There are two things I really love – bobbleheads and narratives. So when I can find the opportunity to cross them, I can’t pass it up. So let’s define a few things out of the gate. What’s a narrative? I’m sure you hear these on a daily basis without even realizing it. It’s a (mostly) fabricated story-line to try and predict the outcome of events. The most common narrative would be a “revenge game”. Player A gets traded and now is playing the first game back against his old team. The narrative is that he is somehow going to elevate his game to serve some revenge to his former squad. How about the player who is returning to his hometown? He’s got 100 friends and family in the stands and he wants to ball out to give them a show. What about the bobblehead narrative? …the what? This is the idea that a player has an above-average game on the night that his bobblehead is given away. Okay, I’ll bite on this one.
Bobbleheads are a giveaway item that are most commonly found at baseball games compared to other sports. So for the purpose of this research, I looked back at all the bobblehead giveaways in the 2015 MLB season. I knew they were popular, but I was stunned to see 105 bobblehead giveaways by MLB teams last season. Now, not all of these giveaways featured active players or even players at all. Also, I had to toss out the bobbleheads of active pitchers, since the vast majority of them did not pitch on the night their bobblehead was given away. That leaves us to focus on the 42 games for hitters who played the same day their bobblehead was distributed. And the results were impressive:
You read that right, a 162 game average of .353 batting average with 34.7 HR and 135 RBIs. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that these are really good numbers. But, how good is that? Well, it’s basically MVP-caliber numbers. Here are the Bobblehead numbers compared to the 10 year MVP average:
Bobblehead games outpace the MVP average in both RBIs and batting average while holding their own in the home runs category. From a fantasy perspective, the numbers continue to impress. The average DraftKings scoring game for a bobblehead player was 10.76 compared to 5.9 points for every other average game. On Fanduel, the numbers were slanted toward bobblehead players at 14.21 versus 9.06 (using 2016 scoring model). There was a high floor for these bobblehead players as well. Only four of the 42 players put up zero fantasy points. that’s just 9.5% of games, while the league average is much closer to 30%.
If you want to take a look at the numbers yourself, here are all the Bobblehead Game Logs from last season: