Home British baseball Full article: How healthy is the National Baseball League?

Full article: How healthy is the National Baseball League?

by Joe Gray

In this article I produce a formula that summarizes various factors that I feel represent the “health” of a league: forfeit frequency, blowout frequency, and typical run difference. I then present values for the top tier in Britain between 2003 and 2008 and examine whether health in one season is related to player retention during the next.

Access the PDF: Click here

Please leave comments on the article below.

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Richard Todd April 4, 2009 - 4:56 pm

Something obvious to me seems to be missing in the article – and that is the personal improvement in player caliber. Surely an elevation in training, practice, and, therefore, in-game performance is needed. Better quality of the players and the games attracts those fans and makes the statistics more meaningful. Worrying about balancing the divisions is not going to do that. Creating an on-going development program that puts GB into the WBC will. As an example, for many years the Japanese league was looked at with amusement for its politeness and fairness. Now the Japanese have caught on to the need for all-out winning through strategy and performance. The results – in world competition and in player recognition – speak for themselves.

Joe Gray April 4, 2009 - 7:23 pm

Thank you for your comment. I agree that the better the training that is offered, the better the league will be.

I did not address the quality of baseball in the article as this is something I will be treating in a separate piece that will be published soon. I do agree with you that we should see improving baseball quality as one way of attracting more spectators.

However, I don’t agree with you that the statistics are more meaningful in higher-quality baseball, except for the increased meaning that can be attached to numbers from the longer seasons typical of higher-quality baseball. I would like to see player statistics to be kept at all levels of baseball in Britain as I think they are always meaningful.

I am happy that you don’t feel that the competitive balance of a league is an important factor here, because it means that the point I am making is not simply reiterating what everyone thinks anyway. I do feel quite strongly, as hopefully comes across in the article, that well-balanced competition is crucial to maintaining interest and growing the game. If we spend years developing a player only to put that player in a league where the majority of games are blowouts, there is a real danger of the player losing interest fast. I would be interested to know more about why you do not think it helps.

Right now, if Great Britain can get a place in the World Baseball Classic, it will be because of a roster that relies heavily on other country’s development programmes. There are too few British-developed players to construct a solid team at this level of competition at the moment (I should point out here that I think the Great Britain management team has done a superb job in recent years in constructing a roster in this environment). If a development programme can be initiated that is good enough to produce home-grown players to compete at the highest level, I imagine it will take an absolute minimum of 15 years to see results of the magnitude that you describe. That is not to say it is not worthwhile, but just that we should have realistic expectations.

Finally, if we are looking to another country for a model to borrow, then somewhere like Germany might be more applicable than Japan, because of the more similar size of that country’s baseball community to ours.

Tim April 22, 2009 - 3:20 pm

Hi Joe,

On reading your article I was shocked to hear that the British Baseball website is missing results from a couple of seasons. I looked into it and you are indeed right; results are not showing from games between two teams which have been removed from the web standings in subsequent years (e.g Brighton Buccaneers and London Warriors).

There seem to be a number of glitches that have appeared very recently with previous seasons’ standings and results which I’m looking into getting fixed. Hopefully, that will return the high number of results which are missing from 2003-2005. Would also be good to get hold of the 2001-2 results.

Tim April 22, 2009 - 3:26 pm

Also, there were a couple of articles written in the Autumn 2001 edition of the old Double Play magazine reviewing the first season of the Rawlings National League which went down a similar avenue of assessing overall ‘healthiness’ and ‘quality’ compared to the previous version of the top tier. Just judging by the final league standings, these first couple of seasons (using wood bats) had pretty healthy competition among the majority of the teams.

BaseballGB » Blog Archive » 2009 update: batting dominance, pitching dominance, league health, and league quality August 22, 2009 - 11:14 am

[…] health To see results for 2003-2008 and the methods read the full article. With Croydon’s five forfeits and numerous other capitulations, 2009 was never going to […]

BaseballGB » 2010 update: batting dominance, pitching dominance, league health, and league quality October 23, 2010 - 9:47 pm

[…] health To see results for 2003-2008 and the methods read the full article. League health is calculated on a scale from 0 to 100, where forfeits, blowouts, and generally high […]


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