Anchoring Bias, Winter Ball, Offseason Insanity, and Other Bullets

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Anchoring Bias, Winter Ball, Offseason Insanity, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The current podcast I’m listening to, it turns out, is HIGHLY relevant to the baseball offseason! It’s about the Anchoring Effect (or Anchoring Bias), which is the tendency for humans to have their powers of estimation/negotiation/analysis polluted by information provided beforehand. We tend to see the first number provided – even if entirely irrational and ridiculous – as an “anchor” toward which our estimates will gravitate just a little more than we would have if we’d never heard that number in the first place.

  • How we see this play out every offseason? A number gets thrown out there for a player’s expected contract – either by a credible projection, by an overeager agent, or by your wildly inaccurate buddy – and that number becomes the number of which our own estimates play … and it mucks things up for our brain! Even very smart, very informed people! It’s apparently incredibly difficult to overcome! So, then, it makes sense that agents try to get huge numbers out there into the media (and teams, vice versa) to plant those seeds off of which future negotiations will take place.
  • For example, we have all become somewhat mentally anchored to Bryce Harper at $300 to $350 million in total contract value. It is now virtually impossible to completely untether our estimates of what he *should* get in free agency from that figure – in other words, we will mentally configure our estimate in relation to that figure (oh, that’s too high, it should be a little lower than that; or, oh, that’s too low, it should be a little higher). Whichever direction you go, you probably won’t go quite as far as you would have gone if you never had that anchor in the first place. Science.
  • Doug Glanville writes about his winter ball experience in Puerto Rico. It can be easy to forget, from a distance, how critical those leagues – very competitive, professional leagues – can be in a player’s career. The Arizona Fall League, by its stateside prospect-heavy nature, gets most of the focus, but there are young players changing their careers in very fundamental ways in Puerto Rico, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela.
  • Speaking of the AFL, which ends on Saturday, Nico Hoerner (.329/.350/.474) and Trent Giambrone (.405/.463/.622) are still getting great results, though the rest of the Cubs’ positional contingent have struggled on that front. Erick Leal hasn’t allowed a run, and Bailey Clark has a stellar ERA (despite so-so peripherals).
  • (Not that I’m throwing up caution on Hoerner’s fall season, but do keep in mind that these are very small samples, and he’s got a BABIP near .500(!), which is driving his entire slash line. The results, for him, matter much less than the experience against some long-time pros and excellent prospects, and him being able to hang in there while still barreling the ball up. It’s been a very good sign.)
  • I got a little silly on Twitter yesterday, and some folks joined in (click on the hashtag to see more completely stupid, but fun, pictures):

  • Think maybe we need some transaction activity? Yup. Yup. We do. Hopefully the qualifying offer acceptance deadline being today will kickstart things a bit this week.
  • Sammy Sosa, happy birthday:

  • Found the next Javy Baez:

  • The Bears won again! Finally beating an NFC North opponent (first time in 11 tries … yikes):

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.