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December 17, 2007

6-4-3

Value Over Jack Cust

by Gary Huckabay

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There's a process to writing these pieces. I can't generally do things as quickly as most of the other writers here at BP; I used to be able to, but that's not a skill I managed to retain over time. However, one of the benefits of having a longer process in place is that I get a lot more feedback before the piece is published than I did previously; it's nice to have a few people who serve as crap detectors in the loop. If I'm overinflating something--as I'm wont to do to make a point--I find that out before it gets wide exposure. Similarly, if I'm making my most common error, which is failing to explain how I got from Point A to Point B, I hear that as well. But it's kind of like asking engineering to vet marketing copy. You might ask them just to review the technical specs to make sure everything's kosher, but they inevitably comment on other stuff, like the ad creative, or the overall communication strategy. In my experience, the worlds of these two groups don't mesh well together. Most technical people aren't really certain about what marketing people actually do, and most marketing people would prefer the technical folks stick to the technical stuff, and leave the marketing to those who know how to do it.

Which brings me to the column I intended to write.

I wanted to illustrate that most players are worth far less than is generally considered to be the case, particularly at the Luzinski end of the defensive spectrum. Why? Because replacement level is still much higher, at that end of the spectrum, than is generally expected, and also in the calculations we use here at BP. Replacement level can be calculated in the abstract, but sometimes, it can be vibrantly illustrated by a single roster move. The casual definition of replacement level is pretty much "a player that can be had at no or minimal cost, in a time of emergency." So if you've got a team that suddenly suffers a bunch of injuries during a season, or you have a portfolio of left-end spectrum guys with suspect durability, who can you dig up out of nowhere? Whoever that guy is--that's replacement level.

In 2007, replacement level for left field, DH, right field, and/or first base was Jack Cust: .256/.408/.504, with 6.2 WARP3. The A's went into 2007 with a portfolio of players with a high injury risk. They also went out and picked up some more high-risk, high upside in Chris Snelling. Snelling joined an outfield crew that already contained Mark Kotsay and his balky back, Ironman Shannon Stewart, the unlucky Travis Buck--who appeared to be 15-20 times as hard on his wrists as even Stephen Colbert--and a collection of porcelain dolls crafted in zero gravity. So, in the wake of the problems involved with employing that collection of talent, the A's front office went and got Cust for very little. Given the opportunity to play for a club that understands that strikeouts aren't the end of the world, Cust Phil Plantiered the ball all over the yard, drew his walks, and struck out more often than Will Carroll at the Spearmint Rhino.

When you take a look at the performance of players around the league, and change replacement level to match the performance of Cust, a huge number of players start to look very, very expensive. Here's a comprehensive list of players with a negative VOJC, Value Over Jack Cust. Sure, it's only looking at the offensive side of the ball, but it's not as if a lot of these guys don't have defensive deficiencies of their own, and we are talking about replacement level. Even if you just cherry pick a few of these contracts, it reveals an awful lot of room for improvement in a few select front offices.


Name                PA   PA%   MLVr RepLvl  VORPr  EffG    MLV   VORP    VOJC
----------------- ---- ----- ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
Alfonso Soriano    617  .098   .214   .228  -.014  143.5   30.7   42.4    0.1
Mike Lowell        653  .102   .227   .228  -.000  148.2   33.7   46.2   -0.4
Victor Martinez    645  .101   .222   .228  -.006  147.7   32.8   54.6   -0.8
Brad Hawpe         606  .093   .230   .228   .002  136.0   31.4   37.7   -0.9
Aaron Rowand       684  .105   .222   .228  -.006  152.6   33.8   52.3   -0.9
Chone Figgins      503  .081   .177   .228  -.051  118.3   20.9   36.0   -0.9
Jayson Werth       304  .047   .188   .228  -.040   67.8   12.8   18.4   -1.2
Jack Cust          507  .080   .228   .228   .000  116.1   26.4   32.4   -1.2
Placido Polanco    641  .101   .212   .228  -.016  146.9   31.1   48.6   -2.1
Manny Ramirez      569  .089   .204   .228  -.023  129.1   26.4   34.4   -3.0
Lance Berkman      668  .106   .206   .228  -.022  154.0   31.7   42.3   -3.1
Scott Hatteberg    417  .066   .190   .228  -.037   96.0   18.3   25.3   -3.6
Carlos Lee         697  .110   .204   .228  -.023  160.7   32.9   42.8   -3.7
Jeremy Hermida     484  .076   .206   .228  -.021  111.2   23.0   27.5   -3.9
Travis Buck        334  .052   .166   .228  -.062   76.5   12.7   17.7   -4.1
Pat Burrell        598  .091   .197   .228  -.031  133.4   26.2   34.7   -4.2
Yunel Escobar      355  .056   .179   .228  -.049   81.2   14.5   24.5   -4.3
Carl Crawford      627  .100   .136   .228  -.092  145.6   19.8   37.8   -4.3
Jeff Kent          562  .089   .204   .228  -.024  130.4   26.6   40.5   -4.6
Ryan Spilborghs    300  .046   .133   .228  -.095   67.3    9.0   16.6   -5.8
Grady Sizemore     748  .117   .168   .228  -.060  171.3   28.8   53.4   -6.3
Derek Jeter        714  .109   .185   .228  -.043  159.5   29.5   52.9   -7.1
Carlos Guillen     630  .099   .179   .228  -.048  144.3   25.9   44.7   -7.9
Nick Markakis      710  .113   .167   .228  -.061  165.3   27.6   38.1   -8.2
Nate McLouth       382  .061   .063   .228  -.165   89.6    5.6   21.8   -8.8
Garret Anderson    450  .073   .141   .228  -.086  105.9   15.0   21.9   -8.8
Hideki Matsui      634  .097   .165   .228  -.063  141.6   23.3   32.2   -8.9
Ken Griffey Jr.    623  .098   .155   .228  -.072  143.5   22.3   31.3   -9.2
Brian Roberts      716  .114   .107   .228  -.120  166.7   17.9   48.4   -9.2
Ryan Garko         541  .085   .157   .228  -.071  123.9   19.5   27.6   -9.4
Howie Kendrick     353  .057   .124   .228  -.104   83.0   10.3   19.1   -9.5
Gary Sheffield     593  .093   .131   .228  -.097  135.9   17.8   30.2   -9.5
Mike Lamb          353  .056   .110   .228  -.118   81.4    8.9   16.1   -9.6
Alex Rios          711  .115   .154   .228  -.074  167.3   25.8   38.7   -9.6
Casey Kotchman     508  .082   .161   .228  -.067  119.5   19.2   26.0   -9.8
Dustin Pedroia     581  .090   .142   .228  -.086  131.8   18.7   35.7   -9.8
Russell Martin     620  .099   .150   .228  -.077  143.9   21.6   46.4  -10.2
Luke Scott         425  .067   .118   .228  -.109   98.0   11.6   17.7  -10.4
Adrian Gonzalez    720  .114   .162   .228  -.066  165.9   27.0   38.6  -11.0
Robinson Cano      669  .102   .163   .228  -.065  149.4   24.4   40.2  -11.4
Kevin Youkilis     625  .097   .147   .228  -.081  141.8   20.8   30.9  -11.5
Franklin Gutierrez 301  .047   .052   .228  -.176   68.9    3.6    8.3  -11.5
Mark Reynolds      414  .068   .114   .228  -.113   98.9   11.3   19.3  -11.8
Frank Thomas       624  .101   .147   .228  -.081  146.8   21.6   31.3  -11.9
Cliff Floyd        322  .051   .066   .228  -.162   74.9    4.9    9.7  -12.1
Joe Mauer          472  .077   .106   .228  -.122  111.7   11.8   30.0  -12.1
Raul Ibanez        636  .102   .145   .228  -.082  149.3   21.7   31.0  -12.3
Chris Duncan       432  .070   .104   .228  -.124  101.4   10.5   17.4  -12.6
Ryan Ludwick       339  .055   .083   .228  -.145   79.6    6.6   11.0  -12.7
Jason Giambi       303  .046   .034   .228  -.194   67.7    2.3    7.2  -12.8
Marlon Byrd        454  .073   .109   .228  -.119  106.5   11.6   21.1  -13.0
Josh Willingham    604  .095   .120   .228  -.108  138.8   16.6   27.1  -13.2
Norris Hopper      335  .053   .049   .228  -.179   77.1    3.8   12.7  -13.2
Garrett Atkins     684  .105   .139   .228  -.088  153.5   21.5   35.1  -13.3
Troy Glaus         456  .074   .109   .228  -.119  107.3   11.7   20.3  -13.4
Conor Jackson      477  .078   .114   .228  -.113  114.0   13.0   20.7  -13.5
Billy Butler       360  .059   .068   .228  -.160   85.5    5.8   11.5  -13.7
Eric Byrnes        699  .115   .080   .228  -.148  167.0   13.3   35.3  -13.9
Travis Hafner      661  .104   .137   .228  -.090  151.4   20.8   30.5  -14.0
Torii Hunter       650  .106   .133   .228  -.095  153.8   20.4   38.9  -14.6
Rickie Weeks       506  .081   .050   .228  -.178  118.3    5.9   26.2  -14.7
Kelly Johnson      608  .095   .123   .228  -.105  139.1   17.1   33.3  -14.9
Shawn Green        491  .077   .069   .228  -.158  112.8    7.8   16.8  -15.2
Juan Encarnacion   307  .049   .024   .228  -.203   72.1    1.8    5.1  -15.2
Shane Victorino    510  .078   .022   .228  -.206  113.7    2.5   17.1  -15.3
Greg Dobbs         358  .055   .024   .228  -.204   79.8    1.9   10.0  -15.4
Willy Taveras      408  .063   .010   .228  -.218   91.5    0.9   16.4  -15.4
Jose Guillen       659  .106   .121   .228  -.107  154.7   18.7   27.8  -15.6
Nick Swisher       659  .104   .125   .228  -.102  151.0   18.9   31.3  -15.7
Maicer Izturis     374  .060   .030   .228  -.198   88.0    2.6   12.9  -15.9
Bobby Abreu        699  .107   .107   .228  -.121  156.1   16.7   27.7  -16.2
Ryan Church        530  .085   .099   .228  -.128  124.6   12.4   22.3  -16.3
Orlando Hudson     601  .099   .099   .228  -.128  143.6   14.3   33.0  -16.6
Xavier Nady        470  .076   .072   .228  -.156  110.3    7.9   15.1  -16.9
Miguel Tejada      569  .091   .095   .228  -.133  132.4   12.6   31.6  -17.6
Wily Mo Pena       317  .050  -.014   .228  -.241   73.1   -1.0    4.1  -17.6
Josh Bard          443  .070   .061   .228  -.167  102.1    6.2   22.6  -17.7
Ian Kinsler        566  .091   .047   .228  -.180  132.8    6.3   27.6  -18.3
Kazuo Matsui       453  .070  -.023   .228  -.251  101.6   -2.4   16.9  -18.3
Justin Morneau     668  .108   .113   .228  -.114  158.1   17.9   28.6  -18.4
Brandon Phillips   702  .111   .084   .228  -.144  161.6   13.6   37.4  -18.4
Kevin Mench        308  .049  -.035   .228  -.262   72.0   -2.5    2.6  -18.6
Jonny Gomes        394  .063   .011   .228  -.217   91.5    1.0    7.9  -18.6
Kenny Lofton       559  .089   .063   .228  -.164  130.0    8.3   24.3  -18.7
Adrian Beltre      639  .103   .083   .228  -.144  150.1   12.5   28.4  -18.7
Frank Catalanotto  377  .061   .016   .228  -.212   88.5    1.4    7.2  -18.7
Jason Kubel        466  .076   .044   .228  -.184  110.3    4.9   13.4  -18.8
Ross Gload         346  .056   .005   .228  -.223   82.2    0.4    5.6  -18.9
Randy Winn         653  .105   .085   .228  -.142  153.2   13.1   26.6  -19.1
Jose Vidro         625  .101   .096   .228  -.132  146.8   14.0   24.2  -19.4
Luis Gonzalez      526  .084   .064   .228  -.164  122.1    7.8   16.1  -19.4
Andre Ethier       507  .081   .081   .228  -.147  117.7    9.6   13.9  -19.6
Alex Gonzalez      430  .068   .034   .228  -.194   99.0    3.4   17.5  -19.8
Jose Reyes         765  .121   .054   .228  -.174  175.8    9.4   46.4  -19.8
Troy Tulowitzki    682  .105   .108   .228  -.120  153.0   16.6   38.0  -19.8
Mike Piazza        329  .052  -.035   .228  -.263   75.4   -2.7    2.4  -19.8
Paul Konerko       636  .104   .101   .228  -.127  151.9   15.3   25.3  -19.9
Edwin Encarnacion  560  .088   .058   .228  -.170  128.9    7.4   20.4  -20.1
Kevin Kouzmanoff   534  .084   .062   .228  -.166  123.1    7.6   18.8  -20.1
J.D. Drew          552  .086   .063   .228  -.165  125.2    7.9   15.0  -20.6
Brad Wilkerson     389  .063  -.006   .228  -.233   91.3   -0.5    6.1  -20.7
Mike Jacobs        460  .073   .038   .228  -.190  105.7    4.0   10.6  -21.0
J. Saltalamacchia  329  .052  -.048   .228  -.276   76.3   -3.7    5.5  -21.0
So Taguchi         340  .055  -.034   .228  -.262   79.8   -2.7    5.6  -21.2
Rob Mackowiak      329  .054  -.054   .228  -.282   78.1   -4.3    1.6  -21.4
Chris Snyder       380  .062  -.003   .228  -.231   90.8   -0.3   14.2  -21.6
Reggie Willits     518  .084   .023   .228  -.205  121.9    2.8   15.2  -21.6
Mark Grudzielanek  486  .079   .045   .228  -.182  115.4    5.2   18.0  -21.9
David Eckstein     484  .078   .013   .228  -.214  113.6    1.5   20.8  -22.0
Jack Wilson        535  .086   .070   .228  -.158  125.5    8.8   25.0  -22.2
Mark DeRosa        574  .092   .066   .228  -.162  133.5    8.8   21.4  -22.5
Eric Chavez        379  .060  -.033   .228  -.260   86.8   -2.8    4.6  -22.6
Josh Fields        418  .068   .004   .228  -.224   99.9    0.4    8.1  -22.7
Geoff Jenkins      464  .074   .024   .228  -.204  108.5    2.6    8.9  -22.7
Michael Young      692  .111   .074   .228  -.153  162.4   12.1   37.8  -22.8
Willie Harris      391  .061  -.013   .228  -.240   89.4   -1.1    4.0  -23.0
Jason Varitek      518  .081   .039   .228  -.189  117.5    4.6   23.3  -23.1
Michael Cuddyer    623  .101   .061   .228  -.167  147.4    9.0   18.3  -23.1
Ryan Klesko        411  .066  -.024   .228  -.252   96.4   -2.3    5.5  -23.4
Jason Tyner        328  .053  -.085   .228  -.312   77.6   -6.6   -0.5  -23.6
Brendan Harris     576  .092   .046   .228  -.182  133.7    6.1   25.0  -23.7
Morgan Ensberg     324  .051  -.083   .228  -.311   74.7   -6.2    0.2  -23.8
Gregg Zaun         391  .063  -.031   .228  -.259   92.0   -2.9   12.4  -23.8
Sammy Sosa         454  .073  -.001   .228  -.228  106.5   -0.1    6.9  -24.3
Adam LaRoche       632  .102   .065   .228  -.162  148.3    9.7   19.7  -24.4
Sean Casey         496  .078   .018   .228  -.210  113.6    2.1    9.5  -24.4
Kevin Millar       562  .090   .043   .228  -.185  130.8    5.6   14.3  -24.4
Ronnie Belliard    557  .090   .033   .228  -.194  131.0    4.4   20.7  -24.6
Johnny Damon       605  .093  -.001   .228  -.229  135.1   -0.1   17.7  -24.6
Brian Giles        552  .087   .053   .228  -.175  127.2    6.8   11.2  -24.6
Carlos Ruiz        429  .066  -.042   .228  -.270   95.7   -4.1   13.1  -24.6
Melvin Mora        527  .084   .015   .228  -.212  122.7    1.9   13.3  -25.2
Freddy Sanchez     653  .105   .067   .228  -.160  153.2   10.3   27.7  -25.2
Akinori Iwamura    559  .089   .040   .228  -.187  129.8    5.2   15.2  -25.5
Kenji Johjima      513  .083   .026   .228  -.202  120.5    3.1   22.0  -25.5
Jermaine Dye       561  .092   .037   .228  -.191  134.0    5.0   12.1  -25.6
Ty Wigginton       604  .096   .055   .228  -.173  139.9    7.7   18.9  -25.7
Dan Johnson        495  .078   .001   .228  -.227  113.4    0.1    8.0  -25.7
Carlos Delgado     607  .096   .034   .228  -.194  139.5    4.7   15.6  -25.9
Aubrey Huff        603  .096   .044   .228  -.183  140.4    6.2   15.7  -26.0
Aaron Hill         657  .106   .060   .228  -.168  154.6    9.2   26.9  -26.6
Jeff Francoeur     696  .109   .058   .228  -.169  159.2    9.3   18.0  -26.7
Brian McCann       552  .087   .020   .228  -.208  126.3    2.5   22.9  -26.9
Esteban German     405  .066  -.043   .228  -.270   96.2   -4.1    5.1  -26.9
Wes Helms          308  .047  -.165   .228  -.393   68.7  -11.3   -5.1  -27.0
Mark Ellis         642  .101   .042   .228  -.186  147.1    6.1   23.8  -27.1
Trot Nixon         354  .056  -.107   .228  -.335   81.1   -8.7   -4.1  -27.1
Yadier Molina      396  .064  -.061   .228  -.289   93.0   -5.7    9.5  -27.2
Dave Roberts       443  .071  -.094   .228  -.322  104.0   -9.8    8.6  -27.2
Marco Scutaro      379  .060  -.088   .228  -.316   86.8   -7.7    2.5  -27.4
Nook Logan         350  .056  -.156   .228  -.384   82.3  -12.8    1.1  -27.7
Dan Uggla          728  .115   .062   .228  -.166  167.3   10.3   30.0  -27.8
Tadahito Iguchi    533  .086  -.022   .228  -.249  124.7   -2.7   15.1  -28.1
Geoff Blum         370  .058  -.104   .228  -.331   85.3   -8.9    1.2  -28.2
Scott Rolen        441  .071  -.044   .228  -.271  103.5   -4.5    4.1  -28.4
Ryan Freel         304  .048  -.178   .228  -.405   70.0  -12.4   -4.7  -28.7
Jim Edmonds        411  .066  -.058   .228  -.286   96.5   -5.6    5.0  -28.8
Mark Teahen        608  .099   .020   .228  -.208  144.4    2.9   11.9  -29.1
Ryan Zimmerman     722  .116   .052   .228  -.175  169.8    8.9   24.1  -29.1
Ramon Hernandez    409  .065  -.063   .228  -.291   95.2   -6.0    8.3  -29.2
Adam Lind          311  .050  -.160   .228  -.388   73.2  -11.7   -7.9  -29.3
J.J. Hardy         638  .102   .038   .228  -.190  149.1    5.7   26.6  -29.5
Jhonny Peralta     647  .102   .036   .228  -.192  148.2    5.3   26.1  -29.6
John Buck          399  .065  -.079   .228  -.307   94.7   -7.5    7.7  -29.7
Casey Blake        662  .104   .043   .228  -.185  151.6    6.5   17.5  -29.8
Jacque Jones       495  .079  -.032   .228  -.260  115.1   -3.7    7.6  -29.9
Orlando Cabrera    701  .113   .022   .228  -.206  164.9    3.5   31.5  -30.4
Shannon Stewart    630  .099   .004   .228  -.224  144.3    0.5   11.2  -30.8
Scott Thorman      307  .048  -.213   .228  -.440   70.2  -14.9   -9.7  -31.2
Mark Loretta       511  .081  -.030   .228  -.258  117.8   -3.6    9.8  -31.3
Ramon Vazquez      345  .056  -.164   .228  -.392   80.9  -13.3   -5.0  -31.4
Rich Aurilia       358  .058  -.146   .228  -.374   84.0  -12.3   -4.8  -31.4
Gary Matthews Jr.  579  .093  -.027   .228  -.254  136.2   -3.6   15.7  -31.7
Josh Wilson        310  .049  -.223   .228  -.450   72.0  -16.0   -5.6  -31.8
Austin Kearns      674  .109   .030   .228  -.198  158.5    4.7   12.6  -32.0
Mike Cameron       651  .103  -.002   .228  -.229  150.0   -0.2   20.5  -32.0
Luis Castillo      615  .099  -.009   .228  -.237  143.9   -1.4   17.7  -32.0
Nomar Garciaparra  466  .074  -.073   .228  -.300  108.2   -7.8    0.8  -32.2
Reed Johnson       307  .050  -.222   .228  -.450   72.2  -16.1  -11.6  -32.5
Corey Patterson    503  .080  -.099   .228  -.326  117.1  -11.6    8.4  -32.5
Darin Erstad       346  .057  -.180   .228  -.408   82.7  -14.9   -6.1  -32.8
Nelson Cruz        333  .054  -.170   .228  -.397   78.1  -13.2  -10.7  -32.8
Jerry Owens        389  .064  -.182   .228  -.410   92.9  -16.9   -1.0  -33.3
Yun. Betancourt    559  .090  -.019   .228  -.247  131.3   -2.5   16.1  -33.3
Bengie Molina      517  .083  -.047   .228  -.275  121.3   -5.7   14.5  -33.4
Alfredo Amezaga    448  .071  -.096   .228  -.323  103.0   -9.8    2.9  -33.6
Chris Burke        363  .057  -.186   .228  -.414   83.7  -15.6   -5.6  -33.7
Khalil Greene      659  .104  -.005   .228  -.233  151.9   -0.8   23.1  -34.2
Ivan Rodriguez     515  .081  -.058   .228  -.285  118.0   -6.8   12.1  -34.3
Craig Counsell     334  .054  -.212   .228  -.439   78.1  -16.5   -7.4  -34.3
Bill Hall          503  .081  -.049   .228  -.277  117.6   -5.8    6.8  -34.3
David Ross         348  .055  -.204   .228  -.432   80.1  -16.4   -3.0  -34.6
Paul Lo Duca       487  .077  -.087   .228  -.315  111.9   -9.7    9.2  -34.6
Yorvit Torrealba   443  .068  -.121   .228  -.348   99.4  -12.1    4.6  -34.6
Johnny Estrada     464  .074  -.093   .228  -.321  108.5  -10.1    7.8  -34.8
Aaron Miles        449  .072  -.103   .228  -.331  105.4  -10.9    2.7  -34.9
Coco Crisp         591  .092  -.069   .228  -.297  134.1   -9.2   11.8  -35.0
Jose Bautista      614  .099  -.020   .228  -.247  144.1   -2.8    9.2  -35.6
Michael Barrett    367  .058  -.185   .228  -.413   85.1  -15.8   -2.2  -35.7
Jason Bartlett     570  .093  -.078   .228  -.305  134.9  -10.5   14.7  -36.1
Emil Brown         397  .065  -.182   .228  -.409   94.3  -17.1   -8.9  -36.2
Cesar Izturis      337  .054  -.222   .228  -.449   78.7  -17.4   -7.0  -36.2
Chris Young        624  .102  -.047   .228  -.275  149.1   -7.0   15.6  -36.5
Melky Cabrera      612  .094  -.049   .228  -.276  136.7   -6.7    9.7  -36.9
Lyle Overbay       476  .077  -.108   .228  -.335  112.0  -12.1   -3.6  -37.0
Brad Ausmus        397  .063  -.194   .228  -.421   91.5  -17.7   -1.4  -37.4
Ronny Paulino      494  .079  -.092   .228  -.319  115.9  -10.6    8.1  -37.6
Jason Bay          614  .099  -.039   .228  -.267  144.1   -5.6    3.9  -37.8
Adam Kennedy       306  .049  -.311   .228  -.538   71.8  -22.3  -13.2  -38.1
Bobby Crosby       374  .059  -.239   .228  -.466   85.7  -20.4   -5.9  -38.1
A.J. Pierzynski    509  .083  -.086   .228  -.313  121.6  -10.4    9.5  -38.4
John McDonald      353  .057  -.246   .228  -.474   83.1  -20.5   -7.8  -38.5
Jay Payton         470  .075  -.145   .228  -.372  109.4  -15.8   -8.0  -40.4
Delmon Young       681  .108  -.037   .228  -.264  158.1   -5.8    5.7  -40.6
Richie Sexson      491  .079  -.134   .228  -.361  115.3  -15.4   -7.0  -41.4
Alex Gordon        601  .098  -.076   .228  -.303  142.7  -10.8    3.1  -41.5
Brian Schneider    477  .077  -.145   .228  -.373  112.2  -16.3    2.4  -41.8
Miguel Olivo       469  .074  -.161   .228  -.389  107.8  -17.4    0.3  -42.2
Juan Pierre        729  .116  -.086   .228  -.313  169.2  -14.5   16.3  -42.8
Dioner Navarro     434  .069  -.209   .228  -.436  100.8  -21.0   -3.9  -43.7
Ryan Theriot       597  .095  -.134   .228  -.362  138.9  -18.6    6.6  -44.3
Rafael Furcal      643  .102  -.095   .228  -.323  149.2  -14.2   11.9  -44.3
Brandon Inge       577  .091  -.122   .228  -.350  132.2  -16.1   -3.2  -44.7
Pedro Feliz        590  .095  -.101   .228  -.329  138.5  -14.0   -2.7  -46.1
David DeJesus      703  .114  -.054   .228  -.281  166.9   -9.0   11.9  -46.4
Marcus Giles       476  .075  -.208   .228  -.436  109.7  -23.0   -8.8  -46.6
Craig Monroe       427  .067  -.225   .228  -.453   98.0  -22.1  -18.0  -46.8
Andruw Jones       659  .103  -.087   .228  -.315  150.7  -13.2    5.4  -47.2
Josh Barfield      444  .070  -.263   .228  -.490  101.7  -26.7  -13.5  -48.7
Gerald Laird       448  .072  -.243   .228  -.471  105.1  -25.6   -7.4  -48.9
Vernon Wells       642  .104  -.108   .228  -.336  151.0  -16.4    2.6  -50.1
Craig Biggio       555  .088  -.166   .228  -.393  128.0  -21.2   -6.8  -50.9
Stephen Drew       619  .101  -.148   .228  -.376  147.9  -21.9    2.7  -52.9
Ray Durham         528  .085  -.219   .228  -.447  123.9  -27.2  -10.6  -53.6
Julio Lugo         630  .098  -.201   .228  -.429  142.9  -28.7   -1.2  -55.0
Jose Lopez         561  .090  -.181   .228  -.409  131.7  -23.9   -9.6  -55.1
Tony Pena          536  .087  -.191   .228  -.419  127.3  -24.3   -7.5  -55.4
Jason Kendall      514  .081  -.239   .228  -.466  118.4  -28.3  -10.0  -56.7
Juan Uribe         563  .092  -.163   .228  -.391  134.5  -21.9   -7.1  -57.7
Felipe Lopez       671  .108  -.150   .228  -.378  157.8  -23.7    0.2  -57.8
Omar Vizquel       575  .093  -.221   .228  -.448  134.9  -29.8   -9.1  -59.9

Some of this is pretty straightforward and straight out of the BP Glossary, but to help out, EffG is the number of games the guy effectively played, RepLvl is Replacement Level, and VOJC is Value Over Jack Cust--or in this case, how much less valuable than replacement level set at Jack Cust's level that these guys were last year.

I think addressing the bar for replacement level this year is an interesting point, and a pretty reasonable base for a column. But of course, when I cycle the column around to get some feedback on how it reads, I inevitably get feedback of the unsolicited and unwanted variety, not unlike your typical metrosexual hanging over their mechanic's shoulder. So naturally, one person had to offer this:

Hi, Gary. You make a great point about Cust, and it's a pretty well written column. But I think it's probably not something you actually want to write. This drives home the point of exactly how wrong you were in your column a couple of months ago. How could anyone derive this kind of advantage on the AAAA front if, as you claim in your first return column, baseball analysis is really dead? Looks to me like you're dead right here, and completely dead wrong in your earlier column. I also don't see a way you can reconcile the two. I said it initially, and I'll repeat it here: Your first column about baseball analysis being dead is completely and totally inaccurate. You've lost the trees for the forest, and that's why BP continues to bleed talent, and why you still get that phone ringing. Write a different column. I'd love to see the price-adjusted attendance stuff you were talking about, and how that's driving seemingly illogical contracts.

I followed the advice David Nieporent gave me a long time ago, and didn't immediately respond to this particular point. I let it stew for a while, and then responded with something along the lines of "Let's assume you're right, without me conceding the point yet. What did I miss in the first column?" To which I received this response:

I think it's that there's so much difference between all the clubs, in terms of how things work, and how skewed your sample is. Your network has a few guys who don't see things similarly to you, but mostly, you talk to a big echo chamber. Just like that person mentioned in the interview you did, we all have our group of people we talk to, and you're more likely to talk to someone like James Click or Bill James than someone like Gary Hughes. I'm not making any judgments, but I am pointing out that you can end up with a pretty colored picture, and anyone is likely to make mistakes on large scope statements when they're generalizing from a skewed sample.

I let this sit a while as well, and invested some time assembling some cheap Ikea crap for my office. (One of the cool things about working for BP is that you can justify and deduct a 50" LCD TV and all the MLB you can stand on the MLB TV and DirecTV platforms. My office has no space for anything like a desk--just a TV, a nice audio setup, as well as about seven guitars and a couple of amps, a Fender Blues Jr., and a Mesa/Boogie Lonestar.)

I haven't figured out a way to end up right in both cases, so I'm going to just keep stewing on it until I somehow resolve that. But I'm definitely right on one thing--paying someone like Dmitri Young $5 million a year is just nuts when there are still creatures of the Jack Cust or, say, the Mark Leonard variety out there for little or no cost. Now I just have to figure out how one can do that within the relatively strict constraints I made in that column a few months back, and I'll be able to sleep again.

Gary Huckabay is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Gary's other articles. You can contact Gary by clicking here

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