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2004/05 FA Review - Hitters and Summary


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#1 philly sox fan


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Posted 06 November 2005 - 12:23 PM

I split the free agent hitters into four groups based on their AAV. The four groups are: AAV greater than 10M, AAV between 5-9.9M, AAV between 2-4.9M and AAV under 2M. Those groupings make some rough sense I think.

AAV Greater than 10M
Player      Expires  Yrs  Total    AAV    VORP  $/10VORP   WARP   BPVal    Diff   %AAV
Beltran,C     2011    7   119.0   17.0    25.8     6.59     5.0    7.33   -9.67     43
Ordonez,M     2009    5    75.0   15.0    19.4     7.73     2.3    2.05  -12.95     14
Delgado,C     2008    4    52.0   13.0    71.6     1.82     6.7   12.25   -0.75     94
Beltre,A      2009    5    64.0   12.8    15.1     8.48     4.1    5.23   -7.57     41
Sexson,R      2008    4    50.0   12.5    56.2     2.22     6.5   11.6    -0.9      93
Glaus,T       2008    4    45.0   11.25   45.5     2.47     5.0    7.33   -3.92     65
Drew,JD       2009    5    55.0   11.0    31.0     3.55     4.3    5.66   -5.34     51
Renteria,E    2008    4    40.0   10.0    26.7     3.75     1.8    1.41   -8.59     14
Varitek,J     2008    4    40.0   10.0    45.4     2.2      6.2   10.67    0.67    107
Total                     540.0  112.6   336.7     3.34    41.9   63.54  -46.01     57

In addition to AAV, contract length is an important characteristic for this group of hitters. Only two other hitters received four year contracts. Each of these nine players received at least four years. As a group their performance in 2005 was extremely underwhelming. Their cost efficiency was pretty pedestrian at 3.34M/10 VORP. Their on field production was lackluster with only three players clearing 6 WARP. And those three players – Delgado, Sexson, Varitek – were the only ones to come close to breaking even in terms of %AAV.

Theoretically, these players should be comparable to the class “A” starting pitchers, but in terms of their ability to return value on investment they performed more like “B” starting pitchers. That was surprising to me. It seems reasonable to think that in general a group of premium hitters should be better investments than a group of premium pitchers. And maybe that generality is true, but it really breaks down when you think about the relative qualities of these two specific groups of players. The admittedly much smaller group of pitchers was made up of two inner circle Hall of Famers. Clemens and Pedro are both past their primes, but they are historically great players who were still performing very well at the time they signed their contracts.

That is not true of these hitters. I’m not sure any of these players will make the HoF. I think Delgado will be a solid candidate and perhaps Beltran will as well, but most of the rest of these players are only elite in terms of the size of their contracts. Furthermore, most of them were coming off very anomalous seasons. Glaus, Ordonez, and Sexson were all hurt and combined for less than 500 AB. Those three contracts were huge risks from day one. Additionally, Renteria was coming off a disappointing season. Drew was coming off a great season, but one in which he had been unusually healthy. Beltre had a huge potentially fluke season. Beltran has been a very good player for several years, but even his 2005 season saw a large power spike. In retrospect, are these really players that should have received the contract that they did? Is it all that surprising, that most of these players were disappointments?

Perhaps an elite pitcher is riskier than an elite hitter, but not necessarily riskier than a good player paid as if he were an elite hitter.

AAV between 5-9.9M
Player      Expires  Yrs  Total    AAV    VORP  $/10VORP   WARP   BPVal    Diff   %AAV
Kent,J        2006    2    17.0    8.5    60.5     1.4      7.4   14.63    6.13    172
Cabrera,O     2008    4    32.0    8.0    18.9     4.23     4.1    5.23   -2.77     65
Garciaparra   2005    1     8.0    8.0    11.8     6.78     0.9    0.53   -7.47      7
Finley,S      2006    2    14.0    7.0    -2.6     neg      1.1    0.7    -6.3      10
Alou,M        2006    2    13.25   6.625  48.8     1.36     4.7    6.59   -0.03    100
Koskie,C      2007    3    17.0    5.67   11.0     5.15     2.3    2.05   -3.62     36
Dye,J         2006    2    10.15   5.075  35.7     1.42     4.6    6.35    1.28    125
Burnitz,J     2005    1     5.0    5.0    17.6     2.84     4.6    6.35    1.35    127
Hidalgo,R     2005    1     5.0    5.0    -0.5     neg      0.7    0.39   -4.61      8
Total                     121.4   58.87  201.2     2.93    30.4   42.82  -16.05     73

This is very much a hit or miss group. Kent was fantastic. He’s actually the only position player to clear 7 WARP. Alou, Dye and Burnitz were all solid veteran corner OF on short, relatively modest deals. On the other hand, Nomar, Finley, Koskie and Hidalgo were major busts. Cabrera straddled the middle ground with an almost decent year. He’s also the only one of these players receive a four year contract.

AAV between 2-4.9M
Player      Expires  Yrs  Total    AAV    VORP  $/10VORP   WARP   BPVal    Diff   %AAV
Polanco,P     2005    1     4.6    4.6    45.4     1.01     6.6   11.92    7.32    259
Guzman,C      2008    4    16.8    4.2    -9.7    -4.33    -0.2   -0.07   -4.27     -2
Vizquel,O     2007    3    12.25   4.08   18.9     2.16     5.1    7.59    3.51    186
Matheny,M     2007    3    10.5    3.5    11.1     3.15     3.7    4.4     0.9     126
Valentin,J    2005    1     3.5    3.5    -4.5    -7.78     0.2    0.09   -3.41      3
Eckstein,D    2007    3    10.25   3.42   39.5     0.87     5.6    8.93    5.51    261
Castilla,V    2006    2     6.2    3.1    14.2     2.18     4.0    5.01    1.91    162
Martinez,T    2005    1     3.0    3.0    10.4     2.88     1.3    0.88   -2.12     29
Miller,D      2007    3     8.5    2.83   21.6     1.31     3.6    4.21    1.38    149
Walker,T      2005    1     2.5    2.5    31.1     0.8      3.5    4.01    1.51    161
Iguchi,T      2006    2     4.6    2.3    30.9     0.74     3.3    3.64    1.34    159
Pierzynski    2005    1     2.25   2.25   17.7     1.27     3.5    4.01    1.76    178
Randa,J       2005    1     2.15   2.15   29.3     0.73     4.7    6.59    4.44    307
Womack,T      2006    2     4.0    2.0    -9.0    -2.22     0.7    0.39   -1.61     19
Total                      91.1   43.43  246.9     1.76    45.6   61.61   18.18    142

This group contains a lot of low end regulars, especially infielders and catchers. The salaries are starting to get so low that any kind of decent season makes the player a good value. The overall cost efficiency of 1.76M/10 VORP is very good and the %AAV of 142 is excellent. And unlike the situation with the relievers it’s not just a couple players pushing that number up. In fact, of these fourteen players only four (Guzman, Valentin, Martinez, Womack) were poor signings. Finding value in this price range doesn’t appear to be especially hard. What is difficult, is finding a player that will significantly push your team forward with his production. Despite the many “%AAV” successes, only Polanco, Vizquel and Ecksein cleared 5 WARP and were substantial contributors. Every team needs a bunch of solid players in the 3.5-4.5 range, so that’s nothing to take for granted, but in and of themselves they push teams more towards “value championships” than real ones.

AAV less than 2M
Player      Expires  Yrs  Total    AAV    VORP  $/10VORP   WARP   BPVal    Diff   %AAV
Hernadnez,J   2005    1     1.8    1.8    -6.8     neg      0.1    0.04   -1.76      2
Wilson,D      2005    1     1.75   1.75   -3.0     neg     -0.2   -0.07   -1.82     -4
Gonzalez,A    2005    1     1.75   1.75   12.0     1.46     1.5    1.08   -0.67     62
Counsell,C    2006    2     3.1    1.55   23.6     0.66     6.1   10.37    8.82    669
Sierra,R      2005    1     1.5    1.5    -2.3     neg     -0.2   -0.07   -1.57     -5
Mirabelli,D   2006    2     3.0    1.5     4.8     3.13     1.3    0.88   -0.62     59
Clayton,R     2005    1     1.35   1.35   12.3     1.1      1.7    1.3    -0.05     96
Blanco,H      2006    2     2.7    1.35    2.6     5.19     2.3    2.05    0.7     152
Cora,A        2006    2     2.7    1.35   -2.4     neg      1.4    0.98   -0.37     73
Vizcaino,J    2005    1     1.25   1.25    0.3    41.67     0.3    0.14   -1.11     11
Ledee,R       2006    2     2.5    1.25   12.3     1.02     1.2    0.79   -0.46     63
Reese,P       2005    1     1.2    1.2     dnp                      0.0    -1.2       0
Surhoff,BJ    2005    1     1.1    1.1    -3.8     neg      0.4    0.2    -0.9      18
Matthews,G    2005    1     1.1    1.1    18.2     0.60     3.0    3.12    2.02    284
Zaun,G        2005    1     1.05   1.05   20.0     0.53     3.3    3.64    2.59    347
Martinez,R    2005    1     1.025  1.025  -1.1     neg     -0.1   -0.04   -1.06     -4
Castro,J      2006    2     2.05   1.025   2.1     4.88     2.5    2.34    1.31    228
Grudzielanek  2005    1     1.0    1.0    23.1     0.43     4.0    5.01    4.01    501
Franco,J      2005    1     1.0    1.0    14.2     0.7      1.7    1.3     0.3     130
Mondesi,R     2005    1     1.0    1.0    -4.2     neg      0.0    0.0    -1.0       0
Perez,N       2005    1     1.0    1.0    12.6     0.79     4.4    5.89    4.89    589
Perez,T       2005    1     1.0    1.0    -9.4     neg     -0.2   -0.07   -1.07     -7
Young,E       2005    1     1.0    1.0     4.4     2.27     1.1    0.7    -0.3      70
Ward,D        2005    1     0.975  0.975   7.3     1.34     1.0    0.62   -0.36     63
Mohr,D        2005    1     0.95   0.95    1.8     5.28     1.3    0.88   -0.07     93
Relaford,D    2005    1     0.95   0.95   -3.3     neg     -0.1   -0.04   -0.99     -4
Hollandsworth 2005    1     0.9    0.9    -2.2     neg      0.1    0.04   -0.86      5
Redmond,M     2006    2     1.8    0.9     8.6     1.05     1.7    1.3     0.4     144
Cairo,M       2005    1     0.9    0.9    -1.6     neg      1.8    1.41    0.51    157
Dellucci,D    2006    2     1.8    0.9    35.5     0.25     4.0    5.01    4.11    557
Greene,T      2005    1     0.75   0.75    5.0     1.5     -0.4   -0.13   -0.88    -17
Easley,D      2005    1     0.75   0.75   11.2     0.67     2.2    1.92    1.17    255
Clark,T       2005    1     0.75   0.75   44.7     0.17     4.3    5.66    4.91    755
Mabry,J       2005    1     0.725  0.725   1.8     4.03     0.6    0.32   -0.41     44
Total                      48.175 38.4   238.3     1.61    52.1   56.58   18.23    148

Total                     800.675 253.3   1023.1   2.48   170.0   224.6   -28.7     89

There are some players here who were signed to be regulars, but most of them were signed as cheap role players. Characteristic of groups of cheap players, the aggregate value is very good. That aggregate is driven by some huge successes (eg, Counsell, Grudzielanek, Perez, Dellucci, Clark) and lots of little misses. Out of these thirty-four players, only those five successes were significant on field contributors with WARP values of at least 4. You can find lots of examples of players with %AAV over 100 who didn’t really contribute all the much.

In total, MLB committed just over 800M with an AAV of 255M to these position players. The overall cost per 1 VORP “win” was just under 2.5M. By “BPVal” the teams lost just under 29M for “%AAV” of 89. That’s a surprisingly small 3% improvement over the pitchers.

2004/05 Free Agent Summary Tables

Here are a couple of tables summarizing the different groups of players that I looked at. The first table includes all of the standard financial and performance data that I’ve included for each group. The second table just looks at the number of players at different performance (as defined by WARP) levels. The point of that table is to remove the financial aspect and just look at how players impacted their teams’ on field performance.

Table 1: Financial and Productivity Summary
              Total      AAV      VORP   $/10VORP    WARP     BPVal     Diff    %AAV
Pitchers
   Starters
         A     71.1      31.25    146.7     2.13      18.3     43.65     12.4     140
         B    266.45     84.74     82.2    10.07      28.5     38.9     -43.82     47
         C     80.9      60.65    154.5     3.93      39.5     52.02     -8.63     86
       Tot    418.35    174.64    383.4     4.56      86.3    134.57    -40.05     77

   Relievers   75.795    45.5     155.2     2.93      48.4     55.55     10.02    122

   Total      494.145   220.14    538.6     4.09     134.7    190.12    -30.03     86

Position
       >10    540.0     112.6     336.7     3.34      41.9     63.5     -46.0      56
     5-9.9    121.4      58.87    201.2     2.93      30.4     42.82    -16.05     73
     2-4.9     91.1      43.43    246.9     1.76      45.6     61.61     18.18    142
        <2     48.175    38.4     238.3     1.61      52.1     56.58     18.23    147
       Tot    800.675   253.3    1023.1     2.48     170.0    224.6     -25.7      89

Total       1294.82    473.44   1561.7     3.03     304.7    414.67    -55.68     88

Starting with the bottom line, teams committed nearly 1.3 billion dollars to these free agents. The AAV was 473M. The overall cost efficiency was just over 3M per 10 VORP. The total “BPVal” was 415M which was nearly 56M below total AAV. That represents a 12% loss on investment.

Hitters (2.48M/10 VORP) were much more cost efficient than pitchers (4.09M/10 VORP), although the %AAV of the two groups were comparable. The worst group of pitchers in terms of cost efficiency and %AAV was clearly the “B” level starters. The worst group of hitters were the so-called elite hitters with AAVs of at least 10M.

Inexpensive players in both groups were all very cost efficient and good values in their aggregate groups, but the individual players rarely made significant on field contributions.

Table 2: Individual Players Sorted by WARP
               <2    2-2.9   3-3.9    4-4.9    5-5.9    6-6.9     7+    Total    %AAV
Pitchers
   Starters
         A       0      0       0        0        0        0        2      2       140    
         B       4      1       0        2        3        0        0     10        47
         C       5      4       1        0        3        1        0     14        86
       Tot       9      5       1        2        6        1        2     26        77

   Relievers    25      2       3        0        2        1        0     33       125 

   Total        34      7       4        2        8        2        2     59        87

Position
       >10       1      1       0        2        2        3        0      9        56  
     5-9.9       3      1       0        4        0        0        1      9        73
     2-4.9       4      0       5        2        2        1        0     14       142
        <2      24      3       2        4        0        1        0     34       147
       Tot      32      5       7       12        4        5        1     66        89

Total          66     12      11       14       12        7        3    125        88

I kept the “%AAV” column at the end to make the point that the inexpensive groups are very good values, despite not contributing to teams on field production in a significant way.

In general, WARP totals are somewhat inflated by a low replacement level. Players in the “<2” category and arguably the “2-2.9” category as well are probably best considered useful role players. Players in the “3-3.9” column can be reasonably considered solid contributors as regular players. Players in the “4-4.9” and “5-5.9” columns are good to very good regulars. Players in the “6-6.9” and “7+” columns had All Star caliber seasons.

Over 60% of all free agents fell into the first two “useful as a role player” columns. That includes roughly 75% of the “Releivers” and position players who were “<2M”. Both of these groups had very good aggregate “%AAV”, but most of the individual players were only somewhat useful. Only three relievers (Jones, Wickman, Hermanson) and one “<2M” position player (Counsell) exceeded 5 WARP.

Roughly 10-15% of the players fell into each of the next three columns. The best of the “B” starters topped out in this area of good production.

Just under 10% of the players cleared 6 WARP. Those players came from just about all of the sub-groups. There’s a “C” pitcher (Millwood), a reliever (Jones), three 10+M hitters (Delgado, Sexson, Varitek), a 2-4.9M hitter (Polanco) and a <2M hitter (Counsell).

The three 7+ WARP players are the two inner circle HoF “A” pitchers (Clemens and Martinez) and potential HoF 2B Jeff Kent.

I have one more of these looking at things at the team level that I’ll hopefully knock in the next couple of days.

#2 Eric Van


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Posted 06 November 2005 - 01:10 PM

WARP is based on VORP or RARP plus BP's defensive metric, right?

I'm not convinced that WARP isn't VORP / RARP (pretty good numbers) plus a whole lot of noise.

Edited by Eric Van, 06 November 2005 - 01:12 PM.


#3 philly sox fan


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Posted 07 November 2005 - 12:11 AM

WARP is based on VORP or RARP plus BP's defensive metric, right?

I'm not convinced that WARP isn't VORP / RARP (pretty good numbers) plus a whole lot of noise.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I'm pretty sure VORP is independent of the variaous "ARPs" that Davenport has created. Woolner created VORP before his involvement with BP and I beleive all of the metrics built off the VORP platform are separate from all of the metrics built off of DAvenport's Translations platform.

I also think Silver has mentioned that he uses a slightly tweaked WARP version in his PECOTA projections.

So BP has 2 or 2.5 completely independent systems that their writers pick and choose from for whatever columns and none of them are explicitly laid out (at least not in the glossary at the site).

I assume WARP is some combination of B(atting)RARP and F(ielding)RARP.

#4 bowiac


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Posted 07 November 2005 - 01:05 AM

WARP is based on VORP or RARP plus BP's defensive metric, right?

I'm not convinced that WARP isn't VORP / RARP (pretty good numbers) plus a whole lot of noise.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I'm convinced it is.

#5 Eric Van


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Posted 07 November 2005 - 03:36 AM

Let me also point out that my study of the FA market for hitters last year found a beautiful 3-2-1 weighted relationship of the last 3 seasons RARP to salary and no correlation whatsover of UZR. (I'm pleased to report that I've seen this mentioned in several places, most recently at BTF.) So the extra value gained or lost by a player's defense is something that is not being included in the market.

This sort of study of FA position players, I think, needs to be done in two parts. First use just RARP and proceed as above. A second, separate discussion tries to make a best guess about the defense of each player to give a sense of which GMs are taking advantage of the poor state of defensive metrics. Just tossing in any defensive metric -- let alone an arguably awful one like BP's -- misrepresents the way the market is working.

#6 Paul M


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Posted 07 November 2005 - 09:44 AM

How does win-shares correlate with respect to contract? Defense definitely can mean a lot and sometimes BP's defensive measures produce 3 or 4 extra wins in extreme cases.