What is the (economic) value of the Most Valuable Player?

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This morning I was thinking about the value of an MVP award in sports.  Specifically, I wondered whether two star players with similar stats over their careers would garner the same salary if one had an MVP trophy and the other did not.  Similarly, I wondered if a team with an MVP player would garner more interest, sell more tickets, and ultimately make more money than a team with a similar player without the trophy.  I am not quite sure how I would go about testing either question empirically, but it is something I will look into in the future…

As I was checking up on my geeky fantasy baseball team (NL-only, auction, keeper, contracts, minor leaguers), I found that the Padres sent Anthony Rizzo to the Minors one day before he lost rookie eligibility.  He has 44 days of Major League service and the cut-off is 45 days (excluding September 40-man roster expansion service).  While I know, understand, and appreciate why teams wait to bring up a prospect to extend arbitration (http://phuturephillies.com/2011/05/13/domonic-browns-service-time-a-consideration/) I wonder if the cut-off for rookie status impacted the Padres decision at all.

Taking a slight variation from the original questions I posed in this post: Does a team with a Rookie of the Year candidate garner more interest, sell more tickets, and ultimately make more money?  Was Anthony Rizzo’s 44 days of service a coincidence or were the Padres trying to preserve his ability to make a run at next year’s rookie of the year award?  As I said earlier, I’m not quite sure how to test this yet, but as the link above referenced, Dominic Brown of the Phillies had significant service time last season, but preserved his status as a rookie for 2011.  I’m just not sure that Dominic Brown is the driving force behind the Phillies selling out every night…

5 thoughts on “What is the (economic) value of the Most Valuable Player?

    toosoxy said:
    July 22, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Interesting question posed. Gotta admit, as a Sox fan, my trust in Dustin Pedroia went up significantly as a fan with his rookie of the year win. I don’t know… I think the team’s status as a whole is a bigger driving force than one player. But I’d like to see data…

      Adam Lavallee responded:
      July 26, 2011 at 12:48 pm

      toosoxy- I agree that Dustin Pedroia’s ROY and MVP awards earned him respect amongst fans and the media, especially in a place like Boston where sports radio jumps on any slump. That being said, I can’t imagine the Red Sox brought in any more money with his wins, and even Pedroia’s team friendly contract didn’t earn him significantly more money.

      Another point that would have to be included would be the extra cash Pedroia recieved as a result of endorsements that he would not have recieved without his awards. I’m thinking specifically about his appearance on the cover of “The Show” video game and corresponding commercials. I’m sure that was a lucrative deal.

    Paul Zander said:
    July 26, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    For a large market team like the Phillies who are in a playoff hunt then I think there is little economic insentive to display Dominic Brown. Given the choice they would rather put a vet out there instead of Brown. For a small market or a team with nothing going for them really like the Padres it may be different. But, in the end… it seemsthey don’t care about filling the seats too much.

      Adam Lavallee responded:
      July 26, 2011 at 8:28 pm

      Paul- Just like the Red Sox, the Phillies have no trouble filling seats. But a team thats not winning definitely benefits from showcasing a rookie. Look at what Steven Strasburg did for the Nationals last year. I’d have to double check the numbers, but I think they had their highest turnout excluding opening day… and I think it was a Wednesday night. So I think there is something to say for a team having a player in the hunt for ROY…

    […] past summer, I posed the question, What is the (economic) value of the Most Valuable Player? and I want to ask a similar question here.  I know there is an explicit monetary award for post […]

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