Felber: Branch Rickey’s residual legacy

From SABR member Bill Felber at The National Pastime Museum on April 20, 2015:

Branch Rickey’s reputation as a genius among baseball executives has been widely understood for more than three quarters of a century. Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967, Rickey is recognized on his plaque for two accomplishments of revolutionary scope: creation of the farm system with St. Louis in the 1920s and his central role in breaking the game’s color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson to a Brooklyn contract in 1947.

Rickey’s Cardinals and Dodgers teams won seven pennants and three World Series championships between 1926 and 1949. Rickey left the Dodgers for Pittsburgh following the 1950 season. While failing over six seasons to replicate his earlier pennant success with the downtrodden Pirates, Rickey gradually built up that club’s talent base to the benefit of Joe L. Brown, who replaced Rickey at the conclusion of the 1956 season.

Rickey’s work in Pittsburgh, which actually only replicated the first several years of his accomplishments in St. Louis and Brooklyn, underscores the great general manager’s least appreciated skill: His aptitude for leaving clubs with a far deeper base of young and developing talent than when he came to them . . . and often deeper even than when he ran them.

The term for this commonly overlooked skill is “residual value,” and it is defined as the talent level that remains under contract to a team when that team’s chief executive departs. You can measure residual value by any of several metrics in common use today; my personal preference is Wins Above Average because it is readily available, zero-based, and widely understood.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/branch-rickeys-residual-legacy

Originally published: April 20, 2015. Last Updated: April 20, 2015.