After looking at the potential roster crunch the Tigers will have this year, it is time to start calculating the risk of losing certain players on waivers. The first variable I am going to look at is the month.
The term "out of options" did seem to rise to the forefront last season. This is no coincidence. In the new collective bargaining agreement put into effect after the 2006 season, players were granted an extra year before becoming eligible for the Rule 5 draft. As a result, more borderline major leaguers have found themselves on 40 man rosters over the past few years rather than fourth year professionals on their first option year. This, in turn, has created more situations where players out of options need to clear waivers.
I bring this up because the data I have collected is for the 2007 calender year only. While the sample is smaller, the face of the waiver wire has changed in such a way that the 2006 data may distort any trends. Below is a chart of all waiver data by month in 2007. All totaled, 79.4% of players placed on waivers last year cleared.
From a year's data, it's difficult to find trends. The spike in percentage clearing from 70% in May, July, and August to 90% in June seems like a fluke. The amount of players going on waivers in October is a result of the deadline for activating players from the 60-day DL. Teams have to cut their roster down before the off-season, and it's no surprise that many (83.5%) of these players clear waivers.
The month in which the highest amount of players cleared waivers was March, the time when teams are cutting down to their 25 man roster. This bodes well for teams that are afraid of cutting a player in Spring Training because they are afraid of the player clearing waivers. 90.2% of players placed on waivers last March cleared and stayed with their teams. This data would suggest that if a team is worried about losing a player to waivers, the team should put them through waivers in March. In addition to the likelihood of losing the player being at its lowest, there is additional benefit. In general, players who are kept because they are out of options are kept over players with options who are better than them.
By choosing an inferior player in Spring Training because they are out of options, a team decreases the quality of players and increases the risk that the player will be lost to waivers when they ultimately give up on the player.
After the next round of research, I will take a look at other effects that go into waiver risk.