Teixeira’s Progress and Helton’s Value

Mark Teixeira looks like he’s down to the wire in terms of finally inking a contract and hoping pushing the remainder of this off-season forward. With the set of bidders narrowed down and the contracts tightening up, it appears that we can hone in on an expected contract for Teixeira, something in the eight-year, $175 million range. That’s not so much an overpay in annual average value, but rather just an overpay in years.

Teixeira is probably a 4-5 win player for 2009, worth between $20 and $25 million. Taking 10% off for a long-term discount and you have a fair value price of $18 to $23 million, which Teixeira seems about to get. That’s what you would be comfortable paying him if you felt he was going to stay a 5-win player throughout the duration of the contract. What’s not being taken into account though is aging curves. While Teixeira is young, when you sign someone for eight years, you better be factoring that in and any reasonable aging projection would have Teixeira losing a considerable amount of value over the life of the contract.

Teixeira’s soon to be inked contract got me thinking again about Todd Helton and since we’ve added some new stats to FanGraphs since I last looked at Helton, I felt like a brief revisit of him was warranted. Helton had a crummy 2008, no doubt, but even in a crummy year he posted a .391 OBP. And with his BABIP under .300 despite a 23.4% LD rate, that screams for some positive regression in 2009, which would help drive his overall line up back toward his 2005-7 numbers, which average him out to be worth around 40 runs over average with the bat if he could play a full season. Park adjusting his final line (only looking at away numbers is the wrong method), moves that number to about 34 runs. How likely are either of those things to happen? Helton’s been durable throughout his career, but you always worry about injuries to aging first baseman so there’s surely a non-trivial likelihood that he will not fully require. How much you want to knock off, I’ll leave up to you the reader.

Helton’s defense according to UZR plays slightly north of neutral with just enough positive trend for me to say that his glove plus his 12.5 run penalty for playing first base would come out to a negative 10 run total. Again, over a full season. Adding those up and throwing in replacement level, we arrive at 44 runs over replacement per season for Helton, roughly mirroring Teixeira. Helton is considered an anchor with either a three-year, $57 million or a four-year, $75 million contract. Yes, there’s a six year difference in age between the two, but if Helton returns to 2005-7 form (a safe-ish bet) he just has to be able to log between 400 and 500 plate appearances to justify his contract for 2009. Seems surprising for a guy many have written off at this point.



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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.


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Ian
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Ian
7 years 8 months ago

I think your two points are contradicting. Sure, paying Teixeira more than $23 million per year is overpaying now and he’s certain to decline between now and year 8, but by then who knows how much teams will be willing to pay per win. If he’s a 2 win player in 2017 and by then teams are valuing wins at $15 million each, then $23 million per year would be a steal.

This is exactly what happened with Helton. Compared to how much a win was “worth” when that contract was inked, Colorado’s getting the short end of the stick these days. But as the value of a win has gone up, Helton’s contract doesn’t look so bad any more.

b_rider
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b_rider
7 years 8 months ago

My sense is that the inflation of sports salaries in the last ten-fifteen years is not something that can be projected into the future. At some point, teams and leagues are going to be unable to generate new revenue streams. That’s not to say that average salaries will drop significantly, but it doesn’t seem reasonable to expect the same annual growth rates in the future.

I wonder if sports salaries are experiencing a bubble like the housing market. A couple of years ago, people would have told you that, since housing prices have been rising by whatever percent every year, we can expect that they will continue to do so. It turns out they were wrong, and housing prices had become inflated beyond sustainable levels.

RollingWave
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RollingWave
7 years 8 months ago

I think your overlooking some points though. the problem with the Helton contract isn’t Helton himself, it’s Colordo’s payroll limits, if the Helton contract was on a highpayroll team or (espically) the Yankees then it was well worth it during the span, but since Colordo essentially devoted anywhere from 1/5 to 1/4 their team salary to one guy that was a disastor. as they were unable to field a serious support cast when he was good (with one rare exception in 07) and now he’s declining the weight of the albatross is a abosalute killer.

looking at the Teixiera situation doesn’t fit unless he really ends up a O’s or Nats. which seems unlikely at this point, if he ends up with the 3 most likely team to shell out the crazy money (Angels/ Red Sox / Yankees) then he is far more likely to be worth it.

it is also worth noting that given Teixiera’s trend and age there’s a reasonable chance that he’s only at the begining of his peak and not the middle. in that we might see some 5.5-6 win seasons out of him in the next two year to four years, given the context of his skillset and how they’ve been trending that seems like a realistic possibiltiy.

Helton’s contract isn’t up yet anyway so we still have awhiles to go before we can truely judge how it went, if he bounce back in the next three season and stay within the confines of 05-07 then it’s quiet worthwhile in the context of the entire contract.

I think the easy “is he worth a long contract” test can be done by simply looking at a guys’ BR page and check his similar age comps, if you see several HOFers comming back, then the answer is probably yes.

Teix’s comps actually aren’t quiet as impressive as Heltons. well I guess it’s a though call between Frank Thomas / Joe D and Johnny Mize s Willy McCovey and Jim Thome. but the bad players on Helton’s list come up better than the onces on Teixiera’s

Scappy
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Scappy
7 years 8 months ago

Allegedly the Sox had offered 8/184 for Tex. They claim they are taking there offer and going home though. We shall see, I mean look what happened with Furcal.

qqqqqqqq
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qqqqqqqq
7 years 8 months ago

I know this has been said before, but I think it applies aptly with Teixeira. The money per win should be on an exponential scale, not a linear scale, because players like Teixeira are pretty rare. When’s the next time you think you’ll see a player of Teixeira’s caliber in free agency?

WY
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WY
7 years 8 months ago

I agree with RollingWave. In a vacuum (or with the Yankees or Red Sox), his contract might not be an anchor, but for a team such as Colorado (or about 2/3 of the other teams in baseball) it is.

I think the fundamental flaw with so many of the contract evaluations done on this site is that they assume a flat rate per win. But most teams simply cannot and will not pay players this so-called “market value.” Who says every team values wins-above-replacement at $5,000,000, or that they even should all value them at the same rate?

I think the assumption that a win is a win is a win (and costs 5 million bucks) is what leads to so many of the bloated signings and contract offers being considered good deals on this site. A good signing for a Yankees/Red Sox/Cubs/LA team is not necessarily a good signing for the Rays, Rockies, Cardinals, D’Backs, Indians, etc.

Ian
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Ian
7 years 8 months ago

With this talk about the Sox and the Nats offering pretty much the same 8 year, $160-$170 million contract I can’t help but think that 4-5 additional wins for the Nats means so much less than it does for the Sox. 5 wins to go from 60 wins to 65 is worth so much less than the 5 additional wins that push you into the playoffs.

Maureen
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6 years 7 months ago

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