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  1. My first question was: So the Phillies couldn’t come up with $9m to keep Cliff Lee this year, but they found $22m to pay Ryan Howard in 2012 and $25m to pay him later on? I understand that there’s a different budget in place for 2010 than there is in 2012 and that it isn’t quite apples to apples……but come on.

    Comment by Larry Smith Jr. — April 26, 2010 @ 4:18 pm

  2. I’m a Phils fan, and though this team makes some head-scratching moves, I can usually see a semblance of reason behind them. In this case, I just don’t get it. What are they doing? What are they predicting the market to be like in 1.5 years, and how do they possibly think Howard is going to produce that much? I’m not yet afraid that this is going to be baseball’s “newest worst contract” but I am worried this will make it very difficult to contend in 3 years or so.

    Comment by Phillies Red — April 26, 2010 @ 4:21 pm

  3. The only thing I was going to disagree with was that the Howard deal was now MLB’s worst contract, but I can’t even say that for certain (especially considering Soriano and Wells have “only” $85 million and $99 million remaining on their deals, respectively).

    Yup… not good for the Phils. Agreed on pretty much all counts, Matt.

    Comment by PhillyFriar — April 26, 2010 @ 4:24 pm

  4. Already can’t wait to see the Phillies’ organizational ranking next year.

    Comment by Steven — April 26, 2010 @ 4:30 pm

  5. Amaro is taking a very good team with a lot of talent and crippling them with fat, illogical contract obligations.

    Comment by Johnny — April 26, 2010 @ 4:31 pm

  6. I’m gonna say thast its not as bad as wells or soriano’s contracts. or Zito’s. but it is risky as hell. my first though was wow, even the phillies don’t know that utley is their best player. than, it waas holy shit holy shit holy shit we just became a low budget version of the yankees from a couple years age. old and overpaid..

    Comment by jpdtrmpt72 — April 26, 2010 @ 4:31 pm

  7. Are you saying this is worse than Alfonso? That’s high speech, indeed. As a Philly fan, I hope he produces. As a realistic stats fan, I fear I will rue this day sooner rather than later.

    Comment by Dan in Philly — April 26, 2010 @ 4:31 pm

  8. If Vernon Wells can play ANY defense (a big IF it seems lately) and his offensive numbers can stay on their ZIPS projected (ROS) path, he MIGHT get out of worst contract in the game talks – for one season.

    Comment by Southsider — April 26, 2010 @ 4:32 pm

  9. This is not the worst contract. With inflation $ per win will increase. Howard’s hitting profile may match those beforementioned donkeys, but NONE of them could play defense. Howard is much more athletic than all of them. He isn’t juicing, so we can expect his body to hold-up better. People, in general, continue to age better. Life expectancy always increases, so the aging process is kinder. 34 10 years ago could be 36-37 in 4 years.

    I don’t think the contract is that bad. Why they jumped the market so quickly is my questionmark. Pujols, Fielder and A-Gonz would all be FAs in 2012. Howard would have to be the 4th most coveted (although it’s closer than it used to be). Once those guys got signed by the Cardinals, Red Sox and White Sox, there wouldn’t be a lot of players for Howard – but the bar would be set. So I don’t see how he would have gotten more than this, that’s why I’m a little confused.

    Regardless, Howard is a unique player, which is not accounted for in your value assessment. He’s not a 30-100 left-fielder who you can get on the FA market. He is unique and his value must be adjusted likewise, not just according to win-values.

    I call this contract undesirable, but not terrible.

    Comment by Conballz — April 26, 2010 @ 4:34 pm

  10. Because the author compared Ryan Howard to Richie Sexson, Mo Vaugn, and Tony Clark in some form, any opinions written in this article are null and void.

    Comment by FTM — April 26, 2010 @ 4:38 pm

  11. “He isn’t juicing, so we can expect his body to hold-up better.”

    Not only do we not know this to be true, but it is categorically false even if we assume it is. Steroids (as used by baseball players) hasten recovery and keep you in better shape over the long haul. Amphetamines have the effect you are thinking of.

    Comment by Kyle Boddy — April 26, 2010 @ 4:40 pm

  12. Actually the author didn’t really compare them. He mentioned that they were among the 10 most similar batters to Howard through age 29 as determined by baseball-reference’s objective similarity scores

    Comment by Alex — April 26, 2010 @ 4:40 pm

  13. Who would you name as a player more similar then?

    Comment by Andrew — April 26, 2010 @ 4:41 pm

  14. I feel like I just got punched in the stomach. I’m living in Sudan and getting over some nasty food poisoning and looking for some happy escapism, I begin to make my baseball blog rounds. Then I see this news. I think Ruben just caused me to start following cricket.

    Comment by Gregg — April 26, 2010 @ 4:43 pm

  15. My theory: phillies ownership figures even if the phillies won’t contend in a few years, rather than going into rebuild mode, and losing money at the gate, they can just sign Howard and let him rack up HRs while putting butts in the seats. Meanwhile the team will blow, but the fans won’t care because there will be plenty of dingers! Great!

    Comment by Rut — April 26, 2010 @ 4:45 pm

  16. i wouldn’t compare howard to those players.

    at one point during the season last year howard weighed in at 235 lbs. he’s 6’4″ and weighing 235 lbs.

    his defense had gotten better(even better this year).

    i’m not saying this is a good contract(it probably isn’t), but there are a lot of factors that go into it.

    Maybe Amaro is trying to set the FA market for 1b after next year. if Pujols had signed prior to Howard then the bar would be set for around there(regardless of what we think). same thing with Agonz. if Agonz goes for 25mil a year then you definitely know that Howard was going to go that same price.

    there’s also the fact that Howard is the face of the philadelphia phillies franchise and the extra revenue from that alone helps justify some of this contract. this isn’t the royals, this is the face of a franchise in a top 5 market in all of baseball. it would be like letting Jeter walk when he was coming up on his last contract.

    now thats all been said, he really needs to rediscover how to take a walk or he’ll be awful in 2015.

    Comment by Jamie — April 26, 2010 @ 4:46 pm

  17. Albert Pujols? Ryan is in such better shape than all of them, and that doesn’t even matter, because their stats from 26-30 don’t even begin to compare.

    Comment by FTM — April 26, 2010 @ 4:47 pm

  18. That’s not what I said. His deal “now” isn’t the worst. This newest one will be.

    Comment by Matthew Carruth — April 26, 2010 @ 4:50 pm

  19. Yeah, but he’s a first baseman. Sure, a first baseman with a ton of power, but first baseman defense (and I wouldn’t go as far to call Howard a wizard with the glove) isn’t all that valuable, he strikes out a ton, and outside of his 45+ HRs a year nothing he does is particularly outstanding. He’s a very good player, no doubt, but nowhere near worth that kind of money. And as you stated, there’s a good number of premier first basemen available in the same FA class as Howard, so why the need to lock him up now? If all 4 hit the open market, the Phillies could end up getting their pick of the group and possibly end up in a better situation. Or, at least end up with a nice consolation prize should some other team scoop Howard up first. Now, Pujols probably isn’t going anywhere, and A-Gon could be traded and extended, by why the rush to lock this guy up when none of the other options have been locked up yet? If they waited, they’d have a better look at what would be available, what wouldn’t be, and what the market value for a premier first baseman would be at the time. Instead they rushed, reached, overreacted, and most importantly overpaid their THIRD best player (Utley and Halladay are definitely more important cogs to their team).

    Comment by SteveP — April 26, 2010 @ 4:50 pm

  20. Being a jays fan, I’ve been watching Vernon Wells play defense every day for about four years and although he absolutely does not have the range to play centerfield and doesn’t have much of an arm, he does take good routes and is as sure handed with the glove as i’ve seen. I understand range kills Vernon with UZR, as it should, he doesn’t have it for centerfield. I just hate the notion that he’s a laughably bad fielder.

    Comment by The Bunk — April 26, 2010 @ 4:51 pm

  21. The contract may be huge but Howard deserves it. Howard is the best run producer in baseball. He has at least 40 HR and 135 RBI the last 4 seasons. Howard is the fastest player to reach both the 100 and 200 home run milestones in Major League Baseball history. Howard also shows no signs of slowing down, if anything he has proven to be dedicated to improving. He has lost weight and improved his defense. He cut down on his strikeouts last season and has shown improved plate discipline this season. For a player entering his 6th MLB season he has already accomplished a significant amount.

    NL Rookie of the Year (2005)
    2× All-Star (2006, 2009)
    Silver Slugger (2006)
    NL MVP (2006)
    NL Hank Aaron Award (2006)
    Home Run Derby winner (2006)
    Led NL in home runs (2006, 2008)
    Led NL in RBI (2006, 2008, 2009)
    World Series Champion (2008)
    2009 National League Championship Series MVP

    MLB record of at least one RBI in consecutive postseason games in the same year.
    MLB record of at least one RBI in consecutive postseason games.

    Comment by TheTruth — April 26, 2010 @ 4:51 pm

  22. Did the Phillies start hiring Brian Sabean on the sly for personnel decisions? (as a longtime Giants fan, I find this one of the only possible explanations for this deal). I can almost guarantee the Phils will come to regret this one..

    Howard is neither in possession of a swing type nor body type that ages well. Even if he stays healthy, it’s more than likely that the latter years of this contract will see Howard resembling Mo Vaughn or David Ortiz in their mid-late ’30s. He’s a DH in waiting, but the Phillies don’t play in that league..

    Comment by Fergie348 — April 26, 2010 @ 4:52 pm

  23. Albert Pujols? You’re kidding right? Look at the similar players for Albert Pujols on baseball reference. Howard is a very good player, but Pujols is beyond great. His worst comparisons are borderline hall of famers.

    Comment by Andrew — April 26, 2010 @ 4:52 pm

  24. Vernon Wells can move to left field and be a plus fielder for the position.

    Comment by The Bunk — April 26, 2010 @ 4:53 pm

  25. I misspoke (mistyped?) — I knew what you meant. My ultimate point was that while my immediate reaction was to question the assertion that the new deal was baseball’s worst, the fact that it includes more guaranteed money than any of the other worst contract contenders (i.e. Soriano, Wells, Zito, etc.) means that you’re probably right on that count.

    Comment by PhillyFriar — April 26, 2010 @ 4:54 pm

  26. Howard is a run producer for one reason – He’s got Victorino, Rollins and Utley hitting in front of him. The myth of the ‘RBI man’ is propagated once again..

    Comment by Fergie348 — April 26, 2010 @ 4:54 pm

  27. Yeah, I’m not going to compare him to the guy who’s got forty points of career wOBA on him despite not starting his career in his prime. Also, the body types are completely different. We shouldn’t expect Albert to break down nearly as soon.

    Comment by Kevin S. — April 26, 2010 @ 4:56 pm

  28. I don’t think it’s unrealistic to think that Howard will age better than Sexson and Vaughn, but the production he’d need from Ages 32-36 to justify this deal is, quite frankly, out of his reach.

    And come on, dude, Pujols is a stupid comp and you know it.

    Comment by PhillyFriar — April 26, 2010 @ 4:58 pm

  29. Pujols? Ha ha ha…

    But you’re right, their stats don’t even begin to compare. Mo Vaughn was a *significantly* better hitter than Ryan Howard during his prime.

    Hit Dog had 5 seasons in a row with a wOBA above .400, around 40-44 HR, and an average well above .300. Ryan Howard has one season with a wOBA above .400 (his aberration 2006)…

    Comment by TWA — April 26, 2010 @ 5:03 pm

  30. Another argument of the chicken or the egg? You win games by scoring runs and Howard produces runs better than anyone in baseball. He is a feared hitter who can carry a team. You can only say that about a handful of players.

    Howard has produced at a historical level. That is what differentiates him from other players named above. Howard is just the fourth player in baseball history to total at least 40 home runs and 130-plus RBIs in four consecutive seasons, joining Babe Ruth (seven straight seasons), Ken Griffey Jr. (four) and Sammy Sosa (four).

    Comment by TheTruth — April 26, 2010 @ 5:06 pm

  31. is 2013 and 2014 Vernon Wells will still have the worst contract in baseball.

    Comment by Tom B — April 26, 2010 @ 5:09 pm

  32. Dear god, you know what website you’re commenting on, right? Citing RBIs as your main argument is not going to get you anywhere.

    Comment by Steve Slow — April 26, 2010 @ 5:09 pm

  33. Have you actually seen the Cardinals play a game before, or do you just watch the Phils?

    Comment by Nate — April 26, 2010 @ 5:10 pm

  34. Of all those credentials, the Home Run Derby title is the most impressive.

    Comment by Tino Martinez — April 26, 2010 @ 5:10 pm

  35. Figured this would be a good thread to pose this question in because of the high traffic it’s bound to receive(and already receiving).

    Can someone link me to the part of the website that explains advanced stats such as WAR and wOBA? The Glossary seems to have definitions but I couldn’t find definitions for every advanced stat.

    Comment by The Bunk — April 26, 2010 @ 5:11 pm

  36. While I agree that this is an overpay, Howard *is* an ‘RBI man’.

    It may be the result of the fact that you can’t overshift as easily with men on base, but his career splits are

    Bases empty
    .268 /.340 /.539 (1560 PAs)
    Men on base
    .291 /.405 /.628 (1660 PAs)

    Most guys hit better with men on base for a variety of reasons but the league splits are usually more like 25 points of OPS than 150. Chalk it up to statistical anomaly if you’d like but that’s two and a half seasons worth of PAs in each situation and contradicts the common sense notion that he’d hit worse with men on base due to seeing lots of LOOGYs.

    Incidentally Rollins doesn’t have a great OBP and while Victorino’s is above average it’s not really atypical for a top of the lineup hitter. Only Utley is really excellent in that respect.

    Comment by don — April 26, 2010 @ 5:11 pm

  37. Holy hell people, Albert Pujols was not an actual comparison, just a sarcastic answer to the question “who would you name as a player more similar, then?”, as if Richie Sexson, Mo Vaugn, and Tony Clark is a good comparison to Howard. Vaugn, yes, not as bad as the rest. but there’s a damn big difference between the runs they produced. (except that crazy year after mo won MVP and had unbelievable numbers but came in 5th)

    Comment by FTM — April 26, 2010 @ 5:12 pm

  38. What Tino said x2!

    Comment by Eric Davis — April 26, 2010 @ 5:12 pm

  39. He is only feared when there is a right-handed pitcher on the mound, strike one.
    He can’t DH when he is 35+, strike two.
    When his bat speed begins to slow down, his strikeouts will get worse(more likely they will stay constant rather than him getting better), strike three.

    And… This is the wrong place to argue about RBI totals…

    Comment by Tom B — April 26, 2010 @ 5:13 pm

  40. Stop…please, just stop. Comment less; read more FanGraphs.

    Comment by Steve Slow — April 26, 2010 @ 5:13 pm

  41. Mo Vaughn’s stats were better …

    Howard (age 26): .313/.425/.659
    Vaughn (age 26): .310/.408/.576

    Howard (age 27): .268/.392/.584
    Vaughn (age 27): .300/.388/.575

    Howard (age 28): .251/.339/.543
    Vaughn (age 28): .326/.420/.583

    Howard (age 29): .279/.360/.571
    Vaughn (age 29): .315/.420/.560

    Comment by Mister Delaware — April 26, 2010 @ 5:14 pm

  42. And where can you find the stats for Home Run Derby titles won?

    Comment by Tino Martinez — April 26, 2010 @ 5:14 pm

  43. You’re on Fangraphs, why not use the stats? Howard is nowhere near the best run producer in baseball (that’s Albert Pujols you’re thinking of), Howard’s ranking in terms of wRC the last three years: 10th, 30th, 18th. You can list a bunch of meaningless stats, which probably affected his contract but have no effect on his ability as a baseball player, but that doesn’t make this deal make any more sense (besides, playing on the run-happy Phillies and starting his career on the cusp of his power-prime gives him an unfair advantage to break those sorts of records…)

    Comment by TWA — April 26, 2010 @ 5:15 pm

  44. If he has poor range, wouldn’t he be a “laughably bad fielder”? Are you defining sure handedness as being a good fielder? Just curious as to what your definition is–do you define range as something else?

    Comment by dizzle — April 26, 2010 @ 5:16 pm

  45. I think this poster is joking.

    Comment by Nate — April 26, 2010 @ 5:17 pm

  46. I know you’re quoting laughably irrelevant accomplishments, but Home Run Derby winner? What website do you think this is?

    Comment by Matt — April 26, 2010 @ 5:18 pm

  47. Ryan Howard was 7th in runs created (produced) last year, so no he does not produce runs better than anyone in baseball.
    Ryan Howard is also 10th in runs scoredm which is what wins games right?

    At least you got the “you win games by scoring runs” right.

    Comment by RBIs Really? — April 26, 2010 @ 5:18 pm

  48. For the last time… The Lee deal was not about money but about replenishing the farm system. If it was about money, they would have just dumped Blanton for peanuts.

    Comment by Dave — April 26, 2010 @ 5:19 pm

  49. worse than Soriano or Vernon Wells? I think not. At least they already got two world series appearances out of him. The Cubs and Jays will have absolutely nothing for the money they committed to those two players.

    Comment by JamesDaBear — April 26, 2010 @ 5:20 pm

  50. Yeah, I’ve seen the Cardinals play. The Phillies. Where Ryan Howard’s OPS (does that make you demons happy?) is almost .500 points higher than Pujols’s head-to-head. I’m not comparing, I’m just saying.

    Comment by FTM — April 26, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

  51. So Ryan Howard is the only hitter in baseball that has runners on base? I understand RBI numbers don’t tell the story for a hitter, but when you consistently have over 130 a year…it does say something. Howard isn’t Pujols, we all know this, but he’s a dynamic run producer whose been incredibly consistent the last four years.

    Plus, Rollins and Victorino aren’t exactly OBP kings, so if anything he could have had even more impressive RBI numbers if he played with a, say, Jeter or Ichiro.

    That said, this contract is going to go from bad to worse quicker than I’d care to think about. $25M in 2014-16 is very, very scary for any team.

    Comment by Dave — April 26, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

  52. You are all wrong; Ryan Howard is so clutch. If he hits one game-winning homer, he is worth every penny of his contract. He saves his energy and focus for that big moment, which explains the outs in earlier, non-clutch situations.

    His clutchiness inspires normally average players like Chase Utley to hit well in big situations and to field those tough grounders.

    I was going to go on but I can’t, its a terrible contract and I hate when people use “intangibles” to explain how one player is better than another. They usually only do so when they can’t think of a better argument and resort to some indefinable factor to support their argument.

    Comment by dizzle — April 26, 2010 @ 5:22 pm

  53. You are an excellent source of irrelevant stats.

    Comment by Tom B — April 26, 2010 @ 5:23 pm

  54. As stated elsewhere, the “comparable players” list is from B-R.com. Regardless of whether you agree with specific comps, the fact is that an algorithm determined that some of the potential futures for Howard aren’t rosy.

    Equally enlightening is the baseballprospectus comp list. It’s behind a paywall, but here it is:
    Mcgriff
    Gil Hodges
    Mike Epstein
    Jim Thome
    Hank Greenberg
    Cecil Fielder
    McCovey
    David Ortiz
    Stargell

    A number of stars, Hofers, but also some guys who aged miserably. Anyone with a shred of sanity has to admit that Howard’s skillset doesn’t look to age as nicely as, say, Pujols.

    Comment by Travis L — April 26, 2010 @ 5:23 pm

  55. +1 for the effort… hehe

    Comment by Tom B — April 26, 2010 @ 5:24 pm

  56. Troll. Has to be.

    Comment by Travis L — April 26, 2010 @ 5:24 pm

  57. poor range=laughably bad fielder???

    Comment by The Bunk — April 26, 2010 @ 5:24 pm

  58. If it was about replenishing the farm system, they should have gotten a better haul.

    Comment by Kevin S. — April 26, 2010 @ 5:24 pm

  59. Howard IS kind of a clutch hitter.
    in WPA
    he was 2nd in 2006
    he was 3rd in 2009

    and he’s 20th out of the Active list. there are only 3 players ahead of him that are younger than him on the active list. Pujols and Dunn. (they are all 30 years old), and cabrera who is 27.

    Comment by Jamie — April 26, 2010 @ 5:25 pm

  60. Have you seen Ryan Howard recently? His body is nothing like Ortiz & Vaughn, he’s 6’6 240/245, and his weight isn’t all fat, he’s a muscular guy.

    He dropped his weight to 255 for 2009, and dropped another 10/15 pounds this past offseason.

    I don’t see any reason to believe his weight is or will be an issue going forward, if you want to make those comparisons for anyone it should be Prince Fielder since he’s hovering around 300 pounds and is under 6′.

    Comment by BN — April 26, 2010 @ 5:26 pm

  61. Dizzle: Being played out of position may not be entirely his fault. It is possible that he insists on playing in center but the manager and the organization don’t HAVE to cave to his demands.

    I don’t think that you can be laughably bad if you make the routine plays but simply lack range – though you obviously can’t be GOOD with such a range deficit.

    Comment by MADness — April 26, 2010 @ 5:28 pm

  62. It was also about money and exceeding a payroll threshold that would limit their operating income this year. Ridiculous to think otherwise.

    Comment by MG — April 26, 2010 @ 5:29 pm

  63. -1 for explaining your joke in the last paragraph

    Comment by Bill Campbell — April 26, 2010 @ 5:30 pm

  64. bref is all based on statistics. i believe the bprosp stuff is all based on age/weight/stats/position. but that will be steadily changing as well becuase howard ISN”T a fat out of shape first basemen. he’s a 240lb 6’5″ first basement. thats a pretty good physique.

    the only thing to keep howard from having a long career is being able to take a walk(and learn how to hit lefties). which are actually really hard things to do.

    things are stacked in his favor and he’ll probably turn into the new abreu soon enough.

    Comment by Jamie — April 26, 2010 @ 5:30 pm

  65. First of all, he didn’t grow 2 inches last year… he’s 6-4 255. I’d bet any amount of money that 255 is a complete like and its more like 265-270. He’s not obese, as is Fielder, but don’t try to pass him off as “muscular”.

    You might as well call him big-boned.

    Comment by Tom B — April 26, 2010 @ 5:31 pm

  66. From an objective perspective, THE DAY IT WAS SIGNED, no contract in baseball history has been objectively WORSE than Howard’s deal.

    Comment by seattlee — April 26, 2010 @ 5:32 pm

  67. 6-4 255, as listed by MLB. why do people just make up heights and weights to make howards seem taller/thinner? his height and weight are an easily referable fact, not an opinion.

    Comment by Tom B — April 26, 2010 @ 5:33 pm

  68. That’s all i’m really trying to get across, my idea of a laughably bad fielder is someone like Adam Lind who’s routes are the equivalent of physical comedy, I would NEVER think of Vernon Wells in the same light.

    Comment by The Bunk — April 26, 2010 @ 5:34 pm

  69. But what about his career all-star RBI totals ?

    Comment by jross — April 26, 2010 @ 5:35 pm

  70. It’s an outrage.

    Comment by Ryan Leaf — April 26, 2010 @ 5:35 pm

  71. RBI’s are overrated, for sure. But when a guy has 17% more than any other player in baseball over his first 4 seasons and leads the league 3 of 4 times, that is not irrelevant.

    I enjoy this site and others like it greatly, but it’s off-putting when authors like the one above write in absolutes, as if the system they have developed to evaluate players is perfect. Howard has put a great deal of effort into shaping his body the last couple years and is down 30-40 lbs. He’s not a “fat” guy, he’s just big. And, the top-10 comps on BR are not nearly as bad as you made them out to be.

    Let’s look at his Top-10 comps on BR since you referenced them above.

    1. Sexton – implies failure for Howard
    2. Fielder – Fat
    3. Vaughn – Fat and Steroids
    4. Willie McCovey – HOFer effective through age 39
    5. David Ortiz – Steroids
    6. Tony Clark – implies failure for Howard
    7. Mark McGwire – steroids
    8. Carlos Delgado – effective until age 36, when howard’s contract runs out
    9. Fred McGriff – effective until age 38
    10. Norm Cash – effective until age 36

    So you’ve got 3 guys on steroids, 1 grossly overweight guy, 2 comps that imply failure (Clark and Sexson) and 4 comps that imply success. So of the 6 guys that are actually comparable to Howard, 66% were effective through age 36. If you want to just eliminate the steroid folk, and include Fielder, then it’s still over 50%. Not exactly absolute.

    Did the Phillies overpay and probably give him 1-2 too many years? Yeah. Is this going to be the worst contract in baseball. I say it’s very unlikely.

    Comment by pete — April 26, 2010 @ 5:35 pm

  72. If used in proper doses rather than being abused, amphetamines do not have negative physical side effects that would impact performance of an athlete (even at the highest levels) until well past the end of their career.

    The short-term side-effects of amphetamines can include some loss of focus (though usually not enough to negate the increase in energy that they provide to a person who is attempting to push their body beyond its limits) and a lack of appetite (which can be either a plus or minus to an athlete depending upon their body type and size).

    Long-term damage to the brain, the liver and the heart can result from reasonable low dosage amphetamine usage but that would be an issue after a player retires rather than while he is active and playing.

    Comment by MADness — April 26, 2010 @ 5:37 pm

  73. Ugh, I’m a Phillies fan and I might even have to agree with this.

    Awful contract, and even if Howard continues to be successful it’s still not a very team-friendly deal. By the way, see you later Jayson Werth, it’s been nice having you.

    Comment by Bill — April 26, 2010 @ 5:38 pm

  74. If its the last time I hear that dumb line then great. It’ll be the last time I have to call it a dumb argument. Why replenish the farm system when you have a core of guys who are all around the same age? Also, if Lee left you were going to get two first round draft picks for him?

    Comment by mattymatty — April 26, 2010 @ 5:40 pm

  75. All of you idiots can have your moneyball sabremetric stats. I don’t care about Howards OPS, OBP, BABIP, etc. He is one of the best run producers in the game and is a proven winner. I’ll admit the contract may not look that good 4-5 years from now. But Howard has shown a strong work ethic and desire to improve. He did not sit back and get lazy when he signed his 1st big contract a few years ago, instead he went out and got better.

    The truth is that baseballs popularity is probably as high as it has ever been. And player salaries are escalating. Howard is gettting an absurd amount of money but it is in line with what the best players in baseball make these days. I dont hear anyone commenting on the fact that A-Rod will make $30 million at the age of 43.

    Comment by TheTruth — April 26, 2010 @ 5:42 pm

  76. You have to love the people who obviously came across Fangraphs via Google and just have no idea…

    Comment by Nathan — April 26, 2010 @ 5:43 pm

  77. I like Howard and im a phils fan. This deal over pays him. Projecting it out how much is he going to be overpaid? I am hoping he ages better than we all think and lives up to his salary.

    Comment by Evan — April 26, 2010 @ 5:44 pm

  78. I’m sure it won’t end up the worst deal in baseball history on a production-per-dollar basis, but as far as the timing (economic and the fact that Howard is almost 2 year from free agency) and the AAV and the FA class he was to be a part of, it just might be the worst conceived. Historically stupid.

    Comment by Mister Delaware — April 26, 2010 @ 5:44 pm

  79. You guys seem to be missing the point. He’s saying this contract will look worse than those contracts once it actually kicks in for the 2012 season. By that time the Cubs will owe Soriano 54 million for 3 years, the Jays will owe Wells 63 million for 3 years, but the Phillies will still owe Howard 125 million for 5 years.

    As for the Phils already getting 2 WS appearances for the money they committed to Howard, that couldn’t be any further from the truth. They already got those 2 WS appearances before they gave him this deal. Whether or not they gave him this extension, that fact wasn’t going to change. Giving him extra money for things he did in the past doesn’t somehow magically make the contract better going forward.

    Comment by Alex — April 26, 2010 @ 5:47 pm

  80. Tom, go watch a phillies game and tell me that guy is 255.

    http://goo.gl/ZABZ

    this article has him saying he’s at 244 for spring training. and another article had him at 235 by midseason(all players lose weight during the season). regardless if he’s 6’4″ or 6’5″, 244 isn’t a lot of weight for his frame.

    http://goo.gl/NzM4

    does that guy look fat or out of shape?

    Comment by Jamie — April 26, 2010 @ 5:47 pm

  81. The Phillies could have gotten better prospects with the 2 high draft picks they would have gotten from Lee. They didn’t want to pay him AND Roy Halladay while only having Lee for 1 year.

    Comment by Evan Kirkwood — April 26, 2010 @ 5:49 pm

  82. Who’s to say in 5 years that 25 million will be a lot of money? USA is already pulling out of the recession. stock market is back to where it was 2 years ago. if anything inflation rates will be probably climb like they were a couple of years ago(well, not as much). but 5 years is a lot of time.

    Comment by Jamie — April 26, 2010 @ 5:52 pm

  83. Thanks Tom, I’m obviously going to take your word on this since you’re the expect on this matter. We should all believe that there’s no way he’s less than 255, like every article this spring talked about his weight loss. That he’s actually 10-15 pounds heavier than his listed weight.

    Obviously all of those pictures of the thinner Howard were a big ruse to convince people that he’d lost weight even though he didn’t. He probably gained weight this offseason even. I bet his real weight is 280 and they’re trying to pull a fast one on us.

    Comment by BN — April 26, 2010 @ 5:53 pm

  84. That’s because he won’t, he’ll make $20 million. His contract is front-loaded because the Yankee’s have a real GM.

    Comment by Tom B — April 26, 2010 @ 5:54 pm

  85. Every single player on his BR top 10 comp list was a good offensive player and most of them were VERY good during their primes.

    Ryan Howard is one heck of a power hitter who will be leaving the end of his prime physical years when this contract STARTS.

    He can be a very good player and still have a horrible contract.

    Comment by MADness — April 26, 2010 @ 5:54 pm

  86. The 2 compensation picks would have amounted to about 1/3 of the trade value they got back from the Mariners, nice try. Again… Blanton is making nearly the same as Lee this year, they would have dumped him instead in a heartbeat if it was about the money.

    I do agree that they should have gotten a better haul, but for some reason the mlb teams do not see Lee as a top 10 MLB pitcher… Hence why the Phillies also got him for a cheap haul

    Comment by Dave — April 26, 2010 @ 5:56 pm

  87. No one ever paid those guys like they were the best player in baseball.

    Comment by Tom B — April 26, 2010 @ 5:56 pm

  88. economics fail.

    Comment by Tom B — April 26, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

  89. don’t hide behind the fact that you made those numbers up to make your argument better. 6-4 to 6-6 is a BIG deal.

    Comment by Tom B — April 26, 2010 @ 5:59 pm

  90. Tyson Gillies, Phillippe Aumont and Juan Ramirez.

    I’d take 2 sandwich picks over… whoever those guys are to keep one of the best pitchers in baseball on my team for a shot at a world series.

    Comment by Tom B — April 26, 2010 @ 6:01 pm

  91. Steve P, you just reiterrated my statement. I think the money will be about right regardless of when they sign him. But if that’s the case then why stop him now.

    Also you must not watch Howard a lot b/c he is pretty much becoming a wizard with the glove. And he’s scooped every pick there so far, saving multiple poor throws. First base defense is much more valuable than you think.

    Oh and he was 8/8 last year in SBs. The guy is athletic with a quick-step. Two descriptors not associated with Mo and Russell.

    Comment by Conballz — April 26, 2010 @ 6:03 pm

  92. Oh great. Using the stock market as an indicator of economic health is as bad as using RBI as a stat to justify Howard’s contract.

    Comment by Condor — April 26, 2010 @ 6:05 pm

  93. Sure I got the height wrong, but the weight was talked about ad nueseam this spring with countless articles wrote about it. Just like the ones from the year before when he dropped to 255.

    But surely those are all made up and your guesstimate of 270. Just as me mistaking the height, you tacking up 25 pounds without any information to prove it is a “big deal”.

    Comment by BN — April 26, 2010 @ 6:10 pm

  94. Best reply yet. I only wish to add, none of these guys hold a candle to his defense (maybe McGriff) and athleticism.

    Comment by Conballz — April 26, 2010 @ 6:10 pm

  95. Why does production coming in “unique” ways make the total production more valuable?

    Comment by philkid3 — April 26, 2010 @ 6:13 pm

  96. These things are in the glossary? You should read through all the parts under the win values section; these articles also link the specific definitions of the stats you just mentioned…

    Comment by Justin — April 26, 2010 @ 6:16 pm

  97. I can think of about a dozen guys you could put in the 4th spot in that lineup that would produce as many runs as he has. RBIs are more contextual than any other offensive stat.

    I’m not saying that Howard is not a valuable player (he is), but what the Phillies are paying for the next 6 years for the benefit of his services will at some point make the Soriano and Wells contracts look reasonable.

    Comment by Fergie348 — April 26, 2010 @ 6:17 pm

  98. Yeah Tony Clark couldn’t hold a candle to Ryan Howard when it comes to athleticism…that must be why he was good enough play basketball at the D-1 level.

    Comment by Alex — April 26, 2010 @ 6:23 pm

  99. Let’s not forget that most players who are given a metric $h1tload of money to play baseball try to live up to that contract, creating all kinds of havoc for themselves (see Zito, B). It will be interesting to see how Howard reacts to this. If he feels like he needs to always be ‘the guy’ to drive in runs to propel the Phillies to victory he may actually regress in areas like OSwing % and strikeouts. I don’t see much opportunity for upside in this contract for the signing team, only downside risk..

    Comment by Fergie348 — April 26, 2010 @ 6:23 pm

  100. Well the later years in the ARod contract could be ugly, but at least they can DH him.

    Still this seems like a huge gamble in the last 2 or 3 years… the buyout is also so large it almost assuredly will mean the last year will be paid. This will also be a contract that will be nearly impossible to dump if things go bad… it would have to be an AL team and it would likely mean the Phils paying most of the salary,

    And there’s also a limited no trade clause? Does anyone know the details on that?

    Comment by Hank — April 26, 2010 @ 6:24 pm

  101. “none of these guys hold a candle to his defense …”

    This is an aside, I guess, but still, did you notice Willie McCovey was on that list?

    Comment by Ryan Leaf — April 26, 2010 @ 6:26 pm

  102. Howard was overweight 3 years ago. He’s been in top condition since the beginning of 09.

    Sorry, but its true.

    Yeah, this deal a big reach but don’t compare him to Mo Vaughn for body/fitness…its not even comparable.

    Stargell would probably be a better comp for him…or McCovey.

    Comment by NEPP — April 26, 2010 @ 6:28 pm

  103. The Phillies should have held out and let the Mets give Howard 150 million over five years in 2012 :\

    Comment by Mets fan — April 26, 2010 @ 6:28 pm

  104. As a comparison McCovey is the only player you listed with similar talent yet Howard could be better than McCovey as well.

    Comment by mowill — April 26, 2010 @ 6:31 pm

  105. To me, his weight isn’t the problem. Just b/c the other guys on his lists are fat, doesn’t mean the weight is what makes his future look less bright (compared to, say, Pujols). His skillset doesn’t historically age well, and ISNT aging well (look at his non MVP stats and tell me you’re not seeing the start of his decline…)

    So even if he dropped 25 pounds… These two systems, which have different methodology, both show big reasons for concern for Howard’s future.

    Comment by Travis L — April 26, 2010 @ 6:36 pm

  106. I’d be very happy if Howard ends up a career similar to McCovey. That’s pretty high praise actually.

    Comment by NEPP — April 26, 2010 @ 6:37 pm

  107. I thought Cliff Lee was on the disabled list. Maybe he should have taken the phillies offer of 5 years and 85 million and be happy. What do you think he is worth right now?

    Comment by joe — April 26, 2010 @ 6:40 pm

  108. Mo Vaugn juiced and anyone with half a brain knows it.

    Comment by mowill — April 26, 2010 @ 6:41 pm

  109. Thank you for making some sense in this sea of nonsense. The Phillies are locking up a core group of players for years to come. Long term contracts are always risky, but this was a great move.

    Comment by JD — April 26, 2010 @ 6:42 pm

  110. I dunno…I think Zito’s was worse.

    Comment by George — April 26, 2010 @ 6:42 pm

  111. If Howard continues to have 35+ homer power in, let’s say, 5 of the next 7 seasons, which I believe is possible, then the deal will be more than worth it.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 26, 2010 @ 6:43 pm

  112. The people complaining about his weight and body type evidently havent seen him in the last 2 years.

    Comment by JD — April 26, 2010 @ 6:43 pm

  113. Looking at it strictly from a baseball sense, this is likely a bad deal for the Phillies.

    If you look at it from a marketing/merchandise point of view, I think the Phillies break even in the long run. They just assured that the face of their franchise will remain in a Phillies uniform for the entire length of his career. There’s a decent shot he becomes the 2nd Phillie to ever have 500 HRs behind Michael Jack. He’s beloved like few others in the city of Philadelphia as he’s won them a championship. So, while he might be a huge albatross in the final year or two of the deal (not definite but possible), its not a brutal financial situation for the franchise.

    And he could surprise all of us and remain in top shape pulling a McCovey/Stargell. If that happens, he will have more than made Amaro Jr. his money back.

    Comment by NEPP — April 26, 2010 @ 6:44 pm

  114. Defense is about 1% as important as power.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 26, 2010 @ 6:47 pm

  115. Absolutely.

    Comment by JD — April 26, 2010 @ 6:48 pm

  116. Did anyone compare him to Vaughn based on body/fitness? All I’ve seen is people comparing the two in terms of skills and career arc.

    Comment by Alex — April 26, 2010 @ 6:49 pm

  117. Objective? Ok, prove it, factually. Go!

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 26, 2010 @ 6:49 pm

  118. So getting 35+ HRs most of the time is worth 25 million now a days? Adam Dunn is going to be pretty excited.

    Comment by Alex — April 26, 2010 @ 6:50 pm

  119. The only top pitcher hitting the market next year with the yankees needing a pitcher, he might just be smarter then you.

    Comment by bakes — April 26, 2010 @ 6:54 pm

  120. “Sooo … where’s my $25MM deal?” – Adam Dunn

    Comment by Mister Delaware — April 26, 2010 @ 6:56 pm

  121. Maybe not 35 HRs by itself. That’s probably worth 20 million. 35+ homers by itself + slugging .500 with runners on is almost certainly worth 25 million.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 26, 2010 @ 6:56 pm

  122. Funny, I just made a Dunn comment above. The gap between him and Howard is far smaller than the gap between Howard and Pujols. And yet … this happened.

    2007-2009:
    Pujols: .337/.444/.626 (2,020 PAs)
    Howard: .266/.363/.565 (2,051 PAs)
    Dunn: .256/.390/.532 (1,951 PAs)

    Comment by Mister Delaware — April 26, 2010 @ 6:59 pm

  123. I think the tail end of the A-Rod deal is going to be on this list by then, though of course the Yankees can better absorb it than anyone else.

    Comment by don — April 26, 2010 @ 7:00 pm

  124. Of course, Howard is a plus defender under most metrics while Dunn is probably the worst defender in recent memory (regardless of what position you try to stash him at).

    So there’s that.

    Comment by NEPP — April 26, 2010 @ 7:01 pm

  125. You do realize Dunn only got 20 million for 2 years when he was coming off 5 straight 40+ HR seasons right? I don’t think any team agrees with you on what 35+ HR are worth.

    BTW, did I mention that Dunn has also slugged over .500 with runners on for his career?

    Comment by Alex — April 26, 2010 @ 7:03 pm

  126. @Thomas J. – Why didn’t Jason Bay get $25MM?

    Comment by Mister Delaware — April 26, 2010 @ 7:03 pm

  127. “Of course, Howard is a plus defender under most metrics while Dunn is probably the worst defender in recent memory (regardless of what position you try to stash him at).

    So there’s that.”

    So does that mean Dunn should only get $20MM for 5 years or that Pujols, a plus-plus defender, should get like $45MM.

    Comment by Mister Delaware — April 26, 2010 @ 7:08 pm

  128. Mr. Delaware – Probably because the Mets didn’t project him to hit 35+ homers too many times over the length of the contract.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 26, 2010 @ 7:12 pm

  129. No, I’m just saying that comparing Dunn and Howard is about as stupid as comparing Howard and Pujols.

    You can’t compare any current player to Pujols and make it look good. He’s easily the best RH bat of the last half century and a plus defender at his position.

    Howard is a premier slugger and a good defender.

    Dunn is a good slugger and a terrible defender…easily the worst in the league at 1B and even worse in the OF.

    Both are dumb comparisons.

    On the money side of it, I think Howard is worth more to the Phillies than any other team. That’s why its hard to say “Well, a win is worth $4 million so Player X will have to average 6 wins to make back the money they’re paying him.” There are exceptions to this rule. For example, Derek Jeter is worth far more to the Yankees than he would be to any other franchise. Its the same with Griffey Jr in Seattle even now. Teams don’t just make money on the field with wins…they make it through selling their product. Its somewhat foolish to ignore that aspect of the game/business when the teams involved clearly do not ignore it.

    Comment by NEPP — April 26, 2010 @ 7:20 pm

  130. To follow up on NEPP’s point, this is clearly a franchise decision for the phillies, and not just a purely baseball decision. Let’s say they will take a 35~ million hit in the baseball value front, that means they are spending this money to boost their short term revenue. Not to say this is worth it, or it is the correct way to build a team brand, but it is true that because Howard has a following in philly and nowhere else, the guy is worth more to philly than he is to any other team.

    Comment by awayish — April 26, 2010 @ 7:39 pm

  131. Gasp! There’s another BN and he’s believes that Ryan Howard has the body of a baskeball power forward! Say it ain’t so!

    Comment by B N — April 26, 2010 @ 7:43 pm

  132. The stock market is the best leading indicator of future economic growth. That is why it topped out in October of 07 about a year before the crash, and why it bottomed a year ago about one year before the current V shaped recovery.

    Comment by mowill — April 26, 2010 @ 7:50 pm

  133. And regardless of his exact weight, Howard is a big dude and I think you have to admit he will have trouble staying in great shape once he’s in his mid-late 30’s. And despite improving his defense considerably, nobody is going to start mistaking Howard with Adrian Gonzalez in the field.

    I definitely expect the Phils to regret this decision down the road. Of course, by then I’ll be out of Philly and their run of good luck will be up- so they were bound to decline anyways. I moved here in 2005 and after a couple of years of gradual improvement, they turned into a powerhouse. Now that I’m leaving, they get a couple more years to coast and will go back to sucking. If I have some time, I will chart my residences and the statistical impact they have on team performance.

    Expect the next team to have a run of championships to be somewhere in California. Maybe SF or San Diego, starting in 2013 or 2014.

    Comment by B N — April 26, 2010 @ 7:50 pm

  134. The deal is quite bad, but I’m getting a little sick of Howard being compared to fat asses like Cecil Fielder. Howard is thinner than he’s ever been and works every offseason to improve his game rather than someone like Fielder, who I assumed at a large cow every Saturday.

    Yes, he blows against lefties, but his defense is improving. The problem with the deal is that he’s going to be well overpaid, not that he’s going to “age poorly.”

    Comment by Rich — April 26, 2010 @ 7:56 pm

  135. Forget intangibles. What about tangibles? Ryan Howard is a big, nice guy. You have to imagine he’s a pretty cuddly fellow. By forgetting about his tangibles, people are forgetting how much big Ryan Howard bear hugs will improve team performance. The impact on performance may be tough to measure statistically, but the number of hugs are clearly measurable and from those we can run a regression to find the win-share equivalent of a Ryan Howard hug vs some lesser player.

    Plus he can play the tuba, I think. Which has got to count for something. Even during his stints on the DL in those later years, he can still play some music during the 7th inning stretch.

    Comment by B N — April 26, 2010 @ 7:57 pm

  136. I am very impressed with the posters here who can read into the future and know for a fact that this will be a bad deal for the Phillies 5 years into the future.

    Comment by JD — April 26, 2010 @ 7:58 pm

  137. Here’s a question: Is the market value of a power hitter higher than for other types of hitters?

    The cost of a player is how much salary he takes away from other players. If a player is marketable and increases revenues for a franchise, he may enable the payroll to increase as well. Thus the total payroll he takes from other players may be less than his salary. I’m sure that teams are considering revenue when making personnel decisions, and not just wins. I suspect that marketable “superstars” probably command a higher salary per win than other types of players.

    Now obviously a player that helps a team win will make the team money, so there is value in a win. But not all wins are equal from a revenue standpoint — players who create wins in more “exciting” ways may make the team more exciting, especially if that player is able to hit certain sexy milestones. And what’s sexier than a homer?

    So I ask: have historical contracts demonstrated a “power premium” above projected win value?

    Comment by Jon — April 26, 2010 @ 7:59 pm

  138. Zito’s is still worse, I think. But still. Oww.

    I don’t get these deals. Guys are going to get injured eventually. Every player gets injured. Why sign a guy at peak value if you have him for years? Wait until he has an awful year, then lock him up. There will be an awful year somewhere for almost anyone, so why not use it to save some money?

    Comment by B N — April 26, 2010 @ 7:59 pm

  139. Yes it is high praise. I maintain that Howard could actually be better. Only two other players in baseball history have similar raw homerun power without steroids. Ruth and Mantle. He is not as good a hitter as they were and plenty of guys were better overall hitters with less power. But the homerun totals he has put up since he got the call are amazing.

    Comment by mowill — April 26, 2010 @ 8:02 pm

  140. Yeah, I’m sure them making the playoffs again and winning 90+ games while retaining their core for the next couple of years will have them plummeting.

    Comment by vivaelpujols — April 26, 2010 @ 8:04 pm

  141. Who else? Blanton’s fat, but his contract is perfectly reasonable. Ditto Ibanez.

    Comment by vivaelpujols — April 26, 2010 @ 8:04 pm

  142. ate*

    Comment by Rich — April 26, 2010 @ 8:06 pm

  143. who is sexton?

    also, can somebody please explain to us why being overweight or on steroids necessarily invalidates you from comparison to Howard? Eyesight, batspeed, reflexes; these seem like the things that will cause his production/skillset to fall off, and none of them seem to me to be crippled by either weight or steroids.

    If none of those things are influenced by steroids, then there’s no reason to exclude those players for comparison.

    Comment by ep32 — April 26, 2010 @ 8:07 pm

  144. If you figure and average inflation rate of 3.5% between now and 2017, Howard’s $25 million then is more like $20 million in today’s salary. So there’s that minor silver lining.

    Comment by NEPP — April 26, 2010 @ 8:10 pm

  145. Limited no trade clause? Who needs it? The contract itself is a no trade clause.

    Comment by JoeA. — April 26, 2010 @ 8:13 pm

  146. Has anyone actually done a WAR analysis of this deal?

    Comment by vivaelpujols — April 26, 2010 @ 8:15 pm

  147. BEST. CONTRACT. EVER. We’re always looking at contracts from the team’s perspective, but Howard seems like a nice guy, so I’m glad he got a ton of money. Also, I’m sort of bored with the Phillies being good, so it’s nice that they’ll probably be weighed down by the contract in a few years. It also makes Justin Morneau’s contract look good by comparison, so, as a Twins fan, that’s nice. Not sure why so many people are down on it–it’s only a terrible contract if you’re an owner or fan of the Phillies.

    Comment by Luke in MN — April 26, 2010 @ 8:27 pm

  148. Which implies that they are similar, which may not be the case.

    Comment by vivaelpujols — April 26, 2010 @ 8:28 pm

  149. No one here is saying that Howard is a bad player (I think). In fact, he’s a very nice player, probably somewhere around 20th-35th best hitter in baseball. That’s not bad. However, they’re paying him like a top 5 player, and into his late 30s. That’s just not a good idea, no matter how you slice it.

    Last year Howard had a WAR of 4.9, good for 28th. In 2008, it was 3.3, good for 63rd, in 2007 it was 4.2, fo 38th. In 2006, it was 6.8, which was 4th, tied with Chase Utley. In the last 4 years, only once has he finished in the top 10, and three times was out of the top 20. Howard is a nice player who performs at an all-star level and will be paid at a hall of fame level.

    Comment by Everett — April 26, 2010 @ 8:33 pm

  150. One month spent on the DL in the beginning of the season is hardly an indicator of ContractFail.

    Comment by Kevin Wilson — April 26, 2010 @ 8:36 pm

  151. I’m a Phillies fan and I would hardly call Howard “the face of the franchise”. On a team with Utley and Halladay locked up for the foreseeable future, even from the marketing standpoint you are arguing, they would have been just fine if he left.

    Comment by Kevin Wilson — April 26, 2010 @ 8:39 pm

  152. I guess there is no need for analysis ever then. We should all just live in the moment and be drone fans. I can’t see into the future for tomorrow, so there’s just as good a chance Wilson Valdez will hit four home runs as Howard does.

    Comment by Kevin Wilson — April 26, 2010 @ 8:42 pm

  153. Obvious answer: Amaro knows Omar’s on the way out and he’s going for his spot in the competition.

    Comment by Gina — April 26, 2010 @ 8:51 pm

  154. I could understand this argument if this was 2 years ago. But Howard’s going to be 31 this year. I can’t say I know the exactly what type of decline he’ll be expected to have but I have a hard time believing that by 2013, which would only be the 2nd year of the 5 year contract, he’s going to be putting up near the same power numbers.

    Comment by Gina — April 26, 2010 @ 8:53 pm

  155. But how is this boosting their short term revenue if he’s under contract through 2012 anyway and this contract doesn’t begin till 2013?

    Comment by Gina — April 26, 2010 @ 8:54 pm

  156. I am guessing the market would value Howard at a similar price to what the Phillies paid for him today. That said, the Phillies are assuming the risk that Howard’s skills will diminish over the next two years. That’s the part of the deal that seems bad to me. It’s not the price, it’s the rush to lock in the price with no discount for assuming the risk.

    Comment by OzzieGuillen — April 26, 2010 @ 8:56 pm

  157. Look, I like Fangraphs and agree Howard will be overpaid with this deal

    But most of this analysis just plugs any contract into Fangraphs and come back with a “right” or “wrong.” Don’t you think it’s possible that the Phillies, who have consistently outperformed expectations of many statisticians (check out their demonstrably incorrect past organization rankings, for example), have their own models? I would say it’s overwhelmingly likely that they do. Wouldn’t it be more interesting to figure out why a consistently smart organization would do this than just being yet another snarky article laughing about RBIs and such?

    I would also guess that the Phillies models might value Howard’s defense going forward at 245 pounds much more than his defense at his previous 275. Also, given the unpredictability/instability of UZR (and the dubious importance of first base defense), plugging it into a formula and saying how much a player is exactly worth seems to be conveying more precision on the stat than anyone (including the creators) thinks it deserves.

    Fangraphs’ statistic (while helpful) also overrates the fungibility of wins: there are only so many 4-5 win players who are available, and they are more valuable to a team willing to pay to acquire one than 4-5 1 win players due to the limits of playing time and roster slots. Assigning value is a curve, not a straight line.

    Finally, I think there might be off the field value created by extending a popular and marketble player who is part of what has been the best run in the history of a previously woebegone franchise (see, ESPN’s overwrought coverage of 10,000th loss). Think a mini-version of the Jeter deal, in which he was overpaid, but rationally so (not crazy).

    I think these would be more interesting ways of analyzing a big deal than just declaring the Phillies to be stupid because they forgot to check with Fangraphs before signing a deal.

    Comment by Andrew — April 26, 2010 @ 8:58 pm

  158. @Don

    A-Rod’s deal is front-loaded; he and Howard will both make $25MM in 2014, then A-Rod makes $21MM and $20MM in the next two seasons.

    Comment by Padman Jones — April 26, 2010 @ 9:24 pm

  159. …oh but it will, at least around these parts.

    Comment by RodeoJones — April 26, 2010 @ 9:25 pm

  160. Tough to do, we don’t have projected for him for 2012.

    I’ll illustrate the point using BP’s 10-year forecasts (I know, I’m not a fan either, but it gives us a starting point):

    BP isn’t fond of him. 3.5 WARP projected this season, 2.7 by the time 2012 rolls around. Let’s give him 3.5 just to be nice. Discount the Tango-approved 0.5 WAR per year, and you get 12.5 WAR for the life of the contract. Not good.

    Say he sticks at 3.5 on average the entire time (the equivalent of starting at 4.5 WAR and doing the decrease). 17.5 WAR over the life of the deal, paying $125M. Without making any adjustments to that $125M, that’s $7.1M / 1 WAR.

    Really, no matter what your projected average WAR/season is, it’s not going to be pretty.

    4 WAR/year = $6.25M/WAR
    4.5 WAR/year (around the projected production this season by the systems) = $5.55M/WAR
    5 WAR/year (Howard has reached this mark according to FanGraphs only once, the 2006 MVP year) = $5M/WAR

    Any further than that and you’re just wishcasting, I think. That wasn’t rigorous at all, and I didn’t account for economic adjustments, but it still doesn’t look good.

    Comment by Michael — April 26, 2010 @ 9:37 pm

  161. …and they could have used Howard rather than Lee to replenish the system.

    Comment by scatterbrian — April 26, 2010 @ 9:37 pm

  162. Not to mention…if he becomes a huge albatross, why would he remain ‘The Face of the Franchise?’

    Jeter is doing a decent job of earning his money because he’s still playing well. Griffey isn’t being paid very much. Howard, at the moment, is going to be the highest paid player in baseball from 2014-2016 (until Pujols eclipses him) – you think Philadelphia fans want the highest (or second, or third, or whatever) highest paid player in baseball to be the face of the franchise if he’s not producing?

    Comment by Padman Jones — April 26, 2010 @ 9:47 pm

  163. I don’t disagree with you, but I am curious – what other interesting ways might there be? It’s just that it’s nigh-impossible to project anybody 7 years from now, so I don’t think that the Phillies could realistically have a better analysis model than Fangraphs does.

    Comment by Padman Jones — April 26, 2010 @ 9:50 pm

  164. The whole point is its not the author who compared them, it was B-R’s similarity scores. The author just mentioned that they were among the 10 most similar. There was nothing incorrect about what he said. The only thing you can argue with is B-R’s similarity scores.

    Comment by Alex — April 26, 2010 @ 9:53 pm

  165. I think that 5 WAR isn’t an unreasonable projection for this year. His 2006-2009 average was 4.8 and he got 4.9 last year. You can argue that we should drop 2006, but then 2008 was an outlier too, so why does that stay in?

    The real question is how he ages, and how the league’s value per win changes with time. Those are obviously huge unknowns, but it’s pretty difficult to imagine a future in which the Phillies didn’t overpay. However, it’s not too hard to imagine a future in which the contract is a small overpay, rather than a complete disaster.

    Comment by Jon — April 26, 2010 @ 9:55 pm

  166. Legit windows to win the World Series are very, very small. In particular, the Phillies core is beginning to age. As a Tiger fan who witnessed first hand the result of keeping a championship caliber team together too long with absolutely no focus on the farm system (I like to call this period of time: “1993-2005″), I’m well aware of the necessity of maintaining the farm.

    However, even with all the deals they’ve made, they still were able to retain their top prospect, Dominic Brown. They almost certainly would’ve gotten two first round picks for Lee. Whether or not those picks would’ve been equal to Gillies, Aumont, and Ramirez isn’t really relevant to my line of thinking……it still is two high end draft picks in addition to your own pick. My point is that this is not a team on the decline, although they are closer to the end of their run than the beginning. This is a team with a serious World Series window and an opportunity to run out a rotation with both Halladay *AND* Lee. When you’re a good-but-not-great team maybe you can pass on that. When you’re possibly the favorite in your league, you don’t. Not in my World.

    Claiming the need to rebuild the farm system is very weak, to me. The purpose of the farm system is to stock the major league roster with players to help you win a championship. When you’re already at a point where you’re positioned well to win the championship, you keep the party going. That doesn’t mean you ignore the farm system, but it *does* mean that you don’t go trading one of your best players simply because the farm system is “depleted”. Even though you still kept your most highly regarded prospect even while “depleting” the system.

    If you trust your scouts, you trust them to identify players in the draft to help keep you on top. The two picks they would’ve gotten for Lee, even if I’m to accept the premise that they’re not as valuable as the prospects the Phillies received, still would’ve had value and would’ve replenished the system with two high value bodies (if you trust the scouts to identify the right guys). When a title is potentially on the line, I don’t get it. If the Phillies go out and win a title this year without Lee, then I’ll gladly admit I was wrong. If they don’t, then Amaro did his fanbase a disservice by not fielding the best possible team he could.

    Comment by Larry Smith Jr. — April 26, 2010 @ 10:01 pm

  167. Unless those 4 years of 40/130 are 2013-2016, how are they relevant to his new contract?

    Saying you don’t care about OBP because he’s a run-producer is like saying so-and-so is a great surgeon because s/he saved 130 lives last year and not mentioning that s/he operated on more people than anyone else and, by the way, killed more patients than anyone else. Outs are currency, and batters with low OBPs spend too much of the team’s “money” to get results.

    “I’ll admit the contract may not look that good 4-5 years from now.”

    Then it’s too bad that it will still be in effect; isn’t it?

    Comment by MBD — April 26, 2010 @ 10:04 pm

  168. So how much money does Howard “make the Phillies” per year? Because you’re talking in terms of making it back but stating nothing tangible in terms of how much he (or any player) can generate for a team.

    Comment by Mister Delaware — April 26, 2010 @ 10:12 pm

  169. (Also, and I’m a Yanks fan saying this, Jeter can’t possibly make the Yankees $25MM per over the next 5 years or whatever benchmark you want to set and he’s as franchise face-y as you can get. I’m sure there is value to having him there (or, probably more accurately, not having him somewhere else), but most of that value is an intangible asset / goodwill. I’d venture a guess if you could put a number on it, it wouldn’t be nearly as much as you think. And Ryan Howard is no Jeter. In part because he doesn’t play SS and makes a ton more outs.)

    Comment by Mister Delaware — April 26, 2010 @ 10:16 pm

  170. Actually, I believe at one point Cecil Fielder was the highest paid player in baseball.

    Comment by Larry Smith Jr. — April 26, 2010 @ 10:18 pm

  171. I can understand all that, but Howards under contract for 2 more years, I believe I could be wrong on that. Unless they’re expecting their window to be 3-4 more years I don’t see how that justifies this contract.

    Comment by Gina — April 26, 2010 @ 10:21 pm

  172. Wait never mind, replied to the wrong person.

    Comment by Gina — April 26, 2010 @ 10:22 pm

  173. well, that’s short term. short term = their window of contention.

    Comment by awayish — April 26, 2010 @ 10:22 pm

  174. THT’s 6 year is even more pessimistic, but there appears to be something wrong with their WAR conversion.

    Comment by vivaelpujols — April 26, 2010 @ 10:41 pm

  175. Can I nominate this for the most ludicrous comment in this thread? Please, go luck up McCovey’s stats before you start making embarrassingly ridiculous comparisons.

    Comment by Oh Boy — April 26, 2010 @ 10:41 pm

  176. I like your thought process, but as an obsessed Phillies (and FanGraph) fan, I can tell you that, to my dismay, the Phillies openly and proudly eschew any advanced analytical models. They are very much an old school scouting team. I’m pretty sure that Rob Neyer is right on when he chalks this one up to the old Arr-Bee-Eye.

    And the problem is, that when they hired Amaro over Mike Arbuckle, Arbuckle (the former head of scouting) left for KC. Amaro has kindly responded by offering Billy King contracts to the entire core, the peanut lady, and the Miller Lite guy that works the Scoreboard Porch.

    Comment by Kevin Wilson — April 26, 2010 @ 11:36 pm

  177. Seems like the Phils wanted to lock him up before St. Luis pays 30 million for Pujols and sets the market for elite first basemen. If the Phillies really tried to trade Howard for Pujols, the Cards may have told them that they were willing to pay Pujols anything. That would make power-hitting first basemen more expensive. I see what the Phillies are thinking, but they should have tried to land a young power hitter from the Cliff Lee deal (maybe they did, I’m not a Phillie fan) so they could ride out the rest of Howard’s current contract and let him walk or trade him during his last season. They’ve already gotten his most valuable years from him.

    If I were the Phillies I wouldn’t count on their core holding up for more than another 2 years 3 at tops. So I don’t like this extension. They need to start building the next wave now or should have already started looking for the heirs to Utley, Rollins, Werth, and Howard. If they count on them for much longer they are running the risk of becoming my Astros.

    I have a feeling that fewer players are going to continue to dominate into their late 30s and early 40s without roids. I doubt Howard’s going to pull a Barry Bonds or a Roger Clemens.

    Comment by nathan — April 26, 2010 @ 11:43 pm

  178. He’s going to “ate poorly”?

    Comment by jthomas — April 26, 2010 @ 11:48 pm

  179. What was Amaro’s former position?

    Comment by Gina — April 26, 2010 @ 11:49 pm

  180. ? It seems unlikely they’re window of contention will last through his extension either? I’d imagine they’re window is probably about 2 years which is what’s left on his current deal.

    Comment by Gina — April 26, 2010 @ 11:51 pm

  181. A crazy overpay by the Phillies. This contract values Howard as one of the two or three best players in the game, which he is not by any means. Right this minute, he is not even the second-best player on his own team (Utley and Halladay are clearly ahead of him).

    As a fan of the Braves, I am quite glad about this deal.

    Comment by Phantom Stranger — April 27, 2010 @ 12:03 am

  182. well, i’m not sure what you mean by contention. i use contention here to mean a period during which the team plays meaningful games, and fans come to the park and buy expensive season packages because they buy into the chance of the team playing well. it seems to me that this period of time will last a while.

    but yes, the fact that there are 2 more years to go on the current deal is the absolute worst part about this decision.

    Comment by awayish — April 27, 2010 @ 12:16 am

  183. If Howard just keeps his calender on September this contract is worth it and then some. It’s that simple.

    Comment by Jimbo Jones — April 27, 2010 @ 12:19 am

  184. Probably because it seems that most players who have an awful year have more bad ones to follow, I’m guessing. Unless the team has a reason to think the awful year is just an anomaly.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 1:00 am

  185. Probably because it seems that most players who have an awful year have more bad ones to follow, I’m guessing. Unless the team has a reason to think the awful year is just an anomaly.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 1:00 am

  186. Subtract all you want, but it’s true

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 1:01 am

  187. Overpaid compared with who?

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 1:02 am

  188. Analysis is good and fine as long as one remembers that’s all it is – an educated guess, somewhat likely to be wrong – and nothing more.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 1:03 am

  189. Gina – It really depends on what designer steroids he decides to take, if any, don’t you think?

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 1:04 am

  190. I don’t think WAR is anything like an accurate reflection of what a player is truly worth.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 1:05 am

  191. Luke – This is what you get for underpaying him for the last 5 years. You should have paid him the 25mm then when he was actually worth it.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 1:06 am

  192. Based on homers and slugging, which are basically 90% of a player’s value as a hitter, I’d say Howard was at least the 5th best hitter last year, if not more like 3rd. And I hate the Phillies and wish that MLB would get rid of them. Hate hate hate. But I can’t deny the truth on this.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 1:09 am

  193. Balances out the crazy underpay by the Phillies over the last five years, when they screwed him out of the 25mm per he deserved based on his actual performance.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 1:10 am

  194. Where the eff did you get the idea that homers and slugging (just slugging really, since HR are captured in it) are worth 90% of a player’s offensive value? You do realize that people have analyzed this quite closely, and their conclusions are nowhere close to that, right? Just because you dig the longball doesn’t mean it’s the only thing that’s important.

    Comment by Kevin S. — April 27, 2010 @ 1:36 am

  195. Care to elaborate? How is WAR not a good estimate of on field worth?

    Comment by vivaelpujols — April 27, 2010 @ 1:37 am

  196. The question is would his value really have gone up over the next year or so? If Pujols for some reason takes a significant hometown discount, this contract will look even worse from a PR perspective… There’s also a chance that A-Gon is dealt/signed which also could have been used as a benchmark.

    I really don’t get what the Phillies gained by locking him up at least 1 year earlier than needed – the 1B position is pretty stacked and I think the odds of upsetting him and him leaving in FA were fairly low.

    Even if Pujols gets 30m/year, it’s not like that drives Howard’s price up.

    Comment by Hank — April 27, 2010 @ 1:41 am

  197. Everyone remembers what a prediction is, and that’s what everyone is making. Some people are making an educated guess, and some people are making a flailing prayer in the dark half court shot. Educated guesses can, in fact, be very educated and can have a very good chance of being true. Guess which type this is?

    Comment by Reuben — April 27, 2010 @ 1:41 am

  198. This was my very first thought.

    Comment by Reuben — April 27, 2010 @ 1:42 am

  199. Every player gets underpaid early in their career (though Howard much LESS so than others). Good teams take advantage of it. Bad ones feel bad about it and decide to give away money to make up for. Actually no one actually does that. Except the Phillies.

    Comment by Alex — April 27, 2010 @ 1:43 am

  200. Then why do teams with lots of high WAR players do well, and teams with low WAR players do poorly?

    Comment by Reuben — April 27, 2010 @ 1:44 am

  201. Buy a vowel, dude. Howard is an overweight first-baseman who can’t play any other position in the field.

    Comment by JayCee — April 27, 2010 @ 1:46 am

  202. FTM-

    Do you even know who Mo Vaughn is, Cletus?

    Comment by JayCee — April 27, 2010 @ 1:48 am

  203. If all your other arguments didn’t undermine your point, this would be a wide margin. So what, does this make the Phillies the most moral team now? Are they ethical because they paid him the millions that he had already earned?

    Also, of course, like someone pointed out, you’re wrong. He’s only underpaid compared to free agents, not to all the other players in similar situations. In that market, he was overpaid, but at least, as stated in the article, you can blame the arbitration process for that.

    Comment by Reuben — April 27, 2010 @ 1:49 am

  204. Where they are right now, and where they are headed, are two different things — and the organizational rankings reflect that.

    Comment by Joser — April 27, 2010 @ 2:01 am

  205. I don’t get why the Phillies did this extension right now. What benefit did they get by doing it now? Would Howard really be worth more than 25 million on the open market during the winter 2011 offseason? Why rush into this if you didn’t get a discount? He was signed for 2 more years. They should have at least waited one more year before worrying about extending him, unless of course, he was willing to give them a major discount right now. But that didn’t happen.

    Phils screwed up big time here.

    Comment by Huzzah — April 27, 2010 @ 2:11 am

  206. No, it’s not. If you want to convince us otherwise, show the work you did to arrive at the 1% number and not, say, 2%, or 5%, or 0.5%. Otherwise, we have to assume you’re just making up numbers to make your argument look somehow more quantitative, and that’s rather frowned on here. If you want to make arguments of that sort, there are plenty of other websites where they’ll be received without derision (unfortunately).

    Comment by Joser — April 27, 2010 @ 2:11 am

  207. Joser – And what work, exactly, did you to prove otherwise? Show me the proof that defense is more than 1% as important as power. And if you are defining proof as anything less than 100% deductive absolute certaintly, you better tell me *exactly* how you are defining “proof. “

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 2:26 am

  208. Prove that this has a very good chance of being true as opposed to an average chance of being true or a poor chance of being true. I am very happy to read your proof fairly and objectively.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 2:29 am

  209. Reuben – I think there is obviously some correlation between WAR and win totals. But teams with lots of high RBI players tend to do better than teams without high RBI totals, and most people on this site reject that RBI totals is a great method of player evaluation as well. Same thing with teams with lots of low era players.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 2:32 am

  210. Don’t compare Howard to Vaughn. Mo Vaughn could hit lefties in his prime.

    Comment by Troy — April 27, 2010 @ 2:34 am

  211. Kevin – I am interested in this. Can you sum up the analysis?

    But at the end of the day, unless the analysis was actually pure a priori reasoning, it’s obviously still just mere opinion. It may have a greater chance of being the right opinion than a less careful analysis, but that doesn’t mean it IS right, only that it has a greater chance of being right.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 2:35 am

  212. Alex – perhaps good teams in baseball sense take advantage of it, though, perhaps, not ethically good teams.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 2:36 am

  213. Reuben – I do think paying someone what they have rightfully earned is ethical, yes. So, assuming that he did rightfully earn that based on his prior performance and what he got paid for his performance, such an action would make the Phillies a more ethical team than a team that screwed a player in his arbitration years by not paying him free agent (free market) wages, and then never compensating him for that screwing later.

    Furthermore, the only reason the arbitration process is allowed to remain in place is because players expect to get compensated for their past performance when they become free agents. If this didn’t happen, the union would be right in forcing an agreement where players enter professional MLB as immediate free agents.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 2:41 am

  214. Keep the talent happy?

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 2:45 am

  215. On the other hand, Mo, was never as good as Howard. Mo hit 44, 40, 39, and 36 homers in his 4 best years. Howard hit 58, 48, 47, and 45. Big difference. Again, Mo slugged 591, 583, 576, and 575. Howard slugged 659, 584, 571, and 567. This puts them much much closer, but the homers still really sets them apart.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 2:53 am

  216. this is ridiculous… prospects are meant to help the MAJOR league club to WIN championship. The fact is, with BOTH aces, Phillies is like an unstoppable championship winning machine for two more years. Do the prospects they get in return even have the possibility to do the same? Not really… by the time they establish themselves, more likely than not the scary core of talent is already old or gone.

    Comment by Kampfer — April 27, 2010 @ 2:55 am

  217. The proof is in the comps based on swing type, the proof is in the precedent, and the proof is in the lack of need for this contract. Howard would be close to having justified this payment in his prime years, which he is no longer in, so in order for this contract to be good, we either have to suffer serious inflation, or he stays as good as he is now for the next several years.

    The proof has been laid out above by the author and by smarter commenters than I. You don’t agree with it, so I’m not sure what difference I could make with you? I haven’t seen an argument from your side that really derails anything that was said.

    Comment by Reuben — April 27, 2010 @ 3:07 am

  218. You should answer vivaelpujols question.

    Teams with high RBI totals and teams with low ERA are teams that score lots of runs and allow few runs. No one on this website is arguing that teams who score a lot and don’t give up many runs aren’t good teams. They are arguing that RBI and ERA are context dependent stats that rely on surround offense and team defense respectively and are therefore poor at measuring individual success. They aren’t very good at measuring individual success.

    Comment by Reuben — April 27, 2010 @ 3:15 am

  219. Reuben:”so in order for this contract to be good, we either have to suffer serious inflation, or he stays as good as he is now for the next several years.”

    – Well, in your mere opinion, that’s fine. In my mere opinion, if he hits 35+ homers and slugs 500+ in 5 of the next 7 years, the contract is basically justified. But at the end the day, both of these are mere opinions. Now you may be correct that he in saying that he is not likely to accomplish this, and so long as you are claiming that he is less likely to accomplish it than accomplish it, rather than he won’t accomplish it, I think your point is fair. But you’re still kind of far off from conclusively proving it, which still leaves us both in the realm of mere opinion.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 3:16 am

  220. Vivapujols – I think WAR severely overestimates the worth of OBP versus slugging and average. I also think it severely overrates the relative worth of defense compared with offense. In terms of pitchers, I believe that WAR is pretty dependent on FIP and its constituents, no? Since I think FIP is philosophically an incredibly misguided statistic, I think this makes WAR a pretty flawed measure of pitcher performance.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 3:19 am

  221. Ok, so the Phillies are an ethical team. I guess that makes it a good contract in terms of the ultimate good or Iris Murdoch’s The Sovereignty of the Good, but it doesn’t make it a good contract in how it’s normally meant, which is a contract that will lead to the most wins possible.

    What you’re arguing has no relevance to your other arguments (or this post for that matter), the ethics of free agency, arbitration, and the draft. If the definition of a good team is one that wins and a good contract is one that helps the team win, then the point you just made goes against all your original points. Paying someone for something that they’ve already done can only make a contract worse in terms of gaining wins.

    Comment by Reuben — April 27, 2010 @ 3:20 am

  222. Reuben – But my point still stands. Your argument was “WAR is a good measure of individual performance because teams with high WAR players succeed more than teams without them.

    Well and good. But you need more than this to show that WAR is a better method of evaluation than ERA and RBIs (or slugging, or WHIP, or whatever). Because while your statement may be true, it remains true if you replace “WAR” with RBIs. i.e. “RBI is a good measure of individual performance because teams with high RBI players succeed more than teams without them.”

    So you need more to distinguish the two if you want to supply evidence that one is a better measure of individual performance than the other. Which you may well possibly have. But you have to provide it if you want to convince anyone. Of course, if you’re just sharing your opinion, that’s cool too. : )

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 3:23 am

  223. Reuben – 1) Well, isn’t being ethically good more important than being baseball good?

    2) Your second point is correct under the assumption that the player won’t continue to perform well in the future. Which is your assumption. And you may be right. But, since I’m guessing that the reason Philly made the offer was more for baseball than ethical reasons, they obviously disagree with you. And you may be right. And if you are proven right, perhaps you should apply for the GM job of the Phillies. I mean, why not?

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 3:27 am

  224. I don’t think anyone said anywhere that this is opinion. Regardless if you want to say 35 HRs + 500 sluggin, and I want to say 5 WAR, that’s not the argument that we’re having here and now. Regardless if you want to say that his production is sustainable, and I want to say it’s not, that’s also not the argument we’re having here. The argument we’re having here is about the scientific method.

    The people at fangraphs, the SABR community, and me in the very smallest amount since I barely understand most of what these people are talking about approaching baseball scientifically. That means observing what’s going on and trying to extrapolate theory and prediction based on those observations. You can call it mere opinion in order to discount it, but it’s opinion that is backed by study and statistics, by precedent and algorithms. Could this be a good deal?

    Sure, it COULD. I could throw a bowling ball out my window and have it go up into the sky. But it’s not likely. It’s not what I would bet on. And that conclusion is based on study and precedent and extrapolated theory. And if it did float into the sky, we wouldn’t throw out gravity, we’d first see whether or not the anomaly could be explained by the theories that we currently believe.

    So yes, this article is mere opinion. It doesn’t state facts like who won the World Series last year or how many strikeouts Carlos Silva got or how many doubles were hit in the second inning of all NL games. It takes facts and calculations and comparisons and tries to come up with an informed opinion based on that. And I think it does a good job. I consistently think fangraphs does a good job, and I think you do an exceedingly poor job.

    You both have mere opinions, but theirs has a lot more weight because of the process of how they arrived at it. It’s what makes theirs valuable and yours not.

    Comment by Reuben — April 27, 2010 @ 3:38 am

  225. My statement about WAR was a bad one. Consider it stricken if you like.

    What makes you think OBP is overrated? What philosophical inconsistencies are in FIP? I need to see numbers or something to understand why you think this way.

    I don’t know enough about defense to comment on the balance there.

    Comment by Reuben — April 27, 2010 @ 3:43 am

  226. I don’t disagree that being ethically good is better than being baseball good. I’m not sure if I agree that paying a player based on their performance and marketability actually is actually an ethical point, not sure.

    But since you agree with my point that you are actually undercutting your own opinion then I guess I have nothing else to say on this matter.

    Comment by Reuben — April 27, 2010 @ 3:47 am

  227. Reuben – I don’t have numbers in front of me to support my position on OBP vs. slugging / avg., so I won’t try to convince you at this moment. We’ll just leave it as a difference of opinion for now.

    In terms of FIP, my problem is pre-quantitative / conceptual, in terms of defining what it means to “pitch well.” To me, pitching well = putting your team in the best position to win = allowing the least amount of runs to score possible compared with other pitchers, and certainly never allowing more runs than the opposing pitcher. The METHOD of getting said outs, however, does not factor into this definition. A strike out is as good as a weak pop up is less good than a non-run scoring routine double play groundball (because that gets 2 outs rather than 1). But FIP does not at all measure a pitcher’s ability to get players to hit weak grounders or routine pop ups or weak fly balls versus other pitchers, and to me this is an inherent conceptual, and in fact fatal flaw in the stat.

    Now I am by no means suggesting that ERA is perfect and can never be improved upon – I am sure at least in principle it could be. But such a stat has to include those other measures and shouldn’t give strikeouts much more weight than them at all. And since FIP doesn’t, I believe it is woefully / fatally misguided as a useful statistic of pitching performance. So, insofar as WAR for pitchers is based on FIP, I believe it is equally misguided.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 4:02 am

  228. Reuben: Fair enough. I definitely think there is a distinct possibility that Howard will be significantly overpaid. Of course, I think it’s also a distinct possibility that in the next five years Howard could be a major contributor to a playoff / WS championship team, perhaps even multiple times, if he continues his stellar level of performance or even drops a bit, for awhile. And since at the end of the day results are all that really matter, as is the ultimate goal of winning a WS is really all that matters, we really will have to wait to see what kind of contribution, if any, Howard makes to getting to / winning championships before we declare a verdict about whether overpaying Howard was in the end “worth it.” Which I think you’d agree with.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 4:07 am

  229. Howard is now under contract for the next 6.9 years. The five year contract starts after the 2011 season, so you shouldn’t even be thinking about the next 1.9 years, they were already bought and paid for. We’re just talking about the five after that.

    I think everyone agrees that you can’t prove or disprove a prediction until you have the results. No one is arguing that. The author and many commenters are arguing that they are good at predictions and you are bad though.

    So yes, a final verdict can’t really be made until the contract is up. But no one’s trying to make that. They’re trying to make the best prediction, the line of best fit. And the line of best fit says the Phillies and their fans will regret paying this guy this much.

    Comment by Reuben — April 27, 2010 @ 4:53 am

  230. At this point i am feeling slightly better that Dave didn’t accept my wager on who would win more games over 5 years, the phillies or mariners.

    At least all of Rubens other moves, even if not wholly orthodox from an advanced analysis were semi-defensible, and alot of us had hope he was secretly astute after he picked up cliff lee.

    But this, well this hurts.

    I was on a plane all day, got off and read this, hoped it wasnt true. Woke up, and it was still there. let’s just say my day hasn’t started off well.

    Comment by TheUnrepentantGunner — April 27, 2010 @ 5:24 am

  231. And on the other other hand, Mo was better than Howard.

    What’s so valuable about hitting a few more homers?

    Vaughn, in those four seasons, absolutely murdered Howard in singles, doubles, and triples, on-base percentage (by about .050 points, which is enormous), and wOBA. And he could hit lefties. AND, as you note, they basically slugged the same, except for that one year of .659 from Howard, which will be six years in the past when this contract starts. In basically every respect other than home run totals, Vaughn was the better hitter in his best years. That’s just, well, fact.

    Also of note is that Howard’s home run totals have been going down for the last four years, and are projected to be lower again this year. AND this contract doesn’t kick in for another two seasons.

    Even including Vaughn’s crappy decline phase (which, incidentally, was precipitous, and started aged 32, which is about the age Howard will be when this FIVE YEAR deal kicks in) he was only a little bit worse a hitter, for his CAREER, than Howard’s been thus far, in a career which has pretty much comprised his peak years.

    Comment by Felonius_Monk — April 27, 2010 @ 5:28 am

  232. I’m going to be as generous as I possibly can here:

    Howard’s WAR since 2006 — 6.8, 4.2, 3.3, 4.9, for an average of 4.8 WAR/season.

    Note that his defense, even in his heftier years, was never bad, so he needs to maintain at least average defense going forward to avoid taking a WAR hit.

    Werth’s WAR since 2007 (DNP in 2006) — 3.3, 5.0, 4.8, for an average of 4.4 WAR/season.

    Werth turns 31 in a month; Howard turns 31 in November.

    Now, I realize Howard’s new deal doesn’t kick in for a couple of years, but I’m pretty sure a 5 yr/65 mil deal lands a team Jayson Werth this off-season for the rest of his productive career. One might even argue such a deal will be risky for his acquirer, as they’d be paying him through his age 36 season, and some of his value is locked into playing a quality right field.

    So, even offering this risky deal as a baseline, the Phils are likely giving up on Werth *AND ANOTHER PLAYER ABOUT EQUAL TO WERTH* in order to keep Howard. That’s just… insanity.

    Comment by ToddM — April 27, 2010 @ 5:58 am

  233. Was Ben Zobrist one of the top players in baseball last year?

    That’s why WAR can be innaccurate.

    Comment by NEPP — April 27, 2010 @ 7:45 am

  234. Honestly, this deal doesn’t affect resigning Werth in the slighest as Howard’s salary for 2011 does not change. The Phillies are short on salary next year, not in 2012/2013. They can’t afford to sign Werth thanks to the final years in the Ibanez/Lidge deals. It has nothing to do with this contract whatsoever.

    Comment by NEPP — April 27, 2010 @ 7:50 am

  235. A good deal of that OPS increase comes from IBB and UIBB (unintentional intentional walks).

    Comment by Elwin — April 27, 2010 @ 8:57 am

  236. “Think a mini-version of the Jeter deal, in which he was overpaid, but rationally so (not crazy).”

    Except Jeter’s produced 142.8 M in value and has been paid 132.6M since 2002 (not including 2010 WAR $ or salary). So Jeter hasn’t been overpaid. It’s more likely Howard will be paid significantly more money than he’ll produce in value.

    “Wouldn’t it be more interesting to figure out why a consistently smart organization would do this than just being yet another snarky article laughing about RBIs and such?”

    I haven’t followed the Phils that closely but I’d say a lot of their good moves had to do with previous GM’s. Amaro’s been very hit or miss, and usually with money tends to overpay when it isn’t necessary (multi year deals to bench players, paying Howard the year before FA an extension in this case).

    Comment by Mark — April 27, 2010 @ 9:06 am

  237. WAR measures what happened. just because the results don’t suit you, doesn’t mean WAR is inaccurate.

    Comment by Tom B — April 27, 2010 @ 9:55 am

  238. “Richie Sexson, Cecil Fielder, Mo Vaugn, David Ortiz, Tony Clark and others are among Ryan Howard’s most comparable hitters ”

    i stopped reading right there. is this a joke? you cannot be serious with this comparison, can you? talk about laughing pretty hard. i almost feel embarrassed for you. almost.

    Comment by Pete — April 27, 2010 @ 10:01 am

  239. I love Ryan Howard, but the Phillies clearly overpaying him. The team (and its fans like me) better hope that Howard produces at his MVP level and not his .250 level for the next few years.

    This is an oversimplification in response to Thomas J, but with star players, you can essentially divide their careers in half by when they reach a point where they either go free agent or get a deal to keep them off the market. In the first half, they are underpaid, and their team gets a lot of value. The Phillies in 2008-2009 were definitely a huge beneficiary of many stars in this phase, and lower income teams pretty much need to capitalize on this phase of their stars’ careers to win.

    In the second phase, stars get their big payday based on what they’ve already accomplished, but this tends to correspond with their decline phase, so they become overpaid fairly quickly. Bad organizations (like the Mets now and the Yankees of the early 90s) focus on these players and suffer. The Phillies’ below-market deal for Halladay made it seem like they realized this reality, but now I’m not so sure.

    Comment by phatti — April 27, 2010 @ 10:07 am

  240. it’s a shame when such a simple concept goes flying right over your head, isn’t it?

    Comment by Tom B — April 27, 2010 @ 10:10 am

  241. Not sure you want to try and put a price on having the guy that eventually breaks Bonds’ record without an asterisk. I know that’s what this site is about and I am not trying to convince the stat folks, just reassuring the phans. Howard is undervalued by the fantasy gamers in terms of the reality of what he represents. A Braves fan myself, having had the overvalued Mark Texeira pass through town and dealing with endless first baseman with the “sexy” level of laRoche and Glaus and Thorman, I would go nuts to get hold of one of the few real Towers of Power, Howard in especial for the charm and obvious dedication to work ethic he evinces. Like Torii Hunter in Los Angeles, the Phils were buying more than wins and stats when they laid this money out. Like the Braves hopefully have in Heyward, what the Phils have proven to have with their rookie of the year/league MVP/playoff MVP is bedrock.

    Comment by Sultan B — April 27, 2010 @ 10:17 am

  242. which part of teixeira is overrated? his hair?

    Comment by Tom B — April 27, 2010 @ 10:19 am

  243. are you talking about the simple concept of tony clark and richie sexson being comparable to ryan howard?

    gimme a break.

    there is no reasonable comparison between these players, save for ortiz.

    Comment by Pete — April 27, 2010 @ 10:19 am

  244. clearly you didn’t comprehend what the comparison was. try reading it again, instead of being proud you didn’t.

    Comment by Tom B — April 27, 2010 @ 10:20 am

  245. and howard is way closer to mo vaugn/cecil fielder than david ‘flash in the pan’ ortiz.

    Comment by Tom B — April 27, 2010 @ 10:22 am

  246. The relative $ people will pay to see him hit.

    Comment by Sultan B — April 27, 2010 @ 10:23 am

  247. the article is suggesting that since howard is supposedly similar to these other players, he will have a similar precipitous fall off once reaching 30.

    “we’re doing so with a hitting profile that historically ages awfully. Richie Sexson, Cecil Fielder, Mo Vaugn, David Ortiz, Tony Clark and others are among Ryan Howard’s most comparable hitters ”

    this is completely preposterous. ryan howard is and always has been a far better baseball player than all of those guys. to even suggest that he is in the same realm as these players now or ever (save ortiz for 4 steroid enhanced years) is laughable.

    Comment by Pete — April 27, 2010 @ 10:27 am

  248. vaughn and fielder, neither ever walked 100 times in season, and neither ever had back to back 40 HR seasons.

    career sept/oct splits

    Cecil fielder- (231 g) .248/.324/.447/45/134
    Mo Vaughn- (270 g) .292/.375/.518/55/187
    Ryan Howard- (162 g) .314/.426/.686/52/141

    laughable

    Comment by Pete — April 27, 2010 @ 10:29 am

  249. “Was Ben Zobrist one of the top players in baseball last year?”

    Yes. This is why WAR can be helpful if you don’t know how to recognize value.

    Comment by prm37 — April 27, 2010 @ 10:30 am

  250. Without doing the calculations, it’s got to be less than a third. The increase in BA is going to have a commensurate increase in OBP and the 90 point difference in SLG is obviously unaffected by intentional walks.

    Comment by don — April 27, 2010 @ 10:31 am

  251. Listen Pete, this has been argued over and over and over already for 2 days. Read the other comments, I don’t feel like explaining this to you on a personal level. Believe whatever you want, you’re only wrong.

    Comment by Tom B — April 27, 2010 @ 10:33 am

  252. now you just sound butthurt over being wrong about these specific players.

    don’t blame me for making absolutely preposterous ridiculous statements about washed up players that couldn’t sniff Ryan Howard’s jock.

    Comment by Pete — April 27, 2010 @ 10:36 am

  253. Let me slot it down for you special ed. He’s not comparing their accomplishments, he’s comparing swing and body types, and it was according to baseball-reference.com

    A website that everyone here trusts more than you.

    Comment by Tom B — April 27, 2010 @ 10:39 am

  254. could any of those guys hit opposite field like howard? NO

    did any of those guys stay in as good physical condition as Ryan Howard has gotten himself in the last 2 seasons? NO

    were any of those guys as good defensively as Ryan Howard is right now? NO

    laughable

    but at least now i can stop feeling embarrassed for you. you bring this on yourself.

    Comment by Pete — April 27, 2010 @ 10:39 am

  255. so you would rather just trust baseball-reference than your own eyes and what the stats and scouts tell you?

    ok then.

    talk about special ed.

    put down the kool-aid and use your brain

    Comment by Pete — April 27, 2010 @ 10:41 am

  256. again, you COMPLETELY missed the point of what you are trying to argue about. I give up… some people can’t be helped.

    Comment by Tom B — April 27, 2010 @ 10:41 am

  257. Who do you compare his swing and body type to then? If not those players listed then who? Negative is easy, try coming up with something contructive.

    Comment by Tom B — April 27, 2010 @ 10:42 am

  258. his swing type? are you f***ing serious? have you ever watched any of those players bat ever?

    this is ridiculous. i’m done with you.

    Comment by Pete — April 27, 2010 @ 10:48 am

  259. i’m going to revert back to my original statement then.

    it’s a shame when such a simple concept goes flying right over your head, isn’t it?

    Comment by Tom B — April 27, 2010 @ 10:51 am

  260. Felonious says, “What’s so valuable about hitting a few more homers?”

    Homers create automatic runs. Runs = wins.

    Sure, not every homer is as valuable as every other homer. It helps when men are on base.

    But right off the bat, since a homer is the most valuable thing one can do offensively, and a walk does absolutely nothing but get you to first base (not even a chance for an error), already a walk is about 25% as valuable as a homer at most.

    But that 25% would be assuming that every man who walked scored. They don’t. Far from it. So in reality, a walk is worth much less than a homer. Let’s say that a walk scores 50% of the time it is on. To my knowledge this is not the case (I believe it is far lower), but let’s pretend. Then a walk about be about about half as valuable as 25%, max.

    That makes a homer a lot more valuable than a walk. Now, the walk is the extreme case, but similarly, doubles, singles, and hits all have much less value than a homer.

    So, there is is. : )

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 10:51 am

  261. You sentimentalist fool. Howard’s destiny is to get older and the type of player he is — the massive power type — simply doesn’t age well into the 30s. The difference between Bonds/Hunter and Howard is that Bonds and Hunter were versatile speedy types in their youths, Howard never had that.

    He’s a hometown hero for sure, so Philadelphia is paying partly for the friendly familiar face. But the lesson of history is that by the middle of this contract Howard won’t be worth the steep price of the balance in productivity.

    Comment by Mojo T — April 27, 2010 @ 10:52 am

  262. Sultan – How do you know how much people are paying to see him hit vs. paying to see the Yankees win?

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 10:53 am

  263. and i would say the same to you.

    a simple concept is who is the better baseball player, and it is not even close.

    good day sir

    Comment by Pete — April 27, 2010 @ 10:55 am

  264. Tom B – Can you prove that two players having a similar swing type is a contributing factor to two players having similar results? I’m just curious.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 10:55 am

  265. apparently david ortiz, mo vaughn, richie sexson and ryan howard have similar swing types now

    isn’t it amazing what sabermetrics can do?

    Comment by Pete — April 27, 2010 @ 10:57 am

  266. The reference was that other players with similar swing and body types have broken down earlier in their careers. The fact that you can’t come up with anyone better to compare Howard to and instead are just crying about it blows my mind.

    Comment by Tom B — April 27, 2010 @ 10:59 am

  267. Phatti – I agree with you to a point. However, I think the Mets / early 90s Yanks relative lack of success has more to do with the fact that they signed the *wrong* free agents and drafted badly, rather than the fact that they signed free agents rather than make draft picks period.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 11:00 am

  268. “Tom B says:
    The reference was that other players with similar swing and body types have broken down earlier in their careers. The fact that you can’t come up with anyone better to compare Howard to and instead are just crying about it blows my mind.”

    Have you compared a statistically significant number of hitters with similar swing types (and what does this even mean precisely) before drawing this conclusion?

    If yes, then what you have shown is some measure of correlation. But that does not imply causation, right? Meaning it could have been some other factor that actually caused the decline rather than body type / swing type, which Howard may or may not actually possess.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 11:04 am

  269. Thomas J – the comparison was pulled from baseball-reference, it was not made by any person here… so yes, i believe that a considerable number of players (every player ever) were compared…

    Comment by Tom B — April 27, 2010 @ 11:06 am

  270. Tom By Says: “WAR measures what happened. just because the results don’t suit you, doesn’t mean WAR is inaccurate.”

    Well, that’s not really conceptually true. WAR is a specific formulaic manipulation of a bunch of different things that happened. This in no way means that WAR is a good measure of how well a player played baseball. That needs to be proven. Not only that, but it needs to be proven that it is a better method than other methods currently employed by people.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 11:07 am

  271. Tom B says:
    April 27, 2010 at 11:06 am
    Thomas J – the comparison was pulled from baseball-reference, it was not made by any person here… so yes, i believe that a considerable number of players (every player ever) were compared…

    Tom – so you are basically just taking their word for it – how do you have any idea if their methodology was scientifically sound if you do not check it yourself?

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 11:09 am

  272. Breaks Bonds’ record? Honestly? He’s behind Barroid, and Bonds hit 50 HR after 40, plus added 10 more 30 HR seasons after his age 29 season. Howard simply started too late to get a good crack at the HR title.

    And even if he did, why would he be worth 25 million a year. HR don’t mean everything in the grand scheme of things. Take Dave Kingman’s career, for an example. Now, that’s not to say that Howard isn’t a superb player, but for 25 million, I’d want a top 10 player. And he just doesn’t get on base enough or play a tough enough position to be worth that sort of money.

    To everyone who talk about his great RBI totals, did you notice how many RBI Werth and Ibanez had? I bet that Werth would’ve driven in 125 if he batted fourth, too.

    Comment by Bin — April 27, 2010 @ 11:09 am

  273. I don’t think I’m going to argue the merits and limitations of WAR on THIS website. Save it for the ESPN comments…

    Comment by Tom B — April 27, 2010 @ 11:12 am

  274. Frankly? I don’t care. I’m sure they didn’t add that section to their website because it is completely wrong all the time. As I said, come up with someone better to compare Howard to or give this up.

    Comment by Tom B — April 27, 2010 @ 11:13 am

  275. Thank you Reuben. This is exactly correct.

    Comment by Alon — April 27, 2010 @ 11:13 am

  276. I’m guessing you’re not familiar with the concept of sunk costs….

    Comment by Alon — April 27, 2010 @ 11:17 am

  277. I agree with most takes on this contract and think that Howard will have to be one of those special players that ages differently in order for this contract to reach its full value and based on track record it is unlikely, but we don’t know for sure.

    However, thinking about it a little more, I wonder if there was some additional strategy behind this move that is designed to weaken their competiton. There are four high-quality 1b with contracts due to expire: Fielder, Pujols, Gonzalez, and Howard. Whoever signed first was going to set the market rate for the other three. By getting Howard out in front for an exorbitant price, the Phillies may have priced out competing teams. With the new ballpark still generating funds, young pitching that seems to be panning out, and a good media market, I think the Phils can continue to be competitive with this contract. Can the same be said of Milwaukee or San Diego? With this set, I can’t see the Brewers being able to afford him. That raises the possibility that Fielder goes to the AL and Phila has one less team to contend with for a playoff spot. Same goes for SD and maybe Stl, but I think with their base and the ballpark they can find money for Albert somewhere. Even if Stl signs him, that will leave significantly less money available to make upgrades around him. I could see the Cardinals turning into the Giants 2003-2005, where they sign low cost veterans around him thinking one man can generate enough offense to sustain them.

    While I still don’t like the contract for the numerous reasons mentioned, it may be that the contract was less about signing a player and more about weakening your competitors. It’s a stretch, but maybe we are seeing some strategic thinking. Maybe..

    Comment by Kevin — April 27, 2010 @ 11:26 am

  278. Ryan Howard isn’t Ken Griffey Jr, that’s for sure.

    Comment by LibertyBoy — April 27, 2010 @ 11:30 am

  279. Mike Cameron says hello :-P

    Comment by Alon — April 27, 2010 @ 11:32 am

  280. Tom B – Nothing to give up really. You have a mere opinion, I have a mere opinion, and only the future will prove one of us right.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 11:33 am

  281. Whoops, meant Mike Jacobs….

    Comment by Alon — April 27, 2010 @ 11:35 am

  282. Alon – What does sunk costs have to do with it? The point is that Howard was grossly underpaid for five years, so therefore the ethically right thing to do is redress that now so that overall he was paid what he was worth over his career.

    What does that have to do with the concept of a sunk cost.

    By the way, your snark is not appreciated. I took economics at an ivy league school. Did you?

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 11:35 am

  283. Tom B – Sounds like “group think” to me, but you are certainly entitled to your mere opinion, as we all are.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 11:36 am

  284. Reuben: “I don’t think anyone said anywhere that this is opinion. Regardless if you want to say 35 HRs + 500 sluggin, and I want to say 5 WAR, that’s not the argument that we’re having here and now. Regardless if you want to say that his production is sustainable, and I want to say it’s not, that’s also not the argument we’re having here. The argument we’re having here is about the scientific method.”

    Well, those are some of the arguments I am having, but sure, we can just focus on scientific method if you wish.

    Reuben: “The people at fangraphs, the SABR community, and me in the very smallest amount since I barely understand most of what these people are talking about approaching baseball scientifically. That means observing what’s going on and trying to extrapolate theory and prediction based on those observations. You can call it mere opinion in order to discount it, but it’s opinion that is backed by study and statistics, by precedent and algorithms. Could this be a good deal?”

    Well Reuben, to be fair, if you haven’t run through all the analysis yourself, your opinion is based on nothing but testimony, which is about as far from scientific method as possible. In other words, it still remains, at least for you, in the realm of mere opinion.

    Reuben: “Sure, it COULD. I could throw a bowling ball out my window and have it go up into the sky. But it’s not likely. It’s not what I would bet on. And that conclusion is based on study and precedent and extrapolated theory. And if it did float into the sky, we wouldn’t throw out gravity, we’d first see whether or not the anomaly could be explained by the theories that we currently believe.”

    Well, again, until you run through all the arguments in your own head and re-run the analysis, you have no reason to believe that their testimony is any more likely than any other testimony. Again, mere opinion.

    Reuben: “So yes, this article is mere opinion. It doesn’t state facts like who won the World Series last year or how many strikeouts Carlos Silva got or how many doubles were hit in the second inning of all NL games. It takes facts and calculations and comparisons and tries to come up with an informed opinion based on that. And I think it does a good job. I consistently think fangraphs does a good job, and I think you do an exceedingly poor job.”

    That’s fine, you are certainly entitled to your mere opinion that fangraphs does a better job than me. But for the reasons I stated above, this is mere opinion and not based in anything more rational than the opinion that I do a better job than fangraphs.

    Reuben: “You both have mere opinions, but theirs has a lot more weight because of the process of how they arrived at it. It’s what makes theirs valuable and yours not.”

    Again, this is an assertion that has no grounding. Until you run through their methodology and compare it with mine and see all the results, you have absolutely no idea who is more accurate. You are entitled to your mere opinion that theirs is, but it’s nothing more than that.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 11:42 am

  285. Why are you here if you don’t even understand the most basic concepts like linear weights or game states? Please go back to foxsports.com if you’re gonna leave comments like that last one.

    Comment by Matt — April 27, 2010 @ 11:43 am

  286. The real problem with the B-R comparisons is that it the similarity scores are based on career numbers. Where Howard had a late start to his career, the players who compare with him in career numbers at his age, for the most part, took longer to reach those numbers.

    That said, the problem with Howard is that even if he doesn’t decline at all by age 36, the contract is still high for a player of his ability. Even a modest decline makes it excessively so. The team is taking on all the risk over the next two years to sign him to an above-market contract. Regardless of whether his comparables give any insight into his aging curve, most players do show decline by age 36. He could very well still be an effective power hitter at age 36, but even durable, excellent power hitters who remain effective into their mid 30’s – Delgado, Thome, McGriff, Killebrew – typically see a drop in production and/or playing time throughout the period this contract covers. It’s not just the fat guys who show signs of age.

    Comment by WilsonC — April 27, 2010 @ 11:44 am

  287. That’s sort of like cutting off the nose to spite the face, isn’t it? It’s not like the Brewers or Padres pose any serious competition to the Phillies, and Pujols was already going to get an exorbitant contract. Plus, Fielder and Gonzalez are widely perceived as ‘as good as gone’ as is.

    Comment by Padman Jones — April 27, 2010 @ 12:02 pm

  288. Hey he only needs to average ~50 HR a season until he’s 40. That’s not that hard is it?

    Comment by Alex — April 27, 2010 @ 12:08 pm

  289. Here’s the first one. Just type “win values” into the search for the rest of them.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/win-values-explained-part-one

    Comment by Steven Ellingson — April 27, 2010 @ 12:10 pm

  290. I believe this is the longest thread in the history of Fangraphs. And we have Thomas J.’s valiant effort to thank for in contributing to a ~300 comment thread. So far.

    Comment by YC — April 27, 2010 @ 12:10 pm

  291. How anyone can compare Howard with David Ortiz is beyond me. Ortiz’s baseline performance as a player can be gleaned better from his Minnesota days than his Boston days. The Red Sox got Big Batido, or didn’t a relevation take place . Howard is a monster, and while I think he may be somewhat ($2-$3M/yr) based on performance alone, I do agree with “Kevin” above that the Phils are making a calculated business manuever that puts loads of pressure on the competition. Philly can eat it, or they can raise ticket prices and bear it, in any case, Howard is a stadium draw.

    Comment by LibertyBoy — April 27, 2010 @ 12:12 pm

  292. He is a career 2.7 wins above average for clutch. So, if you don’t regress at all, then the best you can say is he’s an extra 7 runs a season for clutch. I would expect him to be more like 2-3 in the future.

    Comment by Steven Ellingson — April 27, 2010 @ 12:14 pm

  293. The best strategy is yet to come. Once they extend Lidge for $20MM per year, just imagine what good relief pitchers will be able to command from their rivals!!!

    Comment by Mister Delaware — April 27, 2010 @ 12:15 pm

  294. It sounds like you have a whole lot of “well how do you know you are right” posts, and you haven’t brought a single thing to any discussion.

    You shouldn’t be posting here if you are still on the fence about the merits of the statistics being referred to… on a site that literally explains and uses these stats every day. I was giving you the benifit earlier, but now this sounds like purposeful trolling on your part.

    Comment by Tom B — April 27, 2010 @ 12:16 pm

  295. Really Johnny? The Moyer contract is the worst of the contracts. I’ve never been a big fan of the “reward” contract. Despite that, Moyer has actually won some games for us, and will likely win another 10-11 with a 5.00 ERA.

    Ibanez’ contract? Amaro might have overestimated the market on that one, but its not “fat or illogical.”

    Howard’s contract…have you seen the ZIPS projections for Howard for the life of the contract, including the option year? Years 5 and 6 are tough, because Howard is no longer a premium player. Nonetheless, let me pose to all of you the following questions:

    1) Have the Phillies been unwilling to part with big contracts in order to make their team better? No. Jim Thome is the first person that jumps to mind; oddly enough, he was shipped out of town to make room for Ryan Howard. I think it is as likely that (assuming health) Howard is in the AL in 2014 with Utley or someone else at 1B as it is he will be here in Philadelphia. Besides, the core of the team is really set up for a maximum effective window of 2012-2013.

    2) Has Ryan Howard committed himself to becoming a better overall baseball player and to being in better shape? Yes. Howard seems to have adjusted to the second set of adjustments made by pitchers, albeit a smaller sample size this year. He committed himself to defense, and it shows in the field. He committed himself to getting in better shape for longevity sake, and he dropped 30 pounds. Age and frame are a factor here, without question, but the risk is a fair risk.

    3) Who better? Prince Fielder? If you think this contract is shocking, wait until you see Prince’s … he’ll be called “King” after that one. Albert Pujols? Please…the Cardinals will do whatever it takes to keep him there, including offering him a percentage ownership of the team. Tex is locked up, and so is Miggy (who, btw, despite his younger age, has as much wear and tear as Howard and will likely look bad at 32, never mind 36).

    Organizationally, the Phillies do not want to stopgap first base with Pena, et al. Howard is a true superstar. He is the face of the franchise, is soft-spoken, doesn’t get in trouble, and, when he’s hot, puts fannies in the seats and carries his team on his shoulders. When you have a window such as the one the Phillies created, and you have a bona fide superstar to keep in the fold, you keep him here and worry about years 5 and 6 later.

    Comment by Toz — April 27, 2010 @ 12:23 pm

  296. Not sure you want to try and put a price on having the guy that eventually breaks Bonds’ record without an asterisk.

    Whoa.

    Ryan Howard is about to turn 30 and he isn’t even a third of the way there. As others have said, Howard started his career way too late and doesn’t have the contact skills to stay in the game into his 40s. He won’t sniff Bonds’ record. He’s a great player right now, but let’s not be crazy.

    Comment by Teej — April 27, 2010 @ 12:25 pm

  297. “Unstoppable championship winning machine” huh? The Yankees would like a word with you. And Red Sox, Rays, Cards, Dodgers, and…and…

    (Sure they would have been favorites to take the NL pennant, but you overstate your case just a “*tad*. Unless by “unstoppable” you mean a 15 – 30% chance of winning the W.S.)

    Comment by Jason B — April 27, 2010 @ 12:29 pm

  298. Matt – There is a big difference between not understanding a concept and disagreeing with it philosophically / conceptually.

    But let’s pretend I didn’t understand the concept for a second. Wouldn’t you prefer to welcome people like me and try to teach us something, rather than snarking us back to fox?

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 12:29 pm

  299. Tom B says:
    April 27, 2010 at 12:16 pm
    “It sounds like you have a whole lot of “well how do you know you are right” posts, and you haven’t brought a single thing to any discussion.”

    Well, I am approaching this primarily from an epistemological perspective, and I think I am bringing a whole lot to the table on that front.

    Tom B says:
    April 27, 2010 at 12:16 pm
    “You shouldn’t be posting here if you are still on the fence about the merits of the statistics being referred to… on a site that literally explains and uses these stats every day. I was giving you the benifit earlier, but now this sounds like purposeful trolling on your part.”

    Well, maybe you are right. I didn’t realize this site was only for converts to a specific baseball philosophy. Is that the official position of the people who run the site, or is that just your position?

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 12:32 pm

  300. “apparently david ortiz, mo vaughn, richie sexson and ryan howard have similar swing types now”

    Drifting a tad here, but if we’re just looking at swing types, Sexson and Werth are pretty identical. Both have/had that weird, stop-at-3/4 finish.

    Comment by Mister Delaware — April 27, 2010 @ 12:35 pm

  301. I know I enjoy big cuddly fellows.

    Comment by Andy Dick — April 27, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

  302. The burden of proof is on the one who makes the outrageous claim. That’s…how formal arguments work. Just sayin’.

    Comment by Jason B — April 27, 2010 @ 12:42 pm

  303. “in order for this contract to reach its full value and based on track record it is unlikely, but we don’t know for sure.”

    is it reasonable to expect ryan to still be blasting 40/140 at 36? no, probably not.

    but as a part of paying him to hit 40/140 over the next 4 years, you have to pay him the same thing to hit 30/100 the following 2 years. at 40/140 a year, this contract could even be below market value.

    a 30/100 (a 20-25% drop off from his average) at 36 for howard is not unrealistic, and many teams would love to have that. but you have to overpay him for those later year in order to get him to stay thru the next 6.

    there is no way to avoid paying howard that kind of money when he is 36 and expect to keep him for the next 6 years. there is no way he would have signed for just 3 years. someone else would have offered him 5 and he would have left. it’s just the way the business works.

    and if he hits 50 and 150 this year (not out of the question with OBP monster polanco in the lineup), imagine how much more they would have had to pay.

    at the end of the day, it’s only money.

    Comment by Pete — April 27, 2010 @ 12:54 pm

  304. As Jason B says. You’re the one making laughably outrageous claims, so you’re the one who has to do the work. Or just admit you’re making up numbers (though usually people make up numbers that are plausible enough to help bolster their argument, so I’m not sure what your goal was in this case beyond hyperbole).

    This is Fangraphs. If you’re going to use numbers here, you have to show where they came from. If you just want to handwave your claim, that’s fine, but don’t pretend it has some quantitative rigor if it clearly doesn’t.

    Comment by joser — April 27, 2010 @ 1:04 pm

  305. Where they are headed != how FanGraphs likes the way their front office operates.

    Comment by vivaelpujols — April 27, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

  306. They actually haven’t underpaid him, you could argue he’s gotten overpaid in arbitration, based on what players of similar value have gotten, because of the outdated stats they use in arbitration cases. Also I’m pretty certain after his first year they gave him a raise to 900,000 even though they were only obligated to pay him 450,000.

    Comment by Gina — April 27, 2010 @ 1:16 pm

  307. It’s disengenous to bring up his top sim scores and then feign innocence when people have objections the comparisons.

    Comment by vivaelpujols — April 27, 2010 @ 1:17 pm

  308. In Dave’s defense, Amaro is on record as saying that it was about replenishing their farm system. Either way, there is no good argument to the deal that was made.

    Comment by heycarlgoodtoseeyou — April 27, 2010 @ 1:20 pm

  309. Gina,

    They underpaid him based on what he deserved on the free open market, which means he (and all excellent arbitration players) got major screwed. So, this evens it out.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 1:21 pm

  310. Well he might have a chance to win the single season record…

    Comment by vivaelpujols — April 27, 2010 @ 1:23 pm

  311. Just to add my two sense. I think the problem is you’re comparing a predictive stat with one that just tells what happened. OBP can be predictive, RBI cannot. If a guy comes up to the plate with a .350 obp, over a significant sample size, based on that information alone you can make a prediction on what the outcome of his at bat will be. If a guy comes up to the plate with 50 rbis, you can’t make any prediction on the outcome of the at bat, or even the likelihood of him getting more rbis, since it will depend entirely on whether players in front of him got on.

    Also as far as teams with high RBI totals doing well once again it’s because RBI is merely describing what happened. Essientially rbis just tell you that 1. the team got on base a lot 2. they had a lot of guys not make outs, since it’s unlikely many rbi’s came from a fielders choice or a sac fly. If you have a team of guys with high obp totals you can probably predict their rbis for any range of slugging totals, if you have a team with a bunch of guys with rbis you can’t really predict anything about their future performance. But basically, in order for a guy to get an rbi 1. the guy in front of him has to get on base, which is why obp is important, and he himself more often than not has to not make an out, where once again obp is important.

    Comment by Gina — April 27, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

  312. Okay Thomas those are fair concerns. However, you haven’t offered any evidence as to why you think that OPB is overrated compared to slugging or that defense is overrated. Furthermore, unless you can provide a better alternative to WAR, your concerns are worthless in this case.

    Comment by vivaelpujols — April 27, 2010 @ 1:27 pm

  313. Sure – on base percentage is the most-correlated single stat to scoring runs (OPS is more highly correlated, but it’s a composite stat). This has been demonstrated repeatedly through regression analysis, and intuitively does make sense – the more effective you are at not making outs, the one scarce, finite resource an offense has going into a game, the more likely you are to be able to score runs. I’m not saying it’s the only thing that matters. If your team is a bunch of fat slow guys who Iso .000, then it’s not going to do as well as a team with the same OBP but with some guys that can hit for extra bases or run the bases really well. At the same time, baserunning is irrelevant if you can’t get on base (hence why all the speed in the world doesn’t make Willy Taveras a good lead off hitter), and hitting a lot of doubles and homers does no good if there’s nobody on base for you. Likewise, if you hit a lot of doubles and homers but otherwise rarely get on base, then you are providing very few opportunities for the next man down the line to do anything.

    Now, having answered that, I’ve found much of your argument to be intellectually dishonest – just because “WAR Theory” (for lack of a better term) hasn’t been proven to be 100% perfect, you’ve taken that as license to equate your own numbers, which, given your refusal to provide any type of referencing whatsoever (and I don’t mean links, you can’t even mention in passing where they come from), one has to assume you simply made up. This is the equivalent of Intelligent Designers claiming that since the Big Bang Theory can’t be 100% proven, we need to give equal weight in science classes to both evolution and creation. Never mind that fact that there is mountains of evidence supporting the former and an ancient book that was admittedly more interested in spiritual awareness than historical accuracy and drew on a millenium of oral tradition before it was even written down, they’re both theories and should thus be treated the same.

    Comment by Kevin S. — April 27, 2010 @ 1:27 pm

  314. Also while I can understand that someone may be able to make an argument that slugging is underrated, I don’t agree and I think the research and math would disagree, but I can see an argument, I don’t at all understand how average would be. What does average tell you that obp and slugging don’t? OBP already takes every hit you get into account, and slugging takes the number of bases for each hit, which average doesn’t. What does average tell you? If all your hits are singles then I’m not sure they’re more valuable than a walk so there’d be nothing average could take into account that obp couldn’t, and if all your hits are doubles/triples/homers then you’re slugging will describe that.

    Comment by Gina — April 27, 2010 @ 1:29 pm

  315. Players owning a percentage of a major league team is illegal under league rules.

    Comment by Paul Thomas — April 27, 2010 @ 1:33 pm

  316. But to make that argument you have to make an entire argument against the CBA, which the players agreed too. If they think the numbers they’re being paid while they’re under team control undervalue them then that’s an issue with the CBA they should address. When they agreed to those numbers that essentially became their value. No one’s being over or underpaid before they hit arbitration, and if anything compared to players who offer similar value you could argue he was overpaid in arbitration.

    Comment by Gina — April 27, 2010 @ 1:33 pm

  317. VEP, his best career total was 15 shy and there’s little reason to believe he’ll ever have as much power as he did at his peak. Barring some sort of dramatic shift in system factors (expansion, juicing the balls again, etc.), Ryan Howard is fantastically unlikely to hit 73. Any given player is.

    Comment by Kevin S. — April 27, 2010 @ 1:35 pm

  318. Jason B says:
    April 27, 2010 at 12:42 pm
    The burden of proof is on the one who makes the outrageous claim. That’s…how formal arguments work. Just sayin’.

    Sorry Jason, nothing outrageous about my claim. Until you prove otherwise, it’s one unfounded mere opinion vs. another.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 1:38 pm

  319. Gina, they may have agreed to it, but they agreed to it with the expectation of being overpaid in compensation once they hit the free agent market.

    Howard agrees to get underpaid as an arbitration and therefore agrees to get overpaid as a free agent. That’s why the system works. So overall, the two eras of his career even out and value him roughly correctly.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 1:40 pm

  320. You have no claim, all you do is tell is we’re crazy for believing the data presented to us. Really sad argument.

    Comment by Tom B — April 27, 2010 @ 1:44 pm

  321. joser says:
    April 27, 2010 at 1:04 pm
    “As Jason B says. You’re the one making laughably outrageous claims, so you’re the one who has to do the work. Or just admit you’re making up numbers (though usually people make up numbers that are plausible enough to help bolster their argument, so I’m not sure what your goal was in this case beyond hyperbole).”
    Why is it any more outrageous than your claim that it isn’t true. You’ve supplied no evidence. It’s one mere opinion against another, that’s all.

    joser says:
    April 27, 2010 at 1:04 pm
    As Jason B says. You’re the one making laughably outrageous claims, so you’re the one who has to do the work. Or just admit you’re making up numbers (though usually people make up numbers that are plausible enough to help bolster their argument, so I’m not sure what your goal was in this case beyond hyperbole).

    joser says:
    April 27, 2010 at 1:04 pm
    “This is Fangraphs. If you’re going to use numbers here, you have to show where they came from. If you just want to handwave your claim, that’s fine, but don’t pretend it has some quantitative rigor if it clearly doesn’t.”
    Oh, I didn’t claim mine has any quantitative rigor. My claim is that yours doesn’t either. Both are just mere opinions. And if you disagree, show me the work. Otherwise, all you have is mere opinion, just like me.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 1:44 pm

  322. a 30/100 (a 20-25% drop off from his average) at 36 for howard is not unrealistic, and many teams would love to have that.

    You know something? We can ignore how crappy using RBI is for evaluating players – this statement is still a boatload of fail. Do you know how many players went 30/100 last year? 19, and a bunch more didn’t miss by much (including Howard’s teammate, Jayson Werth, who went 36/99, and probably would have broken 100 if Howard wasn’t so busy making outs in front of him). Only two of those guys, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez, are making anything even in the ballpark of $25 million. 30/100 isn’t even remotely close to being worth that kind of money, and that’s even with players who actually provide value from beyond those two stats. So you’re basically arguing that Howard will be so ridiculously awesome in 2-3 years that it’ll be worth over paying him by eight figures in 4-5 years. Stat fail. Math fail. Econ fail. Logic fail. Baseball fail.

    Comment by Kevin S. — April 27, 2010 @ 1:45 pm

  323. Tom B says:
    April 27, 2010 at 1:44 pm
    “You have no claim, all you do is tell is we’re crazy for believing the data presented to us. Really sad argument.”

    What data, exactly, have YOU shown that suggests that defense is more than 1% as important as offense? I mean, I’m happy to change my tune. Show the proof. Otherwise, all you have is mere opinion.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 1:47 pm

  324. Subtract all you want. I’m right though. : )

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 1:48 pm

  325. Alex is right – for the 37th time, BP similarity scores are not based on physical similarities, but statistical ones.

    Comment by Jason B — April 27, 2010 @ 1:50 pm

  326. vivaelpujols says:
    April 27, 2010 at 1:27 pm
    “Okay Thomas those are fair concerns. However, you haven’t offered any evidence as to why you think that OPB is overrated compared to slugging or that defense is overrated. Furthermore, unless you can provide a better alternative to WAR, your concerns are worthless in this case.”

    I believe that looking at batting average, homers, and slugging percentage tells you 90% of what you need to know about a batter’s value. The other 10% comes from OBP, Baserunning, and Fielding.

    Similarly, I believe that 90% of what one needs to know about a pitcher comes from IP and Runs Allowed / ERA. The other 10% comes from Strikeouts, Walks, Hits, homers, etc.

    That’s my mere opinion. Your mere opinion is that WAR is a better measure of a player’s value than this method. That’s fine, disagreement makes the world interesting. But if you want to claim you have anything more than mere opinion, you need to prove it, which nobody has done here.

    Comment by Thomas J. — April 27, 2010 @ 1:52 pm

  327. Lets keep running around in circles, what proof do you have that it doesn’t? I wasn’t referring to this particular thread at all, you’ve posted the same exact thing all over this page, with ZERO substance.

    Comment by Tom B — April 27, 2010 @ 1:53 pm

  328. V-shaped? I’ll believe it when I see it. Way too weak employment picture for a sharp bounceback, and with employment still being weak, it dampens the things that typically ignite a recovery (consumer confidence and consumer spending). Plus its already been too protracted to be a “V”, I would think.

    Put my vote down for “check-mark shaped”, with a long(ish) slog back.

    Comment by Jason B — April 27, 2010 @ 1:55 pm

  329. Yes, 35 home runs are clearly worth $25million/year.

    Mark Reynolds, Jason Bay, Adam Dunn, Aaron Hill, Jayson Werth, Kendry Morales and Nelson Cruz would all like to speak to you.

    Comment by Tom B — April 27, 2010 @ 1:57 pm

  330. In case it isn’t obvious, “an ancient book that was admittedly more interested in spiritual awareness than historical accuracy and drew on a millenium of oral tradition before it was even written down” should be followed by ‘supporting the latter,’

    Comment by Kevin S. — April 27, 2010 @ 2:01 pm

  331. WINNING is the ultimate “stadium draw”. If the Phils have some kind of budget (and it appears they do, given all the talk about letting Werth walk), then this contract is likely going to be an albatross in about four years. Although I don’t doubt some fans would come to see a 34+ year old Ryan Howard mash on a 70 win team, there are definitely smarter ways to allocate resources.

    Comment by ToddM — April 27, 2010 @ 2:02 pm

  332. Well sure Howard’s defense is miles ahead of Dunn’s. But reliable sources tell me that defense is only worth 1% of slugging… =)

    Comment by Jason B — April 27, 2010 @ 2:11 pm

  333. Only problem is, salaries (on a per-win basis) have been slightly deflationary over the last couple of years. Who knows where it goes from here.

    Comment by Jason B — April 27, 2010 @ 2:15 pm

  334. I don’t have to pretend you don’t understand the concept, you don’t. If you understood it, you wouldn’t write things like
    “To my knowledge this is not the case (I believe it is far lower), but let’s pretend. Then a walk about be about about half as valuable as 25%, max.”
    Games states that fangraphs have mathematically mapped out tell you exactly how much a walk is worth, in every game state there is. for example, a solo shot IS worth a walk (with the bases loaded).
    I’m not being snarky, you have judged something before really understanding it. It’s no longer a question of agreeing philosophically.

    Comment by Matt — April 27, 2010 @ 2:21 pm

  335. Just to clear up one wrong argument, similarity scores are NOT based on swing types and/or body types. It’s derived from a formula for statistical similarity, with large credits/discounts to account for positional differences (so most 1B end up being compared to other 1B, and so on). You start with a score of 1,000 points and then subtract from there based on statistical differences between two hitters.

    The formula to derive similarity scores can probably be found on BR, and/or in Bill James’s book “Whatever happened to the Hall of Fame?”

    Not making a value judgment on the usefulness of similarity scores (they’re just one tool to evaluate and compare players in a toolbox), just trying to frame the argument better by stating what they are, and what they are not. They do NOT rate player X and player Y to be similar (or dissimilar) because they are both fat, slow, first basemen, or because they both have long, slow swings.

    Comment by Jason B — April 27, 2010 @ 2:28 pm

  336. A good amount of Zobrist’s “value” came from his excellent UZR/150 at multiple positions. UZR loses its value as statistical tool in smaller sample sizes. Typically, we want to see three full years at a position to get a true feel for a player’s defensive value. Zobrist had partial seasons at a couple positions and this artificially inflated his overall WAR.

    You were saying?

    Comment by NEPP — April 27, 2010 @ 2:51 pm

  337. Few are. Griffey was one of the top CFs of all time in his prime. Its a damn shame his legs went in his early 30s. Price of not juicing I guess…damned natural age related regression.

    Comment by NEPP — April 27, 2010 @ 3:00 pm

  338. This is what I keep thinking the whole time. Baseball has a pretty long history, full of alot of different types/kinds of players. To assume that Ryan Howard, and ONLY Ryan Howard will develop differently then the entire group of players that his career path is arching towards is uninformed hope at its best, and argumentative bias at its worse. Howard will likely have a career much like many players that bat like him – if his defense is still only good enough to keep him at 1st base – then his defense has a maximum level in which there is no more value to be gained. With the arguments of the fact that he is “healthier” or “not on steriods” and “not fat” or whatever – to act like this is going to extend his career over the path that these other very good offensive baseball players travel is baseless. And what I haven’t even seen mentioned is the possibilty that his progression is WORSE then those that he is most like – as if there is a chance that he can do better, there is always that chance. If his production slows faster then his age/skill set implies – then this contract will be an albatross (if it isn’t already).

    Comment by Tickkid — April 27, 2010 @ 3:10 pm

  339. How anyone can compare Howard with David Ortiz is beyond me.Ortiz’s baseline performance as a player can be gleaned better from his Minnesota days than his Boston days.

    Why punish Ortiz for struggling in the majors at an age when Howard was still in the minors? Why move his baseline back?

    There’s never a perfect comp, but:

    Ortiz, age 24-29: .284/.367/.548
    Howard, age 24-29: .279/.376/.586

    (I started at 24 since that’s when Howard arrived. The number of plate appearances is pretty much equal.)

    Howard has more power. He’s walked more (though with way more intentional walks than Ortiz ever saw). He’s been better, but still, there’s a reason Ortiz shows up on the comp lists.

    Given Howard’s already poor ability to make contact, I see no reason to expect him to be the exception. He’s incredibly strong, but once the bat slows down, he’s in trouble.

    Comment by Teej — April 27, 2010 @ 3:13 pm

  340. That no-trade clause smells like Hendry’s in da house!

    Comment by Boomer — April 27, 2010 @ 3:21 pm

  341. Thomas J., you keep returning to this gray fallacy. At some level, opinions based on more analysis (analysis by whomever, not just by the one holding the opinion) can have greater weight than opinions based on less analysis.

    By arguing that all opinions are equal, you’re advocating for a tenuous position in which all arguments have equal validity based solely on their status as opinions. Now, if you’re willing to stake out a sort of meta-ethical relativism consistently applied to baseball statistics and the merits of of $125mm contract extensions, more power to you. Just be sure the philosophical backing is sound, or else this repeated argument that my opinion=your opinion is totally fallacious.

    Comment by jvstephens — April 27, 2010 @ 4:19 pm

  342. WAR doesn’t have to use UZR. And projected WAR certainly uses adequate data for defensive stats.

    Comment by vivaelpujols — April 27, 2010 @ 4:34 pm

  343. I think it might just be easiest to say “no 1B who plays mediocre at best defense and OBPs below .400 annually can be worth $25MM per year in his prime, let alone from ages 32-36. No matter how cool long HRs are.”

    Comment by Mister Delaware — April 27, 2010 @ 4:36 pm

  344. Howard is an opposite field power hitter, which means he doesn’t rely on quick hands to hit homers.

    Comment by vivaelpujols — April 27, 2010 @ 4:37 pm

  345. Andrew: “Fangraphs’ statistic (while helpful) also overrates the fungibility of wins: there are only so many 4-5 win players who are available, and they are more valuable to a team willing to pay to acquire one than 4-5 1 win players due to the limits of playing time and roster slots. Assigning value is a curve, not a straight line.”

    Has anyone looked at this? How predictable is the relationship between actual wins and WAR sum as a function of WAR variance among the team? I guess this is sort of similar to the lineup optimization question (see Dave Allen’s 4/6 article).

    Comment by Erik — April 27, 2010 @ 4:40 pm

  346. OBP monster Polanco? Really? You mean the guy with the .348 career OBP and .356 OBP over the last 5 years? That’s not bad, but it’s hardly an “OBP monster”.

    Comment by Larry Smith Jr. — April 27, 2010 @ 4:45 pm

  347. It says alot about how great Griffey was in his prime that he’s essentially played 11 years of mediocre baseball and yet he’s still considered a Hall of Fame lock. I looked at his career on b-ref one day this Winter and was aghast at how long its been since he was anything more than an “above average” player. The last 11 seasons he’s not only NOT been HoF caliber, but he hasn’t been all that much better than say, Geoff Jenkins in his prime (just throwing out a random name without looking it up).

    But he was SO great in his prime, that he built his Hall of Fame case before the 21st Century had even begun.

    Comment by Larry Smith Jr. — April 27, 2010 @ 4:49 pm

  348. Ryan Howard is nowhere NEAR Pujols. A casual glance at their career WAR will tell you that.

    You’re right, Mo Vaughn is a bad comparison. Mo Vaughn was better.

    Comment by OlSalty — April 27, 2010 @ 4:49 pm

  349. That’s not entirely true. You need quick hands to be able to lets the ball get that deep before contact.

    Comment by Mister Delaware — April 27, 2010 @ 5:00 pm

  350. Heh, Thomas J, as a matter of fact I graduated from one in it some time ago. Perhaps the next time, you should consider some logic classes instead.

    An ethical justification is dubious way of evaluating the “rightness” of a contract because that “ethical argument” could basically be used to justify any level of compensation imaginable. I could say that Barry Bonds deserved absolutely no pay because despite his performance on the baseball field, he hurt his team’s chances by being a bad teammate. I could say that David Eckstein deserves to be paid more than his performance because he’s such a soldier and elevates the people around him. Hell, I could say that ethically, this contract is horrible because it’s taking team money away from players that I think deserve it significantly more. (Chase Utley, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, etc.)

    All of those are mere assertions of what I think is right. They’re all opinions. And to be perfectly honest, were I an owner of the Phillies, I’d be pissed if my management team were making decisions based on it.

    Besides if you bring up ethical arguments, why not the ethical argument that baseball players are overpaid to begin with? Why is it that someone who is TERRIBLE at his job (see Kyle Farnsworth) can be paid millions of dollars over a single year while a brilliant social service worker adding substantially to societal good could be paid less than that over their lifetime? That seems a greater travesty to me than arguing whether Ryan howard is worth 125M over five years or 30M over two.

    I come to the conclusion that your “ethical” concerns have absolutely no place in the evaluation and signing of talent. I consider your “ethical” argument as lazy justification of a poorly argued premise.

    Ultimately, the only rational way to structure future compensation is to pay for future performance. The focus of a team should be current and future wins, all past performance and costs are “sunk.” Performance in the past (insofar as it is not a predictor of future performance) should not be incorporated into future decision making processes. Just because Ryan Howard was technically underpaid before, doesn’t mean it was a good idea to overpay him now.

    At the end of the day, a team is accountable to its fans/customers, not its players. The best way to serve that constituency is winning and winning constantly, not doling out favorite son contracts to players that served it well in the past. And as the price tags of players continue to sky rocket, it is increasingly important that teams learn how to conserve scarce financial resources because a bad contract can sink a team in terms of contention for years to come.

    I originally meant my sunk cost comment as pure snark, but it’s quite clear you DON’T understand the concept of sunk costs. If you did, you’d realize that the future compensation they’re assuring him is for anticipated future performance.

    You’d also realize that this was a failure, through and through.

    Comment by Alon — April 27, 2010 @ 6:37 pm

  351. From a team’s point of view, its better to back load simply due to inflation if nothing else. Arod’s contract being front loaded is a HUGE win for him, not the Yankees.

    Comment by NEPP — April 27, 2010 @ 7:53 pm

  352. Griffey Jr. would have been a lock had he stopped playing after his Age 30 season. His numbers from his rookie year to then are incredible and those gold gloves were legit…he really was an incredible defensive CF.

    12 seasons, .948 OPS, 147 OPS+, 438 HRs (hey, the Hall loves counting stats), 1270 RBI, 1163 R, 1883 H, 342 2B, 173 SB.

    10 GG, 1 MVP, 4 other top 5 finishes.

    Even with his seemingly natural age related decline, he still ends up in the inner circle of HoF players.

    Comment by NEPP — April 27, 2010 @ 8:01 pm

  353. Howard is an opposite field hitter because he waits for the ball to get deep in the zone before swinging. At least that’s what he does when he’s in a groove. He has very quick hands as a result.

    Comment by NEPP — April 27, 2010 @ 8:03 pm

  354. Howard doesn’t play mediocre defense. He was in the top 3rd in UZR/150 for the last few years so he’s better than the majority of 1B out there with the leather.

    Comment by NEPP — April 27, 2010 @ 8:05 pm

  355. Got about 250 comments in before I couldn’t take it anymore. Is there a button that just puts a thumbs down next to all of Thomas J. and Pete’s posts?

    Comment by BrettJMiller — April 27, 2010 @ 8:31 pm

  356. Phillies were probably banking on the huge inflation many economists talk about. Maybe by 2013 $25 million dollars will equal $18 million once you adjust for inflation. LOL.

    Actually after I typed that I am kind of curious if that wasn’t part of the front office discussion.

    Comment by JR Ewing — April 27, 2010 @ 8:54 pm

  357. Given that no other teams are in a rush to tack 5 year extensions for exhorbitant amounts of loot on their 30-year-old star players with 2 years left on their deals, I’m guessing either (a) Philly’s front office employs a very poor economist or (b) Philly’s front office employs a very convincing prognosticator.

    We’d need Russian capitalist conversion levels of inflation to justify this deal.

    Comment by ToddM — April 27, 2010 @ 9:33 pm

  358. No no no – good ole Cupcakes, he’s just big boned…really, really big boned.

    Comment by pounded clown — April 27, 2010 @ 9:50 pm

  359. “Where they are headed != how FanGraphs likes the way their front office operates.”

    Why do you come to this website, then?

    Comment by Chris88 — April 27, 2010 @ 9:58 pm

  360. “Ditto Ibanez.”

    Dang, someone woke up on the stupid comment side of the bed today.

    Comment by Chris88 — April 27, 2010 @ 9:59 pm

  361. Howard may not be able to play another position but he’s slimmed down quite a bit. He has been pretty discliplined in that regard…laying off breaking pitches in the dirt…not so much.

    Comment by pounded clown — April 27, 2010 @ 9:59 pm

  362. “He did not sit back and get lazy when he signed his 1st big contract a few years ago, instead he went out and got better.”

    Other than a steady decline in power and on-base skills every year since his first full season in the bigs, you’d be spot on.

    Comment by Chris88 — April 27, 2010 @ 10:13 pm

  363. Damn you Ed Wade and your Reuben Amaro vodoo doll

    Comment by pounded clown — April 27, 2010 @ 10:18 pm

  364. 1. UZR is known to be deficient at 1B. I think most everyone acknowledges this.

    2. No he’s not. He’s at a sum 2.5 UZR/150 over the last 3 years; there’s no way that’s in the top 1/3.

    Comment by Mister Delaware — April 27, 2010 @ 10:23 pm

  365. “what proof do you have that it doesn’t?”

    None! But since you haven’t provided any reason for me to believe you, let alone care what you have to say, I’m not searching for any.

    Stupidity doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously.

    Comment by Chris88 — April 27, 2010 @ 10:24 pm

  366. Over the past three seasons, there are 24 first baseman with at least 1500 defensive innings at the position. Howard ranks 12th in UZR/150, 10th in RZR, and 17th in DRS. So sure, he’s better than the majority of 1B – except not.

    Comment by Kevin S. — April 27, 2010 @ 10:47 pm

  367. Except, you know, they have a massive chunk of change tied up in Howard starting in Year 2 of whichever contract Werth gets next. Unless you were thinking he was going to sign a one-year deal.

    Comment by Kevin S. — April 27, 2010 @ 11:06 pm

  368. Following up on that, they already have $87 million sunk into 7 players for ’12, and that’s not including Cole Hamels being in his final year of arbitration. If they don’t want to follow the Stars and Scrubs plan Minaya read about in TMR’s column, extending Werth is going to be an issue.

    Comment by Kevin S. — April 27, 2010 @ 11:12 pm

  369. It depends on what they expect A-Rod’s rate of decline to be relative to the rate of inflation. If they expect a disproportionately large portion of his value to come early in the contract, then front-loading makes sense if it’s important to them for his value to roughly match his contract over the life of it. This also matters because how much A-Rod makes in a given year does affect how much the Yankees can spend on other players. Since front-loading the contract does not appear to have hurt their ability to build a top-flight team in the present, it’s definitely worthwhile to buy additional salary room in the future.

    Comment by Kevin S. — April 28, 2010 @ 12:18 am

  370. Hmm. There’s no “h” in exorbitant, as it turns out. Just a little more proof that big words are… dumb.

    Comment by ToddM — April 28, 2010 @ 1:28 am

  371. I know Thome’s name has been tossed around a few times in the thread, but that seems like the most likely comparison. The ironic part of this if not for Jim Thome Ryan would be two years younger therefore making this contract slightly more sane. Don’t get me wrong, as a Phillies fan I’m thrilled to potentially have a future HOF start and end his career as a Fightin’. It’s the inner wannabe GM that cries out bad deal to me.

    With Howard on the books the attention now shifts to Pujols and the Cards. Goodluck Mozeliak.

    Comment by Jimbo Jones — April 28, 2010 @ 3:08 am

  372. Jeez, I’m glad the hamstringing of franchises amuses you so much… Do you also enjoy drowning puppies?

    That said, yeah, it’s a bad contract.

    Comment by PVDMVP — April 28, 2010 @ 3:34 am

  373. Thank you. Usually I love a good stat serve (followed by the obligatory “you got served” dance/taunt) but I just didn’t have it in me yesterday.

    Comment by Mister Delaware — April 28, 2010 @ 11:00 am

  374. Baseball’s most overrated player gets baseball’s worst contract.

    Does this really shock anyone? Now Jayson Werth will walk when they offer him about 1/4th Howard’s price, and Utley will walk, too.

    But I’m sure in Amaro’s brain, Howard’s RBI’s are all his and they will transfer over when Juan Pierre and Alex Gonzalez are the 1-2 hitters.

    Comment by Joe R — April 28, 2010 @ 11:22 am

  375. And stop with this pseudo-Kantian “pure a priori reasoning” rhetoric, which you use only to blow smoke.

    Analysis that “has a greater chance of being right” is the best we get in the real world. Calling better analysis and research “opinions” doesn’t make them so, is counter-productive, and is immature.

    One can always refuse to admit that one sees the force of the arguments of others. If that’s all you’re doing, then you are not trying to communicate with the rest of us and should think about why you are so unhappy.

    Comment by MBD — April 28, 2010 @ 11:33 am

  376. Oh so this is an “opinion” site. Well if that’s the case let’s take one from an actual baseball man, Bobby Cox. Regardless of what they’re being paid, Cox said Pujols is worth twice the money Ryan Howard is. If you think that paying Howard $25M or Pujols $50M annually are smart baseball decisions, it’s probably time to revisit that Ivy League economics course.

    Comment by Dusty B — April 28, 2010 @ 2:10 pm

  377. Lee deal would’ve meant money from THIS year. Howard’s deal doesn’t affect money until the 2012 season. So, yes, they couldn’t come up with the 9 million for Lee this year.

    Comment by Nate — April 28, 2010 @ 3:28 pm

  378. This is such a weird comment.
    Are you agreeing with the consensus? Disagreeing? Are you actually arguing that Pujols should get $50MM a year, or at least that Howard’s $25MM isn’t bad? Totally lost.

    Comment by Joe R — April 28, 2010 @ 4:46 pm

  379. He’s referring to the ridiculousness of Thomas J, who basically argues that his opinion is as valid as WAR, even though he’s got nothing behind it.

    Comment by Kevin S. — April 28, 2010 @ 4:50 pm

  380. Exactly, thank you sir.

    Comment by Dusty B — April 28, 2010 @ 5:31 pm

  381. I believe that looking at batting average, homers, and slugging percentage tells you 90% of what you need to know about a batter’s value. The other 10% comes from OBP, Baserunning, and Fielding.

    What in the christ?
    How the hell does batting average tell you more than OBP? BATTING AVERAGE IS THE PRIMARY DRIVER OF OBP.

    AVG tells you a guy’s ability to get hits. OBP tells you his ability to get hits, walks, HBP’s, and factors in sac flies. Do you even think of this shit, or are you just trolling? I hope you’re just trolling, else you may possibly be an idiot.

    Comment by Joe R — April 28, 2010 @ 6:24 pm

  382. I can’t believe this guy claimed he went to an Ivy league school for economics and can’t understand the value of OBP.

    No big deal, I mean only thousands of people have run data analysis on run production relative to OBP and SLG, and OBP constantly comes out 1.5 to 2 x as valuable each time. I wouldn’t expect an Ivy leaguer to understand Econometrics 101.

    Sidenote: U Chicago’s Econ program is better. But I’m sure Thomas J studied there, too.

    Comment by Joe R — April 28, 2010 @ 6:34 pm

  383. Eff U of C.

    /Graduating Northwestern econ major

    Comment by Kevin S. — April 28, 2010 @ 6:43 pm

  384. Ironically I missed my sport finance class reading this ridiculousness.

    Comment by Dusty B — April 28, 2010 @ 7:21 pm

  385. Are we all from the Chi? I’m at Loyola Kev.

    Comment by Dusty B — April 28, 2010 @ 7:29 pm

  386. Ha, really? That’s no more than a 25-minute L ride.

    Comment by Kevin S. — April 28, 2010 @ 7:40 pm

  387. It’s true that stupidity doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously, but I will anyway.

    Multiple independent researchers have arrived at results that suggest pitching and hitting are of roughly equal weight, and each are about twice as valuable as defense. So if we assume by “power” you meant “offense” then your “1%” number is off by more than an order of magnitude. Of course you didn’t say that, you said “power” which most people take to mean slugging of some sort. In that case, I’ll just point out that it’s well-accepted that the OBA part of OPS is worth somewhere between 1.5 and 1.8 times the SLG part, so “power” is actually a minority factor in total offense, making it even crazier to assert that defense is only “1% as important as power.” In fact, if in the total scheme of things defense is 20% and offense is 40%, and power is (1/1.6 = 62%) of offense, then power is worth about 25%. And remember, defense is worth 20%. In other words, defense is about 80% as important as power.

    Background:
    John Dewan: “defense is worth about half as much as offense.”
    Tom Tango: “When given three variables, offense, pitching, and fielding, offense is 42%, pitching is 33%, and fielding is 25%.”
    Sabermetrica: ” hitting and pitching are similar with hitting slightly on top, and each is about twice as important as defense.”

    Now, I’d like to see the work that led you to your 1% number, please.

    Comment by Joser — April 28, 2010 @ 7:42 pm

  388. Hey Kevin, that’s Jon Heyman’s alma mater!

    …you’ll turn out better though, I’m sure.

    & Dusty B – you can always say that your education needed to be used to assist laymen. I’m sure that’s a good excuse.

    Comment by Joe R — April 29, 2010 @ 1:03 am

  389. I know. :(

    Makes me wonder if all of his dork-bashing is merely self-loathing, like a closeted Republican official.

    Comment by Kevin S. — April 29, 2010 @ 1:07 am

  390. According to…. Fangaphs!, Ibanez was worth 17.3 million last year. I think he can be worth the 12.7 million over the next two years to justify the contract. Do you?

    Comment by vivaelpujols — April 29, 2010 @ 2:43 am

  391. Was Ben Zobrist one of the top players in baseball last year?

    That’s why WAR can be innaccurate.

    Yeah man, you use that .948 OPS in 2009, good defensive middle infielder as an example of how WAR can suck. No holes in this statement. None at all.

    Comment by Joe R — April 29, 2010 @ 11:21 am

  392. Sure, he *can* be, he always *could* have fulfilled on his value. But there was a particularly high risk of him getting old and losing it at any point, a risk that still exists. If you buy a lottery ticket and win, that doesn’t mean it was a smart play.

    Comment by Kevin S. — April 29, 2010 @ 12:08 pm

  393. “Intelligent Design vs BBT” is one hell of a non sequitor, almost makes you look more stupid than Thomas who’s perforated this entire thread with idiocy.

    Comment by Jimbo — April 29, 2010 @ 6:20 pm

  394. Do you actually know what a non sequitur is? If so, do you not see how in each case, we have somebody holding a position backed by no evidence pertaining to the given field (baseball, science) attacking a position that, while not proven, is supported by tons of evidence?

    Comment by Kevin S. — April 29, 2010 @ 8:11 pm

  395. Except that we didn’t actually know Ibanez’ true talent level at the time. If we could place his true talent level at 100% and the variance of his stats over the course of the contract was solely due to luck, then yes, him earning his contract is the equivalent of him winning the lottery (maybe only a 4 person lottery).

    However, we did not pin down Ibanez’ true talent level nor his expected aging nor his transformation into the NL and the Phillies park. FanGraphs has their model and it showed Ibanez to be a bad signging going forward. The Phillies have there own way of doing things, and it obviously showed Ibanez to be much better than FanGraphs thinks he was. After the first year of the contract, we can confidently say that it’s more likely the Phillies process was better than FanGraphs.

    Comment by vivaelpujols — April 30, 2010 @ 12:20 am

  396. You know Fangraphs has gone mainstream when the guy making the dumb comment about Lee has a +36 and the guy rightly correcting him has a -23.

    Comment by The A Team — April 30, 2010 @ 10:57 am

  397. Yes, they could have. Even if they non-tendered Blanton and didn’t get a thing for him, Lee + two picks > Blanton + three middling prospects.

    Comment by Kevin S. — April 30, 2010 @ 11:06 am

  398. Steroids cause unnatural muscle growth which your body isn’t necessarily prepared for. Therefore, while it may make you stronger in the short run, it can cause your body to break down in the long run.

    I wouldn’t think that fatness would directly cause a player’s performance to drop off. However, a lack of work ethic can lead to being fat and out of shape (which Mo Vaughn was criticized of with the Mets) and, I would expect you’d agree, also can lead to a drop in production.

    This doesn’t necessarily invalidate the comparisons, but there are reasons for changes beyond comparable players and their past statistics.

    Comment by Murgatroid — May 1, 2010 @ 6:37 pm

  399. Exactly. I’m very tired of reading comments that assert the notion that a Pujols contract might “set the market” for ANY contract in this climate, much less Ryan Howard’s potential contract.

    If anything, an upcoming Pujols contract will set a definitive ceiling for all baseball contracts to follow in the corresponding climate.

    Comment by Coby DuBose — May 3, 2010 @ 12:31 am

  400. The real travesty of this contract is that even optimistic viewpoints paint it as just a potentially non-disastrous haul for the Phillies.

    At its BEST, the contract offers them a chance to avoid embarrassment and organizational struggle.

    …but then there are the other possibilities that don’t include the seas parting for Ryan Howard as he ages gracefully into the night.

    I fail to see the upside here, and that’s the big issue.

    Comment by Coby DuBose — May 3, 2010 @ 12:35 am

  401. http://ill-phillies.com/articles/it-s-called-doing-good-business-keith/

    Comment by Conballs — May 4, 2010 @ 2:27 pm

  402. Not sure why you’d want to advertise the fact that you’re a monumental moron. Also, attacking a guy’s credibility because the organization he was part of earlier this decade made a mistake is totally relevant and in no way a logical fallacy.

    Comment by Kevin S. — May 4, 2010 @ 4:56 pm

  403. the best part is that McCovey was pretty much finished by his age 33 season.

    Comment by microwave donut — May 4, 2010 @ 5:01 pm

  404. I’m convinced he was just trolling

    Comment by microwave donut — May 4, 2010 @ 5:26 pm

  405. There’s also the fact that most revenue beyond ticket sales is shared, so money he makes for the Phillies he makes for all of baseball, right? Memorabilia and such?

    Comment by Eno Sarris — May 4, 2010 @ 9:43 pm

  406. LOL, revisiting this after 5 years. I really wish we could contact the trolls on this thread.

    They were right, he wasn’t as bad as the fools who value defense thought. He was much much worse.

    Comment by Joe R — March 25, 2015 @ 1:31 pm

  407. Oh, and Jon Heyman has turned sane and reasonable in the interim (he voted for Alan Trammell to the hall! Imagine him doing that 5 years ago). So now I’ve lost my favorite sportswriter to mock.

    Oh well, I’ll always have Thomas J’s “Ivy League” level analysis for all eternity to ridicule.

    Comment by Joe R — March 25, 2015 @ 1:47 pm

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