If you haven't checked out FanGraphs in a while — and I admit I've been something of a wayward son — you need to. Because they have, in short, revolutionized the concept of the comprehensive value-based statistic.
- wRAA, weighted Runs Above Average, which is derived by taking the exact value of each individual plate appearance a hitter had in a given season. A hit is worth .X runs, a stolen base is worth .X runs, an out is worth -.X runs, etc. Those are tallied and manipulated so that the league average result is the same as the league-average on base percentage. It's basically the same thing as BP's EqA, except EqA is tied to batting average. The difference is that wOBA is easily converted into runs above (or below) average. The wRAA used in the Win Value calculation is adjusted for ballpark.
- UZR/150, Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games, which is widely considered one of the best defensive metrics because it looks at every ball hit to or near a given fielder and expresses the results in runs above (or below) average. Generally, 0 in UZR/150 is league average at that position. In Win Value, 0 is simply league average, not position adjusted, because that comes later.
- Replacement level. I'm pretty happy knowing runs above and below average, but the FanGraphs guys want to tie all this to money and the only consistent salary point is the baseline salary for the lowest-valued player: the league minimum. So they convert runs above and below average to above or below replacement level by adding 20 runs per 600 plate appearances. This has the added benefit of penalizing players who couldn't stay healthy, as they will have compiled fewer PAs and receive less of a benefit.
- Position adjustment. A .300/.400/.500 line for a first baseman is terrific. But it's not worth nearly as much as the same line at shortstop because shortstop is a position at which such hitting is extremely rare, plus a hitter posting the exact same line while playing league-average defense at each position is more valuable defensively at short. So Tom Tango has created a list of position adjustments ranging from adding 12.5 runs for catchers to subtracting 17.5 runs for designated hitters.
Add it all up, and you have a total figure: Run Value, the total number of runs above replacement adjusted for position, ballpark and factoring in most areas of defense (arm strength and catching are not factored in yet). Divide by 10, and you get Win Value. Multiply by the value Major League teams gave a win during the previous offseason, and you get an incredibly fun and useful tool.
- Albert Pujols, 9.0
- Chase Utley, 8.2
- Chipper Jones, 7.6
- Hanley Ramirez, 7.3
- David Wright, 7.2
- Lance Berkman, 7.0
- Grady Sizemore, 7.0
- Mark Teixeira, 6.8
- Dustin Pedroia, 6.6
- Manny Ramirez, 6.5
That certainly doesn't seem off. The general consensus among statheads after the MVP votes was Pujols was the runaway winner in the NL, while among players on contending teams, Pedroia and Joe Mauer were neck-and-neck. Mauer's at 5.7, but remember that catcher defense isn't factored in, and Mauer is considered a very good defensive catcher. We'll get more into how Pedroia gathered such a gaudy ranking in a bit.
I think these are the best single value metric for evaluating a player on the internet today. I’d use a player’s Win Value number to describe his total performance before I used anything else.
A comprehensive statistic that looks at offense, defense and baserunning, adjusts for league average, ballpark and position, and expresses that value in the most basic of all baseball currency: the win. Imagine that.
|C||Jason Varitek||$5.9 million||$9 million||-$3.1 million|
|1B||Kevin Youkilis||$25.1 million||$3 million||+$22.1 million|
|2B||Dustin Pedroia||$29.6 million||$450,000||+$29.25 million|
|SS||Julio Lugo||$4.2 million||$9 million||-$4.8 million|
|3B||Mike Lowell||$15.6 million||$12 million||+$3.6 million|
|LF||Manny Ramirez||$12.7 million||$20 million||-$7.3 million|
|CF||Jacoby Ellsbury||$15.7 million||$400,000||+$15.3 million|
|RF||J.D. Drew||$20.2 million||$14 million||+$6.2 million|
|DH||David Ortiz||$9.3 million||$12.5 million||-$3.2 million|
|SS/3B||Jed Lowrie||$7.9 million||$400,000||+$7.5 million|
|CF||Coco Crisp||$4.9 million||$4.75 million||+$150,000|
|LF||Jason Bay||$2.3 million||$2 million||+$300,000|
|SS||Alex Cora||$3.4 million||$2 million||$1.4 million|
|C||Kevin Cash||$1.7 million||$400,000||$1.3 million|
- The Sox had three players whose performance was worth at least $20 million — Pedroia, Youkilis and Drew. Pedroia compiled his massive numbers by earning 30.4 batting runs, 8.9 fielding runs, playing so often he got a 24.2 replacement adjustment, and added another 2.4 runs by being a second baseman. He simply did everything well and rarely took a day off. Youkilis was even better with the bat: 36.2 runs, with 7.3 fielding runs, but the position adjustment knocked him back some. Likewise, Drew's lost time cost him in batting runs and replacement adjustment (where he only received 15.2 runs, but his fielding was stellar (9.3), and his bat was still worth more than 2.5 wins above average.
- Jacoby Ellsbury was the Sox' fourth-most valuable hitter. Say what? Yes, he had an 87 OPS+, but his baserunning boosts his batting runs to average — 0.4. His defense was insane: 17.5 runs above average in center, where he was excellent, and left, where he was astonishing. All that time in left actually cost him 3.2 runs, and he still finished better than a win above average and 3.5 wins above replacement level.
- Among the regulars, Julio Lugo was the least valuable Red Sox hitter — worth less than one win above replacement level (good thing for the Sox his replacement was 7.5 runs above average), and worth less than half of what he was paid. Coco Crisp, despite his season-ending hot streak, was nearly as awful. Most interesting: His -5.6 on defense. Doesn't really make +1.1 bat worth it, does it? That Ramon Ramirez trade is looking better and better.
- For the record, the Sox only had one player with significant playing time so bad he should have given back his salary: Mark Kotsay, who was 0.7 runs below replacement and worth -$300,000.
- Among their most prevalent hitters, the Sox received $159.3 million of value over a team stocked entirely with league-minimum-earning 4A players. They paid $90.7 million, a difference of $68.6 million.
Now the Yankees:
|C||Jose Molina||-$300,000||$1.75 million||-$2.05 million|
|1B||Jason Giambi||$11.9 million||$21 million||-$9.1 million|
|2B||Robinson Cano||$1.8 million||$3 million||-$1.2 million|
|SS||Derek Jeter||$15.9 million||$20 million||-$4.1 million|
|3B||Alex Rodriguez||$27.6 million||$27 million||+$600,000|
|LF||Johnny Damon||$17.4 million||$13 million||+$4.4 million|
|CF||Melky Cabrera||-$700,000||$500,000||-$1.2 million|
|RF||Bobby Abreu||$5 million||$16 million||-$11 million|
|DH||Hideki Matsui||$3.6 million||$13 million||-$9.4 million|
|1B/3B||Wilson Betemit||-$1.4 million||$1.2 million||-$2.6 million|
|RF||Xavier Nady||$3.2 million||$3.35 million||+$115,000|
|C/DH||Jorge Posada||$3.4 million||$13.1 million||-$9.7 million|
|CF||Brett Gardner||$2.5 million||$400,000||+$2.1 million|
|C||Ivan Rodriguez||-$100,000||$4 million||-$4.1 million|