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Pay, productivity and aging in Major League Baseball


  • Jahn Hakes


  • Chad Turner



Using panels of player pay and performance from Major League Baseball (MLB), we examine trends in player productivity and salaries as players age. Pooling players of all ability levels leads to a systematic bias in regression coefficients. After addressing this problem by dividing players into talent quintiles, we find that the best players peak about two years later than marginal players, and development and depreciation of ability appear to be more pronounced for players with the highest peak ability levels. Within-career variation, however, is less pronounced than between-player variation, and the talent level of players within a given quintile will typically remain lower than the talent level for rookies in the next higher quintile. Free agents are paid proportionately with their production at all ability levels, whereas young players’ salaries are suppressed by similar amounts.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Jahn Hakes & Chad Turner, 2011. "Pay, productivity and aging in Major League Baseball," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 61-74, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jproda:v:35:y:2011:i:1:p:61-74
    DOI: 10.1007/s11123-009-0152-8

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lawrence M. Kahn, 2006. "Race, Performance, Pay, and Retention Among National Basketball Association Head Coaches," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 7(2), pages 119-149, May.
    2. Scully, Gerald W, 1974. "Pay and Performance in Major League Baseball," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(6), pages 915-930, December.
    3. Krohn, Gregor A, 1983. "Measuring the Experience-Productivity Relationship: The Case of Major League Baseball," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 1(4), pages 273-279, October.
    4. Ira Horowitz & Christopher Zappe, 1998. "Thanks for the memories: baseball veterans' end-of-career salaries," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(6), pages 377-382.
    5. Kahn, Lawrence M, 1993. "Free Agency, Long-Term Contracts and Compensation in Major League Baseball: Estimates from Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(1), pages 157-164, February.
    6. Fair Ray C, 2008. "Estimated Age Effects in Baseball," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-41, January.
    7. Rob Simmons & David Berri, 2008. "Race and the Evaluation of Signal Callers in the National Football League," IASE Conference Papers 0825, International Association of Sports Economists.
    8. Daniel R. Marburger, 2004. "Arbitrator Compromise in Final Offer Arbitration: Evidence from Major League Baseball," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 42(1), pages 60-68, January.
    9. Jahn K. Hakes & Raymond D. Sauer, 2006. "An Economic Evaluation of the Moneyball Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(3), pages 173-186, Summer.
    10. Brad R. Humphreys, 2000. "Equal Pay on the Hardwood: The Earnings Gap between Male and Female NCAA Division I Basketball Coaches," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 1(3), pages 299-307, August.
    11. Lawrence M. Kahn, 1991. "Discrimination in Professional Sports: A Survey of the Literature," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 44(3), pages 395-418, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. R Simmons & D Berri, 2007. "Does it pay to specialize? The story from the Gridiron," Working Papers 591134, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
    2. Wiseman Frederick & Chatterjee Sangit, 2010. "Negotiating Salaries through Quantile Regression," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1), pages 1-15, January.
    3. Martina Gianecchini & Alberto Alvisi, 2015. "Late career of superstar soccer players: win, play, or gain?," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0192, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
    4. repec:bla:ecinqu:v:55:y:2017:i:2:p:1104-1118 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Turner, Chad & Hakes, Jahn Karl, 2007. "The Collective Bargaining Effects of NBA Player Productivity Dynamics," MPRA Paper 5058, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Jahn K. Hakes & Chad Turner, 2008. "Long-Term Contracts in Major League Baseball," Working Papers 0831, International Association of Sports Economists;North American Association of Sports Economists.

    More about this item


    Major League Baseball (MLB); Career dynamics; Player salaries and performance; Quintile analysis; J3; J24; J42; L83;

    JEL classification:

    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism


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