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  1. Great article, and the bargain Berkman represents is pretty remarkable to my mind, but it must be said: Nelson Cruz’s right field defense is one of the primary reasons he does not wear a World Series ring.

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — January 7, 2013 @ 2:01 pm

  2. While I have no issues with the Berkman and Hamilton analysis, I do have to take issue with calling Nelson Cruz a decent defender. Nelson definitely has a strong and somewhat accurate arm but beyond that he is practically a butcher in right field. He was never a really good defender and his defense seems to have digressed over the past couple of years.

    Comment by Mike Schneider — January 7, 2013 @ 2:07 pm

  3. I tend to agree here but, of course, the real wild card is how much Berkman will play. He’s been breaking down for the last few years and, while it was a surprise how little he played last year, it was probably equally surprising how much he played in 2011. Over the last 2 years, he has 684 PAs, averaging 342 each season. That’s probably the right number of PAs to expect for him this year.

    But when he plays, he’s likely to be very good. A pretty solid signing, IMO, though I’d have thought he’d have gotten closer to $7 – $8 million rather than $11. Still, he’s probably a 2 win or so DH this season so $11 M is probably close to the right number.

    Comment by chuckb — January 7, 2013 @ 2:10 pm

  4. Cruz is a decent outfielder.

    Strong coming in on the ball. Weak going back. Plus arm.

    One play will haunt him (and fan perspective) forever.

    Comment by TX Ball Scout — January 7, 2013 @ 2:11 pm

  5. While I’d like the guaranteed salary to be more 5-7 mil than 10, I like this signing as a Rangers fan because of the reasons you illustrated above. This lets the team get Olt some time at AAA next year, which he probably needs. A good couple months at AAA gets Olt’s value higher than ever. Another part of the signing I like – Berkman is the kind of patient, high OBP, power hitter the Rangers really haven’t ever had. Maybe his approach rubs off a bit on hyper aggressive hitters like Cruz and Beltre (another perpetrator of that aggressive approach, Young, has already been shipped out).

    Comment by Joel — January 7, 2013 @ 2:13 pm

  6. The place I think ZiPS is getting wrong on Hamilton is the BABIP. He is hovering around .320 for the last two seasons and his career BABIP is .335. I think he is actually due for a bounce back somewhere closer to his mean. Either way, it doesn’t seem all that likely he ends up with a .303 BABIP.

    Comment by KrunchyGoodness — January 7, 2013 @ 2:19 pm

  7. That and the Giants’ pitching staff. Probably more the pitching staff.

    Comment by MrKnowNothing — January 7, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

  8. Pretty sure he’s referring to Game 6 against the Cardinals. Not sure if the Giants pitching staff had much to do with that…

    Comment by Emily — January 7, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

  9. And that Berkman is, for that matter.

    Comment by olethros — January 7, 2013 @ 2:49 pm


    Granted, this discussion took place two years ago, but “butcher” is harsh. Cruz’s speed and athleticism helps him overcome his propensity to take some awful routes.

    I think one (mis)play might have hurt the fan’s perception of his defense, as seen in the most recent FSR.

    Comment by El Vigilante — January 7, 2013 @ 3:03 pm

  11. Good read. I’m liking this Berkman signing, but not loving it. Yet. But I do like it substantially more than I would have liked the Rangers paying $125m+ to Josh.

    Also, Cruz is at best an average defender but, if the last couple years are any indication, he’s declining, and not slowly. He’ll almost certainly be the worst defender on the Rangers, who otherwise will probably have a pretty solid defense.

    Comment by Andy — January 7, 2013 @ 3:08 pm

  12. He was a decent outfielder, “was” being the key word. He still has a strong arm, but his proper role on a winning team now is DH. And he did cost the Rangers a World Series with that horrible miss-play.

    Comment by Phantom Stranger — January 7, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

  13. …as opposed to Josh, who swung at pitches thrown in the other batter’s box on a regular basis, and missed most of them.

    Comment by Andy — January 7, 2013 @ 3:10 pm

  14. agreed that a .303 BABIP is too low to project on hamilton, but his .335 career mark is buoyed significantly by his .390 season – which looks very much like an outlier at this point. i think .320 is fair, and might even be a touch high.

    Comment by ben_cartmell — January 7, 2013 @ 3:14 pm

  15. If only Cruz had played better defense in the 2010 (and hell 2012) World Series, we wouldn’t even be talking about that Giants pitching staff.

    Comment by El Vigilante — January 7, 2013 @ 3:22 pm

  16. What I like is that you’re replacing an undisciplined hitter with a guy that can contribute even when he’s not racking up hits. Plus, the young kids on the Rangers team (Profar, Olt, and Martin) all have shown the ability to work the count. As a Rangers fan, it’s something that we haven’t always seen alot of.. I’m looking forward to seeing more of it.

    Comment by Murphy3 — January 7, 2013 @ 3:30 pm

  17. This is where a “WAR/650″ type stat would be useful to compare talent.

    How valuable either of these two guys are depends on how much they play (obviously). That goes for everyone in the league, but it’s discussed more with these two guys because of the games missed over the last 4 seasons.

    Berkman is definitely cheaper than Hamilton, but that doesn’t make him a cheaper Hamilton.

    I like Berkman, and despite his age, he can carry the club for shortish periods of time. He can no longer do it for full seasons, but can do it enough to remind of you of what a tremendous player he has been.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — January 7, 2013 @ 3:49 pm

  18. The issue I have with this standard Fangraphs analysis of a player’s projected value and whether or not he will truly earn the money that has been paid to him is that it somewhat ignores the actual market itself. More specifically, it assumes that there was at least one other team out there willing to pay a 37-year-old coming off of a season lost to injury, and who was not especially impressive as recently as 2010, about as much as what Texas has agreed to pay him. I have kind of a tough time believing that there was a very strong market for Mr. Berkman. In other words, I have kind of a tough time believing that Texas would not have been able to secure his services for 2013 at closer to $4-$6 mil, rather than $10-$11 mil. Therefore, it appears to me that this is an overpay, not because he won’t earn his keep (if relatively healthy, he probably will), but because of the simple reason that Texas seemingly paid more than what the market had determined he was worth. Although I suppose the counterargument here is that Texas is behaving rationally and HAS paid him what was necessary in order to secure his services, i.e., that there WAS at least one other team willing to pay Berkman at or near what Texas has agreed to pay him. I’m skeptical, though.

    Regarding Mike Olt: It appears to me that the likely plan in Texas is to keep Olt in AAA and ultimately trade him prior to the July trade deadline for whatever Texas decides it needs, most likely a starting pitcher, maybe an outfielder.

    Regardless, the Rangers front office does an awfully good job, and I like their chances of exceeding expectations and making the playoffs once again in 2013. I don’t think they’re going to regret allowing other teams to hand out massive contracts to the likes of Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton.

    Question: Will both AL wild card teams come from the AL West this season? My guess is that it has been a long time since there wasn’t at least one AL East wild card team.

    Comment by Robbie G. — January 7, 2013 @ 3:57 pm

  19. Which makes me wonder, if Hamilton regularly swung at pitches in the other batter’s box, why did pitchers ever throw the ball over the plate to him?

    Comment by hk — January 7, 2013 @ 4:00 pm

  20. Hah! Very true indeed, sir.

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — January 7, 2013 @ 4:14 pm

  21. I don’t think it was a question of whether there was another team willing to pay Berkman, say, $10.5 million and Texas won the bidding by paying $11. It was more a question of whether Berkman was willing to pay at all for less than “fair value.” He’s earned his millions. He wasn’t going to play for $5 million and go through the effort of rehabbing the knee at his age to get paid less than he was likely worth. If no one else was willing to pony up, the Rangers still had to pay otherwise he wasn’t signing anywhere.

    Comment by wobatus — January 7, 2013 @ 4:22 pm

  22. The market value for Berkman is what the Rangers signed him for. Why do you have any reason to believe otherwise?

    Comment by El Vigilante — January 7, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

  23. First and foremost, the market value for for Berkman is what Robbie G assumes is true. If Robbie G has a tough time believing $11 mil is market value and that I don’t have enough deli ham in my fridge for a sandwich, then Berkman is an overpay and I am having PB&J. Why argue with Robbie G?

    Comment by Choo — January 7, 2013 @ 4:41 pm

  24. This actually does seem to be market value. David Ortiz signed a 2 year $26 million contract coming of a solid DH season a one year $11 million deal for Berkman doesn’t sound that outrageous comparatively. At this stage Berkman is a step below Ortiz probably which sums up the difference in contract length and Ortiz got more per season as well.

    Comment by pdowdy83 — January 7, 2013 @ 4:50 pm

  25. Plus, it’s a one year deal. Berkman likely wanted more for signing a 1 yr deal than for each yr of a 2 yr deal, eh?

    Comment by Rufus T. Firefly — January 7, 2013 @ 5:04 pm

  26. I do think $11 million might have been a small overpay, but it is better than greatly overpaying a guy over 5-6 years.

    Comment by akalhar — January 7, 2013 @ 5:47 pm

  27. See Guerrero, Vladimir.

    Comment by TheHoustonian — January 7, 2013 @ 6:15 pm

  28. The key to the deal is does Berkman come to camp in shape like he did in 2011, or does he come to camp looking like the pillbury dough boy like in 2010. The fact he was not sure he wanted to play this year suggests the latter.

    But if Berkman is healthy and in shape its a nice short term move for the Rangers at DH. I think Berkman is more of a replacement for Napoli than Hamilton though.

    I don’t think you can accurately measure the importance of Hamilton without considering his impact on the lineup as pitchers tried to pitch around him.
    He is also a good defender and good baserunner. Health of course is always the question with Hamilton.

    Comment by pft — January 7, 2013 @ 7:04 pm

  29. Ortiz played 3 times as many games as Berkman last season and his wRC+ is 40 points higher. I don’t see how Ortiz is a valid comp at all to Berkman.

    Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — January 7, 2013 @ 7:18 pm

  30. Isn’t there a real difference between market value and what some idiot team pays someone? By your definition, every signing is at market value.

    Comment by BJsWorld — January 7, 2013 @ 7:22 pm

  31. “And if we just look at expected performance for 2013, there’s a decent chance that Berkman will put up offensive numbers that are not too different from what Hamilton would have produced.”

    Funny joke. Good luck with that one..

    Comment by Gleb — January 7, 2013 @ 9:31 pm

  32. “For one, Hamilton’s defensive value was a bit limited to the Rangers, in that keeping him in the outfield would have likely forced a decent defender (say, Nelson Cruz)”

    Decent defender…? Cruz?

    Comment by Gleb — January 7, 2013 @ 9:34 pm

  33. “Everything is worth what its purchaser will pay for it.” – Publilius Syrus

    Comment by TanPadreFan — January 7, 2013 @ 10:09 pm

  34. It’s great that you wave aside the fact that Berkman will have significantly less PA than Hamilton because it will be due to platooning. The fact that Hamilton isn’t a platoon player is part of what makes him much more valuable than Berkman.

    It’s definitely better for the Rangers to pay Berkman $11 million this year than to pay Hamilton $125 million over the next five, but claiming that it won’t significantly hurt them in the short run is just fishing for page views.

    Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — January 7, 2013 @ 10:28 pm

  35. As a Mariner’s fan I’d have been pleased to get Berkman on a one year deal at that price to DH. I don’t see why it’s so outrageous.

    Comment by CheeseWhiz — January 8, 2013 @ 2:25 am

  36. Really, its a solid sign. I don’t see how you could really argue against that fact rationally. I see this panning out like the Vlad siginging and I bet the Puma dominates this year.

    Comment by snoop LION — January 8, 2013 @ 2:42 am

  37. I don’t see anything to praise here–a slight overpay for a decent DH.

    Comment by Baltar — January 8, 2013 @ 11:25 am

  38. BJs, I do think there come a time when a team has overpaid, obviously, like with the Vernon Wells contract, perhaps. I’m not talking about with hindsight. In hindsight lots of deals end up being overpays, of course.

    In this case, though, i don’t think this isn’t a “market value” deal simply because the Rangers may not have had someone else biding against them. You have a willing buyer and a seller. It may simply be a market of one buyer (I don’t know), but I think Dave’s analysis is right. It doesn’t seem like an overpay based on the replacement cost of the expected production. But certainly, i think you are right. if they paid him $20 million for one year, I don’t think I’d call that “market value”.

    Comment by wobatus — January 8, 2013 @ 12:59 pm

  39. i love that people are completely ignoring the fact that the angels are paying 25 million a year for a 4-WAR player. there is absolutely no way hamilton comes close to his 2010 numbers. berkman could potentially outhit him at half the cost.

    Comment by sneakyflute — January 8, 2013 @ 3:31 pm

  40. Although if you set his anomalous defense to league average, you get about 5.7 WAR. I highly doubt his UZR will be that bad in 2013. ZiPS is giving him 5 runs above average. That would be about 6.3 WAR last year.

    ZiPS is also extremely conservative with his BABIP giving him a BABIP not very close to any year he’s ever had. If we just do some basic average of his above average runs from batting, we get 23.6 runs weighted for a 525 PA season, which is his average. That decrease would bring him back to 5.4 WAR.

    Your estimate of 4 just seems a little low in the range of possibilities. He doesn’t have to return to his 2010 form to be worth his contract, but that doesn’t mean you can just put him at the other extreme end of his bell curve.

    Even then, team WAR-dollar valuation is really more about margins then it is about addition and linear ratios. If they win enough, they may go to the playoffs and make a whole bunch more money. Win just a little bit less and miss the playoffs and they may see a decrease in revenues.

    Comment by KrunchyGoodness — January 8, 2013 @ 5:17 pm

  41. Berkman is a consumate pro. He will not only provide quality ABs, but will be a veteran leader in the clubhouse. He kept Pujols and Holliday loose with the Cards and was a steadying influence on players such as Freese and A. Craig. The Rangers lost a lot in the unpredicatable Hamilton, but gained valuable leadership in Berkman.

    Comment by Randy — January 9, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

  42. Unfortunately absent in this discussion of the Rangers’ accurate appraisal is any dsicussion of the opportunity cost of oberpaying him. Even in the worst case scenario that Berkman doesn’t play a single game this year, it’s not like there are any purchases left to make.
    What the Rangers have done here fits in nicely with their MO for the last few years: low risk/high reward investing. Best case is that Berkman repeats 2011, in which case it’s a steal. Worst case is he doesn’t play, in which case those 10 million probably weren’t going to better use anyway.
    More than likely, he’ll draw walks and add some much-needed power to the line-up.

    Comment by mike — January 9, 2013 @ 7:50 pm

  43. NO.

    Comment by lars1459 — January 12, 2013 @ 2:44 pm

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