?). So, you ask yourself – how do I make the acceptance of this trade happen on a System 1 decision? How do I make accepting my trade more of an impulse, than something calculated and analyzed up one side and down the other? Here is the secret –

Play to Irrational Biases of Other Owners

You know you’ve done it – you just never knew the fact that it works is based in science. Irrational biases show up in tons of places, but every league can rely on at least a few constants, and I would argue that even the most ‘advanced’ fantasy owner will succumb to overvaluing guys for one reason or another. Here are a quick 20 trading strategies that play off the irrational biases of others. Most of these I’ve encountered and used over the years, and all of them are based on some sort of psychological logic. The greatest moves come when you combine more than one in a single trade.

1. Trading Partner’s Favorite Real Life Team’s Players. Easiest one in the book. Kahneman suggests a concept called What You See Is All There Is (WYSIATI)..which basically states that people have an irrational bias towards the things they see themselves. Makes pretty good sense.

2. Team that has games on owner’s local cable station. Again, WYSIATI. If they see Rollins go 5-5, that increases the odds that they’ll trade for him…before they realize that it’s Rollins and he stinks now..

3. Highly publicized player – Good or bad (even the bad ones will be fresh in their mind). Works great with prospects, another example of WYSIATI

4. Cool name Literally. Giancarlo Stanton just increased his changes of being irrationally traded for by simply changing his name from Mike. I think this is totally just because everyone has considered at one point or another, changing or improving there name. I am irrational about the name Clint (which actually happens to be my Pap’s name). I’ve never met an uncool Clint.

5. Guy who’s great in some obscure stat someone is pumped they look at and you don’t. Don’t have to be a rocket scientist here. Fantasy is all about maximizing value – based on the way I look at a player,if I think he’s better than the player I’m offering you, I’m all about it. It’s just up to you to know what your opponent likes to use. Plus every fantasy owner likes to think they got one up on another.

6. Aces. Chicks dig the long ball – but fantasy owners dig the pitching strikeout. Seriously. I’m convinced that it’s just because ‘Slugger’ doesn’t sound as cool as ‘Ace’..but aces are always overvalued.Ace

7. Urgency – Works mainly for roto leagues..but I’ve made some ridiculous trades because someone’s 2B just went on the 15 day. This speaks to a psychological concept called loss aversion – people tend to fear loss more than they appreciate gain.

8. Compliments – Every owner is an egomaniac when it comes to his team and his strategy. Tell them they’re doing good in the comments section of the trade, tell them you thought grabbing Bryce Harper and stashing him was a sweet move. Just like with anybody, they’ll be pumped someone is actually paying attention and that someone finally recognizes their genius. That’s relationships 101 baby!

9. Have a Trade Pending With Somebody Else – One of the quickest things people ask themselves when they receive a trade is ‘is this guy trying to screw me with some junk offer?’ By already having a trade going with someone else, they know you’re at least capable of executing a fair trade and that alleviates this fear a little, and plays into everybody’s irrational need to do what everyone else is doing. Use it!

10. Have a Good Reputation – Kinda plays into the one above, as well as every relationship you’ve ever tried to make in your life. Bottomline – if you were a scumbag to somebody else – calling them out, offering them crap deals, saying dumb stuff on the message board – it lowers your credibility as well as your chances of making deals/relationships in the future. People talk.

11. Trade for the extra player or provide a replacement – This is the one that happens to me all the time. I play in a 16 team league. Why am I going to trade you Troy Tulowitski for Robinson Cano? I have no backup SS, and none are available? It would also leave me with an extra 2B. I’m human; I fear loss more than I support gain. Instead, try to grab my 4th outfielder for an upgrade or add on pitcher. You’re not leaving me holes and I considered that guy trade bait anyway. Loss Aversion.

12. Don’t make them drop guys to make it happen – Remember, I’m an egomaniac and I think my team is great and my strategy is better than yours. Even though I like your deal, why would I want to dump a guy I like so someone else can pick him up later basically for free? Instead, offer me an even up deal personnel-wise..I’m much more likely to include a guy in a trade for slightly less value, then to dump him and lose the ability to gain something. More Loss Aversion. Fear Loss more than like gain!

13. Be Visible – Related to reputation, but it’s another play off of WYSIATI. Look visible, look interested. Make add drops, post on message boards. Text people about trades. If you have a good reputation, let people experience it..don’t keep it quiet…and the trades get easier.

14. Trade Them the Guys They Had Last Year – A bunch of things going on here. They’re familiar with the guys’ stats, they were into them enough to keep them last season, AND, you recognized that so that plays to the whole ego trip thing. I’ve seen this happen MANY, MANY times.

15. Hometown Favorite – Just like 14, jump on board the big name who reluctantly got traded to some other real-life team. They’re definitely going to be more educated about the guy than most people. How many times has a baseball fan told you…we loved (insert name) when he played here..but he went where the money is. Cater to that bummed-outed-ness…

16. Encourage Someone Else To Ride the Hot Streak – There are a ton of reasons why this works. WYSIATI is definitely in play. Kahneman also believes people generally underestimate chance, instead preferring to assume what they see will continue to happen in the future. Plays great to the owner who just watched the breakout game the night before too. Works great when an interleague matchup is dominated by a mediocre American league pitcher against a pidly National League one….for example…

17. Trade With the Guy Who Got the Better Side of an Earlier Deal – Cockiness plays hard and any male-dominated competition is overflowing with it. If the owner is on cloud 9 over the Clayton Kershaw for Rafael Betencourt deal they just made – hit them up with a deal you like ASAP. Risk aversion will be overcome with the feeling of the surplus they just hauled in. Make it happen now!

18. Trade the Guy Who Got the Worse Part of an Earlier Deal – Kahneman calls it Sunk-Cost…or the tendency of someone who has made a bad move to continue making them to try and outweigh a sense of regret. So go for it – target the owner who traded Josh Hamilton for Albert Pujols…he’ll be looking for an upswing.

19. Explain Yourself – Literally..the only true enabler of System 1 thought. If the owner knows your intentions right from the get-go..on how you value the guys you’re offering and asking for…that’s one step closer to making a snap judgement on the trade. Tell them – “I really need steals and you’re down holds, so  I think Balfour for Bonifacio works for both of us.” helps him better understand how you think for future deals. Excellent!

20. Frame Your Words Carefully – Kahneman discusses a concept called Framing whereby people respond differently to the same concepts depending on how they’re presented. His example is, are you more likely to have a surgery where you have a 90% survival rate…or one with a 10% mortality rate? Most people say the prior. When you’re explaining your trade offer…use the most positively correlated messaging you can to explain the trade…it may affect the outcome.

C.C. Sabathia to headline 2020 Phillies late relief

Matt Riggleman 3 Comments

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve noticed that the Yankees are being the Yankees, and while the rest of the world begins to crumble under an economic system as unstable as a Minnesota bridge, they’ve spent hundreds of millions of dollars on 3 players. The headline of this deal is the largest contract ever given to a pitcher, namely the 7 year, 161 million dollar deal given to one C.C. Sabathia. To give the Yankees credit, the guy is in his prime, works hard and has shown periods of complete dominance reminiscent of any top-flight ace. The only questionable thing about the deal is the fact that Sabathia has continuously ballooned up in size over the last few seasons. Standing at 6 ft., 7in. and 290 pounds Sabathia is a monster on any scale. He dwarfs sports’ favorite heavyweight Babe Ruth in his prime. Check out this blog that breaks down the number of pinstripes Sabathia will probably represent: to give you a hint, his uni may have the most in history. And it this mammoth proportion that leads to the title of this blog.

Sabathia, the current StayPuff Marshmellow man of pitchers, is destined to be a Phillies long reliever by his 40th birthday. Coming off of the later years of his contract with the Yanks, weighing in around the size of one of those ultra compact cars, the Phillies are sure to milk the end of his career. It’s been a few years, but by 2020, they’re sure to revert to their old ways. If there’s a past-his-prime reliever out there who is generally in terrible shape and is complete and obvious bad call, the Phils seek him out like a dollar dog.

Examples of this include, the once great Jose Mesa. Not familiar with Mesa? Beginning his career in good ol’ 1987, Mesa made a name for himself as a fireballer for (who else?) the early 90s Cleveland Indians. A top of the rotation starter, the years quickly caught up to Mesa, and he never again reached the triple digits in innings pitched after 1993. He was then relegated to life as a journeyman reliever for a variety of clubs, eventually ending up with the Phils from 2001-2003. This stint started well, with Mesa posting above average era’s in the early years, but being let go in 03 after an abysmal 6.52 ERA. But, the Phils using traditional Phillies Logic, immediately ascertained that “Gee, our buddy Joe Table is older, heavier and in way worse shape then he was when he sucked before. Let’s give him a whirl again.” So he came back and sucked again to the tune of a 4.61 ERA before being released. He also managed to start a feud with (who else?) that notorious bastard Omar Vizquel somewhere along the way?

The second example is the great Antonio Alfonseca. To Alfonseca’s credit(?) he was never that good, and not that old, but he was a big guy. He was only 35 when the Phils picked him up in 2007, but weighed in at 235. As a fan, I can remember lots of games where Alfonseca put me on the edge of my seat, and than completely lived up to his potential by costing the Phils the loss. He left at the end of 2007 to the tune of a 4.61 ERA.

UrbinaThe third, and one of my personal favorites is Ugeth Urbina. To make a long and not so interesting story short, Urbina was a journeyman reliever for 10 years prior to joining the Phillies in 2005.  He ended the year with 4.13 ERA which isn’t hideous, so there had to be something wrong right? He never came back to baseball the next year after killing a man in his native Venezuela. Doh!

The 4th, and kind of an honorable mention, because Gordon is generally a good guy. He started his career in 1988, made a name for himself as a setup man for the great Mariano Rivera back with the Yankees used to win World Series’, and than, of course, ended up in the Phils relief crew when he was too old to function effectively anymore. From 2006-2008, Gordon has seen his ERA balloon from 3.34 to 5.13, and his spent numerous stints on the disabled list. Rumor has it he’s still on the Philies roster. Though again, as a fan, I gotta’ say Gordon has broken my heart many times with busted setups and closings. But..he’s old….

So, when Sabathia is broken down, either due to age, size, or a myriad of domestic disturbances, you can be sure the Phillies will be calling, and we won’t be taking no for an answer.

In other news. I saw this video last night on SNL and, having grown up in the late 80s early 90s it hit a chord. I can’t believe I remembered the theme song. Was there ever a more memorable premise or character on TV at least in the last 20 years though? I can’t even think of any that come close. It was the perfect combination of ridiculous premise, not-as-bad-as-you’d-think acting, and of course a set of easily memorable occurrences on each show: starting with the theme song and ending with the journal..sure to make it a cult classic for years to come.


Anyway, until next time,

Go Phillies in 09