Pollis: The high value of the video replay analyst

From SABR member Lewie Pollis at Baseball Prospectus on May 16, 2014:

I had the honor of having lunch with Dan Brooks last week, and as we ate our sandwiches the conversation turned to my thesis. I mentioned that if I were running a team, I would strongly consider hiring dozens of new front office employees, because their salaries are so cheap compared to those of players that even if only a few of them ended up making substantive contributions, they would more than earn their collective keep.

I don’t remember the exact words that came out of Dan’s mouth when I asked him what he thought of the idea of a team’s hypothetically hiring 100 baseball operations employees tomorrow, but it was something along the lines of: “What would you have them all do?” Though I didn’t think it detracted from the general point, it was an important question to which I didn’t have a good answer. And from a team’s standpoint, that uncertainty might be the biggest obstacle to the kind of dramatic front office expansion for which I would advocate.

This got me thinking about how one might conceive of the work that junior-level baseball operations employees do in the most concrete way possible in order to make the idea of altering teams’ front offices more accessible. This train of thought fortuitously led me to the newest—and thus least structurally entrenched—category of front office personnel: video replay analysts.

Before we dive in to how the values of replay analysts could be derived, I should say that I cannot offer concrete results and that all the specific numbers I calculated are based on educated guesses about the variables. But in modeling the additive benefits of hiring replay analysts as well as the possible heterogeneity in ability among them, it becomes clear that even the relatively straightforward (though certainly not simple) task of recommending that a play be challenged or not is important enough that we should conceive of replay analysts’ values in a different way.

Read the full article here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=23598

Originally published: May 16, 2014. Last Updated: May 16, 2014.