I wonder if, with the market being what it is now, there’s less value in deals like this than there once was. Lind isn’t an elite player. I think I’d rather let him play cheaply and unhappily, do the arb thing, and then let him walk. You don’t build around a DH.
I try and get at that a bit by admitting that the projection might be a bit low for him only being 26 to start the season.
I will say that players typically start to decline earlier than we think. This isn’t Justin Upton or even Billy Butler (24 to start the season). This is a 26 year-old. After 27, most players start to decline.
Well, this is the other side of the spectrum… Lind has value here. There isn’t a ton of risk of being saddled with an albatross here. While Toronto isn’t going to be contending during the guaranteed portion of his contract, they will have him as a good deal to not totally embarrass themselves, and this also gives him additional trade value.
How is this in the case of Lind? It’s not like the projections are built on a House of MLEs. Lind had substantial PA in the majors in 07 and 08. Moreover, again, he isn’t at a wacky place in the aging curve — he’s 26.
If I just use the fan projections, that adds about half a win to his value. That’s substantial, but it hardly makes him a star.
Which is isn’t, anyway, even if he keeps repeating 2009.
Again, it’s not that he might not get even better or whatever, but betting on that when signing a contract is the Road to Dayton.
Why is Lind the sort of player we “Wouldn’t expect to age gracefully?” He strikes me as just the opposite.
In 2007 Lind was BA’s 39th overall prospect, which sandwiched him neatly between Joey Votto (43) and Hunter Pence (38).
In 2009 Lind crushed the ball. He did that while posting a contact rate 2% better than league average, and a full 10% better on pitches out of the zone. His z-contact was exactly league average. His contact skills in 2009 are pretty much in line with his career numbers. His zone judgement is not elite, but it’s just about league average. He swung just a little less (~1%) than league average.
Lind’s biggest improvement in 2009 was to stop swinging at pitches out of the zone. If anything, this is the sort of skill one expects players to develop as they age and it’s one that does not typically go away.
Lind is not Mark Reynolds. His strike out rate was 2% better than league average, his walk rate was in 2009 was 0.0% different from league average and he was 90th percentile power.
Lind looks to me like a player that could hit well through his early thirties, especially if he continues to improve his walk rate (something players are known to do as they age.)
Lind is a very good hitter and it’s not out of the question that he repeats 2009 this year. If he does, he would get $5 or $6 million in arbitration, and the Jays would be liable for another big increase in 2012. Lind could be a league average fielder at 1B with a little work. Anyway, I think that this would be a good deal if Lind exactly met the projection that you offer, and I think you’ve too greatly discounted his potential to hit a lot better.
“For the three arbitration seasons, a player is typically paid 40, 60, and 80 percent of what he would make on the free agent market. To comparing Lind to the free agent market scale, rather that assuming 4/18, we take the three arbitration years, and multiply the time by 0.4, 0.6, and 0.8 respectively, and evaluate this deal as if it were a 2/18 (for simplicities sake, we round 1.8 up to 2) deal in the current free agent market. Assuming a current market value of $3.5 million dollars per marginal win, a typical 0.5 win a season decline, and 7% per season salary inflation, a two year, $18 million dollar contract would be an average deal for a player that is currently 2.5 Wins Above Replacement.”
This is fairly opaque to me. Is this “two” year contract projecting him for 2.7 WAR the first year and 2.2 the next? If you adhere to the .5 wins attrition theory, Lind’s projected to be worth 2.2 wins in 2011 – his would-be first year of arbitration. Which means 1.7 the following year and 1.2 the year before he hits free agency. Of course this sounds ridiculous, as I don’t expect Lind to decline so abruptly at age 29.
Could you shed a bit of light onto our calculations? I’m genuinely interested in seeing them.
Yeah, I apologize for the many moments of unclarity. I sometimes try to get into too much subtlety and qualification, and the larger points get lost or forgotten altogether.
It’s complicated by this being not only including arb years, but a pre-argb year. For figuring the “real value” of the contract, the first year (this season) isn’t counted, since it would have been “free” (at the “replacement” salary of league minimum). There are only three “non-free” years then, which come to 1.8 “years” that they’d have to pay beyond the minimum. I rounded that up to 2 for simplicity (and that also dosen’t include taking out the ~$0.4M minimum… don’t want to give the illlusion of false preceision). That’s all to figure out what they’re paying for, but starting “this year,” in real time.
Of course, Linds development takes place in “real time.” I estimated going off an average of CHONE/ZiPS/Fan projections) that he’s worth about 2.7 WAR in 2010. One thing that got a bit lost amidst all my other discussion was that it would be fair not consider bumping that up to “3,” not because I think we should go beyond 2.7 WAR, but to represent that he’s not near a steep decline phase, if you know what I mean, but the post was overlong to begin with. I wish I had taken time to discuss that and taken other things out. In any case, I do think it’s a good deal for the Jays, and even in that case, not great. I maybe should have taken out some stuff, and suggested an different “curve” like 2.7, 2.7, 2.4, 2.0, or something like that, but that would have taken a while to explain and probably just made things more confusing.
But, yes, on average, players do start declining earlier than is generally thought. Lind is a good hitter. But I’m not sure we know enough about him to assume that he won’t suffer from typical attrition and stuff like that. Yes, he could very well be better than 3 WAR next season, and the seasons after that. but when a team is making an investment, they (the smart ones, anyway) try to balance the upside with the down side — risk of injury increasing, sudden decline in skills. If we think Lind is a 2.7 WAR player, this means (as a general assumption — projections aren’t close to being this perfect) that he’s got about an equal chance of being 4.0 WAR or 1.4 WAR. If he’s 4.0 WAR, great! Incredible deal. But if he’s 1.4…
Anyway, I know that’s still a bit vague. I’ll try to be more clear in the future.
I agree that he could get better. That’s the thing about the uncertainty in projections, though — he’s also go the potential to get worse. Yes, the year we take into account the most is 2010, and it also saw him get the most PAs, but that doesn’t meake 2008 and 2009 go away.
Yes, he’s at an age where his walk rate and isolated power typcially are on the rise. But he’s also at an age where contact and BABIP are at their peak, meaning that probably won’t be getting better, either. Again, yes, maybe he will retain his contact, maybe he’ll be an exception there. Of course, he could also be an exception with regard to his power and patience development, too.
Lind is a far better hitter that Mark Reynolds, of course, although much of that is masked by the differences in league and park. But while Reynolds is not great shakes at third base, you’d rather have him at third than have Lind bring a glove on a trip.
Maybe Lind could play first base, but they need to start trying now. Good thing the Jays don’t have any other candidates for first base, other than Lyle Overbay. Or Brett Wallace.
So exactly when hitters start to decline is more controversial than you’re making it here. I know there have been several dust-ups about it on The Book blog and on various other sabermetric sites.
But let’s take your ‘After 27, most players start to decline’ as gospel, it seems as though we shouldn’t expect Lind to decline this season or next season, his age 26 and 27 seasons. In fact, we might even expect him to improve some as he approaches his peak; remember, we’ve just seen what is only his age-25 year.
But probably, the difference between his age 25 and 26 years is accommodated in the projections we have. We still shouldn’t expect him to experience age-related decline between 26 and 27, by your own statements.
In order to compete in that division, teams like the jays need to have efficient wins coming out of every position. This is simply a solid move that gets them one step further towards competitiveness. We see deals like this more and more often from smart teams.
I heartily agree with your overall take. It’s a good to very good deal for the Jays, but not the blatant robbery that some members of the baseball punditry would lead you to believe. The Jays are essentially paying Lind what he’d have netted in arbitration (a shade north of $17 mil over three years). While the three years of controlled free agency at $7.5 mil per season is nice, we must remember that Lind’s a DH, and such specialized players aren’t going to break the bank on the open market.
Of course, this analysis is predicated upon Lind’s sustaining a 2.7 WAR level of production from ’11-’13.
has anybody seen the comparisons to the Markakis deal over the same period? sure looks like robbery when considering that Lind already has a better year under his belt than Markakis..the defensive differences surely aren’t made up by the extra millions in salary
Without getting into the specifics, let’s keep in mind that, Markakis is actually a few months younger than Lind, and so was a year younger when he signed his deal. Whereas Lind was coming off one good season in which he put up a .394 wOBA and 3.7 WAR season but was mostly a DH and horrible enough when he played the field that he should have been DHing, Markakis was coming off of his 2008 (in which he was only 24), in which he just about as good with the bat as Lind was in 2008 (.389 wOBA), and played outstanding defense, for a 6.3 WAR. And whereas the 2007 Lind was replacement level, Markais was better in that season than the 2009 “good” Lind, at about 3.9 WAR.
Now, I haven’t reconstructed the financial aspect of the Markakis’, and now it looks different after Markakis’ disappointing 2009, but as players at the time their respective deals were signed, there’s no comparison — Markakis was far superior.