The other day I introduced the idea that Fan Graphs provides an interesting stat that calculates a player’s value on the free agent market for the season. According to them, the values are calculated based on a value system that takes into account factors such as hitting, fielding, position, etc. You can read all the details about the calculations here:
Read Dave Cameron’s Seven Part Series: Explaining Win Values
Read Dave Cameron’s Seven Part Series: Pitching Win Values Explained
Obviously, it doesn’t appeal to everyone to touch on all of the 14 part series that Dave took the time to compose. Most simply care about the results. That said, I decided to put the values of the positional players and pitchers for the 2009 team into a table and compare them to see which players outplayed and underplayed their 2009 contract value. Without further ado, here are the results along with my thoughts on what I found after compiling it:
- NOTE – Milton Bradley’s contact is listed at $5 mil, which is what the contract was valued at. Looking at it that way, he outperformed his contract. It’s important to note that he received a $4 mil bonus when he signed the contract. That puts the total value amount of the contract for 2009 paid out at $9 mil, which means in reality he underperformed. It’s all about how you want to look at it. Considering the fact that it’s all but certain that he’ll be playing elsewhere next year, I feel it’s important to look at the signing bonus in full as part of 2009.
- Question I had when compiling: “How in the world can you have negative dollar value?” I wrestled with this one a little and couldn’t wrap my hands around what I needed to do with these values that were negative. Should I just make them zero? Should I leave them as negative? Then it hit me. While it’s not possible for a player to actually have a negative contract (essentially paying the team for the right to play), it seems reasonable that a player could have that type of value. Hear me out for a second. Think about if I played 160 games for the team and Lou marched me out there each and every day. My guess is I’d finish with 1 hit, and that’s a big time maybe. I’d be playing for the league minimum salary, which we’ll call $500K for the sake of argument. I can’t see my value being anywhere near something that deserves any compensation whatsoever. In fact, if I played all year and got 600+ plate appearances and only managed a single hit it would be safe to declare me the worst player in the history of the game. I’d say that would be negative value. In fact, it would be so negative that in order to get me such an opportunity, I’d essentially have to pay the team to give me that opportunity. All that said, that seemed to indicate to me that a player with “negative” value was a player who’s production and value to the team was that of someone that the team would have been better without.
- It pays to get production from the kids – One of the great things about baseball (in my opinion) is the fact that there is a salary structure that prevents the vast majority of players to get filthy rich without proving something on the field first. Sure there will always be top picks that get big league deals with large signing bonuses, but the bulk of players that enter the league do so at the league minimum for the first three years of their career and even then are subject to an arbitrator before getting any significant raise. Because of this, it’s imperative that you get big production from the small salary guys. Doing so allows you to fill the holes with high priced guys via trade or free agency. The Cubs didn’t do that enough in 2009. Looking at the hitters table, only Ryan Theriot, Jeff Baker and Geovany Soto outplayed their low contracts by a substantial amount. On the pitching side, Wells, Marmol and Marshall were the only ones to post $2+ mil overages. For this team to be successful going forward, it’s imperative that the Cubs get more value from the low salary guys as we will only see some of the big deals like Soriano’s get larger and larger as the back loaded contracts come alive.
- Just Plain Wow – Everyone points the finger at Bradley for his poor production, but looking at the numbers, it appears that the hatred is overwhelmingly more deserving for Soriano. It’s absolutely astounding to see the drop in production we saw from Soriano and coupled with the crazy salary we paid for that, it’s no wonder his net value is negative almost $20 mil. Imagine what could have happened with that money.
- Surprise Surprise – There were a few values that surprised me a little. Harden outplaying his contract and considering his injury history, perhaps the Cubs might be best served to offer arbitration for the sake of getting the compensation pick if someone signs him. The worst that could happen is we’re stuck with him for the year and I think the Cubs could make a good case to the arbiter that he’s a risk and not worth a huge raise. Sam Fuld played really well down the stretch and probably deserves a shot as the backup OF next year. Jake Fox really tailed off down the stretch and probably wasn’t worth as much hype and love I gave him. I’m still a big fan of him, but perhaps it’s best to shop him.
What are your thoughts after looking at the numbers? Let’s discuss.