The Cost of Making Ryan Zimmerman A National For Life

With 29.2 Wins Above Replacement in the past six seasons, Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has the 11th-most WAR during that period. You read that right: 11th.  That’s more than Adrian Gonzalez. More than Jose Reyes. More than Mark Teixeira.  More than Adrian Beltre.

I don’t know about you, but I was surprised by that. And I spend a lot of time on the FanGraphs leader boards. But there are at least three people (actually, I’m sure there are many more) who know exactly how much WAR Zimmerman accumulated in the past six seasons: Zimmerman, his agent and Nationals’ general manager Mike Rizzo.

Zimmerman has played his entire career with the Nationals, and he’s said publicly that he’d like to finish his career with the Nats. His current 5-year, $45 million contract — which covered his last three years of arbitration-eligibility (from 2009 to 2011) and will cover his first two years of free agency (2012-2013) — expires soon.  The deal was heavily back-loaded, so the Nationals will pay Zimmerman $12 million in 2012 and $14 million in 2013. Both sides have expressed interest in getting a new, long-term deal done now and are believed to be close on terms. But Zimmerman will table any extension talks once spring training begins. That leaves a three-week window to negotiate a new agreement, or wait until next winter.

What makes sense for a long-term deal between Zimmerman and the Nationals?  It’s an interesting question for several reasons, but particularly because there aren’t many comparable contracts to point to.

Let’s talk defense first. Using both UZR and DRS, Zimmerman’s been the best defensive third baseman in the National League over the last six years. He did falter some in 2011, perhaps the result of the abdominal surgery that kept him out of action for much of May and June, but he’s been more than rock solid at the hot corner since his debut. If Scott Rolen had stayed healthy, and had played in the National League all six years, he would have edged out Zimmerman, but not by much. Pablo Sandoval is gaining quickly (as I discussed here), but he’s only been in the majors since mid-2008.

Evan Longoria and Adrian Beltre set the defensive gold standard at third in the American League, and their offensive output is close enough to Zimmerman’s (but better) to potentially provide some guidance on the long-term contract for Zimmerman. But Longoria is in the midst of a deeply-discounted long-term deal with the Rays signed at the beginning of his career, in which he’ll be paid $17.5 million for all six years prior to free agency. And Beltre is entering his fifteenth season, and playing under his third free-agent contract, a 6-year/$96 million deal with Rangers that runs through 2016. Neither is a good fit for trying to value Zimmerman over the next eight years or so.

Offensively, Zimmerman’s been — quietly — posting very good numbers. He has a career slash of .287/.353./.478, a wOBA of .357, and a wRC+ of 118. Although his ISO sits just under .200, he has hit 128 home runs. And while he’s no speed demon on the base paths, he does have 25 career steals. Based on those numbers, Troy Tulowitzki is a potential comp, but he signed his 10-year/$157 million deal with the Rockies when he was still three years from free agency, and in the midst of a 6-year/$31 million contract. So he was further from free agency, and starting off with a less valuable contract, than Zimmerman.

The player who may be the best comp for Zimmerman is Matt Kemp. This winter, with one year remaining until free agency, Kemp signed an 8-year/$160 million contract with the Dodgers. He’ll be paid $10 million in 2012, but the figures escalate from there, ending in five consecutive years at $21.5 million.

Kemp and Zimmerman have remarkably similar offensive numbers, if not quite the same skillset. Kemp’s career slash is .294/.350/.496, a wOBA of .364, for a wRC+ of 126. He walks less and strikes out more than Zimmerman, but he has more power and speed.  Zimmerman more than makes up for the difference with his superior defense, but Kemp plays an “up the middle” position where offense isn’t as expected as it is at third base. The market has historically paid more for five tool players than defensive wizards at corner positions, and of course, Kemp was coming off an MVP-caliber season, so his potential was at the forefront of the conversation. Zimmerman can point to Kemp as a comparable situation, but the Nationals will probably decline to offer him the same kind of deal.

That gives us an expected AAV less than $20M for Zimmerman going forward, but certainly more than the $14M he’ll make in the last year of his current contract. Split the difference, and maybe the AAV ends up in the $17M range. The big question is going to be number of years. Zimmerman spent considerable time on the disabled list in 2008 and 2011 and has had a variety of other dings and dents in his career. On the other hand, he’s just 27 years old, and very much in his prime. Locking up Zimmerman until 2019 doesn’t seem crazy at all.

There are many ways for the two sides to move forward. They can rip up Zimmerman’s existing contract and ink a new deal starting in 2012. Or they can simply agree to a contract extension starting in 2014. Zimmerman has said that he’s willing to be flexible on how his contract is paid out over time, to give the Nationals the opportunity to sign other big-ticket players. So they can front-load a deal, back-load a deal or do it any other way. But, in the end, if the Nationals want to keep Zimmerman around, they’ll probably need to go north of $120 million over seven or more years to get it done.



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Wendy writes about sports and the business of sports. She's been published most recently by Vice Sports, Deadspin and NewYorker.com. You can find her work at wendythurm.pressfolios.com and follow her on Twitter @hangingsliders.


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Anthony
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Anthony
4 years 5 months ago

Can’t wait till he’s healthy enough to get rid of that funky throwing delivery he had last year.

noseeum
Guest
noseeum
4 years 5 months ago

FYI, the “here” link for Sandoval has an extra http in it.

RE Zimmerman, I think if I were the Nationals, I’d wait one more year. Even if it costs me an extra mill or two per season, I’d want to see Zimmerman make it through 2012.

Well-Beered Englishman
Guest
Well-Beered Englishman
4 years 5 months ago

I’d wait the extra year if I were Zimmerman, not the Nationals – RZ will be a lot worth more if he can prove that he’s fully healthy.

Dave S
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Dave S
4 years 5 months ago

Agree.

If I’m Zim, I wait a year and post a more customary 7.5 win season and see how that improves the offer… especially with free agency looming, just one year away.

If I’m Nat’s management… I do my absolute best to sign him right now, even if it seems like a bit of an overpay.

3B is a black hole to many teams, and looks to be getting thinner, not better in the near future. Lots of aging / declining vets, and not a lot hot talent coming through (so far anyway).

jorgath
Guest
jorgath
4 years 5 months ago

I’d wait an extra year if I were either of them. For the Nats, it’s not gambling 7+ years without making sure that he’s still at least REASONABLY healthy. For Zim, it’s a chance to have a good season and increase his value.

vivalajeter
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vivalajeter
4 years 5 months ago

Dave, if a 7.5 win season was customary for him, he probably would have done that at least once in his career so far.

Dave S
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Dave S
4 years 5 months ago

jeterhead, OK… sorry… 7.2 Which he has done twice.

Is that better? LOL

vivalajeter
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vivalajeter
4 years 5 months ago

Yes, he’s put up 7.2 WAR twice. And he sandwiched those seasons with 2.5 WAR seasons. While his peak might be close to 7.5 WAR, it’s not a customary season that he can just go out and do.

bstar
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bstar
4 years 5 months ago

Those inflated WAR seasons only exist in the Fangraphs world and nowhere else. B-ref has his WAR peaking at 5.3 for the 2010 season with only one more year over 5 WAR and only 3 years total over 3 WAR. That’s hardly the picture of an elite player.

So Zimmerman is ranked 11th in WAR over the past six seasons on Fangraphs. I’m sure Zimmerman, his agent, and GM Rizzo are also aware that he’s ranked 38th in bWAR over that same time period.

Dave S
Guest
Dave S
4 years 5 months ago

jeter,

Apparently he can just go out there and do that… because, as you noted, he’s done it twice already.

Also, we can’t accurately say what Zimmerman’s peak is, as he is still playing. As Zim is only entering his age 27 season, I would hesitate to bet against him achieving a higher peak.

I’m sorry if my use of the word “customary” bothered you. But the only current 3b it would be more accurately applied to is Evan Longoria. Zimmerman has done it twice in 6 seasons. Evan has done it twice in 4.

Cidron
Member
Cidron
4 years 5 months ago

all of you who say wait, are forgetting that he may just miss large chunks of the season with an injury sustained during it, thus devaluing him a little bit. nobody can predict the future. strike now while the iron is hot and the prince fielder money is available.

filihok
Member
4 years 5 months ago

Now it’s missing a :

Aaron
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Aaron
4 years 5 months ago

My rebuttal: you’re a woman

Kevin S.
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Kevin S.
4 years 5 months ago

Who’s a damn good baseball writer. But, hey, misogyny!

Stacey
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Stacey
4 years 5 months ago

My rebuttal: You’re a douche.

Sheniqua
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Sheniqua
4 years 5 months ago

Oh no, you di-dn’t…

Sports guy
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Sports guy
4 years 5 months ago

Stacey, does your mom have it going on? Just curious & I’ll take your reply off the air.

Emma
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4 years 5 months ago

Consider getting your baseball analysis elsewhere, then. Maybe try 1954.

Chatroom guy
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Chatroom guy
4 years 5 months ago

You go, girl! Hey hey hey

Diane
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4 years 5 months ago

Aaron …. do you happen to write about baseball anywhere? I’d love to read it if you do, because then I could figure out how to become a REALLY great writer!

AJ
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AJ
4 years 5 months ago

I read this as a joke rather than an actual d-bag comment. If only we could post pictures here, I’d go with the “Not Sure if Serious” joker photo.

Bill@TPA
Guest
4 years 5 months ago

Gotta do better than that to make it a joke. If that’s what it was, it failed badly enough that he deserves everything he’s getting anyway.

Larry
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Larry
4 years 5 months ago

Come on guys, this was clearly a joke (perhaps made in questionable taste), nothing to get so riled up about.

That guy
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That guy
4 years 5 months ago

I thought it was kind of funny. Of course, the general populace at this site wouldn’t know edgy humor from, well, an actual female.

jorgath
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jorgath
4 years 5 months ago

My rebuttal: You’re a virgin.

Stan Gable
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Stan Gable
4 years 5 months ago

Dude, it’s Fangraphs. That rebuttal could be used ad nauseum.

Richie
Member
Richie
4 years 5 months ago

:-))) for Stan’s reply

Old Blue Eyes
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Old Blue Eyes
4 years 5 months ago

Who let the dames in here?

RationalSportsFan
Guest
4 years 5 months ago

Agreed with Aaron. I love the fair sex. But science tells us it degrades their femininity if they’re allowed to read, or own money, or leave the house, or call for help…or write about baseball.

Mike
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Mike
4 years 5 months ago

stop feeding the troll

JCA
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JCA
4 years 5 months ago

Perhaps a way to protect the Nationals but compensate Zimmerman is to have a number of games played bonuses in the contract as well as perhaps player options triggered at the end of the deal based on games played. I have a hard time seeing him at less than 7 / $140MM if it were 7 healthy seasons, but there is the if. Perhaps a $7 year, $112MM base, with obtainable bonuses of up to $4MM a year (maybe $500K for PAs 200, 250, 300 . . . 550) would protect both sides. That seems like a lot of contingent pay, but it does lock RZ in for $16MM minimum even if he misses a year.

Dave S
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Dave S
4 years 5 months ago

That seems sensible. But I doubt the Phils/Yankees/RedSox/Angels would make him sign that kind of contract.

So, why should he sign one for the Nats?

Ryan Zimmerman has had TWO 7+ win seasons.
Prince Fielder has had ONE _6_ win season.

Zimmerman is 4 months younger than Fielder.

Just sayin…

JCA
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JCA
4 years 5 months ago

Actually, the Red Sox through a huge contingency in their Lackey signing. If he went on the DL for an extended period of time, they coudl exercise an option to have him pitch an extra year at MLB minimum. I also think they had a provision in their JD Drew contract making it voidable if he missed a certain amount of time due to his preexisting shoulder condition. While it is not one of the teams you mention, Magglio I believe had a voidable contract based on injuries. So, what I suggested is a lot less onerous than prior conditions agreed to by Boras and other agents.

Maybe the numbers aren’t exactly right, but the idea of having a good guarantee coupled with sizeable bonuses tied to playing time might be a good way to lessen the risk for the team while still funneling enough money to Zimmerman. you could raise the guarantee to $18MM per year if you think he’s a 5.5 WAR player right now, which is better than he’s been over his first 6 years.

Yirmiyahu
Member
4 years 5 months ago

What of the fact that Total Zone has him as a perfectly average defender? And thus his career bWAR is 19.8. Which for perspective, is much closer to Nick Markakis and Shin-Soo Choo.

jcxy
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jcxy
4 years 5 months ago

just anecdotal, but i find that the uzr model allows for more “extreme” data–that is, i see more players in the +/- 15 range than on b-ref. for instance, the difference in how the two calculate raul ibanez’s 2011 defense is almost 1 WAR.

as this relates to zimm…idk. it’d be interesting to see FSR data. he’s never appeared to me to be less than “very good”.

Mike
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Mike
4 years 5 months ago

That’s an easy one. Total Zone is wrong. Not just a little wrong, but extremely wrong.

Every other metric (UZR, DRS, RPM) and observational scouting (Fans Scouting Report, FIelding Bible) says that he’s excellent defensively.

So what are the chances that TZ has him pegged correctly and everyone else is wrong ? Pretty much zero.

In the absence of UZR data (pre-2002), TZ is “better than nothing” for calculating the defensive contribution to WAR. But when UZR is available, TZ (and thus, rWAR) should never be used.

If it can be this wrong on one player, it can’t be trusted at all.

bstar
Guest
bstar
4 years 5 months ago

Or, using that logic, if UZR can so heartily overinflate Ryan Zimmerman’s numbers that much, it can’t be trusted at all.

So B-ref’s dWAR can’t be trusted at all? Look at the list of all-time leaders in dWAR. Brooks Robinson, Andruw Jones, Roberto Clemente, Ozzie Smith, Mark Belanger, Barry Bonds, Carl Yastrzemski. etc. Yeah, that’s a terrible list there.

James Gentile
Member
4 years 5 months ago

That’s not at all what he’s saying, at all.

He’s saying TZ is clearly the outlier. It’s the least reliable of the available metrics and its the only one that rates Zimmerman as an average defender. UZR, FRS, TZL, DRS all love him. And that the chances of every other metric being wrong and TZ being right are very very slim.

bstar
Guest
bstar
4 years 5 months ago

“If it can be this wrong on one player, it can’t be trusted at all.”

That is exactly what he said, and I was refuting that statement. I understand TZ is an outlier for Zimmerman. That doesn’t mean B-ref’s whole system should be trashed. We’re talking about one player. If they’re so wrong, why do they get it right with other top-fielding third basemen? Adrian Beltre, Scott Rolen, and Evan Longoria get ~1 dWAR/season. Even if Zimmerman were in those guys’ class defensively and was graded as such by TZ, his bWAR would still be lower than those gaudy 7+ fWAR numbers.

And even the staunchest defender of UZR can admit that one season totals can be misleading and extreme.

JDanger
Guest
4 years 5 months ago

He did say that, huh.

Mike, why did you say that? You were making so much sense.

Yirmiyahu
Member
4 years 5 months ago

I can find plenty of examples where, for a given player, UZR is the outlier and TZ/DRS/FSR/TZL are all in agreement. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t trust UZR at all.

And while I agree that Total Zone is probably the least accurate of the defensive metrics, that doesn’t mean its 100% useless. And for what it’s worth, Total Zone Location (which is as robust a stat as UZR) has him as only slightly above average as well.

What I’d do is look at the aggregate of all the metrics, with an understanding that there’s a large margin of error. That’s exactly what the Aggregate Defensive Ratings on fangraphs do.

My only point was to introduce the issue into the conversation. It’s important not to take his UZR numbers as gospel, when so much of his value is due to defense.

Mike
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Mike
4 years 5 months ago

JDanger –

I should have left that last part off, eh ? Or said something like “If it can be this wrong on one player, it should be looked at with a very skeptical eye”.

Mike
Guest
Mike
4 years 5 months ago

Here’s what the creator of TZ has to say about TZ vs UZR:

“When the infielders are off, I assume that it’s just the error of an imprecise system and that UZR has the right value”

So, with that being the case, why would anyone ever use rWAR instead of fWAR for Zimmerman ?

And if TZ can make an error so large on one player, it can make it on others too.

James Gentile
Member
4 years 5 months ago

It’s not the preferred metric when others are available, for sure. That doesn’t render it useless, however. I don’t think anyone here was advocating using rWAR over fWAR absolutely, but just that it ought to be considered when evaluating Zimmerman’s value. Yirmiyahu suggests using the aggregate, which still likes him very much at about +11 per 150 games.

James Gentile
Member
4 years 5 months ago

Anecdotally, his one game at SS was worth -3 runs, which is pretty funny.

Mike
Guest
Mike
4 years 5 months ago

When the creator of TZ says in cases like this (clear disagreement between UZR and TZ) to use UZR, why bother considering an aggregate ?

My issue here is Yirmiyahu’s “What of the fact that Total Zone has him as a perfectly average defender?”

Well, I’ve addressed that. In a case like this, UZR should be used.

So rWAR, at least for Zimmerman, should be tossed aside without fanfare. The argument that he’s comparable in WAR to Markakis and Choo just doesn’t hold water.

bstar
Member
bstar
4 years 5 months ago

Do you guys know what Fangraphs uses for WAR pre-UZR? or, pre-2002?(I guess). Because Fangraphs’ WAR totals on historically elite defenders show a very similar trend to the one we’re talking about with Zimmerman.

Looking at bWAR and fWAR totals(this is for position players only), by far the biggest discrepancies I can find are the totals for the really great defensive players. Let me give you some examples:

fWAR over bWAR:

Brooks Robinson +25.5
C Yastrzemski +20.0
Luis Aparicio +13.7
Ron Santo +12.9
Bill Mazeroski +12.6
Paul Blair + 11.7
Andruw Jones +11.3
Dv Concepcion +11.2
Bob Boone +11.0

Those are the biggest numbers I can find; there might be a few more out there. What’s amazing is that Zimmerman’s career is already at +10.4, after only seven years in the league. This makes him kind of a lightning rod for this issue. What does any of this really matter? A lot, to me. Is Brooks Robinson a ~70 WAR Hall of Famer or is he a 95 WAR player? Is Ryan Zimmerman a 3.5 win player or a 5 win player? Is a player with 60 bWAR not a Hall of Famer? What if that number gets inflated to 75 or 80 WAR? A very high percentage of articles on Fangraphs center on or at least mention WAR, so I would like to see some consensus on the issue.

I just think UZR is a little too volatile on the positive side for good defenders. That’s why you get those crooked, gaudy numbers for guys like Zimmerman in ’09 and ’10 and last year for Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner(really? +25.8 fielding???).

A couple years ago, authors on here were claiming WAR wasn’t really good for evaluating which player is better than which, but more to give an approximate value for a player’s contributions. This has gone by the wayside, for authors and posters at fangraphs alike. We are evaluating contracts ad nauseum based on one stat: $/WAR. Shouldn’t we work harder to perfect this number and get it right? I agree an aggregate look at defensive value with several metrics in play would be a far better way to do it than just looking at the number that produces the highest positive totals you can find anywhere.

Mike
Guest
Mike
4 years 5 months ago

bstar –

“Do you guys know what Fangraphs uses for WAR pre-UZR? or, pre-2002?(I guess). Because Fangraphs’ WAR totals on historically elite defenders show a very similar trend to the one we’re talking about with Zimmerman.”

FanGraphs actually uses the same thing for the defensive component of fWAR that rWAR uses for pre-UZR years: TZ.

So if there’s a difference in the two WARs for those players you listed (except for Jones) it’s gotta be in the offensive component of the respective WARs.

“What’s amazing is that Zimmerman’s career is already at +10.4, after only seven years in the league.”

Six year is a better descriptor, since his 2005 debut was just a september cup of coffee.

A better way to look at it would be the % of change between the two WARs. I mean, if you’ve got one player with an fWAR of 95 and a rWAR of 85, is that worth arguing much ?

As you noted, Zimmerman’s noteworthy difference between the two hsa occured over a relatively short time. Look at it this way: his fWAR of 30.2 is 54% higher than his rWAR of 19.6 ! That’s crazy.

Mike
Guest
Mike
4 years 5 months ago

bstar –

Forgot one thing:

“I agree an aggregate look at defensive value with several metrics in play would be a far better way to do it than just looking at the number that produces the highest positive totals you can find anywhere.”

No. Not when the creator of TZ himself has said that when UZR and TZ disagree on an infielder, TZ is in error and UZR is right.

bstar
Member
bstar
4 years 5 months ago

Mike,

Thanks for the info and the reply. Yes I agree about the percentage change and that’s what we should only concern ourselves with. It’s really the borderline good/great players that I meant to talk about. I only showed the historical list to prove it’s happened across history.

You are exactly right about fWAR using TZ! Amazingly to me, that is not where the difference lies(for those who played before 2002). I’m really confused now and will not stop til I figure out why the numbers are different for only great fielders. Overall, bWAR and fWAR tend to total relatively close for everyone else, certainly not enough to argue about. So if the offensive numbers are where the difference lies, it should show up for everyone, but it doesn’t. Argh. I’m going to have to spend tonight sussing out where the difference lies; just eyeballing it, it looks like replacement level and positional adjustments may be the difference, which is surprising.

You’re right, 85 WAR to 75 WAR is not really worth arguing about. But 75 WAR to 55 WAR makes a player a yes/no HOF’er. Plus, we spend countless hours evaluating contracts based on this one WAR number, that’s why I think it’s so important.

bstar
Member
bstar
4 years 5 months ago

One more point, Mike. I still think UZR is too extreme. So the inventer of TZ says to use it for infielders in place of TZ. What about the outfielders and the catchers? Seriously, -0.7 dWAR for Yadier Molina??? That’s a friggin’ joke.

Mike
Guest
Mike
4 years 5 months ago

That very scenario could easily end up applying to Zimmerman.

Let’s assume that he plays another 9 seasons, taking him through age 35. And that he generates WAR at the same rate as he has so far on average. That’s 5.03 fWAR and 3.27 rWAR.

He’d end up with 75.5 fWAR and 49 rWAR. The former saying a pretty clear HOF’er and the latter a pretty clear not.

rWAR is doing Zimmerman an extreme disservice, because some people will use it to evaluate him without having done the research and read the fine print like I have.

You hit the nail on the head earlier when you said “Shouldn’t we work harder to perfect this number and get it right?”. Yet rWAR still uses TZ in instances when by their own admission UZR is better.

For outfielders, Here’s what Sean Smitth says:

“When the infielders are off, I assume that it’s just the error of an imprecise system and that UZR has the right value. For outfielders, though, I’m not so sure. Although UZR is the better system, the discrepancy could also be due to differences in data sources”

So, he’s not saying that UZR still isn’t the better system, only that he’s not as convinced as he is for infielders.

For catchers, I don’t put a whole lot of stock in either system.

bstar
Member
bstar
4 years 5 months ago

“Shouldn’t we work harder to perfect this number and get it right?”

I don’t think we’re any closer to getting it right if we just use UZR. It has its limitations. I’m sure you’re aware that a 3-yr look at UZR gives a much better profile than one yr. That being said, I’m totally against using a 3-year anything for single season totals. After all, single season BA isn’t all that telling, either. But that doesn’t mean we should be giving Joe Mauer credit for hitting .360+ in 2009 to evaluate 2011. He hit .287 last year. . Period.

You are aware that UZR can be an outlier when all the other defensive metrics say something else, right? Yirmiyahu posted just a few of the names he found:

Orlando Cabrera
Asdrubal Cabrera
Ian Kinsler
Matt Kemp
Rafael Furcal
Vladimir Guerrero
Gerald Laird
Robinson Cano

So if the chances that all other defensive metrics are wrong and one that is saying the opposite is right are, as you say, ‘very close to zero’, how can you so heartily endorse UZR as the be-all-end-all of defensive metrics?

Mike
Guest
Mike
4 years 5 months ago

“how can you so heartily endorse UZR as the be-all-end-all of defensive metrics?”

I’m not saying that at all. But when the creator of TZ says to use UZR instead of TZ when they disagree for infielders, um… shouldn’t we do just that ?

“You are aware that UZR can be an outlier when all the other defensive metrics say something else, right?”

Yep. And in cases where UZR is massively different than literally everything else (especially over large data samples) then it’s the outlier and should be looked at with a critical eye.

chinocochino
Guest
chinocochino
4 years 5 months ago

Whatever Zimmerman gets, it will probably be MUCH better than Fielder’s contract. I’m a Detroiter and I can’t stand how so many mainstream Michigan fans actually LIKE the deal. Ugh. Zimmerman might get shafted since much of his value is derived from defense, however.

Yirmiyahu
Member
4 years 5 months ago

Sounds like you’re saying that Zimmerman will get a worse contract, not a better one.

Kevin S.
Guest
Kevin S.
4 years 5 months ago

Better for the team, not the player. That’s how I read it, at least.

That guy
Guest
That guy
4 years 5 months ago

‘Ugh’? Do you really say that?

BlackOps
Guest
BlackOps
4 years 5 months ago

Well, Michigan is a terrible state, so it could be that.

TK
Guest
TK
4 years 5 months ago

How about this: see if you can dump Werthless by paying his entire ’12 salary and 4-7 million in ’13, and give Zim a signing bonus of 4-5 this year, and pay him with Werthless’ money.

The Nats are probably a year away, so to free up cash by dumping Werth and front loading Zim’s contract, they’ll be in better shape in ’13 and much better after that.

AJ
Guest
AJ
4 years 5 months ago

You are missing about 80 million in years when Werth will be in decline. Unless Tony Reagins gets another job, doubt that you will be able to pawn that contract off on someone until 2016.

TK
Guest
TK
4 years 5 months ago

Umm, I don’t think Werth is actually worthless. In fact, he’s projected by the super smart Fangraph’s fans to get 4.3 WAR this year. If you bump that down to 4.0 (my projection), and do normal decline of .5 per year, that is 16.5 WAR over the remainder of Werth’s 126 million dollar contract (4+3.5+3+2.5+2+1.5). He’s already earned 18, and I’m talking about giving up another 22-25, so that is paying a guy 83-86 million for 16.5 WAR over 6 years. I’d say that is about spot on.

Greg2
Guest
Greg2
4 years 5 months ago

I think people here might be overvaluing what Zimmerman will get a bit here. He’s had injury problems and a lot of his value is tied up in defense. I think something like 6 years/$90 million could get it done.

Dave S
Guest
Dave S
4 years 5 months ago

I think you might be undervaluing Zimmerman.

Look at the list of MLB 3B’s and imagine what it will look like in 2 years. Zimmerman will be a FA in his prime.

Just a quick look shows that the Phillies, Braves, Angels, Red Sox and Yankees might all be looking for a 3B upgrade in 2 years…

My echo and bunnymen
Guest
My echo and bunnymen
4 years 5 months ago

I hope I don’t offend the writer but I really didn’t even notice that was written by a lady until someone mentioned it in the comments.

My siouxsie & banshees
Guest
My siouxsie & banshees
4 years 5 months ago

Gee, thanks for sharing.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew
4 years 5 months ago

I HIGHLY doubt that the 3 people you mention know how much WAR Zimm has accumulated. Especially Rizzo.

Keith Lawless
Guest
Keith Lawless
4 years 5 months ago

& that means he’s unqualified to do his job, right. (rolls eyes)

Andrew
Guest
Andrew
4 years 5 months ago

What technique would this be called? Different from strawman, right?

TFINY
Member
TFINY
4 years 5 months ago

Kieth Lawless is (I believe) implying that you were using an ad hominem argument. I don’t know what his technique would be called, besides sarcasm.

todmod
Guest
todmod
4 years 5 months ago

I agree. Fangraphs can occasionally get a slightly big head about how universally WAR is accepted sometimes. That was a huge example.

deadpool
Guest
deadpool
4 years 5 months ago

But there’s a difference between saying they aren’t aware of it and don’t believe its worth using. A GM should take in all information, and then make a decision about what he does and doesn’t want to use, there’s nothing big-headed about asking for that much.

Woodrum's UZR Article
Guest
Woodrum's UZR Article
4 years 5 months ago

are you kidding? you don’t think a MLB gm follows WAR?

bstar
Guest
bstar
4 years 5 months ago

I’m sure they do, but certainly not just Fangraphs’ version of it.

Yirmiyahu
Member
4 years 5 months ago

I would hope that every GM in baseball uses a WAR-like equation to evaluate their players. But I would hope they use a proprietary system better than what’s available on a website. For one thing, MLB teams have access to much more accurate defensive metrics. For another, the team is asking, “How valuable would Player X be to our team?” rather than asking “How valuable would Player X be to the average team?” They might have perfectly good reasons for using different replacement levels or different positional adjustments. They should use park factors that incorporate handedness and GB/FB tendencies. Etc.

Doug Collins
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Doug Collins
4 years 5 months ago

A woman at Fangraphs? Quick, what are other signs of the apocalypse??

Well-Beered Englishman
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Well-Beered Englishman
4 years 5 months ago

You must not read Notgraphs. Summer Anne Burton is a freaking god.

M.Twain
Guest
M.Twain
4 years 5 months ago

Wouldn’t she be a goddess?

miffleball
Guest
miffleball
4 years 5 months ago

I’m sorry, I must have missed it in the article, but why is beltre’s contract not a good comparison, at least for AAV since both are defense heavy 3b with WAR separated by less than half a run per year over the last six seasons?

M.Twain
Guest
M.Twain
4 years 5 months ago

Pablo Sandoval is gaining quickly, but he’s only been in the majors since mid-2008.

Kinsler (4th) and Kendrick (5th) are among the ML leaders in UZR just like Sandoval (8th). Should we treat those as anomalies or are they “catching up” too? How about Peralta (18th, 4th among SS)? It was his first positive UZR total at SS in his six seasons with at least 1000 innings at the position. Did he turn a corner?

Excelsior!
Guest
Excelsior!
4 years 5 months ago

We’re talking about 3rd basemen here

KGGSJ
Guest
KGGSJ
4 years 5 months ago

I would fold the next two years in to make it a 10 year 170 extension gives him the highest AAV of any 3B gives both sides a nice combo of Value/security

MrKnowNothing
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MrKnowNothing
4 years 5 months ago

Just wanted to add that, in general, I’ve found Wendy’s writing to be the best here at FG since she debuted. Top notch stuff (and, as a Giants fan, appreciated).

M.Twain
Guest
M.Twain
4 years 5 months ago

It probably would’ve meant a whole lot more coming from anybody else. :)

noseeum
Guest
noseeum
4 years 5 months ago

As a Dodgers fan, I hate Wendy just because she’s a Giants fan!

OK, just kidding! I’m a Yankees fan. And I like Wendy just fine. Dug you on the podcast last week, BTW! I lived in SF for a long time, but now back in NYC.

But if you’re a Dodgers fan, I’m sure Wendy won’t mind if you hate her.

Marver
Guest
Marver
4 years 5 months ago

I’m surprised no one has mentioned Rendon, yet. I think there’s significant value for the Nationals to wait and see how he develops and responds to his injury. If he is as Major League ready and offensively project-able as originally believed — which we should be able to better gauge this season — the Nationals are better off trying to get other assets for Zimmerman and using Rendon at third. There’s also the risk that Zimmerman injures himself this season, while Rendon develops; better to avoid the unnecessary $100+ million contract than fulfill Zimmerman’s arbitrary deadline.

D0nc0smic
Guest
D0nc0smic
4 years 5 months ago

I think the Nats would rather play Rendon at 2b, which would reduce the strain on his shoulder, and keep Zimmerman.

Greg
Guest
Greg
4 years 5 months ago

Anthony Rendon puts a damper on the Nats offering a contract extension to Zimmerman. If Rendon tears up minor league pitching in 2012, the Nats may seek to trade Zimmerman before the final year of his contract.

Greg
Guest
Greg
4 years 5 months ago

I also post under the user name of Greg. It appears we have reached an impasse.

kid
Member
kid
4 years 5 months ago

Scouts unanimously loved Rendon until questions arose about his health. Don’t see how they can move him to 2B, though, with Espinosa doing a decent enough job there defensively and offensively.

YanksFanInBeantown
Guest
YanksFanInBeantown
4 years 5 months ago

“Don’t see how they can move him to 2B, though, with Espinosa doing a decent enough job there defensively and offensively”

Anthony Rendon is a top 5 talent. If/when he’s healthy and major league ready, Danny Espinosa will be trade bait/a super sub so quickly his head will spin.

kid
Member
kid
4 years 5 months ago

Espinosa 8th last year in WAR at second base (3.5), he’s a little better than a utility guy or trade throw-in.

DCN
Guest
DCN
4 years 5 months ago

Espinosa could easily play SS.

Chuck N Chino
Guest
Chuck N Chino
4 years 5 months ago

What about that Rendon kid in the low minors Bring him up (in a few years) and move him to 2B (or 1B) and slide Espy to SS? I hear great thigns about Rendon.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
4 years 5 months ago

talkin about moving Rendon right?

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
4 years 5 months ago

Also have to consider the Nats position on the win curve, the Nats financial position, position scarcity at the time, etc. I’d say if RZ has a big year or 2, he’ll get 20M/yr. If they gave Werth a huge contract, when he didn’t really show any signs whatsoever of being elite, then I bet they’ll be willing to fork out a bunch of a franchise player. The Nats seem to want to appear as a big player and a top team as much as they actually want to be a big player and a top team.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
4 years 5 months ago

I understand that you basically make a comp and see what that person gets paid, but it’s not just from a production standpoint. Scarcity drives up the price, the utility gained from having a “franchise player” might be a lot for the Nats ownership, the fact that the Nats are supposed to have a lot of money contributes to them being more willing to spend more money, etc. You can’t just say a player is “worth X” because a similar player was paid “X”. These other, harder to quantify factors play into it every bit as much as the dollar amount and actually do express a player’s “worth”.

bstar
Member
bstar
4 years 5 months ago

Do you guys know what Fangraphs uses for WAR pre-UZR? or, pre-2002?(I guess). Because Fangraphs’ WAR totals on historically elite defenders show a very similar trend to the one we’re talking about with Zimmerman.

Looking at bWAR and fWAR totals(this is for position players only), by far the biggest discrepancies I can find are the totals for the really great defensive players. Let me give you some examples:

fWAR over bWAR:

Brooks Robinson +25.5
C Yastrzemski +20.0
Luis Aparicio +13.7
Ron Santo +12.9
Bill Mazeroski +12.6
Paul Blair + 11.7
Andruw Jones +11.3
Dv Concepcion +11.2
Bob Boone +11.0

Those are the biggest numbers I can find; there might be a few more out there. What’s amazing is that Zimmerman’s career is already at +10.4, after only seven years in the league. This makes him kind of a lightning rod for this issue. What does any of this really matter? A lot, to me. Is Brooks Robinson a ~70 WAR Hall of Famer or is he a 95 WAR player? Is Ryan Zimmerman a 3.5 win player or a 5 win player? Is a player with 60 bWAR not a Hall of Famer? What if that number gets inflated to 75 or 80 WAR? A very high percentage of articles on Fangraphs center on or at least mention WAR, so I would like to see some consensus on the issue.

I just think UZR is a little too volatile on the positive side for good defenders. That’s why you get those crooked, gaudy numbers for guys like Zimmerman in ’09 and ’10 and last year for Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner(really? +25.8 fielding???).

A couple years ago, authors on here were claiming WAR wasn’t really good for evaluating which player is better than which, but more to give an approximate value for a player’s contributions. This has gone by the wayside, for authors and posters at fangraphs alike. We are evaluating contracts ad nauseum based on one stat: $/WAR. Shouldn’t we work harder to perfect this number and get it right? I agree an aggregate look at defensive value with several metrics in play would be a far better way to do it than just looking at the number that produces the highest positive totals you can find anywhere.

bstar
Member
bstar
4 years 5 months ago

^^OOPS. I meant to post this as a reply earlier on in the conversation. My bad.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew
4 years 5 months ago

“I can find plenty of examples where, for a given player, UZR is the outlier and TZ/DRS/FSR/TZL are all in agreement. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t trust UZR at all. ”

Find one example.

Yirmiyahu
Member
4 years 5 months ago

Orlando Cabrera
Asdrubal Cabrera
Ian Kinsler
Matt Kemp
Rafael Furcal
Vladimir Guerrero
Gerald Laird
Robinson Cano

NatsFan
Guest
NatsFan
4 years 4 months ago

“Split the difference, and maybe the AAV ends up in the $17M range. The big question is going to be number of years…Locking up Zimmerman until 2019 doesn’t seem crazy at all.”

Actuall AAV: $16.7M
Expiration: 2019

Well played, Thurm…

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