FanGraphs Baseball


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  1. Chase Utley is special.

    Comment by Mac — February 2, 2012 @ 1:15 pm

  2. Alex Rios?

    Comment by AL Eastbound — February 2, 2012 @ 1:26 pm

  3. “Dear Chase-

    I feel like I can call you Chase because you and me are so much alike. I would love to meet you some day. It would be great to have a catch. I know I can’t throw as fast as you but I think you would be impressed with my speed. I love your hair. You run fast. Did you have a good relationship with your father? Me neither. These are all things we can talk about and more. I know you have not been getting my letters because I know you would write back if you did and I hope you write back this time and we get to be good friends. I’m sure our relationship would be a real home run.”

    Comment by cecilcoop — February 2, 2012 @ 1:35 pm

  4. … we aren’t talking about worst value

    Comment by Kyle — February 2, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

  5. I love always sunny

    Comment by Kyle — February 2, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

  6. Wait, Why did pujols win and not bagwell? Is there a really steep inflation from the 90’s to the 00’s? I’m guessing thats it (or the numbers just aren’t available, but, for 10 fewer WAR he cost 60 million less. Granted it was several years later, and less of it was guaranteed.

    His five year contract generated 35 war and cost 27 million! I don’t care what kind of inflation their was, that’s a better deal.

    Comment by Jesse — February 2, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

  7. “No other player — first baseman or otherwise — came close to Pujols’ production in those seven years or in any seven-year period between 1992-2011.”


    Barry Bonds from 1997-2004:

    369 home runs
    And his wOBA was about .485, and his wRC+ was about 200.

    Other then that, fun article. I can’t wait to read part two.

    Comment by JayT — February 2, 2012 @ 1:44 pm

  8. Oops, I meant 1998-2004, and the homers should have been 329. Also, he had a war of 68, which is almost ten wins more then Pujols.

    And I say again, I really wish we could edit posts.

    Comment by JayT — February 2, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

  9. How about that Dale Thayer deal? He is probably only worth around .1 WAR, but his salaray for the past two years has been 6 broken game-used bats and 3 free haircuts by James Shields.

    Comment by Waluigi — February 2, 2012 @ 1:51 pm

  10. I feel pretty safe in wagering that Chase Utley has no chance at producing 10 WAR over the next 2 years. Just sayin’. Looking forward to part deux.

    Comment by Jake — February 2, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

  11. “Over that seven year period, Pujols posted a godly slash of .330/.432/.630, a .437 wOBA, and a 171 wRC+. He also hit 294 home runs and compiled a total of 59 WAR. No other player — first baseman or otherwise — came close to Pujols’ production in those seven years or in any seven-year period between 1992-2011.”

    Barry Bonds from 1992-1998 and 1998-2004 says hello.

    Comment by Feeding the Abscess — February 2, 2012 @ 1:57 pm

  12. lul, beaten to it

    Comment by Feeding the Abscess — February 2, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

  13. Don’t all of these kind of make the Maddux deal the best as it was a pure FA deal against deals buying out arbitration? Arb deals typically include the discounts into them as the player isn’t going to be making market value, but a purely FA deal even being close to these seem to hold a clear advantage.

    Comment by Dr. Rockzo — February 2, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

  14. Did anyone else see him say “Boo? F*** you!” to the Mets fans when the All Star game was in New York? That is my favorite Chase Utley memory. It was during introduction of the starting lineups and the camera was right in his face. Classic.

    Comment by drewcorb — February 2, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

  15. Was just about to post BB’s outrageous WAR production from 98-2004 as well. If you count his WAR from 92-98 his it comes out at 61.2. Also higher than Pujols 7 years and it includes the strike shortened 94 season.

    Comment by Rod — February 2, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

  16. I cannot remember, but I assume that the Braves were not paying their players during the ’94 to ’95 strike, which means Maddux was an even better deal if you’re going by WAR.

    Comment by The Real Neal — February 2, 2012 @ 2:28 pm

  17. It’s a close call. One additional reason to choose the Pujols contract is that it’s for 7 years v. 5 for Bagwell. Pujols sustained his crazy production for the full 7 years, when he would have commanded way way more on the open market. Often the 5 year deal will be more prudent for the team, but locking up Pujols for 7 yrs at $100 million was fantastic for the Cardinals.

    Comment by Wendy Thurm — February 2, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

  18. Yeah, that’s a fairly big mistake on my part, considering I’m a Giants fan and all. I’m going to leave the article as is, with the comments, instead of editing after the fact. Thanks for pointing it out.

    Comment by Wendy Thurm — February 2, 2012 @ 2:45 pm

  19. “considering I’m a Giants fan”, I knew there was something about your writing I really liked.

    Comment by Hurtlockertwo — February 2, 2012 @ 3:05 pm

  20. I was going to say the same thing except that I checked and saw that Utley put up 4 WAR in only 103 games last year, coming back from major surgery. His defense hasn’t suffered and he is still an above average hitter.

    5 WAR isn’t a conservative number but it seems very possible.

    Comment by Evan — February 2, 2012 @ 3:08 pm

  21. He means 5 WAR over the two years combined.

    Comment by BrandonG — February 2, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

  22. Or maybe not…either way, it’s not unreasonable

    Comment by BrandonG — February 2, 2012 @ 3:11 pm

  23. +1000 if you did this from memory, or from your own letter to Chase (we all wrote one at some point, at least our girlfriend’s did)

    Comment by DD — February 2, 2012 @ 3:27 pm

  24. And he’s a convicted felon because he of those years.

    Comment by West — February 2, 2012 @ 4:04 pm

  25. Your biggest fan,

    Comment by sc2gg — February 2, 2012 @ 5:01 pm

  26. I thought she was referring to only 1B players with that bit, but I guess not.

    Comment by sc2gg — February 2, 2012 @ 5:03 pm

  27. Yep, Maddus posted 7.4 WAR in 25 appearances before the strike ended the 94 season. It was early August too, so another couple of WAR for him wouldn’t have been impossible. Makes that deal even better.

    Comment by kellin — February 2, 2012 @ 5:53 pm

  28. 28 ÷ 5 = 5.6

    Comment by Fish Monster — February 2, 2012 @ 7:46 pm

  29. sadly not from memory…but i did use it as an excuse to introduce my coworkers to the world series defense.

    Comment by cecilcoop — February 2, 2012 @ 10:32 pm

  30. Yes, this had me confused as well.

    Comment by Jon L. — February 3, 2012 @ 3:47 am

  31. But great article!

    Comment by Jon L. — February 3, 2012 @ 3:48 am

  32. Most of the contracts you chose are from earlier in the years you studied. It seems like you are using a straight inflation comparison to compare dollars across eras. That doesn’t really work in baseball since baseball salaries rise much faster than inflation during the time period you are looking at.

    For example, and I’m not saying Maddux isn’t a good choice, but you mention that Maddux was the highest salary for a pitcher at the time. If you convert those dollars to today, it looks like a bargain, but it was the most expensive at the time of the deal. A straight inflation comparison doesn’t work.

    Comment by Plank — February 3, 2012 @ 5:14 am

  33. This is a bit simplistic, but wouldn’t it make more sense to look at salary rankings by position (or percentage of the average at the position) compared to WAR rankings with an objective or subjective adjustment for the years on the contract?

    Comment by Plank — February 3, 2012 @ 5:18 am

  34. Yeah, can we please leave the certain cheaters out of these discussions, please? No Bonds, no Clemens…they put up crazy production, but it was also partially fake…hence their unreal numbers.

    Comment by redsoxu571 — February 3, 2012 @ 12:16 pm

  35. Pedroia isn’t in the second base conversation? After his MVP year, he signed a six year, $40.5 mil contract. He’s already earned his entire contract and he’s only halfway through it. He’s put up a 16.2 WAR in 3 seasons, and 2010 he only played in 75 games. Pedroia’s AAV is a little over half of Utley’s with similar production.

    Comment by John — February 3, 2012 @ 1:48 pm

  36. Wendy,

    Maddux’s AAV would have been $5.6M ($28M / 5 years = $5.6M), not $6.5M (if the AAV was $6.5M on a 5 year contract his deal would have been worth $32.5M) like you have in your post.

    Great concept. Look forward to the next post!

    Comment by J. Cole Rinck — February 4, 2012 @ 11:51 am

  37. the OF, by position (LF, CF, RF), or merely OFx3?

    Comment by Cidron — February 4, 2012 @ 8:03 pm

  38. Why did you leave out Pujols’s option year (for a total of $116M over 8 years)? No, it wasn’t guarenteed when the deal was signed, but it still wound up as part of the contract just as much as the contract extensions you mentioned.

    Comment by Lanidrac — February 5, 2012 @ 5:30 am

  39. the generally accepted pre roids era Bonds was probably better than Pujols too in all honesty. I live in Missouri and I’m 22, so most of my recent and prime baseball watching has been mostly Holes. Still, Bonds was incredible, steroids or not.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — February 6, 2012 @ 4:49 am

  40. I agree. I love Maddux, and his deal likely produced surplus value to Ted, however, he was the highest paid. So shouldn’t the comp salary-wise be today’s highest paid pitcher? Seems off.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — February 6, 2012 @ 4:53 am

  41. I saw it. It’s nothing new for Utley. He mouths cuss words quite a bit. Actually he says them and we just read his lips.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — February 9, 2012 @ 3:54 pm

  42. Wendy, this is an excellent article and I really appreciate your work because just my own little project here has taken an extensive amount of looking for contract details from the earlier half of this time period. Craig Biggio’s first FA contract was a 4yr deal for 22M spanning from 96-99. Now it appears that the deal was renegotiated and extended several times diluting the value for the Astros, but in the first 4 years the Astros paid for 13 Wins and received 26. Not as good as Utley’s but comprable to Kent’s.

    Comment by Terence — February 9, 2012 @ 4:05 pm

  43. Roberto Alomar is one of the most underrated players in the history of Sabremetrics, because UZR is so obviously flawed.

    UZR is one of the least reliable components of the basic sabremetric tool kit, and yet it frequently gets treated as if it is a reliable metric. Fangraphs authors often rely heavily on UZR, even though they give an obligatory disclaimer about UZR being noisy, or taking a long time to stabilize, etc.

    But UZR is not simply noisy, it is inaccurate. The R-squared that UZR has with preventing runs is not as robust as many of our other reliable metrics relating to runs or run prevention. Furthermore, UZR is far more predictive on the aggregate than it is for individuals. Therefore, most of UZR is geared towards general observations about team defense, not really geared towards measuring individual defensive greatness. Unlike batting and pitching, success in fielding is achieved by a unit of 9 players, instead of a single 1-on-1 interaction. For this reason, obviously, fielding metrics are geared towards aggregate success, rather than individual excellence.

    Alomar’s dominance at 2B was game changing. His fielding percentage was record breaking, the best of all time. Scouts universally agreed that Alomar’s range at 2B was the best in the game, if not the best in history. Alomar got to balls down the first base line that went to the LEFT of John Olerud. Alomar basically invented the one-handed flip from the left of the bag to the SS covering second base. Alomar pretty much invented the glove-scoop-to-first play (made on slow rollers between first and second). My point is not that Alomar was fun to watch or innovative: instead, my point is that Alomar changed the game. UZR is basically the least accurate sabremetric, and like all metrics (especially those that are far more predictive on the aggregate), UZR does its worst when trying to analyze unique, game-changing players.

    For example, many opposing teams purposefully hit away from Alomar during his prime. Almost certainly, this strategy happened so rarely that it would hardly impact the data set (although this strategy was likely used in high leverage situations). Still, when you consider that UZR absolutely brutalizes Alomar for his supposed lack of range, a detail like this is worth consideration. Are there other tactical reasons that Alomar appears to have a worse UZR range than Jeff-freaking-Kent? Any fielding metric that rates 1B Jeff Kent as a better second baseman than Alomar- during their primes- is clearly a laughably flawed metric. But UZR consistently rates Kent and other woefully bad fielders as better than Alomar. This consistency tells us that the metric is systemically inaccurate.

    Also, UZR inaccuracy has lead to the deification of Chase Utley, who is merely a good but not great defender. Please let me clarify: I am NOT saying that the numbers lie, or that the eye ball test is superior to advanced statistics. Quite the contrary, I am saying that UZR is not up to par for a reliable, informative, consistent, and probing metric relevant to an individual players’s success. Fielding stats in baseball (being unit oriented) are much like DVOA and other advanced metrics in football: because of the lack of one-on-one discrete interactions, the unit based metrics tend to be overly obtuse and normative: unable to accurately rate unique players whose performance accomplishes success in a manner that differs from the league norms. Alomar was that player. The statistics know and show that Alomar was that player: it’s just UZR that is missing the boat.

    Comment by craig kline — February 9, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

  44. Ok so UZR doesnt explain individual fielding efforts well. What does it better? If nothing does it better then I guess we will just use UZR

    Comment by adohaj — February 9, 2012 @ 6:19 pm

  45. The pre-roids Bonds could steal a lot more bases and was a little better defensively, but Pujols is a much better contact hitter and is a little better at avoiding strikeouts.

    Comment by Lanidrac — February 10, 2012 @ 9:48 pm

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