Archive for November, 2009

Who Earned Their Money in 2009 – Part II

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

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

Part 1 – Batting
Part 2 – Fielding
Part 3 – Positional
Part 4 – Replacement
Part 5 – Converting Runs to Wins
Part 6 – Dollars
Part 7 – Additional Information

Read Dave Cameron’s Seven Part Series: Pitching Win Values Explained

Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – FIP
Part 3 – Replacement
Part 4 – Run Environments
Part 5 – Converting Runs to Wins
Part 6 – Park Adjustments
Part 7 – Calculations

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.

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Stat of the Week: Fielding Bible Awards

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

THE 2009 FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS have been officially announced after one of the closest races in the history of the award centered around the keystone sack. Second basemen Aaron Hill, Dustin Pedroia and Chase Utley finished with 76, 76 and 73 points respectively, forcing a tie-breaking procedure that awarded Hill his second Fielding Bible Award.

One important distinction that differentiates THE FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS from most other baseball awards, such as the Gold Gloves, is that there is only one winner at each position, instead of separate winners for each league. This distinction came into play this year as Jack Wilson, who split his time between Pittsburgh in the National League and Seattle in the American League, won the Fielding Bible Award at shortstop.

Joining Hill as repeat winners are Albert Pujols (four wins in the four years of the award), Carl Crawford (his third), Yadier Molina (his third), Ichiro Suzuki (two) and Franklin Gutierrez (his second, this one for center field after claiming last year’s right field award). First-time winners are Mark Buehrle, Jack Wilson and Ryan Zimmerman.

A panel of ten analysts, listed below—including Peter Gammons, Bill James, Joe Posnanski, and me—examined the 2009 seasons of every defensive player in Major League Baseball and then used the same voting technique as the Major League Baseball MVP voting. First place votes received 10 points, second place 9 points, third place 8 points, etc. A perfect score was 100.

Here are the results of THE 2009 FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS. A complete record of the voting can be found in The Bill James Handbook 2010.

FIRST BASE—ALBERT PUJOLS, ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (95 POINTS)
Four Fielding Bible Awards in four years. What’s left to say?

SECOND BASE—AARON HILL, TORONTO BLUE JAYS (76)
Hill wins the tie-breaker on the strength of four first-place votes, as opposed to only one for runner-up Dustin Pedroia.

THIRD BASE—RYAN ZIMMERMAN, WASHINGTON NATIONALS (84)
Third base is a strong, deep defensive position in baseball right now, but Zimmerman has set himself apart by becoming the leader in Defensive Runs Saved over the last three years.

SHORTSTOP—JACK WILSON, PITTSBURGH PIRATES/SEATTLE MARINERS (86) Even though he split time between leagues, Wilson was the best shorstop in baseball this year, leading all shorstops in Runs Saved by a wide margin (27 compared to Brendan Ryan’s 19).

LEFT FIELD—CARL CRAWFORD, TAMPA BAY RAYS (99)
No player has ever won with a perfect record (10 first-place votes from 10 panelists), but Crawford came as close as possible, garnering nine out of ten possible first-place votes. His 99 total points is an all-time record.

CENTER FIELD—FRANKLIN GUTIERREZ, SEATTLE MARINERS (97)
Winner of the 2008 Fielding Bible Award for right field, Gutierrez moved over to center field in 2009. His 31 Runs Saved were tied with Chone Figgins for the most in baseball.

RIGHT FIELD—ICHIRO SUZUKI, SEATTLE MARINERS (93)
Hunter Pence gave Ichiro a run for his money, but Ichiro finished with 93 points to Pence’s 84. This is Ichiro’s second Fielding Bible Award.

CATCHER—YADIER MOLINA, ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (96)
Everyone knows about Molina’s incredible throwing arm (well, maybe not the eight guys he picked off this year), but Molina was also the third-best bad-pitch-blocking catcher in baseball behind Carlos Ruiz and Jason Varitek.

PITCHER—MARK BUEHRLE, CHICAGO WHITE SOX (86)
Buerhle has defensive chops, but his ability to hold runners is legendary. In the last four years he’s allowed a total of 15 stolen bases, picked off 14 baserunners, and thrown over to first—only to have the runner break for second and be thrown out—16 times.

The Panel

1. Bill James is a baseball writer and analyst and the Senior Baseball Operations Advisor for the Boston Red Sox;
2. The BIS Video Scouts at Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) study every game of the season, multiple times, charting a huge list of valuable game details;
3. The man who created Strat-O-Matic Baseball—Hal Richman;
4. Named the best sports columnist in America by the AP Sports Editors, Joe Posnanski is a Senior Writer at Sports Illustrated and occasional columnist for the Kansas City Star;
5. For over twenty years, BIS owner John Dewan has collected, published and analyzed in-depth baseball statistics and is the author of The Fielding Bible and The Fielding Bible—Volume II;
6. ! Mat Olkin is a sabermetrics consultant to major league teams;
7. Hall-of-Famer Peter Gammons serves as a studio analyst on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight and Baseball Today;
8. Rob Neyer writes about baseball for ESPN.com and appears regularly on ESPN radio and ESPNews;
9. Todd Radcliffe is Lead Video Scout at Baseball Info Solutions;
10. The Tom Tango Fan Poll represents the results of a poll taken at the website, Tango on Baseball (www.tangotiger.net);
The three tie-breakers are Steve Moyer, president of BIS, Dan Casey, veteran Video Scout at BIS, and Dave Studenmund, one of the owners of www.hardballtimes.com and the editor of The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.

Complete results and voting on THE 2009 FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS are presented in The Bill James Handbook 2010, published on or before November 1 every year. For more information on The Fielding Bible Awards visit www.fieldingbible.com.

“Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com.”

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Monday Links Galore

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

The Who Earned Their Money post will be posting tonight / early morning. Until then, here’s some reading for you to discuss.

Project Prospect mentions Starlin Castro in the AFL Week 3 rundown and has a video- (Source)

Castro has drawn rave reviews from ESPN’s Keith Law thus far in the AFL. Utilizing his great contact abilities, Castro has reached base in nearly half of his 51 plate appearances — only 5.9% walk, though. While he only has two extra-base-hits to this point — both doubles — the fact that he’s faring well against elite minor league competition as a 19-year-old is reason enough to be excited about him.

MiLB.com mentions a nice outing by former prospect, Donnie Veal – (Source)

Veal improved to 2-0 and dropped his AFL ERA to 0.71 on Saturday, allowing two hits and striking out five over four innings in the Scottsdale Scorpions’ 6-0 win over the Peoria Saguaros.

MLB Trade Rumors has two nice nuggets for us:

  • Cubs talking Bradley for Wells – (Source)
  • List of MLB bad contracts for swapping – (Source)

Baseball America notes that the Cubs outrighted Bobby Scales to AAA – (Source)

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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