Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Salary by Service Time

Track the salaries of Major League Baseball players and what many fans don't realize becomes perfectly clear. There is a scale and escalation involved that goes well beyond how a player performs, particularly the the pre-arbitration and arbitration years. So when Ryan Howard broke the bank in 2008 with a $10,000,000 arbitration award when he was just a Super Two player (Super Two relates to the small percentage of Arbitration Eligible players under 3 years of Major League Service Time), he received way more than had previously given to that class of player. His salary of $15,000,000 this year does the same for a Year 3 player in his 2nd year of arbitration. But just how does the scale look and how does it escalate. For players under one year of Major League Service time (the days up to 172 that a player is on the Major League roster or injured reserve), the average salary for 2009 is $436,185, not including veteran Japan League players in their first year of service. By the time a player reaches 1.000 of MLST, this jumps 12.5% to $490,894. Once a player reaches full free agency at 6.000 MLST, the escalators continue to rise through year 11.000, reaching a peak of $9,140,064 for the 18 players in that service class. Listed below are the service classes and % increase over the class before. For the purpose of this study, veteran Japan League players are listed at no lower than 6.000 MLST, including their rookie years.

MLST (Years), Class - % Increase Over Previous
Under 1.000, Pre Arbitration - $436,185
1.000, Pre Arbitration - 12.5% Increase
2.000, Pre Arbitration - 13.4% Increase
2.140, Arbitration - 321.6% increase
4.000, Arbitration - 28.1% increase
5.000, Arbitration - 63.3% increase
6.000, Free Agent - 16.8% increase
7.000, Free Agent - 14.6% increase
8.000, Free Agent - 22.0% increase
9.000, Free Agent - 13.1% decrease
10.000, Free Agent - 2.1% increase
11.000, Free Agent - 28.5% increase
12.000+, Free Agent - -29.7% decrease

Salary source: USA Today Salary Database
MLST source: Cott's Salary Archive

Thursday, April 23, 2009

2009 Salary By Position

The average salary per position in Major League Baseball in 2009 is now in, and once again, the highest paid position is at first base and designated hitter with an average of $5,863,938. Much of this is due to many higher priced and veteran players at that position compared to others. In second place, 3B, where the salary of Alex Rodriguez at $33,000,000 skews the average in a significant manner. But pulling up the rear is catcher. While most managers consider the position as one of the most, if no most, important positions besides pitcher, the lack of quality hitting catchers in the major leagues today pulls the average down significantly.

Average Salary by Position for 2009

Position - Ave. Salary - (#Players)
Catcher - $2,179,760 (63)
1B/DH - $5,863,938 (47)
2B - $2,262,202 (53)
3B - $4,793,313 (43)
SS - $3,113,541 (53)
OF - $3,857,507 (149)
P - $2,887,334 (407)

Salary Source: USA Today Database

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Team Payroll 2009 and Its Value

April 14, 2009 - How wisely did your favorite team spend its cash in 2009? Did they overpay for the talent on the team or get a bargain for the 25 man roster on opening day. The Team Payroll Value Index from baseballevaluation.com compares the actual money spent with the Salary Projection model estimates (SPRO), in order to come up with an index that takes stock of the salaries handed out, ranking them in the order of their effectiveness. This does not represent who is the best team. A team with a low payroll may have spent its dollars wisely or foolishly as well. And it's not impossible for a good team to spend wisely either.

There won't be a whole lot of lists where the San Diego Padres live life at the top in 2009, but spending their money wisely, while going through the firesale caused by internal struggles, was actually one of them. I know this is not a great consolation for fans of the Padres as they watched this past off-season, but the contracts given to the players still on the roster represent good value. Yes, they actually do! And that can't be said for most teams out there, even the good ones.

Rank Team Actual Payroll SPRO Payroll Value Index
1 San Diego Padres $43,734,200 $60,661,000 138.7%
2 Boston Red Sox $121,745,999 $137,618,000 113.0%
3 Oakland Athletics $62,310,000 $67,815,000 108.8%
4 Tampa Bay Rays $63,313,034 $66,312,000 104.7%
5 Washington Nationals $60,328,000 $62,611,000 103.8%
6 Toronto Blue Jays $80,538,300 $83,383,000 103.5%
7 Arizona Diamondbacks $73,516,666 $75,372,000 102.5%
8 Florida Marlins $36,834,000 $37,620,000 102.1%
9 Philadelphia Phillies $113,004,046 $114,549,000 101.4%
10 St. Louis Cardinals $77,605,109 $78,642,000 101.3%
11 Atlanta Braves $96,726,166 $94,225,000 97.4%
12 Pittsburgh Pirates $48,693,000 $47,024,000 96.6%
13 Houston Astros $102,996,414 $96,639,000 93.8%
14 Minnesota Twins $65,299,266 $60,715,000 93.0%
15 Cleveland Indians $81,579,166 $75,022,000 92.0%
16 San Francisco Giants $82,616,450 $75,599,000 91.5%
17 Los Angeles Angels $113,709,000 $101,908,000 89.6%
18 Baltimore Orioles $67,101,666 $56,917,000 84.8%
19 Cincinnati Reds $73,558,500 $61,429,000 83.5%
20 Texas Rangers $68,178,798 $56,769,000 83.3%
21 New York Mets $149,373,987 $124,138,000 83.1%
23 Kansas City Royals $70,519,333 $57,378,000 81.4%
24 Colorado Rockies $75,201,000 $59,947,000 79.7%
25 Seattle Mariners $98,904,166 $76,491,000 77.3%
26 Detroit Tigers $115,085,145 $87,300,000 75.9%
27 Chicago Cubs $134,809,000 $101,633,000 75.4%
28 New York Yankees $201,449,189 $150,648,000 74.8%
29 Chicago White Sox $96,068,500 $70,371,000 73.3%
30 Los Angeles Dodgers $100,414,592 $73,038,000 72.7%

Note: Team Payroll Value Index reflects ranking of Actual 2009 Major League Baseball Payroll on opening day versus SPRO Salary Projection values for the same players on the Opening Day roster. SPRO takes into account Servicer Time, EXPEQ, PEVA, RAVE, and SPRO RAVE. Source: Actual Payroll, USA Today Salary Database.

Top Five
1. San Diego Padres - Okay, go ahead. Explain this one again. Well, it's not too much of a stretch. With a payroll of only $43 million dollars, the San Diego Padres kept a pretty tight hold on their pocketbook this offseason, but still retained several players with very high values, yet relatively low contracts. Yes, Jake Peavy was still on the team on opening day, despite a lot of high profile trade talks during the offseason. While his salary of $11,000,000 is high, for a Cy Young caliber pitcher, his value on the open market would exceed $17,000,000 per year. And don't forget Adrian Gonzalez. A whole lot of people who watch a lot of baseball are not yet on the Adrian bandwagon, but his $3,125,000 contract is a bargain, even considering his Major League Service Time of 3.108 and first year inside the Arbitration window. Remember that with less than this service time, Ryan Howard got awarded a $10,000,000 salary. Now Gonzalez might not be Howard, but they're a lot closer than some think, particularly when you consider that Adrian slugs half of his games in the Grand Canyon of parks, not a bandbox.

2. Boston Red Sox - Yes, it's possible to spend a lot of dough, but get good value back. The Red Sox return a SPRO payroll value of $137,618,000, more than $15 million higher than their actual payroll. It's called bang for your buck. And who gets a whole lot of bang. Try Jason Bay, paid $7.8 million, but worth over $12 million. Josh Beckett, paid $11.2 million, but worth $16. (Remember the A.J. Burnett contract) What about Wakefield? It's not easy to get a solid starting pitcher with lots of experience for $4 million. But the Red Sox did! And before you say, geez, he isn't that good. Remember what other people are paying for 181 IP, 10 W, and a 4.13 ERA.

3. Oakland Athletics - For most people, this comes as no surprise. The folks in the Beanery are noted for keeping tabs on their money belt. But it is a bit of a surprise this season, if only because they brought in a few high profile types to fill out the roster in Matt Holliday, Jason Giambi, and Orlando Cabrera. However, the contract for Cabrera and Giambi, at $4 million each, are great values for their potential and past outcomes. Holliday's contract is pegged about right, and there are players underperforming their wallet for certain; for one example think Eric Chavez, but overall, the A's are getting 8.8% more value for their payroll than the money they are spending.

4. Tampa Bay Rays - This up and coming team has not yet gotten to the dilemma of a high payroll team because most of its prospects are not into the arbitration and free agent windows, but thus far, the management in the bay is keeping good tabs on what they have to spend. And this offseason, their acquisition of Philly's Pat Burrell came at a good price, $7m for 2009, even though Pat's bat would state he deserves more.

5. Washington Nationals - This is not a good team yet. They need their farm system to produce more stars and they need pitching, a whole lot of it, but the front office is spending wisely with its own players such as Ryan Zimmerman and Nick Johnson, and bringing in the free agent slugger like Adam Dunn when a good bargain presents. And he was a good bargain.

Bottom Five
26. Detroit Tigers - Nobody may have been more disappointing in their performance in 2008 than those Tigers, and when you see how and when they spent their money, you can certainly see why. Jeremy Bonderman to be paid $12,500,000, but worth about $4,020,000. Nate Robertson paid $7,000,000, but worth a little north of $4 miillion. Dontrelle Willis paid $10,000,000, but worth $3,653,000. And you could argue they're not even worth that much. When you're overpaying your pitching, it doesn't bode well for your wins or your value.

27. Chicago Cubs - They're trying to bring a World Championship to Wrigley and might just do it this year, but it's coming at a high cost. With the #3 payroll in all the baseball land, $134 million and change, the Cubbies are making an effort to grow into baseball bears. But they're consistently throwing more money at each of their acquisitions than SPRO salary projections say they should. More for Carlos Zambrano, more for Kosuke Fukudome, too much for Aramis Ramirez, and Alfonso Soriano, too. Now, they're all very good players (maybe not Fukudome, at least yet), but they're rushing out the dollars at a premium, but getting a 25% discount in performance.

28. New York Yankees - We all know about the recent contracts. We've seen the reports. While some teams get home town discounts from the players to play there, the Yankees pay a premium, every time, to make sure each player they want makes it's way into the Bronx. But with their revenue streams, which have just grown even higher with the new park, it doesn't matter if they don't get value for their money on the field. They get value for their money in many other ways.

29. Chicago White Sox - After their World Series win a couple years back, the White Sox paid its players. Jose Contreras with $10 million in 2009; Paul Konerko at $12 million. Not a whole lot of teams think either of those players are worth that kind of money today.

30. Los Angeles Dodgers - No. It's not all Manny's fault. But Manny does contribute to the dilemma. At $23,854,494, Ramirez leads the parade both in hits, runs, and dollars. And if you think he can perform at the level of the last two months of 2008 in 2009 and 2010, then that contract is worth it's weight in gold. But that's doubtful. For the most part, nobody can. They're also paying Jason Schmidt over $15 milllion, and Kuroda over $12. If both of those pitchers give the Dodgers the kind of pitching those dollars represent, then Los Angeles will win a whole lot of games in 2009.

For an example of one team for value page, see the breakdown of the Philadelphia Phillies opening day roster.

For salary projections and player ratings for every player in Major League history, get Stat Geek Baseball 2009.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Predictions 2009 - Cy Young Race

Stat Geek Baseball Predictions 2009
Most Valuable Player Predictions 2009

Cy Young Race
Projections 2009 W L SV ERA PEVA Pro
National League

1. Tim Licecum, SFN 19 5 0 2.64 37.534
2. Brandon Webb, ARI 25 8 0 3.59 37.491
3. Danny Haren, ARI 19 9 0 3.35 34.947
4. Cole Hamels, PHI 18 8 0 3.30 31.287
5. Johan Santana, NYM 16 9 0 2.87 28.817
6. Derek Lowe, ATL 17 11 0 3.48 25.869
7. Ryan Dempster, CHN 16 7 13 3.85 24.699
8. Ricky Nolasco, FLA 17 7 0 4.54 21.245
9. Chad Billingsley, LAN 19 9 0 3.33 19.849
10. Roy Oswalt, HOU 17 9 0 3.49 19.813

American League

1. Roy Halladay, TOR 18 11 0 3.13 45.650
2. C.C. Sabathia, NYA 19 9 0 3.48 44.627
3. Cliff Lee, CLE 20 6 0 3.94 40.773
4. Ervin Santana, LAA 19 9 0 4.25 26.182
5. James Shields, TBA 19 8 0 3.76 24.057
6. Jonathan Papelbon, BOS 7 3 52 2.18 23.355
7. Jon Lester, BOS 17 6 0 3.94 21.199
8. Joe Saunders, LAA 20 7 0 3.84 19.579
9. Daisuke Matsusaka, BOS 21 5 0 2.77 18.646
10. Josh Beckett, BOS 18 9 0 3.86 18.000
Note: Peva Pro predictions for 2009 based on relationship of PEVA 2008, 3 Year RAVE Progression, AgeTrack Progression, and other factors.

Cy Young Award Race - National League

Will there be a repeat performer from the west coast bay with the powerful arm and new teammate with Cy Young pedigree? What about a second banana in the desert overcoming his better known colleague for the top prize? Or could it be a player with a model wife and Dancing With the Stars affinity, plus last year's playoff awards, to take the step forward and claim the pitching prize in the National League in 2009. The numbers point toward a close race, and a very slight nod, to repeats, but it wouldn't surprise anybody if a Haren or a Hamels jumps past them.

1. Tim Lincecum, SP, SFN - Almost every scout in baseball expected Lincecum to be a great pitcher, but the surprise was, he became that man in 2008. But there's no reason to expect him to stop now. With 265 strikeouts and a 2.62 ERA, even if it's in a pitcher's park, the power hurler from San Francisco now even has a Cy Young mentor in Randy Johnson, but of course, has already proven he does not need it. If Tim puts a second year together that mirrors in any way last year's performance, whoa. And don't be surprised if he does.

2. Brandon Webb, SP, ARI - Somebody wake up the neighbors in the desert and tell them the natives are restless. Oh, not due to a concern about illegal immigration or Mexican sovereignty, but because we still don't think Mr. Webb gets enough credit for his career. No, he's not gonna strikeout out 265 batters, but will give you 175-200 K, 200 IP, 30-35 Starts, and a whole lot of wins. With PEVA Player Ratings of 13.770, 11.349, 14.087, 36.142, 35.177, 31.968 since 2003, what more needs to be said.

3. Danny Haren, SP, ARI - Second banana. Great pitcher. Last year Haren emerged from the shadows, but perhaps only slightly from a national perspective. But even with a pitcher on his own staff playing the shadow game, Haren put up numbers with Webb prowess. Four straight years of over 200 IP point to his durability, and the quality of his pitching now speaks volumes for themselves.

Best of the Rest - Sleeper. Well, you'd have to have been sleeping through last year's playoffs to miss the work Cole Hamels did for the Phillies, and this is far from an unknown, typical sleeper pick. We just like him. And think that he has an uncanny ability to pitch well in big games, overcome a hitter's ballpark, and win. Remember, last year his 14 wins were well below what they should have been. The stellar bullpen hiccuped behind Hamels more than anyone else. If he'd have won 20, we would have been talking about Hamels for Cy Young in 2008. We think we will be talking about him this year.

Cy Young Award Race - American League

With Sabathia back in the American League, the race for the Cy Young looks like a real doozy. From Roy north of the border to a Shields in Florida, the arms of the American League will really be throwing a six month race for the best pitcher in the junior circuit. And lest we think that beantown will not be represented in the race, we think that any of four Red Sox hurlers could win the whole thing. And wouldn't you know it, we left last year's winner for last, just like most people are doing. But you know, somehow we don't think Cliff Lee was a fluke. But we still don't think he'll win. We think Mr. Halladay will reclaim the crown.

1. Roy Halladay, SP, TOR - 20-11, 2.46 ERA, 246.3 IP and he was overshadowed by Mr. Lee last year and rightfully finished second in the Cy Young race last year. But we expect that outcome could be reversed in 2009, at least at the top. Still in his prime at 32 years of age in 2009, there's no reason to think Halladay can't approach last year's numbers that added up to one of the best year's for pitching in baseball history, yet not good enough for Cy.

2. C.C Sabathia, SP, NYA - Well, his team should win a lot of games and it's doubtful he'll be traded in mid-season like last year, which surely hurt his chances in either Cy Young race. And while we think that any pitcher who is given a contract in that stratosphere shows a good measure of club insanity, the last two seasons of Sabathia starts have been spectacular. No, he did not win 20 games either year, but this isn't 1970 anymore. We fully expect C.C. to help the Bombers in their quest to unseat Boston and Tampa Bay in the division.

3. Cliff Lee, SP, ARI - Was there a more unsung, and in many ways, disrespected pitching season his baseball history? Most people think it was a fluke. Maybe so. But if that's the case. What a fluke! 22-3 and a PEVA Player Rating that ranked the 21st best pitching season in history. Not since Mort Cooper in 1942 did a pitcher pop up with a season that good after a non-stellar former career, and it likely took war year diminution of talent to produce that. Now Lee had good years before, with double digit wins, yet nothing to suggest his year in 2008. But until we're told by his stats that this was a fluke, we're just gonna believe that the light came on late, but that it still came on, and he'll be a factor in 2009.

Best of the Rest - Sleeper. Let's come right out and say it. The numbers suggest that Jonathan Papelbon could go forward this year and have one of the best seasons for a relief pitcher ever. We'll believe it when we see it, but if that's true, it would give us one hell of a sleeper in the Cy Young race to talk about. He's been adding up his total in saves for the last three years; 35, 37, and 41, respectively, and if the Red Sox win as many games as we think they could, that number could grow substantially, perhaps into KRod territory, with a lot better supporting numbers beneath them.

Player Predictions 2009

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Predictions 2009 - MVP

Stat Geek Baseball Predictions 2009
Cy Young Award Predictions 2009

MVP Race
Projections 2009 HR RBI Ave. PEVA Pro
National League

1. David Wright, NYM 38 143 .311 32.757
2. Albert Pujols, SLN 41 129 .373 31.978
3. Hanley Ramirez, FLA 33 70 .307 28.902
4. Adrian Gonzalez, SDN 41 137 .285 27.856
5. Ryan Howard, PHI 49 143 .268 25.760
6. Carlos Beltran, NYN 31 114 .289 25.383
7. Ryan Ludwick, SLN 37 115 .295 23.253
8. Chase Utley, PHI 33 106 .306 22.276
9. Chipper Jones, ATL 25 84 .374 22.088
10. Prince Fielder, MIL 38 115 .278 21.436

American League

1. Joe Mauer, MIN 9 88 .324 27.562
2. Justin Morneau, MIN 28 132 .297 26.672
3. Nick Markakis, BAL 20 90 .302 24.727
4. Grady Sizemore, CLE 38 104 .275 23.274
5. Mark Teixeira, NYA 36 134 .322 23.068
6. Matt Holliday, OAK 31 110 .335 22.768
7. Josh Hamilton, TEX 32 133 .302 22.049
8. Alex Rodriguez, NYA 41 122 .301 21.732
9. Miguel Cabrera, DET 37 132 .309 21.192
10. Curtis Granderson, DET 22 69 .282 19.269
Note: Peva Pro predictions for 2009 based on relationship of PEVA 2008, 3 Year RAVE Progression, AgeTrack Progression, and other factors. Peva Pro projections do not take into account injury status.

Most Valuable Player Race - National League

It should come as no surprise, since the best teams are in the East, that the Most Valuable Player race will have a large number of candidates for the top position player from that division. With former National League MVP slimmer and happy in Philadelphia, Ryan Howard, plus teammates Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins there, there's always gonna be a contender from the East. When you add in the trio in New York of Reyes, Wright, and Beltran, and lest we forget, future Hall of Fame member Chipper Jones and suddenly not quite so happy Hanley Ramirez, nobody should be surprised by a victor from that division. Of course, Albert Pujols will have something to say about that, as the last half dozen years have proved. And some new players will emerge as they always do. But from the perspective of the numbers at baseballevalution.com, the man we think is on the verge of Most Valuable Player status, and our favorite for 2009, is David Wright, third baseman of the New York Mets.

1. David Wright, 3B, NYN - He's moving into a new park and has been moving in the territory of best player in the league for the last several years. He'll be only 27 years old by the end of 2009 and should be continuing to improve. With remarkable consistency for a young player over the last four years (19.979, 20.464, 28.574, 24.501 PEVA Player Rating from 2005-2008), we expect Wright to improve even further, raising his game into the 35 plus homer territory and Golden Glove fielder arena in 2009.

2. Albert Pujols, 1B, SLN - What can you say about Albert? Well, kinda the same thing we've been saying for the past couple years and the rest of baseball has been saying as well. We are witnessing one of the best players in MLB history, who's on track for not only a Hall of Fame designation about twenty years from now, but once he gets there, could be lauded as one of the top ten hitters of all-time. So here he is again, a perennial candidate for MVP. He's still under thirty folks, younger than Ryan Howard, and not ready to slow down any time soon.

3. Hanley Ramirez, SS, FLA - New contract. Upcoming ballpark with a roof to keep out the humidity. A few rules and he's not happy anyway. But that won't slow Ramirez down. With this much talent only turning 26 in 2009, there's no telling what type of number he might put up, particularly if they push him down the lineup where his skills probably belong. Could 30 HR and 30 SB turn into 40/40? Don't be surprised if they do.

Best of the Rest - Sleeper. Some people are going to be surprised that Adrian Gonzalez, the first sacker of the Padres is on this list, mainly because he can't really win the MVP playing for San Diego. And with the abiliity of the Padres to finish way behind the pack, he'll even be under-appreciated even if he continues his progression into stardom. However, Gonzalez finished with 36 HR and 119 RBI and 0.510 SLG in that Grand Canyon of a park last year. Keep an eye on this fellow.

Most Valuable Player Race - American League

Twins, free agent sluggers from the Bronx, or an emerging player from what we think this year will be a good team, Cleveland, or a bad team, Baltimore. Well, if his back holds up (we're not prediciting injury here at all, just a number progression), we think it's time to give the second Twin, Joe Mauer, the best hitting catcher in the bigs since Mike Piazza, the nod. Oh, yes, there'll have to be winners of their division, or at least a playoff team, to pull votes from one of the bigger market clubs. How many people really think Dustin Pedroia, was better, or more important, to his team than Mauer even last year? But if they do make the playoffs, and a catcher continues to put up numbers in the territory Mauer has been, look out!

1. Joe Mauer, C, MIN - Yes, it would be tough to pick a catcher with a balky spring training back if you're just doing a subjective analysis, but we're not. We're going off the fact that last year, at 25 years of age, a catcher hit 0.328, was on base 0.413, and scored 98 runs. And we think it's certainly possible that his nine homers will improve, although he's not shown any predisposition for that. Will he DH more often in 2009? Maybe. Will that help his chances for MVP? Not sure, but as long as he plays the majority of his games behind the plate, it probably's not gonna hurt.

2. Justin Morneau, 1B, MIN - We didn't think Justin deserved his MVP in 2006, but that's not to say anything bad about a guy who jacks 20-35 HR and knocks in over 100 while hitting 0.300. And it's hard to pick which Twin will actually nudge ahead in the race for best of Minnesota, but with these two, it will be a fun time in the upper midwest in 2009.

3. Nick Markakis, OF, BAL - Unless Markakis puts up stupendous numbers or the Orioles suddenly shock the baseball world and get competitive with the behemoths in Boston and New York again, he's not going to win, but Nick is going to continue his surge into the upper echelon of American League batters, this year and in years to come. .300/.406/0.491 BA/OBP/SLG in 2008 at 25 years of age. Things are looking up in Baltimore as long as Markakis is patrolling the outfield.

Best of the Rest - Sleeper. Well, we actually think the sleeper is Markakis, but will go with the next player on the list, because some folks in baseball still haven't caught on with the Grady Sizemore train, but that's probably due to a commuter slip on the platform. We think Cleveland's gonna rebound this year and win the division. If they do, a good portion of the reason will be due to Sizemore, their do it all outfielder. Last year, Cliff Lee won the Cy Young; 2009 could be the date for Sizemore to win the MVP.