About two weeks ago I examined the Yanks’ 2008 offense using Fangraphs’ new replacement value section, which expressed each player’s output in an actual dollar figure. Simply put, the determination of a player’s value is dependent on both their offense and defense relative to their position, and I used Ryan Howard ($15.2M value) and JJ Hardy ($25.0M) as examples.
This week David Appelman & Co. have added pitching win values to their already brilliant site, which expresses a pitcher’s true worth in a nice and easy dollar amount. Unfortunately the determination of these values is way more complex than it is for the position players, because factors like run enviroment and leverage are such major considerations. Dave Cameron (of USS Mariner fame) will be explaining what goes into all of this via a weeklong series which began on Monday. Yesterday he touched on the use of the Fielding Independant Pitching (FIP) statistic in lieu of ERA in the calculation, and then the determination of replacement level for pitchers.
I became an engineer because I enjoy seeing and understanding how things work, so I’m going to definitely going to check out the rest of Dave’s posts this week to see the nuts of the bolts of these calculations. If you’re not a total nerd like me and couldn’t care less how these things work, then let’s get right to it and see what kind of value the Yankees got out of their pitching staff last year.
A decent sized table is after the jump.
The “Pitching” number in the table is the number of runs the pitcher prevented above replacement level. The simple ten runs equals one win rule isn’t accurate for pitchers in this application; starters and relievers have their own unique conversions, which is why some guys have a higher value than others despite fewer runs prevented.
It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the Yanks received more value from their pitching staff than salary owed, that’s the whole point after all. Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte made just about every start, and even though he missed most of the season, Chien-Ming Wang was still a bargain because he was so great in the first half. A bullpen full of dirt cheap yet effective middle relievers also helped out. Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes … just imagine if they contributed 400 innings instead of 135.1 combined. Overall, the Yanks received a 169.06% return on their pitching investment, polar opposite of the 64.9% ROI they got out of their position players.
Combining the pitchers and position players, the Yanks dished out $212,825,550 in salary (based on my approximate calculation) and received $216,800,000 worth of value, a 101.87% ROI. They barely broke even, which is pretty bad, and I only counted the players that actually suited up for the Bombers last year, not the entire 40-man roster. The Rays, on the other hand, received a ~345% ROI on their total payroll from their position players alone. Tack on the pitchers and you’re probably looking at a 550-600% ROI. I guess you can take solace in the fact that the Yanks’ return would have much better if Chien-Ming Wang, Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui and Phil Hughes stayed healthy all year and had representative seasons.
I wrote about the inefficiency in the Yanks’ roster building strategy briefly at Newsday yesterday. The Yanks have been spending too much money and not getting enough results for years now, and the answer continues to be spend more money. At some point, something has to give.
If you’re interested in reading more about the values of free agents and draft picks, and I suggest checking out these posts by TusconRoyal at Beyond the Box Score and Victor Wang at THT, respectively. Beyond the Box Score also posted a spreadsheet today that will allow you to calculate these values for yourself.