Over the next three days I’m going dork on you with some research-based, and I use that term loosely, posts regarding the 2007 Cubs roster as well as MLB as a whole. Today we look at the payroll with regard to the true value we got out of it. It’s no secret that the team plans to increase the payroll by as much as 25% this off-season, so maybe it’s time to investigate where the money was spent in 2007 and what we got as a result.

For our model today, we’re going to be using two types of data that I pulled from outside sources. The first of these are win shares. Sabermetric guys are familiar with this stat and tend to put a good amount of stock into it. It’s a stat that was devised by the Saber god, Bill James, and has been tweaked a bit by the folks at The Hardball Times. On an unrelated note, the guys at THT have been gracious to request my insight for the forthcoming 2008 Season Preview book due out in the spring, so you’ll have to look for that. That being said, their simple definition of a win share is as follows:

Win Shares. Invented by Bill James. Win Shares is a very complicated statistic that takes all the contributions a player makes toward his team’s wins and distills them into a single number that represents the number of wins contributed to the team, times three.

To sum that up, the Cubs managed a staggering 85 wins last year, which means they had 255 win shares to distribute among the players based on their contributions to the team. For a more in depth explanation, be sure to check out the article on Wikipedia.

Once we have how many of the wins can be attributed to each player, we can look at the salary they collected in 2007 and calculate what the Cubs paid for that player’s contribution in terms of wins in the standings. For example, a player being paid a very good deal of money (cough Alfonso cough Soriano) would be expected to put more wins on the board for the team. That’s how it should work, but did it? To calculate a players value, I simply divided their salary (in millions) by the wins they contributed and came up with the cost per win. The results might surprise you.

When we look over this summary, I pull out a few interesting nuggets that I don’t know if I would have known otherwise.

  1. Rich Hill was really cost effective. Explain to me again why people want to trade him? Someone that young, making that little and producing that much is pretty valuable.
  2. Our most productive player was Derrek Lee and even he only produced 8 wins.
  3. Ouch, did Scott Eyre kill us!!!
  4. Hey Neal Cotts, thanks for nothin’
  5. Jacque Jones, everyone’s whipping boy all year, produced a total of 5 wins for this team and ranked as our 6 best contributor. It sure is a good thing we got rid of that worthless piece of garbage. We sure can’t have a guy like that on our team.
  6. Mark DeRosa was THE STEAL of the off-season in 2006. Jim Hendry gets a gold star for that signing, when a lot of people criticized it due to DeRosa never really playing full time.
  7. Jason Kendall was worth the flyer we took on him, but isn’t worth the money Milwaukee spent on him this off-season.
  8. Who would have thought that Felix Pie contributed as much as Matt Murton and Mike Fontenot last year?
  9. Daryle Ward was another nice bargain off the bench. Yet another gold star for Hendry on that one.

So we notice some interesting things, but in the end you have to ask yourself “Was Alfonso Soriano worth $1.23 million we paid him per win produced?” Could we have gotten by with something a little cheaper and spent that money elsewhere? Did the ends justify the means on this 2007 team? What surprises you about this data? Is there any nuggets I missed? Let’s discuss.

Tune in tomorrow when we take a look at how our starting rotation compared to the rest of the league using ERA+. It should be fun times, at least for dorks like me.

All salary data collected from Cot’s Baseball Contracts

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail