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What Do The Stats Guys Do Beyond Compensation Analysis?

The following is a guest contribution from Marc Rubin of RayRubin Sports Analysts.

New Orleans Pelicans small forward Al-Farouq Aminu (0) dunks against the Charlotte Bobcats during the first quarter of a game at New Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Does New Orleans Pelicans small forward Al-Farouq Aminu have Josh Smith type potential? Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Much of my work involves database analyses to ascertain “fair market values” for players my client agents represent, particularly in arbitration matters.

I remain grateful to Drew Rosenhaus who taught me that FA is more of an “auction” situation and so here I study DEMAND vs SUPPLY situation to determine what teams NEED a player, what those teams’ finances are, etc.  Here the reports I provide are more essay-oriented.

However, in this ever-increasing era of competitive pressure, I try to provide my client agents with PLAYER PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENTS that the reps can review with their players.  Any opportunity for a representative to converse with his/her player(s) relative to their careers is another opportunity to cement a solid relationship that is less vulnerable to a “poaching”.  I have come to believe this part of my service is the most significant part for “player retention” is now the 2nd most challenging part of an agent’s job , behind only “recruiting”.

Let me cite 2 examples. Neither involves a player whose agent contracts me.

NEW ORLEANS’ AL FAROUQ AMINU was the 8th pick in  the 2010 draft and LA CLIPPERS later traded him to NO in the CHRIS PAUL deal.  Now in his 4th year some Internet writers have labeled him a “bust” while others believe he has “Josh Smith” type potential.  I fall into the latter category.

AMINU is the “poster boy” for a “little known malady” that effects a significant number of NBA players…the woes of 2nd nights of back-to backs. Look at the chart below for the difference in his play.

YEAR      BACKtoBACKgms           BtoB FG%        other gms        other gms FG%           difference

2010/11         21                          33.4 (32/95)             60                 41.2(128/311)              7.8%

2011/12         18                          36.1(43/119)            48                 43.5(107/246)              7.4%

2012/13         15                          41.8(38/91)              61                 48.7(187/384)              6.9%

TOTAL             54                         37.0(113/305)        169                44.8(422/941)              7.8%

AMINU is listed at 215 whereas JOSH SMITH is at 225…….

It behooves AMINU’s agent to get AMINU STRONGER and to ensure his rest, nutrition is appropriate for these 2nd games which can occupy 20% of an NBA schedule. And the agent might want to intervene IMMEDIATELY for AMINU is in his FA year and recently (11/13) shot 0 for 5 @ UTAH!

This “back-to-back affliction” also impacts a significant number of NHL players.

My 2nd example involves BASEBALL and what I refer to as “Debunking the Moneyball Myth” which emphasizes OBP (ON Base Percentage) and “taking pitches to build up opponents’ pitch counts”.  This emphasis IGNORES the huge RISK of “getting buried in 2-strike counts”  TOO FREQUENTLY.  Most fans do NOT realize just how bad almost all MLBers are with 2-strikes.

CINCINATTI’s CHRIS HEISEY is a VICTIM of the MYTH; in 2013 he most often hit 2nd in back of SHINN-SOO CHOO.  In this role he was “taking pitches” to provide CHOO the opportunity to steal. ; bad move because HEISEY is one of the WORST 2-strike hitters in baseball!

For HEISEY’s CAREER he has 1,153 Plate Appearances and has been stuck in 2-strike counts 588 times, 51%. In those Plate Appearances he is hitting 152, only 82 hits in 539 ABs with a whopping 267Ks.

Conversely of those 1,153 Plate Appearances he has put the 1st pitch in-play 144 times, 12.5%

In these Plate Appearances he is hitting 344, 45 for 131.

CHRIS HEISEY has the potential to blossom but his agent should be reviewing these numbers not only with the player but with the team as well to facilitate employing the player in the optimal way. In my opinion CHRIS should be encouraged to SWING AWAY the moment he steps in.

In conclusion we STATS guys can contribute to PLAYER DEVELOPMENT. Watch for AMINU and HEISEY to flourish once the adjustments are made as a result of review with their agents .

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.