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Next year's free agent class

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Next year's free agent class

Postby BKeller » Mon Dec 08, 2003 7:45 pm

Hey, does anyone know where to find a list of guys who will be free agents AFTER 2004? It often seems like guys play a little harder and do a little better in their contract years (e.g., Sheffield, Javy Lopez, Juan Gon (before injury), Mike Lowell (before injury)), so I want to find a list of guys who are eligible for free agency after this year. Anyone know where to find such a list?

Also, do you agree that guys tend to perform better in their contract years? (Owners of Tejada, Maddux, and L. Castillo [wasn't he in a contract year?] might disagree.) Thanks!
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Postby j_d_mcnugent » Mon Dec 08, 2003 8:02 pm

i have seen a list but i dont remember where it is at the moment. i dont put too much into the contract year theory. i read an article on it that basically said hitters do somewhat better in contract years but pitchers dont do any better. the difference wasnt anything to get excited about. i guess if a player had a history of doing well in contract years i would take that into account but i dont take it into consideration otherwise.
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Postby Madison » Mon Dec 08, 2003 8:17 pm

With so much time left, there will be plenty of new extensions offered before the season starts. ;-) Tough to say for sure who will definitely be a free agent after '04.
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Postby wrveres » Mon Dec 08, 2003 8:21 pm

I'd say pretty close to 60% of all Players will be FA next season ... :-o
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Postby j_d_mcnugent » Mon Dec 08, 2003 9:41 pm

here is a list of some fa's after the 2004 season:

http://fantasy.sportingnews.com/basebal ... 31111.html

interestingly enough, that particular article infers that the contract year theory does exist. upon closer examination though, not all of the evidence holds water. for example, he offers up pudge rodriguez as evidence of such theory. pudge did indeed have a solid year but he has a number of better seasons in non contract years. i think the contract year theory exists on a personal basis but i dont think it exists on a league wide basis such that it would be prudent to develop a drafting strategy based on it. if you think two players are equal and one is in a contract year and the other isnt, then maybe it would be wise to select the contract year player. but i think it is far more fruitful to develop a strategy based on acquiring good players rather than guessing which ones will get their ass in gear.

this article, although a few years old, supports my point: http://www.baseballnotebook.com/e_021902.asp?linkid=0


i think the best way to once and for all determine the validity of the contract year theory is to examine all seasons in the players career and determine if the contract years are significantly different than the other years. i dont really have the time or desire to do it though.
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Re: Next year's free agent class

Postby HOOTIE » Tue Dec 09, 2003 2:13 am

BKeller wrote:Hey, does anyone know where to find a list of guys who will be free agents AFTER 2004? It often seems like guys play a little harder and do a little better in their contract years (e.g., Sheffield, Javy Lopez, Juan Gon (before injury), Mike Lowell (before injury)), so I want to find a list of guys who are eligible for free agency after this year. Anyone know where to find such a list?

Also, do you agree that guys tend to perform better in their contract years? (Owners of Tejada, Maddux, and L. Castillo [wasn't he in a contract year?] might disagree.) Thanks!


This is another myth in bb. I haven't seen any evidence guys do better their free agent year, about a 50/50 split. Its just that only the good ones get brought up.
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Re: Next year's free agent class

Postby BKeller » Tue Dec 09, 2003 5:01 am

Also, do you agree that guys tend to perform better in their contract years?

This is another myth in bb. I haven't seen any evidence guys do better their free agent year, about a 50/50 split. Its just that only the good ones get brought up.[/quote]

I agree (subject to further analysis). I just ran some numbers in a sufficiently imprecise way that would be guaranteed to make a statistician squirm. (If I had no job, the study would be more exhaustive! 8-o ) That said: The results, which are based only on 2002 v. 2003 data in a limited group of hitters (but not pitchers), suggested that more fantasy players than not actually produced at a slightly lower rate in their contract year than in the prior year, but generally by a small amount. (I.e., a player would only move up or down a round or two in a typical draft; I view this as normal fluctuation.) However, where there were major, rather than minor, changes in the performance of non-injured free-agency eligible players, those changes tended to be positive. (E.g., Sheffield, Lopez). (There may also be other factors contributing to these players' performance improvements, such as being in a better line up, better health & conditioning, batting in a different part of the line up, having been injured or slumped in the prior year, etc.) But there weren't many of these major improvers, anyway. Thus, while virtually no free-agency eligible players had substantial changes, those who did make major changes tended to improve (rather than regress). (I'm not including those who suffered from injuries; it's possible that players in free agency try so hard to put up big stats and avoid a reputation for being injury-prone that they get hurt more often; anyone tested this "Juan Gon '03 Hypothesis"?)

But the fact that most free-agency eligible players dropped in performance slightly offsets the projected value of upcoming free agents because these potential breakout players form a minority of the sample group. (And I haven't compared the frequency of breakout years by potential free agents relative to breakout years by non free agents! For all I know, guys in the middle of contracts are just as likely to break out. (E.g., Renteria; not to mention that some 'breakout' free agents, like Sheffield, are really just returning to form after an off year.)

Conclusion: I'm inclined to agree with McNugent and Hootie; free agency isn't a reliable predictor of improved performance. While my 30-minute look (at only about 30-40 hitters) shouldn't be relied on heavily, it provides a preliminary affirmation of Hootie's suggestion that free agency is "a 50-50 split" . . . except that it appears to actually be a virtual non-factor or slight minus-factor in most players, but a major plus factor in a handful of players; in any event, it works out to about a 50-50 split as Hootie suggests. (I.e., the lower probability of landing a Javy Lopez is offset by the greater probability of having a slight drop in performance.)

I agree with McNugent that free agency should be nothing more than a tie breaker. What's odd is that there isn't a stronger correlation between free agency and performance. Maybe the pressure offsets the increased interest in putting up good stats? In any event, I agree with McNugent's conclusion that obsessive drafters should "determine if the contract years are significantly different than the other years;" absent a strong correlation to an individual's performance in a contract year, there seems little reason to get excited about that player's fantasy value.

Moreover, as Madison correctly notes, extensions further complicate the ability to predict a player's performance. If I recall correctly, Randy Johnson was eligible for free agency in 2004, but signed a 2-year extension just before he began in 2003 to pitch like an old man. Madison's right that extensions make it tough to predict who will be a free agent, which compounds the fact that free agency appears to be a poor indicator of short-term future performance.

Anyway, it's 3:35am so it's time to sleep. I guess, this is a long way of saying that I agree with the above comments, except that I think the 50-50 point is a little more nuanced (as reflected by what has become a frickin' dissertation; sorry, I'll be more concise in the future!)

In any event, thanks for the responses! They made me second-guess the conventional wisdom.
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Re: Next year's free agent class

Postby Madison » Tue Dec 09, 2003 10:58 am

BKeller wrote:Also, do you agree that guys tend to perform better in their contract years?

This is another myth in bb. I haven't seen any evidence guys do better their free agent year, about a 50/50 split. Its just that only the good ones get brought up.

I agree (subject to further analysis). I just ran some numbers in a sufficiently imprecise way that would be guaranteed to make a statistician squirm. (If I had no job, the study would be more exhaustive! 8-o ) That said: The results, which are based only on 2002 v. 2003 data in a limited group of hitters (but not pitchers), suggested that more fantasy players than not actually produced at a slightly lower rate in their contract year than in the prior year, but generally by a small amount. (I.e., a player would only move up or down a round or two in a typical draft; I view this as normal fluctuation.) However, where there were major, rather than minor, changes in the performance of non-injured free-agency eligible players, those changes tended to be positive. (E.g., Sheffield, Lopez). (There may also be other factors contributing to these players' performance improvements, such as being in a better line up, better health & conditioning, batting in a different part of the line up, having been injured or slumped in the prior year, etc.) But there weren't many of these major improvers, anyway. Thus, while virtually no free-agency eligible players had substantial changes, those who did make major changes tended to improve (rather than regress). (I'm not including those who suffered from injuries; it's possible that players in free agency try so hard to put up big stats and avoid a reputation for being injury-prone that they get hurt more often; anyone tested this "Juan Gon '03 Hypothesis"?)

But the fact that most free-agency eligible players dropped in performance slightly offsets the projected value of upcoming free agents because these potential breakout players form a minority of the sample group. (And I haven't compared the frequency of breakout years by potential free agents relative to breakout years by non free agents! For all I know, guys in the middle of contracts are just as likely to break out. (E.g., Renteria; not to mention that some 'breakout' free agents, like Sheffield, are really just returning to form after an off year.)

Conclusion: I'm inclined to agree with McNugent and Hootie; free agency isn't a reliable predictor of improved performance. While my 30-minute look (at only about 30-40 hitters) shouldn't be relied on heavily, it provides a preliminary affirmation of Hootie's suggestion that free agency is "a 50-50 split" . . . except that it appears to actually be a virtual non-factor or slight minus-factor in most players, but a major plus factor in a handful of players; in any event, it works out to about a 50-50 split as Hootie suggests. (I.e., the lower probability of landing a Javy Lopez is offset by the greater probability of having a slight drop in performance.)

I agree with McNugent that free agency should be nothing more than a tie breaker. What's odd is that there isn't a stronger correlation between free agency and performance. Maybe the pressure offsets the increased interest in putting up good stats? In any event, I agree with McNugent's conclusion that obsessive drafters should "determine if the contract years are significantly different than the other years;" absent a strong correlation to an individual's performance in a contract year, there seems little reason to get excited about that player's fantasy value.

Moreover, as Madison correctly notes, extensions further complicate the ability to predict a player's performance. If I recall correctly, Randy Johnson was eligible for free agency in 2004, but signed a 2-year extension just before he began in 2003 to pitch like an old man. Madison's right that extensions make it tough to predict who will be a free agent, which compounds the fact that free agency appears to be a poor indicator of short-term future performance.

Anyway, it's 3:35am so it's time to sleep. I guess, this is a long way of saying that I agree with the above comments, except that I think the 50-50 point is a little more nuanced (as reflected by what has become a frickin' dissertation; sorry, I'll be more concise in the future!)

In any event, thanks for the responses! They made me second-guess the conventional wisdom.


Well said. ;-D

Something else I forgot to mention is that there are a ton of free agents right now. Quite a few of them will sign one year deals, making them free agents next year as well.
Last edited by Madison on Tue Dec 09, 2003 11:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby eftda » Tue Dec 09, 2003 11:10 am

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