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2015 Hall of Fame Voting

January 5, 2015

My 2015 MLB Hall of Fame Ballot. Sorry for the typos and poor grammar- I’m writing this with my downtime at work.

1) Pedro Martinez

2827.1 IP, 10.04 K/9, 2.42 BB/9, 0.76 HR/9, 2.91 FIP, 87.1 fWAR

7 Best fWAR seasons: 11.9, 9.9, 8.6, 7.8, 7.8, 6.4, 5.8

6+ fWAR total: 16.4; fWAR/200IP: 6.16

His average season was MVP quality. 1999 may have been the best pitching season ever. In the AL East. During the highest run scoring era in baseball history. Yeah, this is a no-doubter.

2) Randy Johnson

4135.1 IP, 10.61 K/9, 3.26 BB/9, 0.89 HR/9, 3.19 FIP, 111.7 fWAR

7 Best fWAR seasons: 10.4, 9.6, 9.5, 9.5, 9.5, 8, 7.7

6+ fWAR total: 22.2; fWAR/200IP: 5.40

I think his seven best fWAR seasons speak for his dominance. Another no-doubter.

3) Curt Schilling

3261 IP, 8.60 K/9, 1.96 BB/9, 0.96 HR/9, 3.23 FIP, 83.2 fWAR

7 Best fWAR seasons: 9.3, 8.4, 8.3, 7.4, 7.3, 5.7, 5.4

6+ fWAR total: 10.7; fWAR/200IP: 5.10

If his regular season numbers aren’t impressive enough, then his postseason stats give him bonus points that make him a HOF pitcher.

4) Mike Mussina

3562.2 IP, 7.11 K/9, 1.98 BB/9, 0.95 HR/9, 3.57 FIP, 82.5 fWAR

7 Best fWAR seasons: 6.9, 6.2, 6.2, 5.8, 5.4, 5.3, 5.3

6+ fWAR total: 1.3; fWAR/200IP: 4.63

His peak seasons weren’t on the same level of RJ or Pedro, but he was consistently an MVP level pitcher with 10 seasons of 5+ fWAR. That’s good enough for me, especially for another SP who had to deal with the AL East during the game’s biggest offensive era.

5) John Smoltz

3473 IP, 7.99 K/9, 2.62 BB/9, 0.75 HR/9, 3.24 FIP, 78.7 fWAR

7 Best fWAR seasons: 8.2, 6.7, 5.4, 5.2, 5.2, 5.1, 5.1

6+ fWAR total: 2.9; fWAR/200IP: 4.53

Starting Pitcher fWAR/200IP: 4.41; Relief Pitcher fWAR/200IP: 5.94

Pitched at an All-Star/MVP level as both a starter and reliever. He is close to borderline for me, but was good enough that I feel comfortable voting him in.

6) Mike Piazza

7745 PA, 427 HR, .308/.377/.545/.390/140+, 20.7 defensive runs, 63.5 fWAR

7 Best fWAR seasons: 9.1, 7.4, 6.6, 6.6, 6, 5.8, 4.6

6+ fWAR total: 5.7; fWAR/650PA: 5.33

Best hitter all-time at a position? Hall of Famer for sure.

7) Jeff Bagwell

9431 PA, 449 HR, .297/.394/.588/.415/157+, -138.5 defensive runs, 80.2 fWAR

7 Best fWAR seasons: 8, 7.8, 7.8, 7.7, 6.7, 5.9, 5.5

6+ fWAR total: 8.9; fWAR/650PA: 5.53

Another player whose average season was MVP quality. No doubter for a guy with similar career to Frank Thomas, a first ballot Hall of Famer.

8) Edgar Martinez

8672 PA, 309 HR, .312/.418/.515/.405/149+, -87.1 defensive runs, 65.6 fWAR

7 Best fWAR seasons: 7, 6.1, 6, 5.9, 5.7, 5.5, 5.5

6+ fWAR total: 1.1; fWAR/650PA: 4.92

Much like Piazza is the best offensive catcher ever, Martinez has been the best DH ever. Now, he didn’t play defense and that hurts him. But he was so good offensively, it doesn’t matter. Retiring with a .300+/.400+/.500+ line, even in the context of his era, is incredible. He is like the Mussina of hitters in this class. Consistently great even if he doesn’t have one “all-time” type of season.

9) Tim Raines

10359 PA, 170 HR, 808 SB (85%), .294/.385/.425/.361/125+, -109.6 defensive runs, 66.4 fWAR

7 Best fWAR seasons: 7.2, 6.7, 6.7, 6, 6, 5.5, 3.9

6+ fWAR total: 2.6; fWAR/650PA: 4.17

Raines is the SABR darling of this HOF class (along with Alan Trammell). Upon further review, he is closer to the outside looking in than I originally thought. However, a lot of lower fWAR/650PA is due to the fact he probably did stick around too long. But Raines is the best base stealer/runner of all-time. Rickey Henderson stole more bases, but at lower clip (80% compared to Raines’ 85%). Stealing bases at an 85% clip for a whole career, and to steal that many is amazing. Raines is 5th all-time among SB leaders, and has the highest of SB% of the top five. And base stealing is just one aspect of his game- he was also an OBP machine!

10) Larry Walker

8030 PA, 383 HR, 230 SB, .313/.400/.565/.412/140+, 3.5 defensive runs, 68.9 fWAR

7 Best fWAR seasons: 9.1, 7.6, 5.3, 5.3, 5, 4.7, 4.7

6+ fWAR seasons: 4.7; fWAR/650PA: 5.58

Larry Walker is has knock against him and it’s not Coors Field. It’s his injury history. Yes, he played in the best hitters park in the best hitters era. But his numbers were still far and away better than most of his peers. His home/road splits are drastic- but only because while he was amazing the road he was god-like at home. His per season fWAR totals might seem low but again, that’s due to injury-plagued seasons and this is supported by his MVP level career fWAR/650PA of 5.58. Dude is a Hall of Famer.

Now, I think there are more deserving players. However, a ballot only allows for ten votes. Therefore, I withheld all players who definitely used PED’s and were not just suspected of PED’s. Unlike most people, I don’t care about PED’s when it comes to the HOF. However, on a crowded ballot I won’t put them ahead of other deserving players. Therefore, the rest of eligible players I think are Hall worthy are…

Roger Clemens

4916.2 IP, 8.55 K/9, 2.89 BB/9, 0.66 HR/9, 3.09 FIP, 139.5 fWAR

7 Best fWAR seasons: 10.8, 9.7, 9.1, 9, 8.5, 8.5, 8.1

6+ fWAR total: 21.7; fWAR/200IP: 5.68

Most evidence points toward his first PED use being in 1997 with Toronto. If you look at his fWAR before that during his Boston tenure, he had 83 fWAR or 5.71 fWAR per season in nearly 3000 total innings. Hall of Famer.

Barry Bonds

12606 PA, 762 HR, 514 SB, .298/.444/.607/.435/173+, 67.6 defensive runs, 164 fWAR

7 Best fWAR seasons: 12.5, 12.4, 11.6, 10.5, 10.1, 9.9, 9.6

6+ fWAR total: 34.6; fWAR/650PA: 8.46

Best player of all-time not named Ruth- and that’s only because Ruth was also a good pitcher. HOF’er before he started using in 1999.

Mark McGwire

7660 PA, 583 HR, .263/.394/.588/.415/157+, -138.5, 66.3 fWAR

7 Best fWAR seasons: 8.5, 7.3, 6.3, 6, 5.7, 5.4, 5.1

6+ fWAR total: 4.1; fWAR/650PA: 5.63

I feel the worst about voting for McGwire because he used almost his entire career, if not his whole career, while Bonds and Clemens had HOF careers before their steroid use. But boy, could he hit.

And the following are guys that I am indecisive on- one minute I think they’re in and the next I don’t.

Craig Biggio

12503 PA, 291 HR, 414 SB, .281/.363/.433/.352/115+, -23 defensive runs, 65.1 fWAR

7 Best fWAR seasons: 9.3, 6.5, 6.2, 4.9, 4.8, 4.7, 4.5

6+ fWAR total: 4; fWAR/650PA: 3.38

Biggio is tough. He does have 3000 hits. He does have some superb seasons. But the more I think about him the more I think he was simply a good, All-Star caliber player who had a long career that allowed him to get his 3000 hits. A 3.38 fWAR/650PA is not HOF worthy. But if he retired before he wasn’t good anymore, that number would be better. So for now, I will keep him off the ballot until I can make my mind up either way.

Alan Trammell

9375 PA, 185 HR, 236 SB, .285/.352/.415/.343/111+, 184.4 defensive runs, 63.7 fWAR

7 Best fWAR seasons: 7.7, 6.9, 6.2, 5.7, 5.6, 5.3, 4.3

6+ fWAR total: 2.8′ fWAR/650PA: 4.42

Trammell is one of the game’s great fielding shortstops. He is a HOF worthy defender. Offensively, his numbers don’t look great. But in context of the era, he has really good numbers for a SS and was one of the game’s first great two-way players at that position. A 4.42 fWAR/650PA isn’t ideal for the HOF, but if you take away his first couple seasons and last couple seasons to focus truly on his prime playing days, and that number looks a whole lot better. If it wasn’t a crowded ballot I would vote for him, but that’s not the case. And a result, he only has a couple years left on the ballot and I fear the worst for him.

Nomar Garciaparra

6116 PA, 229 HR, .313/.361/.521/.376/124+, 18.8 defensive runs, 41.5 fWAR

7 Best fWAR seasons: 7.6, 7.3, 6.4, 6.3, 5.7, 4.8, 2.2

6+ fWAR total: 3.6; fWAR/650PA: 4.41

During his peak, Nomar was arguably the best shortstop in baseball- ahead of A-Rod and Jeter. But how much does a peak count. Clearly, he had HOF talent. The only reason he isn’t a legitimate candidate is because he often hurt and it ruined his ability perform well, and put up good full season numbers when he was at his best. I don’t think I’d ever vote for him, but I want his career to recognition.

Gary Sheffield

10947 PA, 509 HR, 253 SB, .292/.393/.514/.391/141+, -300.9 defensive runs, 62.4 fWAR

7 Best fWAR seasons: 7.5, 6.6, 6.5, 6.5, 4.9, 4.6, 3.8

6+ fWAR total: 3.1; fWAR/650PA: 3.71

Again, the average fWAR is low- but he played for a really long time. Plus, Sheffield could hit. Like really hit. He lost 30 wins(!) due to crappy defense and still had 62.4 career fWAR. So that begs the question- should I punish him for being so bad on defense? Or should I recognize him as a phenomenal hitter?

Brian Giles

7836 PA, 287 HR, .291/.400/.502/.388/136+, -80.8 defensive runs, 54.5 fWAR

7 Best fWAR seasons: 6.7, 6.7, 6.3, 5.7, 5.5, 4.8, 4.3

6+ fWAR total: 1.7; fWAR/650PA: 4.52

Giles was a consistent offensive force if he never did have that one above and beyond season like a Larry Walker. But he finished with a career OBP of .400 and SLG over .500. That’s really good. His average fWAR season is also borderline for me. The one thing keeping me from voting for him is a short peak. If he had sustained his prime longer and not simply had a bunch of All-Star level seasons instead of MVP seasons, he would have got my vote.

Lee Smith

1289.1 IP, 8.73 K/9, 3.39 BB/9, 0.62 HR/9, 2.93 FIP, 27.3 fWAR, fWAR/200IP: 4.24

I don’t think Lee Smith is quite a HOF’er. He’s better than I thought, but I wouldn’t put him in. However, if you compare him to other RP in the Hall, he is better. He is better than both Rollie Fingers and Bruce Sutter and on par with Trevor Hoffman, who most likely will be in the Hall of Fame. However, I don’t think the above should be in the Hall which makes this a tough vote. Put him in because inferior pitchers are in, or vote him out because he should be out.

 

This is just all my opinion folks (which is generally right) and if there’s one takeaway it’s this: what a class this is!

Hall of Fame Players From My Generation

July 29, 2014

I am 22 years old. My first vivid baseball memory is from 1998. I have been a die-hard fan ever since. Below are the players from that time period that ARE Hall of Fame players, but 90% of the baseball universe do not recognize as such- BECUZ OF TEH RBI’S AND W/L RECORDS!!

In no particular order…

 

Chase Utley: 287/.372/.493/.373/128+ 58/5 fWAR (6.2 per 650 PA)

So he has averaged 6 WAR a season for a 12 year career of which he has only played 140+ games four times. Now, being healthy is valuable in itself. But he has been so dominant that he is the rare player who is HOF worthy despite a shorter, injury plagued career. From 2005-2010 he was the second best player in the NL besides Albert Pujols. His WAR is also nearly identical to Jackie Robinson’s- a HOF second baseman.

Carlos Beltran: .281/.356/.494/.363/120 63.3 fWAR (4.5 PER 650 PA)

Carlos Beltran is the best base runner of our generation. He has 310 stolen bases at an 87% clip. That is insane. He was also a really, really good defensive center fielder who could get on-base and hit for power. Plus, if Andre Dawson is in the HOF, Carlos Beltran has to be.

Jim Edmonds: .284/.376/.527/.385/132+ 64.0 fWAR (5.2 per 650 PA)

Yeah, so Jim Edmonds is the white Ken Griffey Jr. No really, he is. Ken Griffey hit .284/.370/.538/.384/131+. Granted, he stuck around a few years longer than he should have so his numbers took a hit, but they are nearly identical. They both played every year from 1993-2010 and both made the jump from the AL to the NL in 2000. Griffey at his best was a better hitter than Edmonds, but Edmonds had the better glove.

Scott Rolen: .281/.364/.490/.368/122+ 69.9 fWAR (5.3 PER 650 PA)

There are only 10 HOF third baseman. Rolen is top 10 in career fWAR at the position. He should be enshrined next. In addition to being a fantastic hitter, he is arguably the best defensive third baseman ever outside Brooks Robinson, along with…

Adrian Beltre: .284/.335/.480/.349/114+ 68.0 fWAR (4.5 per 650 PA)

People look at his Seattle years and think he was a bust there. Those people are wrong. He was average to above average offensively but was a freak defensively. He was an All-Star caliber player during his time there. But he’s been an MVP level player since being freed from Safeco. Along with Rolen he is an all-time fielder at the position. And his 2004 still happened.

Mike Mussina: 3562 IP, 7.11 K/9, 1.98 BB/9, 0.95 HR/9, 3.68 FIP, 82.5 fWAR (4.6 per 200 IP)

He has a nearly identical career to Curt Schilling. Curt Schilling is a HOF’er. People think Schilling is a HOF’er. A lot of people do not think Mussina is. They think this because he missed out on so much- Cy Young’s, a perfect game, a World Series title, etc, etc. He was also overshadowed by other HOF’ers- Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, and Roger Clemens. Yet Mussina was a control freak who consistently dominant for over a decade.

Kevin Brown: 3256 IP, 6.62 K/9, 2.49 BB/9, 0.57 HR/9, 3.28 FIP, 73.5 fWAR (4.5 per 200 IP)

Most people remember Kevin Brown for his “failed” stint as a New York Yankee. But that was at the end of his career. At his best he pitched at an elite, MVP level for five seasons from 1996-2000. That’s in addition to pitching at an All-Star level the four years prior to that. I’ll vote in a guy who pitched at that level for ten seasons.

Nomar Garciaparra: .313/.361/.521/.376/124+ 41.5 fWAR (4.4 per 650 PA)

From 1997-2000 he was better than both Derek Jeter and A-Rod. Yes, injuries cut his career short. But he was the premiere shortstop of the AL’s three-headed monster in the late 90’s. On a career longevity he should not be in. But to put up the career numbers he did in such a short amount of time is so amazing that I can live with such a short peak/career. I recognize that Nomar is my most controversial pick and he should be penalized for having such a short career. But when he was healthy…oh boy.

 

And guys who many think are Hall of Famers but aren’t quite:

Larry Walker- I used to think he was.

Todd Helton- I really used to think he was.

Jeff Kent

Vladimir Guerrero- I could either way. But his defense was atrocious to the point it hurt his offensive value enough to drop him below the HOF range.

Gary Sheffield

 

This is just a list of guys off my head. I’m sure there are more I can think of but it’s late.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don Mattingly: Best Player At His Peak?

January 5, 2014

When looking at Don Mattingly’s Hall of Fame case many journalists mention how Mattingly was the best player in baseball during his peak and before his back was a problem. So that got me thinking- was Don Mattingly truly the best player in baseball during his peak?

Mattingly’s peak was four years- 1984 to 1987. He accumulated a 24.7 fWAR which was good for 6.2 WAR per season or 5.8 WAR/650 PA. So Mattingly was an MVP level player for four seasons- pretty dang good. Mattingly played another eight seasons after 1987 but only had a 3+ WAR season twice and only had 600+ PA a season four times in that span. His average wRC+ was 152 so the man could hit. This was achieved with a high .300’s OBP and mid .500’s SLG.

As the numbers show Mattingly does have a good case for the being the best player in baseball during his peak. But was he really “the best”?

Candidates:

Rickey Henderson- 2392 PA, .289/.397/.484/.391/145+; 274 SB, 26.7 fWAR, 7.3 WAR/650PA

Tim Raines- 2674 PA, .323/.409/.477/.388/146+; 265 SB, 26.6 fWAR, 6.5 WAR/650PA

Wade Boggs- 2844 PA, .353/.442/.489/.411/152+; 31.4 fWAR, 7.2 WAR/650PA

Cal Ripken- 2858 PA, .280/.352/.469/.362/124+; 25.6 fWAR, 5.8 WAR/650PA

Mike Schmidt- 2547 PA, .284/.384/.541/.395/148+; 24.3 fWAR, 6.2 WAR/650PA

Tony Gwynn- 2727 PA, .341/.400/.457/.376/139+; 24.2 fWAR, 5.8 WAR/650PA

After looking at it, I do not think Mattingly was the best player in baseball during his peak. Of the candidates, I would take Henderson, Raines, Boggs, Ripken, and Schmidt over him. Why? When it comes to Henderson and Raines I think both were simply better players. Mattingly certainly had more power, but Rickey and Raines were better OBP who could field, hit, and run. Mattingly was simply a hitter who played first base. That is partly why I would also take Mike Schmidt and Cal Ripken as well. Third and short are more valuable positions- and both Schmidt and Ripken were exceptional fielders who are also all-time hitters at their respective positions. As for Boggs, I think he may be the best player between 1984 and 1987, if not Rickey or Raines.

In the end though, it’s super close and still being a top five player at your peak is still impressive.

 

Hall of Fame Watch: Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling

January 4, 2014

The voting results for the 2014 Hall of Fame ballot will be released next week. It might be the most stacked ballot ever (until 2015). So over the next couple days I will try to highlight a couple players on the ballot.

First- the obvious “yes” players to both stat and non-stat fans: Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Jeff Bagwell, Edgar Martinez.

Maddux and Thomas are HOF’ers to the SABR crowd and non-SABR crowd. Bagwell is a no-doubter unless you think he was a PED-user. Martinez is a no-doubter if you get off the “he was a DH!” high horse. Dude finished with a .300/.400/.500 line. Offensive era and ballpark? He still had a 60+ fWAR career with the DH positional hit affecting his WAR.

With that, let’s take a quick look at Mike Mussina and his statistical twin, Curt Schilling.

Here are his stats:

3562 IP, 3.68 ERA, 3.57 FIP, 7.11 K/9, 1.98 BB/9, 0.95 HR/9, 1.19 WHIP, 82.5 fWAR, 4.6 fWAR/200IP

Let’s work backwards on this one. He has a career 82.5 WAR. That puts him at 19th, ALL-TIME. If you go by bWAR Mussina is still the in the top 20. In case you’re wondering, there are most than 20 pitchers in the Hall of Fame. Now let’s see why his WAR is so high.

He was a control master. His highest BB/9 was 2.55 in 1996. Retiring with a sub 2.0 BB/9 is absurd. For comparison, Greg Maddux, who many consider to be one of the best strike throwing pitchers of all-time, had a BB/9 of 1.80. So Mussina kept runners off base which helped keep runs off the board.

His one flaw was the long ball. However, consider the context- in pitched in Camden Yards and Yankee Stadium during an era of high home runs that. Although high, his HR/9 is still under 1.0 at 0.85.

The average HOF pitcher throws 3788 career innings. Mussina is about 200 innings or a season short of that. On average Mussina pitched 198 innings a season- a figure which jumps to 204 if you remove his rookie season where he made just 12 starts. So Mussina was a consistent pitcher who could be relied on for 200+ innings a season.

Overall, Mussina is a great HOF candidate who would actually be one of the better pitchers to be inducted into Cooperstown.

Now we can look at Mussina’s twin, Curt Schilling.

3261 IP, 3.46 ERA, 3.23 FIP, 8.60 FIP, 1.96 BB/9, 0.96 HR/9, 1.14 WHIP, 83.2 fWAR, 5.1 WAR/200IP

Mussina threw exactly 301 more career innings. They are within 1 WAR of each other, 0.05 WHIP, 0.001 HR/9, and 0.00 BB/9. Wow. Both were strike throwers who walked very few and gave up the long ball with some frequency, but not enough to dampen their effectiveness. Removing seasons where he pitched out of the bullpen, Schilling was good an average of 202 innings per year. He hit his peak in the late 1990s and early 2000s when he would throw 250-270 innings a season.

Where Schilling and Mussina differ is the strikeout and and “dominance”. Schilling strike out just about a batter an inning. Strikeouts are the best way to prevent runs and Schilling was fantastic at that. Moreover, from 1998-2004 Schilling had five MVP-caliber WAR seasons (above 6.0) including two in the 7’s, two in the 8’s, and one at 9.3 in 2002. On the other hand, Mussina had “just” three MVP WAR seasons and all were in the 6’s. Instead though, he consistently sat around 5-6 WAR year after year, whereas Schilling would peak and valley between 7 WAR seasons and 3 WAR seasons.

Either way, both pitchers had phenomenal careers. If Mussina is HOF worthy then Schilling should definitely be worthy. When it comes to the three true outcomes, both are identical with BB and HR, but Schilling did a better job striking batters out, which is better at preventing base runners and runs then letting a ball be hit into play.

 

 

Adios Robinson Cano

December 6, 2013

This morning Robinson Cano signed a reported 10/$240mil contract with the Seattle Mariners. With all the speculation in the past day I can’t say this is a surprise but I did not think he would sign with Seattle so fast- but I also didn’t think they would go to 10/$240mil so fast.

A month or so ago I wrote about what a potential Robinson Cano contract would look like. In it I surmised that a contract could be worth up to $198mil over ten years but also could be worth up to $240mil depending on the team. I do think Robinson Cano for ten years is worth $240mil- for the New York Yankees. For the Seattle Mariners he is worth closer to $198mil than $240mil so I have to say this a overpay. Not only is it an overpay but it’s an overreach in terms of years. Even if Robinson ages well, one has to imagine that the contract will be dead weight come 2021 and beyond.

If Seattle figures to be a possible playoff team in the near future and Cano is the piece that puts them over the hump then one can see why they would make this deal. As it stands, Seattle won 75 games in 2012. Nick Franklin, who was the expected starter at second for Seattle, is projected to have a 1.5 fWAR by Steamer and 2.6 fWAR by Oliver. Let’s split the difference at 2.0 fWAR. Cano is projected by each at 5.4 and 4.6 so let’s call it 5.0. That is a three win upgrade at the price of $24mil or $8mil per win. And it only jumps Seattle up to a nearly .500 baseball team.

Going forward Seattle could be a playoff team down the road. But by the time this happens, Cano will be in his decline and not as valuable as he currently is. Yet he will still be owed a lot of money could prevent the Mariners from signing players they could sign down the line to contend.

While a large contract made sense for the Yankees, especially in the short run, they did not want to go past seven years- and I can’t blame them for that. Long term contracts of that magnitude rarely turn out well and New York has learned that first hand with contracts they have handed out to Jason Giambi, Mark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez. With the money “saved” they can try to make up for the lost value in others- possibly by signing Masahiro Tanaka, Omar Infante, and Carlos Beltran or Shin-soo Choo. Granted, this will eat up more roster spots than the one spot Cano would have taken, but it could save them money and years.

As for Robinson, I can’t blame him. Yes, I wish he stayed. I wish he chose a plaque at Monument Park over $240mil. I wish he chose to be a Yankee legend over $240mil. But he earned a big payday and he took it as he and other players have every right to. Hopefully when he returns to the Bronx he isn’t greeted with a chorus of boos.

I think it’s also interesting that a Yankee star at the height of his career LEFT the Yankees. For Seattle of all places. Imagine this scenario playing out five years ago? Ten years ago? Even with the signings of Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury, it appears as if the Empire is dead.

Finally, Robinson Cano is the one player I can’t help but partial to. Not seeing him in the Yankee lineup everyday is going to hurt. Yet life goes on. Adios Robbie, and good luck in Seattle.

Hopefully this weekend I will put up a post outline what the Yankees should do now.

 

 

 

Yankees Sign Jacoby Ellsbury

December 4, 2013

WOW. I am nearly speechless. Waiting in line for dining hall take out and I got the ESPN text saying the New York Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury. This is huge news with a lot of implications.

The contract is 7/$153mil meaning an AAV of nearly $22mil. Ellsbury will be 30 for most of the 2014 season and will be 37 when the contract is over. Ellsbury has had some fantastic seasons but has also had some maddeningly poor seasons. In 2011 he had a phenomenal 9.1 fWAR season. But that dipped to 1.4 in 2012 as he battled injuries and saw his wOBA drop from .400 to .300. He rebounded in 2013 to post a 5.8 fWAR with a .343 wOBA.

Year

Age

xWAR

$/WAR

Value

Salary

2014

30

3.9

5

19.5

~22

2015

31

3.4

5.25

17.85

~22

2016

32

2.9

5.51

15.98

~22

2017

33

2.4

5.79

13.90

~22

2018

34

1.9

6.08

11.55

~22

2019

35

1.4

6.38

8.93

~22

2020

36

0.9

6.70

6.03

~22

Total

16.8

93.74

153

Steamer projects a 3.9 fWAR for Ellsbury in 2014 and as he ages I decreased his WAR by 0.5 each season while adjusting 5% for inflation each season.

3.9 might be a low forecast for 2014 but I think it’s realistic so that’s what I went with. All things considered it seems like the Yankees have much higher expectations for Ellsbury. And I hope so because this deal looks TERRIBLE even if you factor in the Yankees win curve and other additional factors that go into analyzing the Yankees unique position in the market.

The Yankees will pay Ellsbury $153mil for an estimated $94mil in value- a difference of $59mil! This is why long term contracts are bad. It’s very hard to get full or even good value on a contract that goes over four or five years. It’s even worse when you aren’t even projected to get good value after four or five years.

With the additional news that the Seattle Mariners will pay Robinson Cano $200mil or more it looks like his days as a Yankee will come to an end. My forecasts have Cano being worth about $162mil over seven years. Robinson Cano is the player worth $150mil+ not Jacoby Ellsbury. It’s even more head scratching when New York has a center fielder for cheap already- that player being Brett Gardner who has arguably been just as good as Ellsbury over their past few full seasons.

Maybe New York is going to go past their self-imposed $189mil budget and can still sign Cano. But all indications seem to be that they will now focus on Hiroki Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka while signing Omar Infante for cheap to play second and/or third. As stated I think the smarter move would be to pony up a little bit more to keep Cano than grossly overpay for Jacoby Ellsbury. Even if you think Ellsbury will be better than I project- which the Yankees seem to be doing- it won’t make up nearly the $60mil difference between value and actual salary.

I think this contract will play out similar to the one Carl Crawford signed after the 2010 season. He was going to enter his age 30 season. He got a 7/$142mil contract from the Red Sox (then under different leadership). He had similar K rates, BB rates, and ISO to Ellsbury. He was also a fantastic defender much like Ellsbury. Crawford has posted 3.0 fWAR in the three seasons since. Granted he has missed time to injuries, but the contract is turning into an albatross. I fear the same will happen to the Yankees.

Crawford is just one example of many. To use him as the sole example would be poor analysis, especially when other speed players have aged well. But it does show how risky a deal of this magnitude can be, especially for a player with similar skill sets (BB, K, ISO, speed, defense).

To conclude. Poorly done New York. I am curious to learn whether Brian Cashman approved of this or whether this idea is that of Randy Levine or Hal Steinbrenner, which would continue to show the lack of structure in New York’s front office. There is a reason why a well-run team, the Boston Red Sox, let go of their starting center fielder. He isn’t worth nine figures. As long as the Yankees continue to operate this way the gap between them and their rival to the north will continue to grow.

EDIT:

This Dave Cameron article looks at the decline of speedy outfielders. He notes that from age 30-36 this pool of comparable players to Jacoby Ellsbury averages 17 WAR, which isn’t bad. That’s right round the forecast I have for Ellsbury. He will age well, don’t get me wrong. But that’s not $153mil well. And THAT is my problem with the contract- not that Ellsbury will be a poor performer. Heck, he’s still worth almost $100mil over seven years!

Moreover, FanGraphs Crowdsourcing, which is pretty accurate, had a real life expectation of 6/$112mil and a fantasy expectation of 5/$83mil. Although older and not as productive, I think at 7/$153mil it would even make more sense to bring back Curtis Granderson at 3 years and a whole lot less money (although I am against that as well).

Tigers Trade Doug Fister to Nationals

December 3, 2013

This evening the Detroit Tigers traded starter Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals for Steve Lombardozzi, Robbie Ray, and Ian Krol. The Tigers continue their busy off-season but I’m not so sure I’m a fan of this deal.

Doug Fister is a very sold #2-#3 pitcher. From 2010 through 2013 he has posted fWAR’s of 2.6, 5.2, 3.5, and 4.6. He has consistently posted a mid 3’s FIP and has excellent control. While he may not strike a lot of batters out, he has a great walk rate and ground ball rate, so he doesn’t give up many home runs. The result of walking few batters and allowing few long balls means he’s effective at not giving up runs. He will be turning 30 in 2014 and is cost-controlled through the 2015 season.

Steam projects Fister to have a 3.3 fWAR in 2014. At $5mil a win, that’s $16.5mil in value. If he is a 3 WAR pitcher in 2015 at $5.25mil a win, that’s $15.75mil in value for a two year total of $32.25mil. Fister made $4mil in 2013 after his season arbitration eligible season. Using the 40/60/80 rule we can expect Fister to make $9.9mil in 2014 and $12.6mil in 2015. However, I don’t think that’s realistic. One reason being that his salary increase from 2013 to 2014 would be over a 100% increase. I think we can more reasonably look at a $6.5mil contract for 2014 and a $9-$11mil contract in 2015. As a result, his net value for 2014-2015 is an estimated $16mil.

Steve Lombardozzi will be cost-controlled for the next four years. He is a second baseman but can be used in the utility role for Detroit between second, short, third, and the corner outfield. While he has a great minor league track record, he has struggled mightily in his first two seasons at Washington. His above average BB rate in the minors has fallen to 3.7% through 700+ PA leading to a career wOBA of .281. Ouch. Now, he may still have potential yet because he is young and has a minor league track record. But starting in 2015 he will have to be paid a few million dollars to produce at replacement level production.

The Tigers will also be getting relievers Ian Krol and Robbie Ray. Now, Ray still is a starting pitcher. But through three minor league seasons he has struggled with walks and home runs, which points to a career as a future reliever if he can’t fix his problems. Ian Krol is a former starter himself before the Nationals converted him to a reliever. He is a lefty which is valuable out of the pen and had a decent rookie season. The Tigers have been trying to fix their pen for a couple seasons now so one can see where they are coming from in this trade.

I just don’t think you trade a great starting pitcher for your utility guy and a couple relievers. The Tigers don’t have any ready replacement for Fister in the rotation and his production at the ML level over the next two seasons will be greater than anyone they are getting back in the trade. As a team that is looking to win it all NOW I don’t see how the team helps them NOW.

As for Washington, they get a solid starter for their backup second baseman and utility player and some relievers. I like it from their perspective. They have a good rotation as it is and the addition of Fister will help separate them in a relatively weak division (outside of Atlanta). I don’t think the package Washington is giving up is worth the $16mil of value they will be getting from Fister.