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February 27, 2014

Painting the Black

Lessons from the Top 50 Free Agents List

by R.J. Anderson


Last March, I compared my free-agent rankings to the market. Since failure is a better teacher than success, and because the rankings were formed with each player's average annual value in mind, the exercise provided an idea of how to improve by identifying which players were incorrectly evaluated.

There were three takeaways from last year's recap. The most trivial concerned the list format and its tendency to understate the gap between the top free agents and the rest of the class. The other lessons dealt with the information asymmetry between teams and outsiders—namely when it comes to medicals, mechanical adjustments, or other tweaks that could lead to improved performance. Of course those additional insights don't grant teams infallibility: Brandon League and Jonathan Broxton, two pitchers used to make the point, went on to have poor seasons despite altering their mechanics and arsenals with their new teams.

Still, the health and sweat equity factors were considered when crafting this year's rankings*. Players with known injury concerns were debited points, while those who performed well due to a seeming change in profile were credited. In some cases (see Garza, Matt), the delta wasn't enough to reflect the real-world impact. But Joel Hanrahan, Paul Maholm, and others came in worse than otherwise expected—both on my list and how teams valued them this winter. On the flip side, James Loney, Mike Napoli, and Juan Uribe were treated like new men by their old teams, who put faith in their 2013 seasons. (Brian Sabean, never afraid of bringing his free agents back, deserves special mention, as he re-signed Tim Lincecum before the market doors opened, and later reunited with Javier Lopez and Ryan Vogelsong.)

*It's worth noting a few of the ranked free agents remain on the open market: no. 5 Ervin Santana, no. 10 Kendrys Morales, no. 19 Stephen Drew, and no. 40 Joel Hanrahan.

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Related Content:  Free Agents,  Transactions

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Overthinking It: Why E... (02/27)
<< Previous Column
Painting the Black: Ca... (02/19)
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Premium Article Painting the Black: Th... (03/03)
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Fantasy Article TTO Scoresheet Podcast... (02/28)

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