NFL playoffs are right around the corner, but ’tis the season for a jolt of baseball excitement too, as teams sign new players. The contracts are getting bigger and bigger, supported by growing MLB revenues. Some of the major signings under the tree this year (more here):
- Zack Greinke, 6 yrs, $147 million (Dodgers)
- Josh Hamilton, 5 yrs, $125 million (Angels)
- B.J. Upton, 5 yrs, $75 million (Rays)
- Anibal Sanchez, 5 yrs, $80 million (Tigers)
But before you start thinking playoffs, remember that many big deals don’t work out. Who will be nice and who will be naughty this year?
The Old Lumps of Coal
From the list above, Greinke is 29 years old, Hamilton is 31, Upton is 28, and Sanchez is 28. Not many young players are available through free agency, but are these 4 to 6 year deals for 28 to 31 year olds a good idea? I tackled this question with my friend Jeff Phillips for ESPN the Magazine in early October.
Specifically, we wondered if long deals for 30 year olds made more sense during the steroid era, when players could recover, train, and maintain more easily. There are two sides of the coin: (1) how has older player performance changed, and (2) has older player compensation evolved appropriately. We focused on players in the top quarter of the salary distribution, since that’s where the big money is spent. To measure performance, we examined average Wins Above Replacement Player (WARP)* by age during and after the steroid era:
Uh oh. Although performance for all highly paid players has gone down, older “stars” have turned out to be coal indeed. Looking year by year highlights the post-PED age decline. Average WARP for older and younger stars was remarkably similar through the steroid era, but older player WARP Continue reading
Posted in Baseball, Causal Analysis, Financial Analysis, Prediction, Trades/Free Agency
Tagged age and performance, Age and steroids, aging, aging baseball, Albert Pujols, Angel Pagan, Angels, Anibal Sanchez, average salary, B.J. Upton, baseball, contracts, David Ortiz, Detroit Tigers, ESPN The Magazine, Fielder contract too long, free agent projections, Jake Peavy, Jeff Phillips, Josh Hamilton, lumps of coal, Major League Baseball, Michael Bourn, Mike Napoli, Mitchell Report, MLB free agent market 2013, MLB free agents, MLB revenue, MLB revenue growth, Nick Swisher, older stars, Post-steroid era baseball, Prince Fielder, projected value, projections, Pujols contract, rising salaries MLB, salary distribution, Shane Victorino, Sports, Steroid era MLB, steroids and age, steroids and aging, Torii Hunter, WARP, worst contracts, worst contracts MLB, Zack Greinke
Here’s one potential career “arc” for Prince Fielder:
I call it “the Prince Heavy Side Function,” after the famous Heaviside step function. The graph above certainly has a “heavy side,” though Oliver Heaviside himself was not heavy at all.
Oliver "Not So Heavy" Heaviside
Thanks Brother Evan for suggesting the graph above!
Posted in Baseball, Humor, Trades/Free Agency
Tagged baseball, brother Evan, Detroit Tiger, Evan, Major League Baseball, Miguel Cabrera, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB, Oliver Heaviside, Prince Fielder, Prince Fielder career, Prince Fielder ffat, Prince Fielder overweight, Prince Heaviside Function, Tiger, Victor Martinez
David Schoenfield put up a fairly useless blog post about the Tigers signing Prince Fielder yesterday. It just became even more useless, as ESPN confirmed that Cabrera will shift to third base to accommodate Fielder (Schoenfield said this would never happen). I knew about this way before ESPN, thanks to Brother Evan passing along a local news link.
The real issue with Schoenfield’s post Continue reading
Posted in Baseball, Financial Analysis, Trades/Free Agency
Tagged Albert Pujols, baseball, brother Evan, Cabrera moving to third, Cabrera too fat to play third, Cabrera will play third, David Schoenfield, Detroit Tigers, ESPN, Fielder, Fielder contract too big, Fielder contract too long, Fielder signing, Los Angeles Angels, Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, Mike Ilitch dumb, MLB, Prince Fielder, Prince Fielder bad contract, Prince Fielder contract worth it, Prince Fielder too much money, Tiger, Victor Martinez, Victor Martinez ACL, Victor Martinez injury, Victor Martinez out for the year, World Series
My boyhood memories are coming back full force: Prince Fielder is coming to Detroit to play for my Tigers! Fielder’s dad Cecil (former Tigers masher) might be the most surprised, since they don’t get along. The money is huge (9 years, $214 million), but my immediate reaction had to do with the logjam at first base and DH. The thick brothers (Cabrera and Fielder) should be able to share this year (except at the buffet), but what about when Victor Martinez (the Tigers’ third best hitter) comes back from his ACL injury next year? He’s primarily a DH at this point. This signing makes me think more news is on the way. Maybe Martinez is secretly 41 years old. The Detroit Free Press is reporting that Cabrera will have to move — Fielder doesn’t want to play DH.
Is the contract reasonable? Once the details come out, some dummy will comment that Fielder won’t be worth the money at the end of the nine years. That’s not really relevant (as I’ve written before) Continue reading
Posted in Baseball, Financial Analysis, Trades/Free Agency
Tagged baseball, Cabrera is going to play third, Cabrera moves for Prince Fielder, Cabrera third base, Cecil Fielder, Detroit, Detroit can't afford Fielder, Detroit Tiger, Detroit Tigers, fat, Miguel Cabrera, Mike Ilitch, Mike Ilitch spends too much money, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB, Prince Cecil Fielder don't get along, Prince Fielder, Prince Fielder contract, Prince Fielder hates his dad, Prince Fielder signs with the Tigers, Prince Fielder Tigers, Prince Fielder too much money, Tiger, Victor Martinez, who will play first base in Detroit, who will play first base Tigers, why did Prince Fielder sign in Detroit?