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Awe-Phil?: The History of Baseball Transactions in Philadelphia, Part III
2005-03-24 21:55
by Mike Carminati

After looking at the best and worst transaction in the Phillies' history, I noticed that the Phils even with all their many past failures on the field came out in the black in Win Shares traded. They were up almost 4000 Win Shares Above Baseline (WSAB). How could arguably the worst franchise in baseball history come out ahead in transactions?

Then it occurred to me that even a poor team over time will come out ahead in transactional Win Shares. They have to. If you draft a future superstar and trade him away before he makes it big, the worst the team can do is break even: the career Win Shares they picked up in drafting the player at least equal those traded away.

Take Sandberg, for instance. In drafting him, the Phils pick up 199 WSAB. In trading him they lost 196 WSAB. So even one of the worst trades in baseball history results in a net of 3 Win Shares for the Phils.

Besides somebody has to wear the uniform at the major-league level, sort of like Greg Brady and Johnny Bravo. Those players will produce some Win Shares. If they were drafted by the team, it's pure gravy.

Anyway, I think that first the transaction have to grouped by type, either trades, free agents, prospects, purchases, and waivers. Which category affects the team's bottom line the most, and does it change over time? And does each type of transaction affect the team more in the season in which occurs or further down the line? Obviously, draft picks rarely impact the team right away. But can trades for younger players have more of a delayed effect? Or do transactions have less impact on team performance than does the normal improvement by already established players?

I collected the data for all of the trade transactions per team in a given decade. Here were the top teams in trades per decade (by WSAB Post Career):

DecadeFranchisePre Career WSPost Carer WSWSAB Pre CareerWSAB Post CareerWS for TMWSAB For TM
1970sNew York Yankees3,2966,9097943,6401,227978
1980sCleveland Indians-6,0469,253-2,6693,5622,015518
1980sToronto Blue Jays-1167,5993023,2761,132564
1950sSan Francisco Giants-1,9546,880-9713,204979723
1950sChicago White Sox2,6495,5741,7853,0722,7111,697
1960sTexas Rangers-8647,568-4122,9803,2211,455
1980sChicago White Sox-1,6428,230-4432,8462,392616
1970sBaltimore Orioles-7,0394,999-3,5152,7074,2532,098
1970sCincinnati Reds-2,0284,029-5412,6502,0231,644
1940sAtlanta Braves-1,5814,336152,5021,5511,022
1980sTexas Rangers-2,2305,737-8522,468414480
1970sKansas City Royals1,7235,3609772,3332,7061,335

Now here are the worst:

DecadeFranchisePre Career WSPost Carer WSWSAB Pre CareerWSAB Post CareerWS for TMWSAB For TM
1910sOakland Athletics-1,110-4,656-602-2,286-1,882-948
1970sNew York Mets1,249-2,1351,398-2,162-1,773-1,363
1980sChicago Cubs-1,439-3,089-705-2,118-678-617
1930sOakland Athletics-7,570-4,155-4,640-2,087-3,159-1,751
1920sDetroit Tigers2,310-3,2271,362-2,081-622-643
1910sSan Francisco Giants-813-4,038-1,479-1,677-2,651-1,356
1900sSt. Louis Cardinals-1,619-2,135-1,201-1,631-1,277-955
1950sNew York Yankees-2,788-6,897-987-1,493-1,84488
1970sHouston Astros-5,957-409-3,024-1,407-2,733-1,912
1950sCleveland Indians-1,606-977-577-1,231-2,522-1,439
1900sLos Angeles Dodgers-2,024-1,845-1,516-1,183-732-589
1900sCincinnati Reds465-1,338815-1,163-1,013-848

It seems that positive trading leads to winning. Witness the Phils trade history:

DecadePre Career WSPost Carer WSWSAB Pre CareerWSAB Post CareerWS for TMWSAB for TM

Yeah, the Phils were pretty bad at trading for talent, but it seems like something else is contributing. Look at the career WSAB that they acquired in the 1970s, their golden period, as compared to the WSAB just for the team. The team WSAB far outdistanced the career totals for the players acquired. Clearly the Phils traded pretty well, but they also got the most out of the players they acquired. Compare that to the 1910s in which the Phils registered six winning seasons, perhaps their second best period. The Phils lost career WSAB in the 1910s but were able to turn in a positive number for team WSAB.

Next we will try to formulate some sort of correlation between winning percentage and Win Shares acquired in various types of transactions.

Other entries in the Trade Series:

Mike: I’ll Take Manhattan: Baseball’s Most Lopsided Trades: Parts I, I (revised), II

A Quick One (Happy Mike)

Lee Even Stevens: Parts I, II—The Sexy Version

Cain and A-Rod—A Bling-Bling Rivalry: Parts I, II

Kansas City Blues: Parts I, II

Baseball's Most Lopsided Trades—The Revenge of Glenn Davis

Awe-Phil?: Parts I, II

Studes: The Best and Worst Teams of the Trade

Smoltz for Alexander

2005-03-24 22:20:12
1.   chiefpedro
For determining if the Phillies are good/bad traders, couldn´t you determine the WSAB for all teams and find out the mean? If the PHills are under - bad for them. If the Phills are over - look for additional information to still comfortably classify them as "the worst baseball franchise in history".
2005-03-26 01:50:32
2.   Richard Gadsden
1910s Oakland Athletics
1930s Oakland Athletics
1910s San Francisco Giants
1900s Los Angeles Dodgers

I think you might need to tell your database about some team moves; that's Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics and a couple of New York teams.

2005-03-26 11:38:14
3.   Mike Carminati

Franchise signifies the entire history of a team throughout its many phases. If you want to call the Athletics, the "Philadelphia Athletics" throughout or KC or just the Athletics or Phila-KC-Oak, feel free. By the way, I feel that your eponoymously named purchase was very underrated.

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