Diversity report card shows that MLB has some work to do

Big League Stew

Major League Baseball was reminded Tuesday of its shortcomings in the areas of diversity as The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at The University of Central Florida released its annual report card about racial and gender hiring practices.

For 2017, MLB earned a C+ with a score of 76, which is down from 82.4 last year. Though, it should be noted that the fences moved a bit since last year. The report says the MLB’s lower score is partially “a result of a new grading scale that better represented America’s changing demographics.”

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Nonetheless, the report reminds us of the areas where MLB could be more diverse, none of which are particularly new to this study. It also highlights what MLB does well in terms of diversity. Like many wide-ranging reports, the overall takeaway might depend on what you’re looking for. (You can read the entire report card here, if you like).

Baseball’s diversity amongst its coaches and players remains great. Racial diversity in the MLB offices ranked well, but gender diversity there dipped slightly below average. The lowest ranking came from on-field managers, where only three minorities hold jobs.

Dusty Baker is one of the three minority managers in MLB. (AP)
Dusty Baker is one of the three minority managers in MLB. (AP)

Here are the various segment grades from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport’s report:

Commissioner Rob Manfred’s League Office maintained the good grade achieved in 2016 for racial hiring practices as it received an A- for hiring people of color. However, it dropped to a C- for gender hiring practices. People of color comprise 28.1 percent of the Central Office professional staff. Women comprise 29.3 percent of the total Central Office professional employees. Fifteen executives (Vice President or higher) who work at the Commissioner’s Office, MLB Advanced Media and the MLB Network are persons of color. 20 female employees hold executive positions in central baseball.

The team levels remain far behind the League Office. Of the six grades for race at the team level, the only A grade was for coaches. The teams received a B+ for Senior Administration and Professional Administration. They received an F for the key position of manager with only three managers of color and a C for general manager with four people of color, both below their all-time highs.

What keeps MLB’s overall diversity looking good is its players. This year, MLB set a record with 29.8 percent of its players being born outside the U.S. This, of course, is more about baseball’s wide and diverse international talent pool than it is sort of diversity initiative. Players on opening-day rosters came from 19 different counties this season, which is also a new high for MLB.

Latino players on opening-day rosters were up 31.9 percent from 28.5 in 2016, while the percentages of Asian and African-American players mostly held at their previous rates.

So MLB’s diversity challenges mainly reside in two areas: getting more minorities from coaches in manager positions, which has been an issue for the past two years, and evening out the number of women in decision-making jobs in the league offices. MLB knows this to be true, and says it has taken steps since Commissioner Rob Manfred took over to increase its diversity, but it takes time before the results are shown.

Dan Halem, the chief legal officer for MLB who also oversees human resources and diversity, told the The Associated Press:

“It’s a work in progress,” Halem said. “The commissioner, when he became the commissioner in 2015, made diversity in all of these areas one of his top priorities. He put together a lot of well-funded programs in the last couple of years to try to do better. But it’s going to take a little bit of time before we really see results from these programs in actuality.”

Among the three major sports, the NBA generally earns the best score from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. It received an A and a 90.4 score in 2016. The NFL received a B and a score of 83.6 last year.

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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