Fangraphs is great, and continues to get better. While B-Ref is still the undisputed king of … well … baseball reference sites, Fangraphs has established itself as the clear #2 thanks to its assortment of advanced statistics, including those pertaining to plate discipline, win probability and defense. Last week they added a new replacement level section for hitters, and included in it is a cool little feature that represents how much money the player is worth based on how many wins they provide above a replacement player.
Essentially, this value is determined by adding up how many runs the player adds over one of those mythical replacement level players in terms of hitting and defense (runs saved, in this case). The numbers are adjusted for park effects and position, so a first basemen in a small park needs to do more to provide positive value than, say, a shortstop in a big park. Here’s a quick example:
Batting: +22.3 runs
Fielding: +0.8 runs
Position Adjustment: -12.6 runs
Replacement Level: +23.3 runs
Total: +33.9 runs
Howard produced 22.3 offensive runs above replacement level in 2008, and his defense was ever so slighty above RL at 0.8 runs. His position works against him, taking away 12.6 runs. Add it all up (including a replacement level first basemen’s output to get his total contribution), and Ryan Howard was worth 33.9 runs last year. Ten runs approximately equals one win, so he was worth 3.39 wins. 2008 wins were worth $4.5M (according to the Fangraphs guys), so Ryan Howard provided the Phils’ $15.2M worth of value, $5.2M more than his actual salary. Now take a look at another player for a quick comparison:
Batting: +16.3 runs
Fielding: +11.6 runs
Position Adjustment: +6.8 runs
Replacement Level: +21.0 runs
Total: +55.6 runs
So because he provided well above average offense and defense at an important (actually the most important) position, Hardy’s value to his team was nearly 65% more than Howard’s. That might be hard to grasp because of Howard’s gaudy HR and RBI totals, but the whole is greater than the sum of the parts in baseball. Check out Albert Pujols; dude was worth $40.5M last year, or 291.4% more than his actual salary. Insane.
Using this cool little analysis, we can determine which Yankees’ players provided the most bang for the buck last season. Data is available for hitters only, so we won’t be able to get an idea of how much value the Yanks got out of their arms in relation to their salary. Perhaps another time.
A really big table is after the jump.
All salary data came from (where else?) Cot’s, and anything that needs to be pro-rated for partial seasons has been (approximately). Note that the Mariners were still on the hook for Richie Sexson’s full salary despite cutting him loose, the Yanks were only responsible for a pro-rated portion of the league minimum.
As we all already knew, long term injuries to Hideki Matsui & Jorge Posada hurt the club’s output, and it’s evident here. Posada’s value from ’02-’07 suggest he would have earned just about all of his salary, although Matsui’s value would have been about two-thirds of his salary. A-Rod’s value also would have been a bit gaudier if not for a three week DL stint.
It’s interesting to see that Bobby Abreu & Jason Giambi – widely considered the club’s second & third best hitters last season – were the two most overpaid players on the team. Nady & Damon more than earned their salary, and Brett Gardner’s defense made him roughly $3.2M more valuable than Melky. A typical Robbie Cano year would have done wonders; he was valued at $12.7M & $17M in ’06 & ’07, respectively. Morgan Ensberg & Richie Sexson .. yikes.
We all knew the Yanks were overpaying, but now we can get an idea of just how much. The $89.1M in value received is just 64.9% of their actual salary payout; compare that to Hanley Ramirez & Dan Uggla, whose combined value ($53.0M) was roughly 242.7% of the Marlins’ Opening Day payoll. Mark Teixeira will certainly help balance the value-salary ratio, he was valued at $30.5M last season.
Anytime you spend upwards of $200M on the 40-man ML roster, there’s bound to be a great deal of inefficiency, but a 64.9% return on investment is just ghastly. Healthy comebacks from Posada & Matsui combined with the departures of Giambi & Abreu will go a long way towards restoring some efficiency to the Yanks’ books.