11 innings vs. 11 years

by Jay Shepherd. Average Reading Time: about 2 minutes.

Longtime readers know that I’m a big Boston Red Sox fan. So whenever I can use the Sox to make a point here, I will. Whatever works.

The Red Sox were supposed to be the team to beat this season. Almost all the pundits predicted them to win the American League pennant this year, given their impressive offseason performance in rebuilding the bullpen and acquiring superstars Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford.

But things didn’t start out so well. The team stumbled out of the gate, beginning the campaign 0–6 and 2–11. No team that has started out so poorly has ever even made the playoffs.

But over the past month, the Sox have turned it around. They’ve won 11 of their last 13, including the last two where they scored 14 runs in each game. They’re now in a virtual tie for first place in the AL East (with the hated Yankees).

The Boston Globe’s excellent beat reporter Peter Abraham called attention to starter Alfredo Aceves, who replaced injured Daisuke Matsuzaka in the rotation. In his last two games (11 innings), he’s only given up two earned runs:

To some, Aceves may seem like an overnight sensation given that this is first season in Boston.

But Aceves, 28, has been around. He first signed with the Blue Jays when he was 19 then spent five seasons in the Mexican League before being signed by the Yankees. After three seasons in New York, he landed in Boston.

“It’s a lot of work, it’s not only two starts. I’ve been working in baseball for 11 years,” he said. “It’s not only two starts. You can see it like that; I don’t see it like that.”

Aceves makes an excellent point. He’s saying that it’s a mistake to just look at his last two outings and value him on the basis of those 11 innings, instead of on the 11 years of work that got him to this point.

And this is exactly the mistake that lawyers and other professionals make when they bill their work by the hour. In doing so, they’re asking their clients to value you only them for the work they just did, rather than for the years of experience and knowledge that enabled them to do that work. If you’re only charging for the past few hours, you’re leaving money on the table because you can’t charge for the value of your accumulated knowledge — your true value.

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