I thought it would be interesting to go back and see if the Jays made the right decision. To be able to do that we need some objective measure of the contributions each player made to his team. One such statistic is Keith Woolners Value Over Replacement Player; you can learn more about VORP at StatHead.com. There are other metrics which attempt to measure the same thing; all of which give fairly similar results. VORP measures how many more runs a player contributed to his team than a replacement level player (a good minor league player) would have contributed if the minor leaguer would have been in his place. For pitchers, it measures the opposite, that is how many runs the pitcher prevented as compared to what a minor league pitcher would have in his place. In 2003 New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada accumulated a VORP of 56.5 runs, meaning the Yankees scored 56.5 more runs than they would have if they had called up a catcher from AAA such as Michael Hernandez. VORP takes into account differences caused by playing in different parks, but it does not take defence into account, other than it measures shortstops against shortstops and centerfielders against centerfielders. By definition, a replacement level player should on average accumulate a VORP of 0. Often players will have a negative VORP, which indicates that the team would have gotten more production if they had called up a minor league player instead.
Baseball Prospectus has complete 2003 VORP data, for both position players and for pitchers. First well look at the six players the Jays ended up using, which in Baseball Players and Opportunity Costs we called Option A:
VORP Values for Option A
Myers (C) : 28.0
Catalanotto (LF) :19.2
Bordick (SS) : 10.1
Creek (P) : 3.1
Tam (P) : -0.6
Sturtze (P) : -6.6
TOTAL : 53.2
Next well consider what the Jays could have done. Their Option B was to retain the services of Jose Cruz and use 5 minor league players to fill the roster:
VORP Values for Option B
Cruz (RF) : 17.7
Replacement1 : 0.00 (on average)
Replacement2 : 0.00 (on average)
Replacement3 : 0.00 (on average)
Replacement4 : 0.00 (on average)
Replacement5 : 0.00 (on average)
TOTAL : 17.7
In the very entertaining book Game Theory at Work author James D. Miller remarked that microeconomics is the most successful nonreligious philosophy the world has ever known. By understanding the microeconomics concept of opportunity cost, we can understand why successful organizations make the decisions that they do and how we can make better decisions in our own lives.
If you have a question about opportunity costs, microeconomics or any other economics topic you'd like answered please use the feedback form.