Sunday, January 24, 2010

THE BORAS EFFECT

It's not an exaggeration to say that Scott Boras is the most recognizable and polarizing players' agent in the history of sports.  In fact, if you asked people to name all of the sports agents they can off the top of their heads, I'd bet that the majority of people could only name Boras.  Even if you read a list of other prominent agents to people, few would know who any of them even were.

Try it.  Here are some names:

  • Rob Pelinka
  • Thomas Miller
  • Greg Genske
  • Jason Fletcher
  • Michael Stubek
  • Arlan Tate
  • Neil Halper
  • Bo McKinnis
Four of these people are listed among the 17 "Notable sports agents" (other than Boras) from the three major U.S. sports on Wikipedia.  The other four are names I completely made up.  See?

Baseball fans hate Scott Boras.  He demands high salaries for players, making them difficult to sign for all but the wealthiest of teams.  He is lambasted in the media, including gems like this:
Scott Boras Demands $35 Million to Rescue Drowning Child
It's true that Boras represents some of the games biggest stars - names like Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Mark Teixeira and Prince Fielder.  But do Scott Boras clients really get paid more than they should, or does it just seem that way because of his impressive list of clientele?

Let's take a look at a small set of players.  Here are the top 8 home run hitters in baseball in 2009:

Player
Team
HR
'09 Salary
Boras Client
Albert Pujols
StL
47
$14,427,326
No
Prince Fielder
Mil
46
$7,000,000
Yes
Ryan Howard
Phi
45
$15,000,000
No
Mark Reynolds
Ari
44
$422,500
No
Adrian Gonzalez
SD
40
$3,125,000
No
Carlos Pena
TB
39
$8,000,000
Yes
Mark Teixeira
NYY
39
$20,625,000
Yes
Adam Dunn
Was
38
$8,000,000
No

This group of players earned a combined salary of $76.6 million in 2009.  Of that, $35.6 million, or 47%, was paid to Scott Boras clients.  Yet, among this group, the Boras clients hit only 37% (124 of 338) of the home runs.  You could conclude from this example that Scott Boras clients are overpaid as compared to their production.  However this is a very small sample and includes Mark Reynolds who could be throwing the numbers off.  What if you did this same thing though for baseball as a whole?

The USA Today Baseball Salaries Database lists the 2009 salaries for every player who was on a Major League roster on opening day.  I (painstakingly) matched up every players' 2009 salary to his 2009 statistics.  Scott Boras' Wikipedia entry contains a list of his clients.  I flagged every Boras client in my database.  A total of 401 hitters and 380 pitchers are included.

To create the following charts, I simply divided all players into two groups depending on whether they were or were not a Scott Boras client - 30 of the 401 hitters are Boras clients.  I added all of the statistics and salaries for each of the two groups just like I did in my example, and calculated the percentage of the total for each stat.  Starting with hitters, here is what I found:



I find that staggering.  Among Major League hitters, Scott Boras clients earned 15% of all salaries paid in 2009, yet accounted for only about 9% of all offensive production.  Not only are Scott Boras clients overpaid compared to what they produce, they are grossly overpaid.  As a group, hitters represented by Scott Boras earned about 70% more money than they should given the sum of their offensive contributions.

To properly study pitchers I divided them into starters and relievers.  Here is the same chart for starting pitchers in 2009:



Again, starting pitchers represented by Boras are overpaid for their production.  The difference is not as severe as for hitters but it still clearly exists.  In my database, 15 of the 153 starting pitchers are represented by Boras.

Relief pitchers are the only group that Scott Boras hasn't quite figured out - or cared to bother with.  Salaries for his relief pitcher clients lag their production...



...except for saves - the money stat.  The two most prominent relievers that Boras represents and Mike Gonzalez and Scott Schoeneweis.  Hardly a who's-who of bullpens.

The topic of Scott Boras is of obvious interest to Brewers fans as they wrestle with the next big item on their agenda - whether they should and are able to sign Prince Fielder to a long-term contract. I've got much more data on this topic and many more charts to present.  I just need to put them together into a cohesive article.  I'll do that.  Stay tuned.

p.s. Pelinka (basketball), Genske (baseball), Fletcher (football) and McKinnis (baseball) are the real agents from my quiz above.

1 comment:

jkloster said...

Great post. Owners caved fairly easily to his demands in better economic times. It's fun to see him really have to work to save face after struggling to crank out a multi-year deal for Johnny Damon.

I really like the blog, Scott. Have you ever given thought to joining the Yardbarker Network? I think you're style of writing would be a good fit. If you're interested in hearing more, you can contact me at jeff@yardbarker.com

Thanks,
Jeff

 
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