Studying the Relationship Between Winning and Payroll

From SABR member Phil Birnbaum at Sabermetric Research on May 17:

Suppose you’re a Martian who has just immigrated to North America, and you have no idea how baseball works. All you’ve got is a database full of statistics, and a black-box graph theory algorithm to try to figure out cause-and-effect relationships. What would you conclude?

The answer can be found in a new JQAS paper, “Dependence Relationships between On Field Performance, Wins, and Payroll in Major League Baseball.”

The author applies the algorithm to a bunch of stats, and comes up with a bunch of dependencies for what causes what. Most of them don’t make a lot of sense. For instance:

— Walks depend on: OBP, Runs, and SO.
— Total bases depend on: AB, 2B, HR, IP, and Runs.
— Earned runs depend on: ERA, hits against, and HR against.

… and so on.

Be that as it may, the real purpose of the paper is to look at payroll and wins. What does the graph theory algorithm say about those? This:

–Winning percentage depends on: Fielding percentage, On-base percentage, and Saves.

–Payroll depends on: Fielding percentage, Pitcher strikeouts, and Winning percentage.

Who knew?

Read the full article here:

Originally published: May 19, 2011. Last Updated: May 19, 2011.