Rivera Returns

Earlier today our focus centered around an Angels stalwart on his way out of town, making it only fitting that tonight’s topic involves an Angels outfielder returning to the team. Juan Rivera, the 30-yr old corner outfielder who has missed most of the last two seasons, will be an Angel for the next few years after signing a 3-yr/$12.75 mil deal today. The Angels bought out Garrett Anderson earlier this off-season and have been linked to Manny Ramirez as well, yet seemingly opted to go the safe route with Rivera.

Juan played in just 89 games last season, hitting .246/.282/.438, with 12 home runs. All told, his .306 wOBA in about half of a season made him worth -5.3 runs offensively. The year before, Rivera only appeared in 14 games, and hit .279/.295/.442. In both of these seasons, his O-Swing% looked very atypical of his previous performance. In 2006, Rivera had a career year, putting together a .310/.362/.525 line with 23 home runs, a .373 wOBA, and +17.5 offensive runs.

Defensively, he has not necessarily hurt teams, but he will not light the world on fire with his glove, either. Since corner outfield positions carry the same adjustment, a combination of his UZR totals in leftfield and rightfield peg Rivera as somewhere between a -3 and -5 run fielder. With aging, he looks like a -5 fielder moving forward. Offensively, Marcel projects Juan to hit .272/.323/.450, a .332 wOBA which happens to be the definition of league average. Should this come to fruition, Rivera would be worth 0 runs offensively and cost his team 5 runs defensively. Prorating the adjustments for 130 games and 430 PA docks him 6 runs for playing a corner outfield position and simultaneously adds 12 runs to account for his value above replacement level.

Under this scenario, Rivera would be +1 runs above replacement next year, or +0.1 WAR. At $5 mil/win, his fair market value would be $500,000. Unfortunately, his projections may be a bit skewed as they include two injury-plagued seasons. It is more than likely that the Angels see Rivera as capable of returning to his 2006 form in one way or another. If he can produce a .345 wOBA in 130 games and 500 PA, Rivera would be worth +6 runs on offense and -5 on defense prior to the adjustments. This results in +9 runs, or +0.9 WAR. At fair market value, that is a 1-yr deal worth $4.5 mil. Factoring in a 10% discount rate for signing a longer deal, a 3-yr deal would be valued at $12.15 mil.

Rivera actually signed for $12.75 mil, not too far off-base. Overall, a good deal for the Angels, as long as Rivera can stay healthy. An average annual value of $4.25 mil is well below the asking price of players like Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell, whose defensive shortcomings almost completely counteract their offensive contributions. Rivera is not a defensive wizard, but if he can combine slightly above average offense with slightly below average defense, this will result in a fine deal for the Angels.

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Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.

10 Responses to “Rivera Returns”

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  1. Sam says:

    I looked at his value earlier — http://fromthedugout.freedomblogging.com/2008/12/19/is-juan-rivera-worth-12-million/8336/ — and ultimately couldn’t find a reason to assume a return to 2006 levels. He wasn’t injured in 2008, he just wasn’t playing much. When he did get regular play in the second half, his power came back but he still had a .276 OBP.

    We’re basically talking about a guy who has been league average every year but one, his age 27 season, and who has good for about 350 AB every year except one. Marcel projects … a guy who will be league average, for about 350 AB. And yet, my gut tells me that there should be a good reason to expect more than a $1,000,000 player.

    So I guess my question is — what do you see in Rivera that you don’t see in, say, Jody Gerut?

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  2. Sean says:

    I see this as a good signing. Rivera is a better ballplayer than he has shown in 07 and ’08. ’07 was lost due to a broken leg–he is not a typical ‘injury prone’ as some seem to think. Broken bones happen, outside of that he has only had one other short DL stint. In ’08 he had a lot of rust to overcome, playing once or twice a week did not work out well for him, however, once he began playing regularly he started hitting the ball better and looking more comfortable at the plate. He is never going to be a big OBP guy, but he should get back closer to his ’06 numbers. If he can get 450AB I can see 25 HR’s and around a .300 avg. Not gonna set the world on fire but will be valuable.

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  3. Brian Cartwright says:

    In 9 full pro seasons from 1999-2006, Rivera had MLE wOBAs 318, 337, 377 (is he getting good?) 336, 337, (no) 358, 332, 384…3 good of 9. Then 303 in 2008. He projects .333, but could just as well repeate last year’s 303 – there’s a chance he could have one year around his 350 projection at the end of 2006, but I wouldn’t put my money on it.

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  4. giantsrainman says:

    I Have a question not at all related to this topic but I am asking it here because I think it might not be seen if I asked it a topic it would be more appropiate for since those topics are barried.

    My question is why are the team UZR/150s so much lower in scale then the team UZRs? The best and worst teams are about +70 and -70 in UZR but only +9 and -9 in UZR/150 and I don’t at all understand why this is the case. It would seem to me that a team’s UZR is obviously accross 162 games and thus adjusting 162 games to 150 games should result in the +70 and -70 going to about +65 and -65. What Am I missing?

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    • Pete says:

      The UZR/150 on the team page is the average for the seven defensive positions included in UZR measurements. You’d have to manually multiply the figure by 7 for each defensive unit’s UZR/150 or by 7.56 for the UZR/162.

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      • giantsrainman says:

        Thanks, That Helps Alot. But I am still wondering why they want the number to the the average of the 7 measured defensive positions instead of the sum of the 7 measured defensive positions. That said, It is now I now know how to determine either and I once again thank you for that.

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  5. Eric Seidman says:

    I could see him just as easily getting to .345 as .303, if he is given consistent playing time and fully recovered. It’s a low-risk move. If he meets his 2009 projections of +1 offense and -5 defense, he will essentially be a high-paid replacement player. If, however, he can get to about +6 runs offensively, a half-win improvement in that regard, and gain more playing time, this deal would be good. And the biggest thing is that they are avoiding paying Abreu or Burrell 14 mil for virtually the same production.

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  6. Darren says:


    I’m wondering how you (or Fangraphs in general) arrived at the 10% discount for longterm contracts. Why not ust adjust the value for the aging curve. This would make more sense because a 24-year-old signing for 5 years is likely to see his value go up or stay flat in that time, while a 34-year-old signing the same deal would see his go down.

    Furthermore, it seems like length of deal should play a role as well. Isn’t a 7-year deal likely to, correctly, contain a lot more discount than a 3-year deal? Even looking at it from the perspective of a player, they’d have to be willing to give a bigger discount to get 7 years of security than to get 3 years.

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  7. Darren says:

    “Should this come to fruition, Rivera would be worth 0 runs offensively and cost his team 5 runs defensively. Prorating the adjustments for 130 games and 430 PA docks him 6 runs for playing a corner outfield position and simultaneously adds 12 runs to account for his value above replacement level.”

    I think the ratios are off here. The corner OF adjustment seems to work for 130 games (130/150*7.5= 6.5). But shouldn’t the replacement level adjustment then be 130/150 *20, which equals 17.3? That would make his straight projection more like 6 runs above average, with a value around $2.7 mil/year.

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  8. Eric Seidman says:

    Darren, the positional adjustments are per 162 games… the +20 for replacement is per 700 PA.. so, you would have to do Rivera PA / 700, and then multiply that by 20.

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