Justin asks how much intangibles are worth. Tango says they are worth $350,000.

I guess they’re worth something, but I’m not sure how you measure intangibles to determine who has more of them.

23 Responses

  1. David

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The perceived work ethic of your leaders matters. You can’t measure it, you can’t value it, but it matters. It’s especially detrimental when your stars have poor intangibles.

    The difference of working out, eating right, doing all the little things doesn’t make a lot of difference to a superstar during their prime. What about the kid who is a AAA player and during his first call-up sees a clubhouse leader seemingly loafing around, seemingly ignoring management, and seemingly uninterested and ambivalent?. You honestly think that the example is going to be lost on the guy?

  2. preach

    Perhaps this is one area of the game which you have to depend on scouting reports instead of metrics. Just sayin’.

  3. GregD

    David, are you interchanging superstar and clubhouse leader in your comment #1?

  4. David

    Aren’t they Greg? That’s kind of like suggesting that Charles Barkley isn’t a role model. Whether a superstar wants to be a clubhouse leader or not they are looked upon that way, especially guys like Griffey, Jr. You can’t be an All-Century player and escape the fact that younger players and veterans alike look at you with significant distinction and look to you for leadership.

  5. BenL

    What about Manny? I assume you would agree that he has terrible intangibles, but teams have been very successful with him.

  6. GregD

    No they are not.

    Charles Barkley is a public figure, not a defacto role model.

    Having leaders and role models by default based on status takes away from the personal accountability that individuals should have to make proper decisions regarding who they look up to as their models and leaders.

  7. doug

    Let me ask you this…..

    Shouldn’t the players work ethic fall on that player and not on someone else? I mean, if another player is what is keeping you from being the best you can be or not, doesn’t that fall on you and not someone else?

  8. David

    Greg and Doug,

    Whether we like it or not, studies in group dynamics have proven time and time again this type of thing occurs in all work places not just team sports.

    While certainly a person’s accountability for on the job performance falls squarely on the shoulders of that individual, the reason for the individual’s performance is part of a larger group dynamic.

    What’s worse is if these players are simply ignoring what has been thrust upon them by stardom.

    To suggest that a guy like Ken Griffey Jr. or Adam Dunn were not defacto clubhouse leaders is simply ignoring basic human interaction. You don’t need a C on your uniform to influence young players. I’m sorry, but I don’t care how much of a great clubhouse guy some journeyman vet is. When a young player, say Jay Bruce, get’s to the clubhouse, who do you think he’s going to emulate, the Kid or Stormy Weathers?

    Ken Griffey, Jr. was notorious for not lifting or working out, not stretching, not eating well and generally not taking care of his body. He was a natural superstar with unmatched God given talent and he could get away with not (until his hamstring starting falling off the bone like BBQ).

    A young player watching these habits is more likely than not to develop them.

    Think about your own job. You take an 1.5 hour lunch because you always have, you do great work, and so the boss forgives it. New guy starts, does less well but sees that 1.5 hour lunches are okay. New guy gets fired. He is absolutely accountable for his own actions, but why was he acting that way? Would he have acted that way had it not been for his personal observations?

    Why don’t you think that comes into play in baseball like any other job?

  9. Steve Price

    I’ll just say this…

    The young Reds of the 70’s complained that Sparky Anderson played favorites.

    Rose, Bench, Morgan, and Perez could do anything they wanted…the others had team rules and discipline.

    Sparky (considered a great manager and motivator) said that if the other guys were as good as the other four, they could make their own rules, too. (I’m sensing personal responsibility here…)

    It all comes down to winning.

    That lays at the the feet of ownership and management.

  10. WishboneD


    Yes they are.

    Charles Barkley is now a public figure, and that stemmed from his time as a role model.

    No player knows from his time in high school, college or the Minors exactly how successful they will be on the field. However, if they see a talented player with a poor work ethic, they’ll know that a good work ethic isn’t a necessity.

    That said, nobody has to provide a good example to others. Manny doesn’t have to care about anybody but Manny. If the rest of the team sucks, he’ll still get his money. If some less-talented triple-A player can’t get away with the same behavior, who cares? Not Manny.

  11. WishboneD

    *how successful they will be in THE MAJORS, excuse me

  12. Deaner

    That’s one reason why I don’t like a lot of stats… you just can’t measure intangibles like hustle, leadership, awareness, knowledge of the game and situations, and field presence.

  13. GregD

    I figured that’s what you were having another go at Dunn and Griffey. Where’s your proof that Dunn or Griffey didn’t “work out, eat right, or do all the little things” while members of the Cincinnati Reds? When did they “loaf around, ignore management, and seem uninterested and ambivalent”?

  14. Dan

    I agree that being a good example for young players matters. I get that most young guys are going to tend to look to the established guys to take their lead.

    I just think that hitting well and pitching well and fielding well are WAY WAY more important to winning games. 20 times more important than intangibles? 50 times? I don’t know — next to impossible to put a number on it. But if we could it would be a big number, in my opinion.

    Intangibles and “veteranness” and “playing the game the right way” and having a good “clubhouse presence” and all that — they make a nice story so they get too much attention. They matter a little bit, sure. They just don’t matter NEARLY as much as people tend to say or write about.

    That’s my opinion on it…

  15. Y-City Jim

    How much are intangibles worth? Has anyone ever used them in an arbitration case?

  16. David

    Greg – I wasn’t intentionally speaking about Dunn or Griffey. I used them as an example of who a guy like Bruce might look up to. I was personally attacking either of them. But it is common knowledge about Junior.

    Jim – Maybe they aren’t worth any dollar amount. All things being equal, who’d you rather have?

  17. Y-City Jim

    and he’s going to play 1B, I believe.

  18. Steve Price

    Intangibles and money…was asked of Bill James the other day on his personal website…James used to work as a consultant for arbitration.

    He said it never came up during financial talks.

    However, he did say he never said that it wasn’t important…

    That being said, I think the “intangible” issue probably matters more to the veteran bench players than the regulars, but the regulars have to put up stats for the team to win the game.

    That’s the naughty truth that non-stats lovers seem to ignore…that the stats almost (there’s always exceptions) can measure who’s going to win, or who has won…and that’s true in almost anything that we do.

    Even special situations are measured, if the right stats are considered.

    Another conversation I saw said that intangibles are quantified by salaries…

    $350,000…the major league minimum.

    As for Dunn and Griffey….Dunn (before he was rushed out of town the last couple of years) was said to have a fantatic work ethic (and a national publication I read the other day he said he’s willing to play lf, rf, or 1b, contrary to local reports).

    It’s been said that Griffey didn’t work out…it’s not like he was finished when he was 30….may be he just made it look easy?

  19. Y-City Jim

    If Griffey hadn’t played on the concrete pavement called a playing surface at the Kingdome, who knows what his numbers would be and how much more he would have in the tank.

  20. David

    Steve, if you could measure who’s going to win on paper why play the game?

  21. jinaz

    I think intagibles are really hard to measure objectively. But that’s not the only way to measure things.

    The Padres feel confident that Floyd will bring more value than this replacement-level performance simply because of his intangibles. By giving him $350k more than a replacement player, they’re valuing the clubhouse presence, work ethic, etc that he provides as being worth about one more run per season.

    I’d be willing to believe his presence might even be worth two-three times that bonus, but even so we’re talking a million more per year at the very most. That’s what I love about Tango’s insight, though–we’re getting to a method where we can get an actual (albeit rough) quantification of something that has to be measured subjectively.