Birnbaum: Do ‘nice’ teammates make their teammates worse?

From SABR member Phil Birnbaum at Sabermetric Research on December 2, 2013:

Dick Allen was known for being an unpleasant teammate who warred with teammates and divided clubhouses.  In “The Politics of Glory,” Bill James called him “a manipulator of extraordinary skill,” and wrote,

“[Allen] did more to *keep* his teams from winning than anybody else who ever played major league baseball.”

That led me to wonder: how would that happen?  What would make teams less likely to win with Allen in the dugout?  I guess, maybe, if the players don’t trust each other, and team morale disappears … the players won’t care as much about winning.  They won’t try as hard, or do the little things they’d normally do.  Maybe they wouldn’t stay in shape, or they wouldn’t study the opposition pitchers and hitters as intently, or they wouldn’t be as receptive to coaching.  Stuff like that.

In other words: with Dick Allen on the team, their individual performances would be worse than you’d expect otherwise.  Can we find evidence of that in the statistics? 

Read the full article here:

Originally published: December 3, 2013. Last Updated: December 3, 2013.