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  1. I’m not all that informed when it comes to calculating how many wins a specific performance is good for, but how is a player who is only two and a half runs better than the league average for his position worth nearly two and a half wins. Are you comparing his performance to replacement level, and if so why? Wouldn’t it be better to compare him to the league average, because that is what his team will be competing against?

    Comment by Isaac — December 8, 2008 @ 11:47 am

  2. Value is compared to replacement level because its freely available and easy to find. Average is not as replaceable.

    Comment by JWay — December 8, 2008 @ 1:02 pm

  3. If you want to compare it to league average you can say he’s a 0-0.5 win above average player. But to calculate their money value you need the baseline (replacement level). Sorry for the double post :) Hope that helped, that’s my general understanding of Dave’s wisdom.

    Comment by JWay — December 8, 2008 @ 1:06 pm

  4. I realize that but league average is what they are competing against, so finding a league average catcher, while clearly better than the average 4A player, doesn’t do anything in terms of gaining an edge over the competition. To me, applauding the Tigers for going out and finding a league average catcher is damning them with faint praise.

    Comment by Isaac — December 8, 2008 @ 1:08 pm

  5. I think you’re over thinking it. The hitting value is based on him hitting against those pitchers. He hit pretty poor, but catchers generally do, and they get an adjustment to put them in line with all hitters. So in a way he is compared to league average catchers, and as a whole there aren’t many who hit after Mauer, Martin, Soto. So if Laird is put on the same playing field value wise as every other hitter he’s an average player.

    Comment by JWay — December 8, 2008 @ 1:22 pm

  6. And the Tigers get the pat on the back for finding a player worth 8-10 million a season for 4-5 and under team control. Unless they gave up ‘spects that we’re really good, which I have no idea.

    Comment by JWay — December 8, 2008 @ 1:29 pm

  7. Thanks for clearing that up a bit. Still, I find it weird that 8-10 million dollars is a deserved amount of money for a slightly above league average backstop.

    Comment by Isaac — December 8, 2008 @ 2:21 pm

  8. Keep in mind that the 8-10 million dollar figure is based on what teams generally pay per win for free agents. It’s not a question of what people here think a player deserves, but rather it’s based on historical patterns in the market. So if Gerald Laird were a free agent playing the market, it’s likely that he’d end up with a one-year deal worth about 8-10 million, assuming that perception of his value was fairly close to his actual value. The fact that Laird’s contract status means that he’s earning less than that for the next few years makes him a player of value.

    Comment by NadavT — December 8, 2008 @ 2:31 pm

  9. “Thanks for clearing that up a bit. Still, I find it weird that 8-10 million dollars is a deserved amount of money for a slightly above league average backstop.”

    I don’t know if it’s deserved, but look at Ramon Hernandez’s contract… he’s worse defensively than Laird, and not any better with the bat. of course next season the Orioles will pay Wieters the league minimum salary for performance that is decidedly above league average, or so I hope :-)

    Comment by David — December 8, 2008 @ 2:59 pm

  10. Yeah, I donKt think its meant to be, he should get 10 million or everyone freak out, but if he did make his expected numbers, with where the market is at you could be ok with paying him that much.

    Comment by JWay — December 8, 2008 @ 3:10 pm

  11. How many catchers are getting paid $10-12M/yr?

    Comment by Terry — December 8, 2008 @ 3:21 pm

  12. Jason Kendall, Jorge Posada, Ivan Rodriguez, and Jason Varitek all made $9 million or more in at least one of the past two seasons. it’s a bit misleading to look at catcher salaries, though, because once a catcher has solidified his reputation and has played in the majors long enough to get this kind of salary, his body is probably starting to go downhill from the physical stresses of catching every day.

    try ranking all catchers with >300 PA by wOBA. the top 5 list is… Chris Iannetta ($400k), Brian McCann ($950k), Joe Mauer ($6.5 million), Geovany Soto ($400k), Kelly Shoppach ($400k). if you crank it up to 500 PA you replace Iannetta and Shoppach with Russell Martin ($500k) and Bengie Molina ($6.25 million). so either way you look at it, most of the top catchers in the major leagues are still early in their careers. the other obstacle catchers face, of course, is that they are generally terrible hitters, and catcher defense is even harder to measure than other positions.

    Comment by David — December 8, 2008 @ 5:36 pm

  13. The fact that their careers are generally shorter doesn’t help their case either. Which helps the Tigers in this case cause they aren’t weighed down long term by any means with this deal.

    Comment by JWay — December 8, 2008 @ 6:01 pm

  14. So basically it would be considered unusual for a catcher to be paid at a “market” rate?

    Comment by Terry — December 8, 2008 @ 6:02 pm

  15. 500 PA is light for most players. probably about right for a catcher. My question is does a catcher get the full 12.5 run position adjustment if he’s only projected for 500 PA. Shouldn’t you prorate that?

    Comment by NickP — December 8, 2008 @ 11:01 pm

  16. Laird has yet to log 500 PA’s in a season.

    The argument that Laird is a league average player rests entirely upon giving him a win+ for doing something he has never done before (catching 135+ games) and making some significant “thumb in the air” inferences about his defensive ability.

    The Tigers have addressed two of the most valuable positions on the field by locking in below average at shortstop and crossing their fingers that they’ll get average from behind the plate (though that is really Laird’s ceiling/upside). It’s great that they did it cheaply but really that should be faint praise.

    Comment by Micah — December 9, 2008 @ 7:40 am

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