Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What's a Player Worth?

With the Yankees recent splurge on free agents and trades, there are a lot of people talking about who's overpaid, who's underpaid, responsible spending, irresponsible spending, and the like. For that reason, I'd like to take a look at the Yankees two acquisitions on the offensive side of things: Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira.

To do this, I'll be turning their projected runs above average using Marcels projections for hitters and their CHONE Defensive Projections.

My method will be the same as found on my friend Mike's blog Fire Jim Leyland. For an example of how these calculations work, go to this post. An example:
Lets run through an example. We'll use Curtis Granderson. His RAA in my table comes out at +15.7. His CHONE defensive projection has him at +13 runs. That makes him now at +28.7 runs above average. He gets another 2.5 run boost for being a Centerfielder, which puts his RAA at 31.2. Divide that by 10.5 and you get 2.97 Wins Above Average. Add in another 2, and he becomes 4.97 Wins Above Replacement in 2009. That equates out to being $24.85 million. His 2009 salary is currently just $3.5 million, a difference of $21.35 million -- quite the bargain.
10.5 is roughly the amount of runs that equal one win and the two is used because a replacement player is two runs worse than an average player. To get the dollar amount, you multiply by five (millions of dollars), which is the approximate value of a win The positional adjustments Mike talks about are as follows:

Catcher: +12.5 runs
Shortstop: +7.5 runs
Second Base/Third Base/Centerfield: +2.5 runs
Left Field/Right Field: -7.5 runs
First Base: -7.5 runs
DH: -17.5 runs

Let's run through the numbers for Mr. Swisher first. On the Marcels spread sheet, we can find that he will be worth 5.8 runs over average. If we want to project Swisher as a corner outfielder, we find his defensive projection on the CHONE site and find that in the corners, Swisher is projected to be a +5 defender. Thus, our equation becomes:

5.8 (runs over average)-7.5 (postiion adjustment) = -1.7+5 (projected defense) = 3.3/10.5 +2 = 2.31 Wins over Replacement. So, as a corner outfielder, Nick Swisher projects to be worth 2.31 Wins over Replacement Player. Multiply that by five to get the dollar amount Swisher's 2008 performance projects to be and you get: $11.55 million dollars. A quick trip over to Cot's MLB Contracts and we find that Nick Swisher will make $5.3 million in 2009. So if Nick Swisher plays to his projection as a corner outfielder, the Yankees are saving $6.25 million on him.

If you want to make Swisher the CF, switch the positional adjustment (+2.5) and the defensive projection (-2) and he comes out at 2.50 wins over replacement, but only because CFs are harder to replace than corner OFs. Still, his dollar value there would be $12.5 mil, a money saver for the Yankees.

Projecting Swisher at first is more or less a moot point because of Tex, but for shits and giggles, he'd be 1.36 WAR, or $6.8 million. Still a "money saver," but less valuable than if he were in the OF.

Now, we come to the big boy. Mark Teixeira. The Yankees just gave him an eight year, 180 million dollar contract, with an AAV of $22.5 million. That's going to be hard for Tex to match, from a standpoint like this. Let's see how it works out. Via the Marcels spreadsheet, Teixeira will be 28.2 runs over average this year. So:

28.2 - 12.5 = 15.7 + 6 (projected runs at 1B) = 21.7/10.5 + 2 = 4.07 WAR x 5 = 20.35. So, Tex's value projects to be $20.35 million this year. According to Cots, Mark will make a flat $20 million this year. So, the Yankees will, in fact, be paying Tex .35 million dollars less than he projects to be worth. It's a small number, but the Yankees are "saving" with Tex.

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