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How often does service time manipulation occur?

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We’ve had lots of discussion over the years about whether to hold players back for service time reasons, and debates about how common the practice is.     I spent some time this afternoon trying to look at some data on the latter question.   

I looked at every player debut over the last decade.     There were 2,394 players who debuted this decade, almost exactly 8 per team per season.    285 players debuted early enough in the season where they would get credit for 172+ days of service if they stayed in the majors all year, roughly one per team per year.    I then broke down the rest of the year in terms of debuts per day over certain periods, to see if any big patterns emerged.   Here’s how it broke down:

Rest of April, after the 172 day threshold passed:   1.25 debuts per day.

May 1-15: 1.00 debuts per day.

May 16-31: 1.19 debuts per day.

June 1-15: 1.14 debuts per day.

June 16-30: 1.32 debuts per day.

July: 1.07 debuts per day.

August: 1.18 debuts per day.

September/October (expanded rosters): 1.42 debuts per day.    

Overall, I think it’s hard to look at that data and conclude that there’s a ton of service time manipulation going on, at least with respect to when players make their major league debuts.    I do think the dip in debuts in the first half of May is probably influenced by teams trying to avoid the unknown cutoff date for Super-2 status that usually arrives sometime after May 15, and that the late June bump up may relate to the relative certainty that Super-2 has passed.   And, the relatively high “rest of April” debut rate probably includes a few guys who were delayed to get an extra year of control without regard to Super-2.     But overall, I wouldn’t say the effects are huge.    

To really try to drill down on this, you’d probably need to look at who among these players were younger, highly regarded prospects.   Looking at 2010-12, there were 53 players who have accrued 10+ WAR who debuted by June 15 of their debut year.    Only 10 of those were on an opening day roster (or activated in time for them to accrue 172+ service days: Austin Jackson, Jayson Heyward, Mike Leake, Brandon Belt, Zach Britton, Michael Pineda, Yeonis Cespedes, Yu Darvish, Marwin Gonzalez and Nori Aoki.     At some point I’ll have a close look at the other 43 to see if there’s reason to think their service time was manipulated.   


 

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I would like it would not happen as often with contending team.  They would promote a player as soon as they thought he could help them in the majors.

However, a rebuilding team has a whole different plan and strategy. 

I think that has be to considered.

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8 minutes ago, wildcard said:

I would like it would not happen as often with contending team.  They would promote a player as soon as they thought he could help them in the majors.

However, a rebuilding team has a whole different plan and strategy. 

I think that has be to considered.

You could check and see if that was actually the case.

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12 minutes ago, wildcard said:

I would like it would not happen as often with contending team.  They would promote a player as soon as they thought he could help them in the majors.

However, a rebuilding team has a whole different plan and strategy. 

I think that has be to considered.

IIRC, in the last few years at least one team has kept a top prospect in the minors for service time considerations and then missed the playoffs by a game or two. Don't remember which team it was.

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If ou look at the service time cut-off for Super Two Status since 2009, you would think that certain years the clock was used and other not so much. You also need to remeber that the debut date also does not calculate into the service time clock for Super Two until 2 and half years later .

2009 - 2.139

2010 - 2.122

2011 - 2.146

2012  - 2.140

2013 - 2.122

2014 - 2.133

2015 - 2.130

2016 - 2.131

2017 - 2.123

2018 - 2.134

2019 - 2.115

2019 is the shortest period of service time an would most likely be because of the later debuts in 2017.

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Service time was not an issue for Markakis. It was not for Mancini. Super two was for Wieters. It was not for Bundy. I think Super two was for Gausman. 

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3 minutes ago, weams said:

Service time was not an issue for Markakis. It was not for Mancini. Super two was for Wieters. It was not for Bundy. I think Super two was for Gausman. 

Wasn't for Schoop.  Gausman was up and down so much who knows?  They certainly rushed him.

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3 minutes ago, Can_of_corn said:

Wasn't for Schoop.  Gausman was up and down so much who knows?  They certainly rushed him.

Was not for Schoop. Or for Ben McDonald for that matter. 

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5 minutes ago, weams said:

Manny it was not even thought about. 

Because the O's were contenders at the time.   Manny was promoted on Aug 9th, 2012.  The O's were tie for the 2nd wildcard at the time.

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2 minutes ago, wildcard said:

Because the O's were contenders at the time.   Manny was promoted on Aug 9th, 2012.  The O's were tie for the 2nd wildcard at the time.

The Os have not been contenders far more often than they have been. Wieters on Super two and no one else that I can see with this franchise. 

Unless you are already counting Mountcastle. Which I am not. 

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1 minute ago, wildcard said:

Because the O's were contenders at the time.   Manny was promoted on Aug 9th, 2012.  The O's were tie for the 2nd wildcard at the time.

And Markakis and Schoop?

Did anyone think Schoop would be the difference maker in the playoff hunt?

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I believe that Ben McDonald and Matt Wieters had both signed MLB Contracts and placed on the Forty Man Rosters out of college which changes the dynamics a bit.

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3 minutes ago, thezeroes said:

I believe that Ben McDonald and Matt Wieters had both signed MLB Contracts and placed on the Forty Man Rosters out of college which changes the dynamics a bit.

You are probably right on both of those. 

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8 minutes ago, thezeroes said:

I believe that Ben McDonald and Matt Wieters had both signed MLB Contracts and placed on the Forty Man Rosters out of college which changes the dynamics a bit.

 

2 minutes ago, weams said:

You are probably right on both of those. 

Wieters signed a minor league deal. 

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