Thursday, November 11, 2010

Not Jeter Again, the Gold Glove Debate

Let's start right off here and put some things to rest. No, we don't think that Derek Jeter should be given a gold glove, but, as much as we think that's a mistake, we don't think he's the worst fielding shortstop in MLB as some others have stated and some statistics, i.e. UZR, seem to suggest. But, come on, folks who vote for the Gold Glove awards and witness game after game from the manager's bench, you had to have seen others in your league you think we better, even if you've never seen a UZR or even the more traditional, and one we favor, Range Factor stats.

Our Fielding Metric, Field Value, values Jeter as the 11th best shortstop in Major League Baseball in 2010. (For more discussion on this, you can visit the Bleacher Report article, which we thank them for mentioning us.) He's durable, he's reliable, he's sure-handed and accurate with his throws, but he just doesn't get to enough balls to justify the highest mark. We think #11 is a pretty good rank for this Yankee. There is a lot of value in having a shortstop that makes the plays he gets to; would you rather have Rafael Furcal and that cannon arm, plus all those errors. We wouldn't. But the fact that Jeter is amongst the worst in Range Factor, which calculates, with no interpretation, the amount of balls a player gets to that turn into outs (and you can interpret beyond that to ones he gets to, but don't). His Range Factor of 3.78 is amongst the lowest of those with enough innings to be ranked, #50 of 54. We agree, that's not good, and when you compare it to the Gold Glove winner in the National League, Troy Tulowitski, at 5.06, it really means that Jeter gets to 25.3% less balls that Tulowitski does. When compared to Alexie Ramirez of the White Sox, who we would have given the AL Gold Glove to, he gets to 22.7% less balls. That's too many for us to overlook, and while the numbers speak to not denigrating Jeter to the lowest of the low levels of shortstop fielding, it does yell out "Not Jeter Again."

Our Silver Mitt Awards pointed out a few other curious selections, although at least from the National League standpoint, there were very few that we have issue with. Six of the eight winners of our awards (we don't rank the pitchers) and the Gold Gloves are the same; Pujols, Phillips, Tulowitski, Victorino, Bourn, and Molina. We would have chosen Placido Polanco over Scott Rolen at third, but it's perfectly understandable why the voters didn't choose a first year thirdbaseman without a cannon arm for the Gold Glove. Still think his numbers say he deserved it. Polanco is more sure-handed and with better range at this point in Rolen's career. The main discrenpency on the NL side is with Carlos Gonzalez winning the third outfield spot. Look, Gonzalez is not bad, for a left fielder, but there's few major league managers, if they had the choice of selecting another outfielder for defense, who would choose Gonzalez over folks like Andres Torres, Drew Stubbs, or Marlon Byrd. For a left fielder, his 1.96 Range Factor is good, not Brett Gardner good, but good.

In the American League, it wasn't just the Jeter selection that had us perplexed, as our awards only agreed 37.5% of the time with Teixeira, Cano, and Franklin Gutierrez those three of eight. And we can live with selections such as Longoria and Mauer at their positions, even though we believe there were better candidates and think that those two profit from great offensive numbers when voters think of fielding. At #7 in our rankings, both are good defensive players, we just think A.J. Pierzynski and Matt Weiters were better in the AL catching ranks, and that Jose Lopez was the best third baseman in both leagues. Yes, he had a slightly worse fielding percentage, but was 12.8% better with range. But it's in the outfield where our biggest disagreement would come.

Brett Gardner is one of the best fielders in baseball, and that's even with the fact that he's relegated to playing left field, because Granderson is patrolling center. With a Range Factor of 2.22, a strong arm, and good hands, he's just a bit better fielder than his counterpart in left who won the award, Carl Crawford. But it's close. With Ichiro, we think the numbers show that he might have won his award this year on past performance. He's still good, maybe still great, and makes highlight plays, but Vernon Wells does this as well. Now, we have to admit, that with Ichiro playing predominantly in right field, this adds to his luster, and we have no Jeter problem with his selection, we just would have gone a different way. And maybe in that selection, would have been wrong. There's no way we would suggest No Ichiro Again as the title. That's reserved for Mr. Yankee, ... again.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bill Hall Free Agent Analysis

Analysis

Okay, here's the consternation with Hall. Just what are you getting here? He's only 31 years old, so the wane really shouldn't have taken over his career, but it seems like it might have. At one time, back in the days of 2005 and 2006 in Milwaukee, Hall had plus starter written all over him, with years of 17 HR and 62 RBI followed by 35 HR and 85 RBI, with that last year added up to a very respectable PEVA rating of 11.905. Pretty good stuff at 27 years of age. But now it's four years later and what we're seeing is a platoon player, and one, we're not real sure whether a playoff contending team should want.

Whoa, there, ... maybe we're jumping to the wrong conclusion and are just plain wrong about that. Sure, Hall is a low batting average and low OBP guy at this point in his career and someone you're not looking at as an everyday starter, but he did hit 18 HR for Boston in 2010 and played every outfield and infield position except first base (and he can probably do that). Perhaps this is just the type of hitter/fielder a contending team needs, as long as the price is right.

But what about that price. And just what role would that contending team be talking about? Let's assume he's a platoon player again, one who will be getting 300 to 400 ABs.

PEVA RATINGS - FOUR YEARS PRIOR TO FREE AGENCY
Bill Hall Year
4.538 2007
3.733 2008
2.459 2009
3.093 2010
3.031 RAVE

Last year, Hall was paid $8,525,000, but he's looking at a significant drop from that number in 2010. SPRO Salary Projections state that he's looking like a $3,000,000 player now, and that's only because there's still a bit of a look back five years quality and hope that he can repeat some of those headier days.

Personally, we're still a little conflicted on whether Hall's worth those numbers and might be more comfortable in the $2.5 million range. But SPRO is holding out hope. It will be interesting to see just what type of team, a playoff contender or just one looking for production from a cheaper alternative, will take that risk, and whether it will pay off.

SPRO PROJECTIONS - Bill Hall

2011 - $3,021,000
2012 - $3,127,000
Total Contract - 2 years @ 6,148,000

Friday, November 5, 2010

Jason Werth Free Agent Analysis

Jayson Werth 2010-11 Free Agents
Analysis

There's a pretty good consensus around baseball circles that Jayson Werth will gain a pretty fine payday this offseason and the bellweathers for his services is likely to be a contract between that of Jayson Bay and Matt Holliday. And that's pretty good territory, but is it territory that a baseball general manager should play in, and which of those two players does Werth really compare better to.

Jayson Bay signed a four year $66 million contract ($16.5m per season) with the New York Mets in 2009 that included a fifth year option at $17 million in 2014. Bay had been pretty darn productive in the years prior to this season, but had a poor first season with the Mets mainly due to injury.

Matt Holliday signed a seven year $120 million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2009 that included an eighth year option at $17 million as well. Holliday was the preeiminent position player out there last year and this contract, at an annual rate of $17 million per season, reflected that.

With those two contracts, it seems as baseball was saying that these were two players with similar skills and value. Bay was 31 years old at the end of 2009; Holliday was 29 years old, two years younger. Werth will be 31 years old at the end of this year.

For the four years prior, Bay had accumulated 123 home runs and knocked in 413 runs, all with a 3 Year RAVE of 17.062; Holliday had bashed 119 home runs, and knocked in 448 runs, all with a 3 Year RAVE at the end of 2009 of 19.057. (RAVE is a 3 year adjusted number taking the most recent year at 50%, 1 year back 30%, and 2 years back at 20%.)

PEVA RATINGS - FOUR YEARS PRIOR TO FREE AGENCY
Bay
Holliday
Werth
22.511 2006 18.861 2007 4.523
7.133 2007 25.713 2008 9.727
18.155 2008 15.333 2009 19.511
20.378 2009 18.627 2010 20.813
17.062 RAVE 19.056 RAVE 18.205

Now what about Jayson Werth. For the four years prior to this offseason, Werth had hit 95 home runs and knocked in 300 runs, and had a 3 year RAVE of 18.205. So yes, he does seem to have a value in between those two players. Now Werth had other abilities that some say will add to his value (i.e. defense, baserunning), and all those are true, but are held within the PEVA rating.

So Bay got $16.5m and Holliday $17m per year. That means Werth should be worth $16.75m, right? And what about those who are theorizing that he should be paid $18m to $20m per season.

SPRO projections show that Werth is very close to Jason Bay per contract value terms, and should be paid $95,399,000 for six years of service. Yes, that's a long contract, and it's value of $15,900.000 per year is lower than both.

Personally, we believe that Werth will be paid in the Bay to Holliday per year territory, and not be quite worth it.

SPRO PROJECTIONS - Jayson Werth

2011 - $14,564,000
2012 - $15,074,000
2013 - $15,602,000
Total Contract - 6 years @ 95,399,000


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