24 April 2008

Fantasy Baseball/Garth Brooks Charity

My wife was recruited into a fantasy baseball league run by some of her coworkers, and I have participated as an advisor to her.  I used to have my own team in a friendly league, but the truth is that I am terrible about keeping up with a fantasy baseball team over the course of a season.  Not that my thought process is entirely relevant here, but I have often wondered about Garth Brooks's foundation, in which professional athletes pledge $X for X statistic throughout a season.  Well, it turns out that the base pledge forms are posted online, giving the following base value per baseball stat (I didn't look at other sports):
$1000 Home Run
$100 Base Hit
$200 Stolen Base
$250 Double
$200 RBI
$500 Pinch Hit
$250 Run Scored
$1000 Pitcher Win
$300 Pitcher Save
$100 Pitcher Strikeout
$200 Pitcher Appearance
Now, of course, it should be noted that this is just a base value; players are permitted to substitute any value of their choice.  Still, since those finalized forms are likely to never be made public (and they certainly have no need to be), our assumption must be that each player elects to pay the default value of his stats.  Next up is a comparison of my wife's fantasy roster with the foundation's all-time roster.  Since the foundation site does not delineate past from current participants, again we must make an assumption that any players currently active are currently participating in the foundation.
BATTERS                                    PITCHERS
A.J. Pierzynski                              Matt Capps
Mark Teixeira                               Cliff Lee

Ian Kinsler                                    John Lackey Ryan Braun                                   Scott Kazmir Adam Dunn                         
Ken Griffey, Jr.                           
   Alex Rodriguez
Note that the two italicized players are on the real-life DL, and have not played this year as of today.  For a complete list of all-time baseball participants, click here.

Now then, eleven of our 26 players opt not to participate with the Garth foundation.  I won't criticize those players because of several reasons: first, there is absolutely no obligation for ridiculously overpaid athletes to participate in any charity.  Secondly, many likely run their own foundations and support other programs; several players on the Garth foundation list are known to be involved with other charities, as well.

So, armed with a list of who is participating, and the default value assigned to each man's stats, we can tell that our category leaders would be:
Home Runs: Lance Berkman (5 x $1000 = $5000)
Base Hits: Ian Kinsler (25 x $100 = $2500)
Stolen Bases: Ian Kinsler (6 x $200 = $1200)
Doubles: Lance Berkman (8 x $250 = $2000)
RBI: Lance Berkman (17 x $200 = $3400)
Pinch Hit: ? (x $500)
Run Scored: Lance Berkman (19 x $250 = $4750)
Pitcher Win: Micah Owings (4 x $1000 = $4000)
Pitcher Save: Matt Capps (6 x $300 = $1800)
Pitcher Strikeout: Micah Owings (23 x $100 = $2300)
Pitcher Appearance: ? (x $200)
Of course, these are just the leaders in those categories, and it assumes that each player signed up for all eligible stats.  Through today, then, our biggest contributor, based only on team-leading statistics, would be Lance Berkman at $15,150.  Now, since he's the team-leader, let's consider the rest of his stats and see what Berkman could theoretically be on the hook to donate:

HR: 5 x $1000 = $5000
Hits: 23 x $100 = $2300
SB: 3 x $200 = $600
Doubles: 8 x $250 = $2000
RBI: 17 x $200 = $3400
Pinch Hits: ?
Runs: 19 x $250 = $4750

Yahoo! fantasy baseball stats don't track pinch hits, but I have a hard time picturing Lance Berkman pinch-hitting; we'll assume that value is zero.  The grand total, then, of Lance Berkman's possible donation to the Garth Brooks Foundation for the 2008 season (through April 24) is $18,050.
In all likelihood, Berkman only signed up for one or two categories, and we'll never know how much he pledged per stat, so nobody needs to go knocking on his door expecting him to fork over thousands of dollars for (insert your cause here).  Besides being partly bored and partly curious, the only real value to come out of this little exercise has been to get a more informed idea of the charitable aspects of our athletic heroes.  Sure, they're too important to some fans, and they're overpaid for no more than they really contribute to our society.  Still, it should be remembered that at least some of them do take into consideration the fact that they are in a position to help others, and they do that.  That's a fine objective for any of us, whether we're multi-millionaire ballplayers or just people who think to save and donate labels from whatever product will donate money to a school.

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