Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Story In The Value Of Persistence

As the headline alludes to, this is not meant to be a lecture. A quick Google search of “value of persistence” or something similar will surely produce plenty of that. This is meant to be a reminder — especially for myself — of what we’re each capable of when we refuse to take “no” for answer (in a tactful and strategic way, I might add).

First, some context: my employer offers referral bonuses when we refer an employee and they get hired. The referral bonus changes based on position, need, geography, seniority and other factors.

Awhile back, a former classmate of mine reached out and expressed interest in joining my firm. I said I’d absolutely help in the process, in answering questions, identifying roles and interview prep. The first thing I did was look in our referral portal for positions that appeared to be a fit. I sent my former classmate several openings that might be a fit, and we proceeded to apply for a handful of them.

Fast forward a few months later, and my classmate was hired! I followed up with our referral administration, asking when I’d receive my referral bonus, and I was told there was nothing in the system that indicated I had referred my classmate, who was also my now newly-hired colleague.

I sent them the series of emails I had forwarded months earlier, indicating I had in fact referred them (a quick side lesson to document and save everything important!). However, I never heard back. For the next nine months, I followed up via email each month. Each month, I received the standard “Your message has been received and we will get back to you within three business days” auto-reply. That was the only email I’d receive in those nine months.

It was disappointing to be sure, and at that point I wasn’t expecting to receive credit for the referral. Even so, I figured the “cost” of following up each month was so low that it was worth persisting in perpetuity until I least received an actual answer in return.

Sure enough, on an otherwise nondescript Friday morning, I saw an email hit my inbox from the referral team. Apparently they had been investigating the issue — although I was never informed of this! — and confirmed with the original recruiter that the candidate (my former classmate) had mentioned my name as the original referrer. This resulting referral credit was also associated with a small, but material monetary bonus. Great!

Despite the fairy tale ending, this was never a story about me, a small monetary gain or anything in between. To me, this is a story about the exponential value of persistence. To me, this represents another lesson in a series of lessons to date about not giving up. To me, this continues to prove that the only thing standing between you and your aspirations is you. To me, this proves that you continue to (strategically and tactfully) bang down doors until they bang back harder. To me, this brings additional credence to one of my favorite all-time quotes (courtesy of Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States of America):
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
- Calvin Coolidge, 30th U.S. President
I hope this provides a similar fire within you.
Aaron Sauceda Web Developer

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Finding Value In The Information Age: A Jackie Bradley Jr. Story

While known for his defense, Jackie Bradley Jr. represents a rare value opportunity for fantasy owners.
Quick context: I love playing fantasy sports — I love the intersection of sports, management, strategy and camaraderie.

A common message in fantasy sports — and anything, really — is the idea of “buy low, sell high.” First off, I don’t even believe this to be totally possible. In fact, I constantly remind myself, particularly as it pertains to investing: “You will never buy at the lowest point, nor will you ever sell at the highest.” Call me a pessimist, but I find it a helpful reminder to keep me sane.

Back to fantasy. Particularly in the information age with advanced public stats, podcasts, Fangraphs, Twitter and the like, it’s really difficult to find a “true” edge. Sure, there are some “buy low” players touted by many — Manny Machado, Todd Frazier, Carlos Gonzalez, to name a few — but, by and large, these are proven players that nearly everyone, including their fantasy owners, knows are “buy low” players, thus reducing their discount to nil.

Now, this is why I love fantasy. If everyone knows who the “buy low” players are, how can you gain an edge? That question and constant pursuit of a competitive advantage drives me everyday.
And that’s why I’m here to discuss Jackie Bradley Jr. For a player mostly known for his defense, Bradley Jr. has developed into a useful fantasy asset. By varying calculations, he was a $15–29 player last year, good for (at worst) the 16th best OF in the game. A wide range, sure, but one suggesting meaningful value either way. Yet, in fantasy drafts this year, he wasn’t treated as such. For instance, in NFBC leagues, he was, on average, taken as the 42nd OF. I found this to be consistent with my experience, where he went as a $1–3 player in both of my leagues.

Meanwhile, projection systems expect performance similar to last season. Steamer projects him for 20 HR, 77 RBI, 75 runs, 7 SB and a .265/.347/.458 triple slash, per 600 PA. This doesn’t look terribly far off from his 26 HR, 87 RBI, 94 Runs, 9 SB and .267/.349/.486 triple slash in 636 PA last season, where he produced as high as a $29 player.

Even if you want to argue the projections aren’t 100% buying into what he did last year — fair enough — his performance to date suggest projections are underselling him. After missing two weeks on the DL in April with a sprained ligament in his knee, Bradley predictably got off to a slow start in April with a 52 wRC+ in 48 PA.

Since the (admittedly arbitrary) beginning of May, as of 6/20/17, Bradley has seemingly gotten healthy and posted a robust .277/.374/.525 triple slash in 163 PA, good for a 131 wRC+. While picking arbitrary endpoints can make any player look favorable, Bradley’s injury-plagued April suggests valid reasoning to look beyond that.

Similarly, while any player can ride a BABIP-fueled hot streak, Andrew Perpetua’s xStats.org — which use a player’s batted ball data, namely exit velocity and launch angle, to determine what a player should be hitting — suggests Bradley has been slightly unlucky. Perpetua’s xStats (as of 6/19/17) suggest Bradley should be hitting .277/.380/.508 with 10 HR, while his actual triple slash reads .250/.343/.456 with 8 HR. Furthermore, Bradley’s YTD per 600 pace — even with his poor April — isn’t far off from last year’s, save for runs. When looking at only May and beyond, things get even juicier:

2016 per 600 PA: 25 HR, 82 RBI, 89 Runs, 8 SB | .267/.349/.486, 118 wRC+
2017 per 600 PA: 23 HR, 84 RBI, 64 Runs, 6 SB | .250/.343/.456, 105 wRC+
2017 per 600 PA (Since 5/1): 29 HR, 92 RBI, 70 Runs, 4 SB | .277/.374/.525, 131 wRC+

When looking at these numbers, combining the counting stats pace with his YTD xStats, we’re looking at a player — save for runs and, perhaps, SB — likely to put up similar, if not better, numbers the rest of the way. This doesn’t even get into the potential growth of a former 1st round supplemental pick still just 27-years-old, such as his improved strikeout and walk rates. Furthermore, you wonder if the runs and SB numbers will pick up as Bradley gets healthier and Boston’s offense heats up with the summer temperatures. Even so, given his draft day price and YTD “disappointing” performance, Bradley should come practically free … and, in the process, a near-lock to generate a tidy profit.
Aaron Sauceda Web Developer

Morbi aliquam fringilla nisl. Pellentesque eleifend condimentum tellus, vel vulputate tortor malesuada sit amet. Aliquam vel vestibulum metus. Aenean ut mi aucto.