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2004/5 FA Review - Comparison of 04&05 performance


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#1 philly sox fan


  • SoSH Member


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Posted 16 November 2005 - 07:49 PM

In one of my previous 2004/05 free agent value posts someone made a comment that made me interested to look at a comparison of the top 2004/05 free agents in 2004 (pre-FA) and 2005 (first year post-FA).

I looked at every free agent that signed a contract that totaled at least 10M or that had an AAV of 5M. Those criteria left me with a group of 30 players. The columns in the following table are:

Total – total guaranteed contract in millions

WARP1 – BP’s measure of productivity expressed in wins above replacement

Cost or AAV – cost is the player’s 2004 salary, AAV is the annual average value of the free agent contract. I end up comparing these two columns which isn’t quite like comparing apples to oranges. It’s more like oranges to tangerines or something, but it wasn’t worth it ti figure out AAVs for all the old contracts.

BPVal – is a valuation method recently developed by Nate Silver

WARP-Diff – is 2005 WARP1 minus 2004 WARP1. A positive number means the player was more productive in 2005.

I split the players into three groups by WARP-Diff – greater or equal to 1.0 WARP, between -1 and 1 WARP and less than -1 WARP. Roughly, that should correspond to players that improved (nine total), players that stayed the same (twelve total) and players that declined (nineteen total).

                        2004                        2005
Player        Total     WARP1    Cost    BPVal      WARP1    AAV     BPVal     WARP-Diff
Sexson,R       50.0      1.2      8.7     0.79       6.5    12.5     11.6         5.3
Millwood,K      7.0      2.4     11.0     2.19       6.4     7.0     11.29        4.0
Lowe,D         36.0      2.2      4.5     1.92       5.4     9.0      8.38        3.2
Glaus,T        45.0      2.0      9.9     1.66       5.0    11.25     7.33        3.0
Eckstein,D     10.25     2.8      2.2     2.79       5.6     3.42     8.93        2.8
Byrd,P          5.0      2.7      7.0     2.64       5.5     5.0      8.65        2.8
Clemens,R      18.0      7.8      5.0    16.08      10.4    18.0     27.2         2.6
Cabrera,O      32.0      2.2      6.0     1.92       4.1     8.0      5.23        1.9
Dye,J          10.15     3.6     11.7     4.21       4.6     5.075    6.35        1.0


                         2004                        2005
Player        Total     WARP1    Cost    BPVal      WARP1    AAV     BPVal     WARP-Diff
Matheny,M      10.5      3.0      4.0     3.12       3.7     3.5      4.4         0.7
Ordonez,O      75.0      1.6     14.0     1.19       2.3    15.0      2.05        0.7
Delgado,C      52.0      6.2     19.7    10.67       6.7    13.0     12.25        0.5
Wells,D        13.0      4.7      6.0     6.59       5.2     9.0      7.85        0.5
Vizquel,O      12.25     4.6      6.0     6.35       5.1     4.08     7.59        0.5
Lieber,J       21.0      4.7      2.7     6.59       5.1     7.0      7.59        0.4
Benson,K       22.5      4.1      6.2     5.23       4.3     7.5      5.66        0.2
Martinez,P     53.0      7.8     17.5    16.08       7.9    13.25    16.46        0.1
Kent,J         17.0      7.6     10.0    15.35       7.4     8.5     14.63       -0.2
Clement,M      25.5      5.3      6.0     8.11       4.8     8.5      6.83       -0.5
Koskie,C       17.0      2.9      4.5     2.96       2.3     5.67     2.08       -0.6
Burnitz,J       5.0      5.3      1.3     8.11       4.6     5.0      6.35       -0.7


                         2004                        2005
Player        Total     WARP1    Cost    BPVal      WARP1    AAV     BPVal     WARP-Diff
Williams,W     12.0      3.7      8.0     4.4        2.4     7.0      2.19       -1.3
Renteria,E     40.0      3.3      7.3     3.64       1.8    10.0      1.41       -1.5
Alou,M         13.25     6.4      9.5    11.29       4.77    6.625    6.59       -1.7
Garciaparra     8.0      2.6     11.5     2.48       0.9     8.0      0.53       -1.7
Radke,B        18.0      7.4     10.8    14.63       5.2     9.0      7.85       -2.2
Hidalgo,R       5.0      3.2     12.5     3.47       0.7     5.0      0.39       -2.5
Perez,O        24.0      4.7      5.0     6.59       2.0     8.0      1.66       -2.7
Milton,E       25.5      3.5      9.0     4.01       0.1     8.5      0.04       -3.4
Percival,T     12.0      4.0      7.8     5.01       0.6     6.0      0.32       -3.4
Beltran,C     119.0      8.9      9.0    20.43       5.0    17.0      7.33       -3.9
Finley,S       14.0      5.1      7.0     7.59       1.1     7.0      0.7        -4.0
Ortiz,R        33.0      4.7      6.2     6.59       0.5     8.25     0.25       -4.2
Guzman,C       16.8      4.3      3.7     5.66      -0.2     4.2     -0.07       -4.5
Wright,J       21.0      5.3      0.9     8.11       0.1     7.0      0.04       -5.2
Leiter,A        8.0      6.1     10.3    10.37       0.7     8.0      0.39       -5.4
Drew,JD        55.0     10.1      4.2    25.77       4.3    11.0      5.66       -5.8
Benitez,A      21.5      7.5      3.5    14.99       1.5     7.167    1.08       -6.0
Beltre,A       64.0     11.1      5.0    30.68       4.1    12.8      5.23       -7.0
Pavano,C       39.95     8.2      3.8    17.6        1.0     9.99     0.62       -7.2
Total                  194.8    298.7   327.9      149.4   339.8    230.9       -45.4
                           %Cost: 110                   %AAV: 68

Starting with the group total at the bottom, we see that the players produced 194.8 WARP in 2004 at a cost of 298.7M. The BPVal of that production is 327.9M. The players produced 110% of their cost.

The same players produced just 149.4 WARP in 2005 at an increased cost of 339.8M. The BPVal of that production is 230.9M. The players produced just 68% of their AAV.

And in short, that’s the problem with trying to build a quality team with free agents. Teams generally end up paying players based on what they did in the past and then hope that the players keep repeating that performance for the duration of their contracts. The 2004 BPVal of these players was 328M. Their 2005 AAV was 340M. I’m sure that narrow gap is partially just a coincidence, but it wouldn’t surprise me if most years free agents are paid about what their most recent performances were worth. Since many of the players were coming off unusually good years it isn’t much of a surprise that they, as a group, could not sustain their 2004 performances.

I’m actually a little surprised that increase in 2004 Cost to 2005 AAV is “only” 40M. I think that’s because when I think of free agents as a class I usually think of them as first time free agents moving from single team salary restrictive arbitration to multi-team free agency auctions. This group of players includes a large number of older players who were already playing on post-free agent service time contracts. Many of these players had their salaries change very little or go down because they were considered too old and fragile for a big money contract (eg, Matheny, Vizquel) or because they were coming of backloaded pre-market correction contracts (eg, Delgado, Pedro).

It’s really the young, first time free agents that can have huge pay spikes. For example, Beltran, Drew, Beltre and Pavano combined to make 22.0M in 2004. In 2005, they combined to make 50.79M in the first year of deals totaling 277.95M. And, of course, their production dropped from 38.3 WARP to 14.4 WARP. Their cost increased by 132% and their production decreased by 62%. Now a couple of those players had fluke year written all over them, but any time a player’s salary spikes so dramatically the team ends up in a position of hoping that the player maintains his production and the team breaks even, but there’s plenty of downside.