FanGraphs Audio: Dave Cameron on Service Time, Inevitably

Episode 544
Dave Cameron is both (a) the managing editor of FanGraphs and (b) the guest on this particular edition of FanGraphs Audio — during which edition he discusses not Kris Bryant exclusively, but also definitely Kris Bryant at some point.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @cistulli on Twitter.

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Audio after the jump. (Approximately 41 min play time.)

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Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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The Real McNulty
The Real McNulty

it seems silly that you expect the MLBPA to concede something in order to allow the Kris Bryants of the world to play 11 extra games their rookie year.

Either the Kris Bryants of the world are guaranteed (or already paid) a fortune, or they remain yet potential, but not certain, major leaguers, and could reasonably stand to spend more time in the minor leagues to work on SOMETHING.

This seems much ado about nothing, and Super 2 was created to help mitigate this scenario.

smiley mcfaniel
smiley mcfaniel

>it seems silly that you expect the MLBPA to concede something in order to allow the Kris Bryants of the world to play 11 extra games their rookie year.

I don’t think anyone expects this. Cameron was clear about why the incentives are set up the way they are, and why they are unlikely to change.

He’s just saying it would be better for the product on the field if callup decisions were made solely on who was ready and could help in the bigs.


Indeed. The odd thing about these discussions is that they almost inevitably fall into an absolute dichotomy where you’re expected to choose a side: either you’re a fan of the team, and therefore adopt the ownership’s view that the service time manipulation is a reasonable exchange for a (putative) better team over the long term; or you’re a fan of the player, and therefore see the injustice of a player prevented from playing at the level he has earned (and missing out on a free agency payday sooner) purely for the financial benefit of the team.

Yet choosing either side — on those terms — amounts to the fan deciding to support the best interest of either a billionaire owner or a soon-to-be multi-millionaire player, without asking what might be in the fan’s own best interests.

Frankly I cry crocodile tears for both of them: I’d be happy with the service time manipulation if it kept ticket prices down, but of course it won’t; and I’d be happy with eliminating it if it meant more exciting players reached the big leagues sooner — but that won’t happen either.

Which leaves me asking: might there be a way to sidestep this whole issue by re-framing it in competitive balance terms? What if the service time rules were dependent on the team’s revenue (note: not payroll), so that low-revenue teams automatically got the extra year of service time and big-revenue teams never did? Or what if it was based on team record (perhaps averaged over the last three years or something), so that teams that consistently have been in the (say) bottom third of the 30 teams automatically got the player for the extra year, and none of the other teams did?