If you were to ask every player what they want to get out of their college baseball experience, you would see a variety of responses, ranging from professional baseball dreams to other personal and team goals. Having said this, at the core of every answer is one thing; every player sets out on this journey in hopes of having an enjoyable college baseball experience, whatever their definition of that may be.
Pretty frequently, we come across players that talk about how bad their college baseball experience was, and I genuinely feel sorry for them, especially looking back at my own experience. As an aspiring college baseball player, it’s so important that you are proactive and take every possible step to ensure you land at a school that is right for you.
As a recruit, it’s helpful to know if current players at a college baseball program are generally satisfied with their experience. The only problem is that it seems like a pretty difficult thing to calculate, right? We’ve found that the best way of gauging this is to see if players have been staying with the program, which is what we refer to as player retention. While there are some NCAA rules in place to discourage excessive player movement, college athletes have the ability to transfer or stop playing altogether if they are truly unhappy with their situation.
To over simplify something that can be pretty complex, when players are enjoying their experience, they tend to stay, and when they are not enjoying it, they tend to leave. To take it a step further, we typically see the highest level of volatility with freshman, so we use this class as the key identifier for player retention and overall satisfaction with the program.
We’ve also found you can get a more accurate read on a program by viewing the past few years, instead of just a single year. Any quality program can run into a year where a significant amount of their freshman don’t return. When you see a pattern of poor player retention, that is when it should be identified as an area of concern.
This can be pretty difficult to calculate on your own and would require you to compare multiple years worth of rosters, keeping track of the players that stayed the following year. Some college baseball research tools have player retention information available, allowing you to view this data for every NCAA baseball program.
It’s also helpful to see how this metric is used in other spaces, outside of the baseball world. Many companies use their employee turnover rate as a key performance indicator from a human resource standpoint. When turnover rates are high, these companies often have to ask themselves pretty tough questions like, are we not paying our employees enough, is there a company culture issue, is there a lack of career development, do the employees not believe in what we do as a company?
Similarly, college baseball programs can be plagued by very similar circumstances. The underlying issues might be different, but the end result could be very similar; unsatisfied players looking to go elsewhere. Unlike the employee turnover example, you won’t be able to give your notice, and start with a new college two weeks later. You will have a lot more on the line, so being informed throughout your college baseball search is of the utmost importance.
We continue to run into players that are pleasantly surprised with how useful college rosters can be during the recruiting process. Player retention is one of the many reasons players should take advantage of this free resource. You can learn a lot about a program as well as a coach’s tendencies, which will ultimately give you a better chance of achieving an enjoyable college baseball experience.