Werth Much More Money

For those unaware, Fangraphs unveiled a new section on the player pages today. The section takes all of the dollar valuation components we have manually calculated, harnesses the stats, and outputs wins above replacement level as well as the player’s fair market value salary based on his production.

The Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series in 2008, their first since 1980. Much of the attention garnered by the team went in the direction of superstars Chase Utley and Cole Hamels, former MVP winners Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, and the 41-41 closer Brad Lidge. While all five of these players deserved some form of recognition for the success of the team, a few other players contributed a good amount. These players made their contributions under the radar, though, and prior to the post-season were not even household names. Guys like Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino fit this bill.

Werth was a former first-round draft pick of the Orioles in 1997, but did not truly find a home until 2007. After health problems while playing for the Blue Jays and Dodgers limited his availability and production, the LA bunch cut ties with Werth following the 2006 campaign, one that he completely missed due to injuries. Pat Gillick, who drafted Werth while helming the Orioles, quickly brought him to the Phillies.

Still under control, Werth signed a 1-yr deal worth $850,000. With the going rate of $4.1 mil/win in 2007, Gillick’s deal valued Werth as a +2 run, +0.2 win player. In 304 plate appearances that year, Werth put together an impressive .298/.404/.459 line, good for a .385 wOBA. His production benefited from a regression-bound .391 BABIP, but Werth’s offense resulted in +11.7 runs above average.

Defensively, he proved stellar as well, with a UZR rating of +11.5 runs. Though he failed to qualify for the overall leaderboards, this defensive rating ranked fifth in the senior circuit amongst anyone with 550+ innings played in the entire outfield. All told, after adjustments are taken into account, Werth’s worth was +2.8 wins. If he had signed a contract that valued his production appropriately, the terms would be 1-yr/$11.6 mil.

In 2008, the BABIP plummeted to .327, resulting in a still productive but different slash line of .273/.363/.498. Werth lost some ability to reach base, but made up for it with an increase in power. Because of the increased output elsewhere, his wOBA remained virtually the same, at .382. The biggest difference, however, came in the form of playing time. Werth partook in 134 games last season, amassing 482 PA in the process.

His offensive production almost doubled to +21.6 runs above average. Werth also produced another fantastic season with the glove, putting together a UZR rating of +15.8 runs in the outfield. Among outfielders with at least 950 innings played, this ranks fifth in the entire sport, and second in the senior circuit to just Randy Winn.

In 2008, Jayson Werth became a +4.9 win player. 4.9 wins! Mark Teixeira‘s projection for next season calls for something like +5.1 wins. Werth had re-signed for a 1-yr/$1.7 mil contract that doubled his previous season’s salary, but ended up being worth much more money than that. If he signed for his fair market value, the deal would have been closer to $22 mil.

Moving forward, his 2009 projections call for a .375 wOBA, +20 offensive runs, +12 defensive runs, and after adjustments, +43 value runs. This converts to approximately +4.15 wins, and $20.8 mil.

Werth is one of many arbitration-eligible members of the Phillies, and will likely see his salary bumped to around $4 mil for the 2009 season. Assuming this comes to fruition, he will have earned $6.55 mil from the Phillies from 2007-09, while producing +11.85 wins above replacement level. If his deserved salaries are added, we get a figure of $54.4 mil.

It is easy to lampoon GMs for dishing out ridiculous deals to players like Adam Eaton, but they deserve equal praise for acquiring players as productive as Werth. Players who, despite being under control, are able to be had for about nine times less than their fair market value.




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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.


32 Responses to “Werth Much More Money”

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  1. Jason says:

    This site just keeps getting better and better. Great work.

    Is there any way to add in the players’ actual salary next to the FanGraph’s fair market valuation? I know y’all are adding stuff all the time, and it must be incredibly time consuming. I thought this would be a great additional tool when you get time.

    Thanks, Merry Christmas.

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  2. Matt H. says:

    That would be cool. I love Fangraphs

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  3. PhillyFriar says:

    Two follow-up questions for you, Eric.

    1.) What type of deal would Werth be, um, worth if he hit the open market right now?

    2.) Given that no one seems to value defense correctly, any speculation on what it would take to get, say, a 3-year extension done with the Phillies?

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  4. Eric Seidman says:

    PhillyFriar,

    Well, that first question is currently in the article. Werth’s Fair Market Value given his 2009 projection is $20.8 mil, meaning a 1-yr deal would be valued at $20.8 mil, and a 3-yr deal at $56.2 mil.

    However, he is still under control, and is not going to make any more than $4 mil in 2009.

    He will be a free agent after next season, at which point he’ll be closer to 31 years old, which is a lot older than people may think he is. There is no way he would get anything close to his fair market value on the actual market, primarily because he is nowhere near a household name and people aren’t going to dish out very lucrative contracts for his years 31-35 or anything.

    I don’t see why the Phillies couldn’t sign him to a 3-yr/24 mil extension or something like that. The only way I don’t see that as feasible is if Werth and his agents read this article/know just how valuable he is.

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  5. Chase says:

    Ha. Everybody loves fangraphs and for good reason.

    Who knew? Jason Werth as a $20M+ player.

    Keep writing, Seidman.

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    • Eric Seidman says:

      Can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or just astonished at his worth, but I’ll definitely keep writing.

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    • Eric Seidman says:

      Yeah, I knew he was productive, but 4.9 wins, sheesh. If the Phillies didn’t sign Ibanez, they’d have an all-around solid defensive team. Utley/Rollins were the best 2B and SS, Feliz has the highest UZR over the last 3 yrs, Werth and Victorino are great, and even Howard rates average or slightly above (even though he looks awful at times).

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  6. don says:

    He took 4.51 pitches per AB, which is a ton, just to throw out a piece of trivia.

    He also just destroys lefthanded pitching. I don’t know if having a big platoon split is a benefit or a disadvantage but his OPS this year was 1.020 vs LHP and .767 vs RHP.

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  7. B says:

    Hopefully his agent doesn’t read this site. . . .

    If Amaro is smart he’ll try to lock him up for a couple years before he reaches the open market. Not that I expect him to make anywhere near that amount, but overall he bring speed on the bases and solid D with his strong offensive #’s. Very good player.

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  8. Maitland says:

    Werth is a solid player and as a Phillies fan, I had always assumed I over-valued Werth from a subconscious bias.

    If Jayson Werth comes out to a 20mill player and worth 4.9 wins or whatever, that would seem to raise more questions about the statistics being used than the game itself or the player.

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  9. Eric Seidman says:

    Maitland, I see where you’re coming from but fervently disagree. The statistics we use are sound, and used by front offices around the league in one form or another. The issue is that defense is vastly undervalued and people likely had no idea Werth was that valuable with the glove. It is easy to see how he could be +22 runs with the bat, but the +15 runs with the glove elevates him to a 4.9 win player. The fact that he was +12 runs with the glove in 2007 tells me it isn’t a fluke, either.

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  10. Maitland says:

    I’m not trying to say that the stats aren’t sound, not used by front offices in some form or anything like that. Just saying that things need to be kept in perspective. Werth is an example of the stats being misleading, it’s not the same as saying these stats have no worth.

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  11. Eric Seidman says:

    Maitland, I personally feel this is more an example of your perceptions getting the best of you. Why do you feel the stats are misleading?

    In 2007, in 97 games, he was worth +12 runs in the outfield. In 135 or so games in 2008, he was worth +15 runs. Clearly, he is great defensively compared to other rightfielders. In under 100 games in 2007, he was also worth +12 runs on offense. This year, his slash line still produced a great OPS and he almost doubled offensive productivity thanks to an increase in power and stolen bases.

    I have a feeling that your perceptions peg Werth as more of a +2.5-3 win player based on his offensive prowess and what is interpreted as okay, but not great, defense. The defensive stats, however, all peg him as being vastly above average, which elevates his status. I think this is more an example of the fielding being tough to gauge with our eyes. I, too, never knew he was that good in the field, but look at his UZR ratings the last 3-4 years and it’s clear it’s no fluke.

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  12. Maitland says:

    There are several misleading things. But, I think the basic idea of the numbers leading to Werth sitting at 22mill last season in fair market value as a jewel uncovered rather than a statistical anomaly that fell through the cracks doesn’t really work for me.

    To begin, Werth started the season as a platoon player and didn’t really become a full time player until he caught fire in July/August. He’s certainly earned his way into a full time playing job, but not being one at the start of the season last year kind of inflates his statistics a bit. That’s really my main argument with his batting value.

    Fielding, I think there are a couple things that kind of skew the value. The most glaring is how unimportant RF is in Citizens Bank Park when you have a really good CF. The Phillies don’t have a problem there as Victorino is really good. Having Victorino in CF really helps Werth. I’m not saying he’s not good and I’d put him slightly better than “okay, but not great” defense. Just, that this elevates him quite a bit.

    “I think this is more an example of the fielding being tough to gauge with our eyes. I, too, never knew he was that good in the field”

    I think this would be the biggest problem I have with propping Werth up based on this rating being vastly above other RFs.

    UZR and other fielding numbers are solid to use in place of your eyes not having the availability of seeing a player. But, if you’ve seen a player enough, no statistical rating is going to replace what you see with your eyes. At least not to the degree you can rely on statistics with hitting.

    So, yeah, my perceptions are getting the best of me, but that’s because I’ve seen Werth enough to judge his fielding and there hasn’t been a statistic for defense that even begins to rival the eye for anything more than a discussion starting point.

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  13. Dave Cameron says:

    Well, most of what you said in the last few paragraphs is just not true, but we’ll ignore that for a second.

    Think of it this way – if Jayson Werth was a free agent back in December of last year, and he produced a magical crystal ball that showed his future to other teams, and it told them exactly what he was going to do in 2009 – he was going to hit .273/.363/.498 in 482 PA, was going to go 20 for 21 in steals and was going to provide outstanding defense at all three OF positions, how much would you pay him on a one year deal?

    $10 million? $15 million? $20 million?

    That’s what the Dollar Value is telling you. If you knew with complete certainty that the player would perform at that exact level, and he was a free agent, then he would have been worth that dollar value on a one year deal.

    Now, if you think UZR is crazy, just knock 10 runs off his defensive value, consider Werth a +4 win player, and it’s all good. That’s the great thing about the way they are displayed here – you can adjust the fielding numbers to whatever you would like and just adjust the win values based on your perception.

    And then be open to the fact that UZR is a lot more accurate that you might think.

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  14. Maitland says:

    “That’s what the Dollar Value is telling you. If you knew with complete certainty that the player would perform at that exact level, and he was a free agent, then he would have been worth that dollar value on a one year deal.”

    Right. And, I’m OK with a general premise of Jayson Werth being a good value for the Phillies. But, that would be the case if he were valued at 10mill. The system comes out to having Werth as more valuable for last season than what Ryan Howard was.

    To me, a red flag instantly goes off. One thing that I’m fairly certain of is that Werth wasn’t more valuable to the Phillies than Howard, so what is it about the numbers that is muddying that up.

    I didn’t really design my initial post to turn into some type of negative thing against what you guys are doing here. I think the more statistical information out there the better. It’s just that in this case, I didn’t think the Werth example was used well because it seems fairly far off target.

    It certainly doesn’t mean that I think using the same process will come to off target fair market values for other players.

    I guess it comes down to this, Eric said that he watched Werth and “I, too, never knew he was that good in the field”. What did he do after seeing the statistic, accept that his eyes deceived him on Werth or wonder why the separation is there.

    One question I would have is Werth’s UZR with a different CF than Victorino, especially at home. Or, just Werth’s fielding at home compared to road games. If it’s higher than expected because of home stats, I’d probably quickly accept that. Like I said, RF in Citizens Bank Park isn’t all that important.

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  15. snepp says:

    What about Werth wasn’t at least as or more valuable than Howard?

    You’re trying way too hard to manufacture evidence to support a preconceived opinion.

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    • John K. says:

      I’m 100% with snepp on this one. You came in with an unshakable though ill-conceived notion and rather than seeking to understand the disconnect between your biased opinions and the cold hard evidence, you chose instead to haughtily marginalize the numbers that didn’t support your own misbegotten beliefs and scramble like mad to come up with ones that did.

      Speaking of red flags, a red flag went up when you called Howard a premier player that told me that you don’t know anywhere near as much about baseball as you think you do. I’ll give you a break because you’re obviously new to this, but 7.3 wins above replacement the last two seasons? Far from premier. For reference’s sake, there were seven hitters who amassed that amount in 2007 alone. Howard didn’t rank in the top forty in either year, and that’s not even including pitchers. Nowhere near where you thought he’d be, right? That alone disqualifies you from this argument.

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      • Chase says:

        Haha. Thank you, John.

        I’ll admit, I never expected Maitland’s attempt after I read this article. Everything is aligned with Werth statistically, so stop wasting your breath and straining our eyes, Maitland.

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  16. Maitland says:

    It’s pretty damn laughable to even consider Werth anywhere near as valuable as Howard was for the Phillies last season. So, I don’t think I’m manufacturing any evidence there. Howard is one of the premier players in the league and his hitting with runners in scoring position was the most valuable thing to the team making the playoffs. His presence in the lineup with runners on was something that you couldn’t replace. I don’t think you can say the same thing about what Werth brought.

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  17. Eric Seidman says:

    All I will say regarding Howard and Werth is that it is damn laughable to consider Howard that much more valuable than Werth. Howard had a great September and the Phillies don’t make the playoffs if he doesn’t get hot, but he was absolutely dreadful for a lot of the season leading up to that. Sure, he hit 46 HR and knocked in near 150 runs, but the RBIs are definitely a byproduct moreso of the runners on base ahead of him, which included Rollins, Victorino/Werth, and Utley.

    Entering September, Howard hit .234/.324/.490, an .814 OPS. Werth was hitting .282/.378/.529, an OPS of .907, almost 100 points higher.

    Howard was more valuable, by far, in September, but that’s it. Even if you consider Werth a +7 fielder and +16 hitter as opposed to +15 and +22, Werth comes out as +3.5 WAR… Howard in 2008 was +3.4.

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  18. Dave Cameron says:

    Preconceived notions are the enemy of learning. If you require that new knowledge matches up to what you already think you know, you’ll never learn anything.

    Werth was more valuable than Howard last year. It’s not laughable – it’s the truth.

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  19. Maitland says:

    It is laughable. But, hey, go with that “I don’t want to learn” angle. Seems like a winner.

    Before getting into Werth/Howard comparisons, I do want to comment on how hilarious that statement is given that I’ve pointed out several possibilities that could have inflated Werth’s value. But, have pretty much just been met by resistance (not by the original author of the column, but Dave’s came with the standard not open to a stat dig and now this one), just by putting out why Werth’s numbers might be inflated in a particular case. Dave, just think about that with your knowledge and enemy of learning lines.

    I believe I’ve mentioned a comparison of his home/road UZR would or UZR in the games without Victorino in CF. Werth’s a solid defender, it’s just that playing in that ballpark for half of his games, it is easy to see that his role is reduced to less than most right fielders. Does that show up in the statistics? I don’t know, it might.

    As for hitting, one of the things I posted about his hitting is that he was a platoon player at the start of the season. So, his end of the season numbers are inflated because of that. If he had 100 more at bats last season it’s going to further mix in with his huge stats against lefties and bring everything down, it’s mainly just a matter of degree.

    I’m closed off because I think there are reasons why the stats might be skewed in ONE case? Look, if you disagree with my possible reasons for why the value on Werth might be skewed, I’m completely OK with that. All it will mean is that I was wrong. But, to ignore that and just give me the standard lame remarks to people questioning statistics doesn’t fit the situation. It’s kind of like if someone that doesn’t like blogs dropping the “eh, it’s just someone blogging from their mother’s basement” jab to try. It’s not a very good way of dismissing points.

    Anyway, Werth and Howard.

    Eric, while Howard hit .352 in September and that was his best month in batting average, I don’t think it does his performance justice to say that he was dreadful for a lot of the season.

    You dismiss RBI as a product of those hitting in front of him, but let me make one point on the RBI numbers without getting into how valuable of a statistic they are. By month, he had 12-30-26-27-19-32. April was an obviously bad month. But, I put the RBI by month out there as a way of saying there wasn’t a dramatic increase in RBI in the month that you call great compared to the rest of the season where you say he was largely dreadful.

    The reason for that is because he hit over .300 with RISP in the months before September.

    RISP with 2 outs, he hit .322.

    He got RBI in the months that he was “dreadful” not because runners were on base alone, but because he hit better than anyone on the Phillies in those situations. I’m not making a case for those RBI being valuable marks of his performance, just to make a point on this idea that he was just a one month player. And, to point out that if he was that much better in that month, and the Phillies were still getting on base like they do, couldn’t you expect to see a jump in his RBI numbers as well? We didn’t see that.

    The reason is because the AVG and OBP for the other months were so low. He only really produced those numbers in September.

    He obviously has flaws in his game. Right now, the most obvious of those is his hitting with the bases empty.

    His situational hitting the last two years has been better with runners on and RISP than with the bases empty where he hit .239 in 2007 and .196 in 2008. In 2006, before teams started to consistently put that shift on against Howard, he hit better with the bases empty than with runners on.

    His numbers with the bases empty are so far down that it brings everything down. Still, Howard is their #4 hitter. He bats with runners on a lot. 298 ABs with runners on 312 with the bases empty. To be a premier player does he need to be a better hitter with the bases empty and have more months like September? Absolutely.

    We’re comparing him to Jayson Werth, though. Werth produced an RBI in 41% of his ABs with a RISP. Howard was at 50%. For comparison, Teixeira was at 51% and Hamilton at 56%.

    Aside from that, again I’ll mention that I think Werth’s value offensively would come down a bit if he had to face right handed pitching in more at bats. I mean, if you take away 100 of Howard’s ABs against lefties, his stats obviously are going to go up a bit. It would obviously be silly to do this and look at Howard’s stats, but the point is that Werth’s numbers are inflated by Jenkins taking his at bats against righties during the first half of the season. Werth was hitting .282/.378/.529, an OPS of .907 coming into September, but what does that become with 100 more ABs of .255/.360/.407 with an OPS of .767?

    Obviously that comes down somewhat.

    Maybe I appreciate Howard’s last two seasons more because they’ve been alongside Burrell. Burrell is a guy whose situational hitting has been such a nightmare to Phillies fans that seeing someone hit as well Howard has the last two seasons with runners on makes a huge difference. The Phillies had been a solid team close to the playoffs for several years, the last two years, they’ve made the playoffs. I don’t think it’s insignificant that now they have someone in the middle of their order that can hit with runners on the way Howard does.

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    • Chase says:

      Let me understand this.

      If a great player played a little bit more, he would have been much worse?

      Count me amongst the dazed and confused.

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      • Maitland says:

        What exactly is confusing about this?

        Werth crushes lefties. Werth does not do as well against righties.

        Werth faced more lefty pitching the first half of the season because he platooned. If he did not platoon than he faces more righties and he has more ABs against pitchers that he struggles against.

        Not sure what is confusing, this is pretty basic. If he had more ABs against RHP than those numbers (which aren’t as high as his numbers vs. LHP) get more weight.

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  20. Lark11 says:

    Question for Eric or Dave.

    I understand how to use UZR to calculate the run value of defense and the need to apply a positional adjustment. However, oddly enough, I’m not sure how you are converting a player’s offensive production into a single run number. For example, how do you arrive at Werth being +11.7 above average?

    What stat or calculation do you perform to boil a player’s production down to a single offensive run value that can be used with defense and positional adjustment to derive an overall win value for the player?

    Thanks in advance!!!!

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  21. Eric Seidman says:

    Lark,

    The offensive runs come from wRAA, which is calculated from wOBA. So, the general formula is something like ((Player wOBA – League wOBA)/1.15)* PA.

    If a player had a .380 wOBA in a .332 wOBA league, with 600 PA, then we get roughly +25 runs above average.

    wRAA is available on our player pages and leaderboards.

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  22. Lark11 says:

    Thanks, Eric. I appreciate it!!!!

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