CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Checking the Numbers: ... (01/11)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Ahead in the Count: Se... (01/04)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Ahead in the Count: Re... (01/18)
Next Article >>
Premium Article How Do Baseball Player... (01/11)

January 11, 2010

Ahead in the Count

Part 2 of Service-time Contracts and Wins

by Matt Swartz

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

Last week, we looked at the 2009 season by breaking down WARP3 totals of players with different levels of service time. This week, I'll use more data from Jeff Euston's Cot's Contracts-the latest free agency acquisition by the Prospectus team-and gathered the same information for 2007 and 2008. At this stage, Jeff does not have reliable data for service time prior to this, but this was enough to get a much clearer picture of how to build and afford a winning team, and how the market has changed even over the last few years.

To recap last week's work, I considered how many wins teams were able to generate from players who had not yet reached arbitration eligibility (and thus were paid the major-league minimum), how many wins teams were able to generate from players who were arbitration-eligible (but not yet eligible for free agency), and how many wins teams were able to generate from free agency-eligible players. I separated these categories further by combining players who would not yet be free agency-eligible if they were unsigned at the end of the season, and players who would. The former group mostly consisted of all players who had less than six years of service time, and the latter group mostly consisted of all players who had more than six years of service time. The one exception is players from Japan and other Asian countries who can be free agents without reaching six years of major-league service or who have their contracts posted, in which case they are still bid for like free agents, with the primary difference being that their former team recovers value via auction.

Looking through the 2009 data, we found that it was nearly impossible to put together a playoff team by simply going for broke on free agency-eligible (i.e. "auction market" or AM) talent. The exception was the Yankees, who were able to generate 46 WARP3 from players with six years of service time or more, which would have been enough to put even the worst talent-developing teams into the playoffs. Other playoff teams needed to have some cost-controlled, or "non-market," talent.

This is an important finding, because we can identify what teams are realistically able to accomplish with free-agent talent, how much talent teams can develop on their own, and how they can build a winner. In the last several articles, I've asked the question of how a bad team can become a good team. The first question from a few weeks ago was to ask whether they should bid for free-agent talent. Free agents are bid for in an auction format, which means that to sign a free agent, you pretty much need to bid more than everyone else most of the time. In cases where teams have outside shots at the playoffs, and when the player in question is also someone who can be traded easily at the trade deadline, a short-term contract for a free agent can be worth the money. Long-term contracts can be crippling, as I pointed out subsequently; the best value comes early in these deals, as players get less productive as the contract wears on. Thus, it is not wise to bid for most free agents in the expectation that you'll be counting on them in later years, because the price isn't worth it-it's better to spend money on such talent in a few years when you're competitive.

Which brings us to this week's article and its expansion upon last week's argument. How much talent you can realistically bring in on the free-agent market, and how much you need to develop on your own? The answers give us a rough blueprint for how to build a winner and when to strike on the free-agent market.

Last week, I found that the Astros spent on free-agent talent like a competitive team, but were simply unable to put together enough young, cost-controlled, non-market (NM) talent to make that a worthwhile exercise; after finishing dead last in NM WARP3 in 2009 but seventh in auction-market (AM) WARP3 in 2009, it would certainly seem that way. By moving back further, we realize that in 2008 the Astros finished last in NM WARP3 and fourth in AM WARP3. However, in 2007, the Astros were 18th in both NM and AM WARP3. What happened between 2007 and 2008? That's when the Astros brought in Ed Wade as general manager; Wade decided that the 73-89 team he inherited from 2007 was ready to compete if he signed a bunch of free agents. Wade's tack got them all the way up to 86-75 in 2008-not enough to make the playoffs-and then they fell to 74-88 in 2009 as those players aged.

Let's first review the 2009 listing of WARP3 in various categories, with the playoff teams in bold in the subsequent table:

  • M: Minimum-Salary players' WARP3 (who have fewer than approximately three years of service time)
  • A: Arbitration-Eligible players' WARP3 (who have approximately three to six years of service time)
  • F: Free Agent-Eligible WARP3 (who have more than six years of service time)
  • J: Japanese and other players WARP3 (who were bid for in Auction markets)
  • NM: Non-Market players' WARP3 (M+A)
  • AM: Auction-Market players' WARP3 (F+J)
  • T: Total WARP3 (F+A+F+J)


Rk by 2009 WARP3    M    A    F    J   NM   AM    T
1  Yankees         7.8 10.8 46.3  0.0 18.6 46.3 64.9
2  Dodgers        15.8 13.6 31.5  0.2 29.4 31.7 61.1
3  Cardinals       9.0 15.1 32.2  0.0 24.1 32.2 56.3
4  Braves         19.1 19.3 15.5  2.1 38.4 17.6 56.0
5  Red Sox        19.2 16.5 14.1  4.5 35.7 18.6 54.3
6  Rockies        25.4 12.5 12.4  0.0 37.9 12.4 50.3
7  Phillies        8.0 32.2  9.5  0.0 40.2  9.5 49.7
8  Angels         19.2 12.7 16.2  0.0 31.9 16.2 48.1
9  Rays           28.8 10.3  7.9  0.8 39.1  8.7 47.8
10 Twins          13.7 23.6  9.9  0.0 37.3  9.9 47.2
11 Cubs           20.9  0.3 19.0  5.0 21.2 24.0 45.2
12 Blue Jays       5.7 25.2 14.1  0.0 30.9 14.1 45.0
13 Giants         19.3  7.4 16.0  0.0 26.7 16.0 42.7
14 Rangers        20.8 13.5  8.3  0.0 34.3  8.3 42.6
15 White Sox      18.1  2.7 19.4  0.0 20.8 19.4 40.2
16 Brewers        10.9 17.0 11.9  0.0 27.9 11.9 39.8
17 Marlins        10.6 29.0  0.1  0.0 39.6  0.1 39.7
18 Mariners       15.5  7.5 14.0  2.4 23.0 16.4 39.4
19 Tigers          7.8 22.1  9.1  0.0 29.9  9.1 39.0
20 Athletics      26.4  6.4  4.2  0.0 32.8  4.2 37.0
21 Reds           19.5  7.1 10.0  0.0 26.6 10.0 36.6
22 Mets            5.4 13.0 16.9  0.0 18.4 16.9 35.3
23 Diamondbacks   19.5  9.3  6.1  0.0 28.8  6.1 34.9
24 Indians        13.8 13.1  5.5 -0.1 26.9  5.4 32.3
25 Astros          5.0  8.9 16.5  1.5 13.9 18.0 31.9
26 Orioles        16.3  4.8  6.7  1.1 21.1  7.8 28.9
27 Padres         14.5 13.8 -0.1  0.0 28.3 -0.1 28.2
28 Royals          9.4 16.1  1.5  0.0 25.5  1.5 27.0
29 Nationals       9.1  8.7  7.3  0.0 17.8  7.3 25.1
30 Pirates        10.5 10.3  2.6  0.0 20.8  2.6 23.4

MLB Average       14.8 13.4 12.8  0.6 28.3 13.4 41.7

For comparison, let's also list 2008 by Total WARP3, again with the playoff teams in bold:


Rk by 2008 WARP3   M     A   F     J   NM   AM   T
1  Red Sox        24.4  8.3 21.7  7.1 32.7 28.8 61.5
2  Cubs           14.5  4.3 38.4  1.6 18.8 40.0 58.8
3  Rays           32.0 16.9  4.2  2.3 48.9  6.5 55.4
4  Yankees         9.1  4.5 38.7  0.9 13.6 39.6 53.2
5  Brewers        20.9 11.8 20.4  0.0 32.7 20.4 53.1
6  Phillies       11.9 24.7 16.0  0.0 36.6 16.0 52.6
7  Blue Jays      13.1 18.6 19.7  0.0 31.7 19.7 51.4
8  Cardinals      12.5 11.3 26.9  0.0 23.8 26.9 50.7
9  White Sox      20.0  6.5 22.3  0.0 26.5 22.3 48.8
10 Angels         18.3 19.1 11.0  0.0 37.4 11.0 48.4
11 Mets            5.9 17.2 25.1  0.0 23.1 25.1 48.2
12 Dodgers        25.4  2.8 11.4  8.1 28.2 19.5 47.7
13 Twins          23.3 16.8  4.8  0.0 40.1  4.8 44.9
14 Indians        13.8 22.5  3.3  3.2 36.3  6.5 42.8
15 Marlins        34.1  6.0  0.0  0.0 40.1  0.0 40.1
16 Diamondbacks    9.9 24.5  5.7  0.0 34.4  5.7 40.1
17 Braves         16.2  6.7 15.7  0.0 22.9 15.7 38.6
18 Rockies        19.6 17.3  0.9  0.0 36.9  0.9 37.8
19 Tigers         19.0  5.8 13.0  0.0 24.8 13.0 37.8
20 Rangers        13.4  7.3 16.2  0.1 20.7 16.3 37.0
21 Astros          4.3  5.1 25.7  1.7  9.4 27.4 36.8
22 Athletics      18.7 15.5  1.4  0.0 34.2  1.4 35.6
23 Royals         16.1 10.6  7.6  0.0 26.7  7.6 34.3
24 Orioles        15.8  6.6  9.9  0.0 22.4  9.9 32.3
25 Reds           14.1  7.5  8.8  0.0 21.6  8.8 30.4
26 Giants         17.4 -3.0 12.9  1.2 14.4 14.1 28.5
27 Padres         18.6  4.4  4.4  0.0 23.0  4.4 27.4
28 Mariners       12.4  3.8  8.3  0.1 16.2  8.4 24.6
29 Nationals       9.3  4.5  7.5  0.0 13.8  7.5 21.3
30 Pirates         5.5 12.9  1.5  0.0 17.5  1.5 19.0
MLB Average       16.3 10.7 13.4  0.9 27.0 14.3 41.3

Looking at 2008, we see that the Rays made the playoffs with nearly no free-agent talent. No team in 2009 had fewer than the Phillies' 9.5 Auction Market (AM) WARP3, but the Rays managed to win the 2008 AL East with only 6.5 AM WARP3. The Yankees also had an extremely large AM WARP3 in 2008, but failed to make the playoffs; it's clear looking at this table that the problem was that the Yankees were so far behind in developing their own talent, as they were 29th in the league in Non-Market (NM) WARP3. However, their 39.6 AM WARP3 wasn't the MLB-leading mark-it was lower than the Cubs' 40.0 total. The Cubs had a very high AM WARP3 in each year from 2007-2009, but struggled to put up decent NM WARP3 tally, and were ultimately overtaken by the Cardinals this year in AM WARP3 as their collection of free-market talent started getting older and less effective. Like the Yankees, the Cubs' pair of division titles came not just from any auction market talent, but specifically by signing or re-signing their own players, either those they developed themselves (such as Carlos Zambrano) or those they'd traded for (Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez).

Both 2008 and 2009's tables show the limits of how much AM WARP3 a team can manage to add. The average team gets two-thirds of its wins from players with six years of service time or less. There are outliers, however: Red Sox led the league in WARP3 by finishing 10th in NM WARP3 and third of AM WARP3-they were in the top third in two categories that generally show a negative correlation. (Looking at all teams over 2007-09, the NM WARP3 and AM WARP3 total have a -0.41 correlation.) They successfully developed more than the average amount of talent, and then supplemented it on the free-agent market-an obvious way to win. The Phillies, one of just three teams to make the playoffs in 2007, 2008, and 2009, were successful again in 2008 by being sixth in NM WARP3 and 12th in AM WARP3.

Moving on to 2007, we get the following list:


Rk by 2007 WARP3   M    A    F    J   NM   AM    T
1  Red Sox       20.6  9.6 26.4  4.2 30.2 30.6 60.8
2  Yankees       13.1  5.8 36.7  0.0 18.9 36.7 55.6
3  Mets          17.2 11.4 26.5  0.0 28.6 26.5 55.1
4  Rockies       25.8 19.6  4.8  3.9 45.4  8.7 54.1
5  Phillies      20.1 19.6 14.3  0.0 39.7 14.3 54.0
6  Padres        21.5 18.6 13.4  0.0 40.1 13.4 53.5
7  Braves        19.4  8.0 24.2  0.0 27.4 24.2 51.6
8  Dodgers       31.5  1.6 17.2 -0.5 33.1 16.7 49.8
9  Cubs          15.3  3.9 30.1  0.0 19.2 30.1 49.3
10 Indians       25.0 17.2  6.2  0.1 42.2  6.3 48.5
11 Brewers       29.3  4.7 12.9  0.0 34.0 12.9 46.9
12 Tigers        17.8  5.8 23.1  0.0 23.6 23.1 46.7
13 Angels        15.3 13.4 17.1  0.0 28.7 17.1 45.8
14 Diamondbacks  14.1 26.3  3.4  0.0 40.4  3.4 43.8
15 Blue Jays     19.9  6.9 15.3  0.0 26.8 15.3 42.1
16 Athletics     20.9 16.2  3.4  0.0 37.1  3.4 40.5
17 Giants        16.8  2.7 21.0  0.0 19.5 21.0 40.5
18 Reds          15.7 15.3  8.7  0.0 31.0  8.7 39.7
19 Marlins       28.2 11.6 -0.4  0.0 39.8 -0.4 39.4
20 Mariners      10.3  4.1 19.6  5.2 14.4 24.8 39.2
21 Astros        14.6 12.5 11.8  0.0 27.1 11.8 38.9
22 Twins          8.7 19.5 10.7  0.0 28.2 10.7 38.9
23 Cardinals     14.6 -0.2 22.5  0.0 14.4 22.5 36.9
24 Nationals     14.8 13.3  5.5  0.0 28.1  5.5 33.6
25 Pirates       17.6 15.7 -0.8 -0.4 33.3 -1.2 32.1
26 Rangers        9.8 13.9  5.9  1.7 23.7  7.6 31.3
27 Orioles        4.9 12.2 12.2  0.0 17.1 12.2 29.3
28 Royals        15.7  3.6  8.2  0.0 19.3  8.2 27.5
29 White Sox      6.5 -3.0 23.3  0.0  3.5 23.3 26.8
30 Rays          13.2 10.5 -0.2  0.7 23.7  0.5 24.2
MLB Average      17.3 10.7 14.1  0.5 28.0 14.6 42.5

In 2007, we see that multiple teams were able to make the playoffs with little contribution from auction market talent. The Rockies got 45.4 wins from non-market WARP3 to only 8.7 from auction-market WARP3. The Indians got 42.2 NM WARP3 with only 6.3 AM WARP3, and the Diamondbacks got 40.4 NM WARP3 against just 3.4 AM WARP3.

It appears that this became harder to do over the last few years: the correlation between the percentage of WARP3 from auction-market talent jumped from .16 to .33 to .52 from 2007-2009. I suspect teams are starting to learn more about developing non-market talent from successful teams, making it harder to get a competitive edge; this would explain the fall in standard deviation 9.7 to 9.6 to 7.4 for NM WARP3 among teams over the last three years. On the other hand, it could be just a random blip in the data; I would love to hear people's ideas about what the market is doing here. Why is it getting harder to win with non-market talent? If market inefficiencies are disappearing, why is this effect more pronounced among younger players?

Looking at all three years combined, we can get the following list:


Rk by 07-09 WARP3  M    A     F     J    NM    AM    T
1  Red Sox        64.2 34.4  62.2 15.8  98.6  78.0 176.6
2  Yankees        30.0 21.1 121.7  0.9  51.1 122.6 173.7
3  Dodgers        72.7 18.0  60.1  7.8  90.7  67.9 158.6
4  Phillies       40.0 76.5  39.8  0.0 116.5  39.8 156.3
5  Cubs           50.7  8.5  87.5  6.6  59.2  94.1 153.3
6  Braves         54.7 34.0  55.4  2.1  88.7  57.5 146.2
7  Cardinals      36.1 26.2  81.6  0.0  62.3  81.6 143.9
8  Angels         52.8 45.2  44.3  0.0  98.0  44.3 142.3
9  Rockies        70.8 49.4  18.1  3.9 120.2  22.0 142.2
10 Brewers        61.1 33.5  45.2  0.0  94.6  45.2 139.8
11 Mets           28.5 41.6  68.5  0.0  70.1  68.5 138.6
12 Blue Jays      38.7 50.7  49.1  0.0  89.4  49.1 138.5
13 Twins          45.7 59.9  25.4  0.0 105.6  25.4 131.0
14 Rays           74.0 37.7  11.9  3.8 111.7  15.7 127.4
15 Indians        52.6 52.8  15.0  3.2 105.4  18.2 123.6
16 Tigers         44.6 33.7  45.2  0.0  78.3  45.2 123.5
17 Marlins        72.9 46.6  -0.3  0.0 119.5  -0.3 119.2
18 Diamondbacks   43.5 60.1  15.2  0.0 103.6  15.2 118.8
19 White Sox      44.6  6.2  65.0  0.0  50.8  65.0 115.8
20 Athletics      66.0 38.1   9.0  0.0 104.1   9.0 113.1
21 Giants         53.5  7.1  49.9  1.2  60.6  51.1 111.7
22 Rangers        44.0 34.7  30.4  1.8  78.7  32.2 110.9
23 Padres         54.6 36.8  17.7  0.0  91.4  17.7 109.1
24 Astros         23.9 26.5  54.0  3.2  50.4  57.2 107.6
25 Reds           49.3 29.9  27.5  0.0  79.2  27.5 106.7
26 Mariners       38.2 15.4  41.9  7.7  53.6  49.6 103.2
27 Orioles        37.0 23.6  28.8  1.1  60.6  29.9  90.5
28 Royals         41.2 30.3  17.3  0.0  71.5  17.3  88.8
29 Nationals      33.2 26.5  20.3  0.0  59.7  20.3  80.0
30 Pirates        33.6 38.0   3.3 -0.4  71.6   2.9  74.5
MLB Average       48.4 34.8  40.4  2.0  83.2  42.3 125.5

The Red Sox certainly appear to be the class of the league over the past three years, having made the playoffs all three years, finishing ninth in NM WARP3 and fourth in AM WARP3. Few teams have been able to develop talent as well as the Red Sox have while still being in a large market and drafting near the end of the first round. The Phillies are another team that has done this-they were fourth overall in WARP3 for 2007-2009, while finishing third in NM WARP3 and 16th in AM WARP3. The Angels managed three playoff appearances as well-this feat came despite being only eighth in overall WARP3, being 10th in NM WARP3 and 15th in AM WARP3. The Angels have been steady and playing in what was a weak division until now, and thus have matched the Red Sox and Phillies with three playoff appearances in as many years.

Surprising nobody, the Pirates were the worst team over the last three years. This was a mixture of their not developing talent while not spending money, either. In non-market WARP3, they finished ninth in 2007, but 25th and 26th in 2008 and 2009; they were 30th, 27th, and 27th in after-market WARP3 from 2007-2009. Clearly, the Pirates are reworking their system, purging some talent under new management so as to bring in different talent, and they hope to get their overall non-market talent cadre back up. Once they do, they will be able to strike on the free-agent market to put them over the top if they choose, and if they're that much closer. However, it does seem like they will need to be willing to spend at least some money by the time they have a chance to be competitive.

In a mild surprise, the team that led the league over the last three years in NM WARP3 was the Rockies. However, they were 21st in AM WARP3. This was enough to win a couple of wild cards, but if the Rockies spent more on free agents, they could put together a very formidable, reliable contender for the NL pennant. The Marlins certainly could, but they managed the remarkable feat of accumulating a negative AM WARP3 (-0.3) combined over 2007-2009, falling below even the Pirates' 2.9.

There are definitely some key lessons to glean from this. Using WARP3 and the approximate 40-win baseline for replacement-level talent, we know that it is nearly impossible to make the playoffs for non-Yankees teams without getting at least 30 wins from non-market talent. The slight exceptions are teams like the Cubs and Cardinals, who have former non-market talent signed at very team-friendly deals. (In other words, Albert Pujols breaks these rules.)

Getting at least as many wins from non-market talent to reach .500 also makes teams shoo-ins for the playoffs. In fact, among teams that were even close to this level of non-market talent, only the cheapest team failed to buy the few wins that it would have taken to play October baseball. Of course, the 2007 Padres, the 2008 Twins, and the 2008 Marlins fit this description-each with 40.1 wins of non-market talent. The Padres did get 13.4 wins from after-market talent, but fell to the Rockies in the 163rd game of the season.

Generating 30 wins from auction-market talent should be enough to get teams over the hump as well, as the remaining 20 wins or so required from non-market talent shouldn't be hard to get (the average team gets nearly 30). Of course, the 2008 Yankees were an exception with 39.6 AM WARP3 but 13.6 NM WARP3-half the league average-did them in. The 2008 Astros only got 9.4 wins from non-market talent, failing to supplement their 27.4 wins from auction-market talent. Although some of this large AM WARP3 total was Lance Berkman's monster season, a lot of the problem was Wade thinking that shoring up his middle infield with Miguel Tejada and Kaz Matsui would be enough to turn the team into a winner after a 73-89 finish, rather than reinvesting in the minor leagues and by trading away useful parts (other than Brad Lidge, who he sold low on anyway).

Within these tables, there a million other little stories. Each of these teams has a unique market to deal with, and a unique talent distribution to consider. I have highlighted some of the ones that have taught me something about how GMs build winners in today's game, but there are other stories here that I encourage people to discuss in the comments-and please let me know if anybody wants further breakdowns of this data. There are a lot of different ways to splice it.

Of course, once we get Cot's data further integrated with Baseball Prospectus, we'll be able to take a better look at spending on each of these categories and be able to see what else can be gleaned from this information. For now, I think it's safer to say that to build a contender it is becoming more and more necessary to both develop and spend well. Given the difficulty in maintaining production out of free agents in later years of their multi-year deals, the Astros become a prime example of what not to do in building a team. Instead, start with developing talent, and then supplement with free-agent talent once you reach a point where you could at least reach .500 without it. Then you can get solid value on early years of your free-agent deals, and push yourself over the edge. Bidding on free agents before your team has even a long shot at making the playoffs will only waste resources.

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

15 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

awayish

I think a good addition to this analysis would be a more direct concern with efficiency. The implicit value of developing your own talent is that you can use them for far cheaper than market price. Not all auction market signings are made with the same value, so teams that are more efficient in spending their free agent money would do more with less.

excellent articles regardless

Jan 11, 2010 11:18 AM
rating: 0
 
Pat Folz

Based on a cursory glance of past free agent lists, the increase in AM significance over the last few years could just be due to improving free agent classes. 2007's looked pretty bad, 2008's was better (though led by the Yankees re-signing a bunch of people like ARod and Rivera), and 2009 was a rare year that featured two true perennial All-Star talents on the free market (Teixeira and Sabathia).

It's axiomatic that inferior free agent classes boost the free agents' compensation relative to what they "should" get, as teams in win-now mode compete for the best available. That might be worth studying in detail in the future.

Jan 11, 2010 11:18 AM
rating: 0
 
CRP13

Great article Matt. As somebody who is no particular fan of Ed Wade, I'd like to point out that he DID reinvest in the minor leagues in 2007-2009 by hiring Bobby Heck as minor league scoutmaster (s'mores anyone?) and finally signing some above-average draftees (Castro, Mier, Lyles) over the past couple years. The team's affiliates had no talent to begin with, so you can surmise that it would be virtually impossible to make any headway with minor-league talent without trading Berkman/Oswalt/Lee, all of whom have total no-trade clauses, so who's to say he didn't try? Return on a guy like Hunter Pence would be a drop in the bucket compared to what they need to return to minor-league respectability.

It's easy to pick on the crappy teams, but Wade doesn't deserve credit for the abomination that was the Astros' farm system and payroll that he inherited, so let's give him three to four years before we hang him in effigy for those particular reasons.

Signing big-time or medium-time FA's over that period didn't make sense, but that also could be attributed to a delusional and interfering owner. Wade is not God's gift to GM's, but he gets an awful lot of unfair criticism for his handling of the Astros. I think that the jury is still out.

Jan 11, 2010 11:30 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Matt Swartz
BP staff

Fair point and certainly noted. I'm a Phillies fan so I have an inherent frustration with Ed Wade hardwired. He certainly can't be blamed for the lack of minor league talent. Of course, I suspect that trading Berkman, Oswalt, and Lee might have worked if he kicked a little money in to the players to wave their no-trade clauses. That generally works in some cases, but it's not clear if they could. All in all, the Astros are far enough away that they should be trying to get any value in the future and trading guys like Hunter Pence would certainly help that goal. Definitely not his fault that they're in this mess, but it's likely to be his fault if they can't get out of it.

Jan 11, 2010 18:14 PM
 
pbconnection

I'm very glad to see this published. I had a real problem with the previous article because any conclusions based off a small amount of data from a single year are spurious.

I would prefer if this study was expanded to take win cycles into account, directly in relation to market size, etc. I feel that would be more instructive and revealing into team success and how resources are best directed.

Jan 11, 2010 11:32 AM
rating: 1
 
Patrick Ferrington

I would suggest that its harder to win with NM talent because that is not the same thing as talent you drafted.

It has been a noted trend that people aren't parting with their prospects in megadeals like the used to. By teams holding on to their NM players it is harder for another team to stockpile those players via trade making it very hard to win without FA signings.

Jan 11, 2010 12:08 PM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Matt Swartz
BP staff

Very interesting! I really like this suggestion, and I'm going to + this comment :)

Jan 11, 2010 18:17 PM
 
BillJohnson

"Albert Pujols breaks the rules." I would put this differently: Albert Pujols demonstrates the enormous role that plain old luck plays in successful roster construction. He is merely the most extreme example of a phenomenon that has also given lucky teams such late-draft luminaries as Mike Piazza, Roy Oswalt, Jim Thome, John Smoltz, etc., after other teams passed on those guys multiple times. You can do the most assiduous, diligent scouting in the business and still get eaten alive by the teams that happen to hit the late-round jackpot in completely unpredictable ways.

Jan 11, 2010 13:52 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Matt Swartz
BP staff

Yeah, this is true but this would actually account for more variation in NM WARP3 since those are the drafted players. The rule that Pujols broke here is how much better he got after he signed his long-term deal, and how much more expensive wins got too.

Jan 11, 2010 18:17 PM
 
BillJohnson

Say what? I thought that one of the key points about Pujols (from the 2008 annual, IIRC) is that he arrived as an instant MVP candidate, yet managed to improve "slightly," quote unquote, ever since. Other than the unbelievably high baseline, what's rule-breaking about that?

Jan 12, 2010 06:52 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Matt Swartz
BP staff

Albert Pujols is double-amazing. He did two ridiculously amazing things if you want to break it down. Firstly, he went from a no-name 13th round draft pick into a mega-superstar. Secondly, he went from being an elite young player to maybe the best player in baseball history when all is said and done, instead of regressing like maybe 90% of other elite young stars who make that jump. Put it this way. Albert Pujols signed his current deal in February 2004. From 2001-2003, his first three years of baseball, he hit .334/.416/.613 playing in 158.3 games per season. Now, if you want to figure any normal regression to the mean, no one on the planet would have projected Pujols to do what he did from 2004-2009 which is actually to get ridiculously better: he hit .334/.435/.636 playing in 154 games per season. Not only that, the latter performance actually was during an era with lower hitting totals so his OPS+ went from 165 to 175. He didn't regress to the mean, he regressed to deity. Not even Scott Boras would have had the chutzpah to suggest that Pujols was going play 160 games with an OPS+ of 188 six years later. They priced his free agent years, which were 3-8 years away at $16MM. That's ridiculous. If you knew a guy would play 160 games at first base with a 188 OPS and plus defense and he offered his services for one year-- and this was guaranteed-- we're talking $40-50MM that teams would pay for that if it were guaranteed. 13th round to all-star in a couple years...that's tough to believe. But getting ridiculously better? Wow.

Jan 12, 2010 11:59 AM
 
laynef

Matt,

Great comment. I think a full-length article about Albert Pujols would be interesting. I never realized what he has done is so amazing. Since PECOTA projections have probably regressed his stats to the mean each year, I wonder if he has exceeded the PECOTA projections every year from 2004-2009.

Jan 13, 2010 11:43 AM
rating: 0
 
Michael Bodell
(89)

I think there is a little bit of a distortion by playing time as well. If you are a rich team, like the Yankees, you will play fewer players who are NM so their counting stats for WARP will be smaller. If you are a young team like the Rays you will play almost all NM players so they will pick up the WARP counting stats. Sometimes guys might be near interchangeable in ability (the AAAA backup catcher versus the 10 year major league veteran backup catcher) and provide roughly the same ability at roughly the same price and then the NM/AM will not really matter much as it is the playing time accumulating the 1 WARP or whatever that will be the same. Obviously, lots of time the AM will be more expensive as you sometimes have to pay for the "proven ML experience". But in recent markets, especially for marginal or bench players, you don't really have to pay much for them.

Jan 11, 2010 15:31 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Matt Swartz
BP staff

This is definitely true, and I might be exploring this at some point. Thanks!

Jan 11, 2010 18:18 PM
 
R.A.Wagman

I think we are also seeing more teams turn to their highly touted prospects and giving them a chance to play in the Bigs earlier than they might have in the past - I don't have the number to back this up, just a nagging feeling. I guess this could be checked by running seasonal playing time (raw PAs, and batters faced) based on playing time of all and sundry.

Jan 11, 2010 20:45 PM
rating: 0
 
You must be a Premium subscriber to post a comment.
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
<< Previous Article
Premium Article Checking the Numbers: ... (01/11)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Ahead in the Count: Se... (01/04)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Ahead in the Count: Re... (01/18)
Next Article >>
Premium Article How Do Baseball Player... (01/11)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Fantasy Article Expert League Auction Recap: CBS NL-Only
Fantasy Article Fantasy Tiered Rankings: Relief Pitchers
Fantasy Article Tale of the Tape: Fernando Rodney vs. Huston...
Fantasy Article Get to Know: Relief Pitcher Prospects
An Agent's Take: How To Get An Autograph Wit...
Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Shift Happenings
Baseball Therapy: The Thirty-Run Manager

MORE FROM JANUARY 11, 2010
Premium Article Transaction Action: Impaled Rangers
Premium Article How Do Baseball Players Age?
Premium Article Checking the Numbers: Side Effects on Pitche...
The Week in Quotes: January 4-10

MORE BY MATT SWARTZ
2010-02-04 - Premium Article Ahead in the Count: Revising Player Contract...
2010-01-20 - Premium Article Ahead in the Count: Revising Player Contract...
2010-01-18 - Premium Article Ahead in the Count: Revising Player Contract...
2010-01-11 - Premium Article Ahead in the Count: Part 2 of Service-time C...
2010-01-04 - Premium Article Ahead in the Count: Service-Time Contracts a...
2009-12-29 - Premium Article Ahead in the Count: For the Long-Term Invest...
2009-12-21 - Premium Article Ahead in the Count: When Bad Teams Land Good...
More...

MORE AHEAD IN THE COUNT
2010-02-04 - Premium Article Ahead in the Count: Revising Player Contract...
2010-01-20 - Premium Article Ahead in the Count: Revising Player Contract...
2010-01-18 - Premium Article Ahead in the Count: Revising Player Contract...
2010-01-11 - Premium Article Ahead in the Count: Part 2 of Service-time C...
2010-01-04 - Premium Article Ahead in the Count: Service-Time Contracts a...
2009-12-29 - Premium Article Ahead in the Count: For the Long-Term Invest...
2009-12-21 - Premium Article Ahead in the Count: When Bad Teams Land Good...
More...

INCOMING ARTICLE LINKS
2010-05-28 - Premium Article Ahead in the Count: Hometown Discounts
2010-03-09 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: NL Central Competiti...
2010-02-23 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: AL Central Competiti...
2010-02-12 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: AL East Competitive ...
2010-02-03 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: The Lay of the Land
2010-01-18 - Premium Article Ahead in the Count: Revising Player Contract...
2010-01-11 - Premium Article Transaction Action: Impaled Rangers