Offseason Notes for December 16th

A shot, taken minutes ago, of Michael Cuddyer amidst his new surroundings.

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of Offseason Notes.

1. Headline: Cuddyer Signs with Rockies
2. FAN Projection Targets: Cuddyer, Ramirez, Willingham
3. Crowdsourcing Broadcasters: Colorado Television

Headline: Michael Cuddyer Signs with Rockies
Outfielder Michael Cuddyer has signed a three-year, $31.5 million deal with the Rockies, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

FanGraphs readers projected Cuddyer’s contract at a considerably lower three years and $24 million.

Figuring ca. $5 million per win, 5% inflation, and a 0.5 WAR decline each season, the Rockies appear to view Cuddyer as about a 2.5-win player in 2012.

We’ll have more coverage on Cuddyer in a bit.

FAN Projections: Cuddyer, Ramirez, Willingham
We’ve recently begun accepting entries for our 2012 FAN Projections. During the offseason, we’ll feature select players as “targets” for projection.

Today, we look at three recent free-agent signings: Michael Cuddyer, Aramis Ramirez, and Josh Willingham.

Literally within the last hour, Cuddyer has signed with the Colorado Rockies (Jon Heyman reporting). Per Troy Renck of the Denver Post, the deal is likely to be something around three years and $27 million. Cuddyer had his best season per WAR in 2011 as a 32-year-old, posting a 3.1 mark while hitting a 124 wRC+ (.312 BABIP).

Third baseman Aramis Ramirez finalized a three-year, $36 million contract with the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday, after rebounding from a poor 2010 to post a 3.6 WAR in 2011. As Jackie Moore noted earlier in the week, Ramirez, 33, will be a great relief to a third-base spot that was a vacuum for the Brewers in 2011.

Josh Willingham’s arrival in Minnesota — with whom the outfielder just signed a three-year, $21 million deal — made Cuddyer’s return unlikely. Brandon Warne considered yesterday how Willingham’s move from Oakland to Target Field might affect his numbers.

Click here to cast your 2012 projection ballot for these three recent signings.

Crowdsourcing Broadcasters: Colorado Television
This offseason, FanGraphs is asking readers to rate the broadcast teams for all 30 major-league clubs. (Click here for more on this project.)

Rate other teams: Arizona / Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Chicago (AL) / Chicago (NL) / Cincinnati / Cleveland.

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Why do writers continually talk about $5M per 1 WAR when your own player pages average out to $4.4M per 1 WAR?


And why do they continually talk about 5% inflation when WAR has stabilized at $4-4.5M for several seasons now?
And why do they never consider the fact that a player rarely replaces an actual replacement player, but usually a player who has some value?
And why do they never take risk (e.g., of injury) into account?
FanGraphs writers and commenters tend to make all free-agent signings look better than they are.

Ian R.
Ian R.

Some of those points are legitimate, but…

When authors mention a .5 WAR decline each year (as with Cuddyer above), that’s taking into account the risk of injury. Now, obviously there’s a chance that Cuddyer will suffer a catastrophic injury tomorrow, and there’s a chance he’ll be in the best shape of his life for the next few seasons. That decline averages out those risks.

It’s true that in most cases, the free agent isn’t replacing an actual replacement player. Sometimes he is – Aramis Ramirez, for example, is replacing Casey McGehee, who was just a hair above replacement level last year. Even when that isn’t the case, though, WAR is a great way to measure a player’s total individual value against a convenient baseline.

Finally, there really aren’t a whole lot of free agent signings that look terrible to begin with. Big leage general managers aren’t idiots. When a FA signing goes really, really wrong, it was usually at least questionable to begin with, but it also usually involves an unexpected injury or implosion on the player’s part. Barry Zito, Chone Figgins and Carl Crawford are great examples. So it’s not that strange that FanGraphs writers and commenters have generally positive views on free agent signings.


Whew, I disagree with everything you say, Ian.
The only one I’ll bother to reply to is that the .5 WAR decline is not for injury risk but for aging.