A quickish sabermetric presentation using clips from various sources. TWIB music ends the film piece. Forgive my editing work. First video culled together.
A quickish sabermetric presentation using clips from various sources. TWIB music ends the film piece. Forgive my editing work. First video culled together.
This will be short. In honor of Baseball America’s 25 years of ranking prospects, I did an analysis on what have top 100 prospects equated to over the course of that time in terms of regular season wins.
First, 2,500 ranked prospects includes a slew of redundancy from year to year. Chipper Jones, A-Rod, Andruw Jones, and the list can (and does) go on. So this is a raw calculation on that basis. I grouped teams (26) before 1993. With Florida, Colorado, Tamp Bay, and Arizona included, this produced roughly the same R-squared (20%) for a linear analysis. Meaning wins correlated about 20% to the number of prospects a team charted by Baseball America’s yearly top 100. I took franchise wins from 1991-2013 compared it to prospects rankings of Baseball America (1990-2014) during that time:
Here’s the result:
As you can see more prospects generally helped Atlanta – the best team for over a decade – and the Boston Red Sox. ATL’s Chipper Jones, Steve Avery, Andruw Jones, Mark Wohlers, Ryan Klesko, et. al. kept the Tomahawk chop chopping. BOS Nomar Garciaparra, Carl Pavano, Trot Nixon, Hanley Ramirez, Dustin Pedrioa, Jacoby Ellsbury, et. al. challenge the Yankees once the plan came together – with luck too. The Yankees got a bunch of boost from their 1990s prospect: Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Alfonso Soriano, but they also did as they usually do – buy up other teams once gifted prospects once they hit FA market. (Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann for recent examples of the aforementioned buying spree of other teams property.)
Teams like the Cubs or Royals were not as lucky, while the Cardinals never got that many on the list, but got wins nonetheless. Is this a sign of a more effective and sound development system in place???
That said, here is some more analysis done – this time by prospect ranking versus WAR from 1990-2013 season of prospects (24 seasons):
As you can see various curves fit better than others. A study by Sky Andrecheck for draft picks through the #500 pick compared to projected WAR compares in many respects. The result: a very similar curve, but a higher exponential drop. (Makes sense. The draft is 6mo.-1-2-3 years before some prospects even rate mention as a top 100, aside from the 1st rounders. C.J. Edwards, anyone?)
…. Here I fit the model using only the first 6 year WAR as the dependent variable (a year of service was defined as 130 AB, 20 games pitched, or 50 innings pitched in a season). As you might suspect, the data follows the same form and shape of the career WAR data. As it turns out, a player’s pre-free agency WAR is almost exactly half of their career WAR. Both models are listed below:
Expected Career WAR = (21.67 + (-11.7 * pitcher) + (6.1 * college)) * selection ^ (-.54)
Expected First 6 Year WAR = (10.9 + (-5.1 * pitcher) + (3.1 * college)) * selection ^ (-.52)
Of use is to see where the linear portion takes over from the exponential, around top prospect 15. From there, the 3 regressions then meet back up at prospect pick 75. So, the top 15 are exponentially better – an inflection point in the analysis at 15. prospects rated #15-75 might get overvalued in comparison to their average WAR results; and the bottom 25 picks maybe undervalued due in part to a prospects first appearance on the list, or the nature of ranking 85 guys behind the 15 considered “can’t miss” prospects.
Andrecheck put this useful table together for the draft:
Anyways, it likely confirms the future if you are an optimistic Cubs fan as BA America has highly rated Javier Baez(#5), Kris Bryant(#8) and the aforementioned C.J. Edwards(#28) on their 2014 top 100 prospects list.
Last post, I discussed that Samardzija is a solid #2 starter based on peripherals and expected WAR. His value is about 10 WAR for two seasons – this accounted by the surplus value of his contract as an arb player for 2014 and 2015. That given this, and prospects valuation and high bust rate, the Cubs could likely garner, at their most favorable, 3-4 20-60 rated prospects in all of baseball, if we use Baseball America as the ranking schema. (Say you could land 3 guys in the 35-50 range. a top 20 would be almost a 1 to 1 trade.) And that a top 20 or higher pick is an substantial overpay for Samardzija, even with his stuff (95MPH, lots of Ks) actually being more no. 1-like.
Today, we look at potential suitors that could offer value before the 2014 season begins.
The potential teams/suitors:
Meet the Mets
The New York Met currently have a pool of interesting prospects. Noah Syndergaard landed #16 on the updated BA 2014 prospect list. Just a few days ago, Mr. Syndergaard wowed Terry Collins, his future manager with gas at 97MPH and an Uncle Charlie that batters will be bitching about come Thanksgiving. Noah’s Arc and Flamethrowing prowess alone should tell you he’s off the list – teams are all looking for that #1 pitcher, the Mets, all ready have Matt Harvey – if he comes back from injury 95% of what he was – and Zach Wheeler to front their rotation. Well, the battle for top of the rotation supremacy will come when Mr. Syndergaard makes it up mid-2014.
RHP Rafael Montero, #68, is more in the Cubs ballpark, if they could clone him 2 or 3 times. At 23, Rafael is ready to go big time after a very respectable AAA season. He’s a strike thrower; in 348 minor league innings, he’s walked just 67 batters. Even at Las Vegas last season, he was at 2.5BB/9. Not flashy, this would be a solid #3 guy in a rotation. His numbers do bare out some nice comparison to others, including the aforementioned Wheeler:
The Mets, thereafter, do have other interesting prospects: So 23-yr old LHP Steven Matz (rated #28 among lefties by Baseball America) and 23-yr old C Kevin Plawecki (#8 in BA in a strong class). Matz, another guy that went under the knife, is talented bringing a 95MPH fastball now, but it comes with the inherent question: for how long before another surgery all but ends a promising career. Plawecki, a much better offensive catcher than a defensive one (though he does/has called games), with a high contact rate (77K in 773PA and decent walks, 67) hit .294 at St. Lucie, A+ ball. With C Travis d’Arnaud still ranked the top catching prospect in the BA rankings – despite his injury-plagued career – the Mets have some luxury to trade Plawecki, if d’Arnaud takes off big. (As the Cubs have no highly-rated catching prospects – and must put all their hopes on Welington Castillo health and performance – they do fit together in this regard. And the Cubs have 3rd base prospects, aplenty – Christian Villanueva, Jeimer Candelario, Mike Olt (rebound candidate), Kris Bryant (top 10 prospect), reflecting a surplus-to-surplus swap.)
Nevertheless, all this said, the Mets are highly unlikely to part ways with much this year. They are not expected to compete in 2014 for playoffs. So, unless another miracle hits Broadway, the Shark ain’t flying close to New York except on a Cubs game day. 2015 is the time when the Mets will be dangerous…
Toronto too has some nice prize pitching. Seems they do a lot of the time – as Mr. Noah Syndergaard was drafted in the 1st round by Toronto. Aaron Sanchez (#32) and Marcus Stroman (#55) are in the range and type of equal value the Cubs would look for in a trade. Toronto, after once again finishing out of the money in their division, hasn’t made much noise in the offseason as Alex Anthopoulos, senior VP and GM, has to see the hand for 2014 being about staying pat with the very expensive talent. All the teams in the division – New York spend 1/2 a BILLION, the Red Sox reloaded the gun some, the Orioles swapped around some players and payroll, and the Rays…are just managed better from the GM down to field.
The Blue Jays top man has these dilemmas: 2014 payroll is $131.8 million. 2015 payroll for just 5 of those players: $77million plus Ricky Romero at $7.5M. 15 players are over 30 on the team – and aren’t going anywhere until after 2015 season. So only if Alex is crazy, should he give up his two best pitching prospects -when RA Dickey is nearly my age and Mark Buehrle, mister consistency, has to have some possibility of falling victim to father time even with Canada’s healthcare system. After 2015, Alex has the freedom to explore other options. Canada’s last team may well finish last again.
Baltimore, another AL East contender, has attempted to build up to compete – SP Ubaldo Jimenez, SP Suk-Min Yoon and OF/DH Nelson Cruz added – but it will come down to the current roster of stars/every day players like Machado, Davis, Markakis, Jones, Weiters, and Hardy to provide the impetus to move up. Their window for successful playoff appearance may be closing due to finances: as Chris Davis will be getting paying $15-18M in 2015 in arbitration and then off to free agency and Nick Markakis team option of $17.5M will pay Chris Davis for 2015. Their current rotation is iffy, but that’s where the prospects come in.
Baltimore too is sitting on three prospects; RHPs Dylan Bundy (#15) Kevin Gausman(#20) and LHP Eduardo Rodriguez(#65). Bundy had TJ in June 2013 – in essence – he’s ripe for a comeback in late July or August, just as a potential pennant maybe shaping up. Gausman has been highly rated, without a large track record (97 IP in the minors) and getting a rude awakening to MLB hitters in his first 5 starting outings with 7 long balls. Thereafter, he worked pretty well out of the bullpen with 95MPH stuff, but lacking consistency with his offspeed stuff. 20-year old Rodriguez pitched at AA Bowie and struck out more guys(8.9 K/9) and so, he’s thought of as #6 rated LHP by Baseball America in a weak group.
But the Orioles as a small market team really can’t afford to take a two-year position on Samardzija unless they are more certain than not on playoffs and their game plan is to sign Shark at full market price (extension 5/$75M+ likely). But June/July 2014 could change this: if the Orioles are ahead, and Bundy is not progressing as well, but not having setbacks either, or Gausman is doing a Samardzija impersonation: young talented arm, but will take another couple of years to get it all figured out. Then, these two teams align a bit better. Still the market for pitching is always slim it seems…and less affluent teams have to hang on to their assets.
The Mariners are ripe for a trade.
With Seattle’s owner Hiroshi Yamauchi death last year, this franchise is in upheaval as the manager Eric Wedge was let go early after a miserable season. The front office went large – signing Robinson Cano for $240 million – even as reports have it that GM Jack Zduriencik is less-than-savvy at the sabermetric ways, quote:
The sources question Zduriencik’s credentials to properly build a roster, saying he sold Lincoln and Armstrong on hiring him five years ago with a job application package prepared not by him, but by recently dismissed Mariners special assistant Tony Blengino.
Usually too, after a long-time owner dies, the caretaker FO (Howard Lincoln et. al.) attempt to flip the team onto the market. They buy up player assets, promote it as a top team, especially after getting it to the playoffs. At least, that is the hope.
Seattle has been forever sleeping on baseball. The recent successes of Seahawks in the Super Bowl must Mariners sting a bit, if you are a entertainment dollar competitor. This said, for the Mariners to succeed in 2014, and supplant Texas or Oakland, or even the LA story, they need more talent added to drive up that ask for the team in 2015 or beyond. Cano is not getting any younger, after all.
Money seems to be an limiting issue, ironically, if they don’t want spend it on the remaining difference maker left. Here are some active remaining Free Agents to fill out the team:
Vernon Wells (35)
Given additions of 2B/SS Willie Bloomquist, Fernando Rodney (closer), 1B/RF Corey Hart, and RHP Scott Baker (minor), it leaves on to wonder who the Mariners are looking for at what price other than cheap. They finished at 71-91 last year, but should have by Pythagorean W-L: 67-95. So even if they get 8WAR from Cano, and things go really well elsewhere with Kyle Seager and Michael Saunders and Dustin Ackley, they are likely around 81 wins. Their problem is that Hisashi Iwakuma just had a injury that could be 4-6 weeks from a healing. Does that cost them his All-Star production? You bet.
Their current depth chart of starters:
So, the Mariners need a hotline friend to bail out Jack from jail of his own making. The Cubs have four pieces worthy of trade discussion: Jeff Samardzija, Nate Schierholtz, Justin Ruggiano, and Junior Lake. Schierholtz fills an RF need and has an average lefty bat (wRC+ 101). As Seattle have OF issues, this would offer them a RF platoon option for Corey Hart (who hasn’t played in the MLB since 2012). CF/LF Justin Ruggiano has a right hand bat that works well against lefty pitching in his career, slugging over .500. Lake is a youthful RH hitter that kills lefties during his brief tenure in the bigs and he offers raw ability in LF and CF that could improve with time.
Logan Morrison is either 1B/LF who might split with Justin Smoak assuming the long jam Jack created isn’t settled there too. The overriding problem is that they have guys that can hit righties -in Morrison, Michael Saunders, and Justin Smoak, but struggle mightily against lefties. And they have a bevy of lefty hitters: Cano, Seager, Ackley, Miller, Saunders, Morrison, plus Smoak is a switch hitter than might as well be a lefty full-time. Nick Franklin and Abraham Almonte are switch hitters – both with better splits as lefty hitters.
This very weird lefty love is somewhat due to the nature of Safeco Field. In part, it is pitcher friendly, especially against RH power guys, going back to the Adrian Beltre/Richie Sexson days. But you can’t win games against lefty pitchers (31.5% of their starts) with a lineup with this glaring weakness. They batted .227/.293/.367 against lefties; .242/.311/.400 against the righties. They need a right-hand bat. (Franklin Gutierrez hit lefties well – he’s likely gone for the 2014 season.)
|Chicago White Sox||1154||0.288||0.655||0.243||2.10%||6.60%||19.60%|
Meanwhile, the Cubs don’t need to be too worried about Ruggiano, or even Lake, if the prospect flood promised is coming in 2015. That will fix their lefty split problem seen above in 2013.
The Mariners have some interesting pieces: LHP James Paxton, LHP Danny Hultzen, 2B Nick Franklin, C Jesus Montero, and LHP Luiz Gohara to name a few not RHP Taijuan Walker, likely untouchable. Paxton was rated (#99) in the Baseball America list and #9 as a LHP prospect. In his September call up, his fastball velocity around 95MPH (98 top) in all 4 starts where he through 95-97 pitches for 5-7 innings. In short, a lefty with gas – but some control issues. Age is 25 – but are the Cubs developing 95MPH throwing lefties?
LHP Danny Hultzen is another promising pitcher who just went under the knife for shoulder (repair damage in his labrum, capsule, and partially torn rotator cuff) in October 2013. It’s a shoulder, not a good sign, many guys never come back. So here’s a guy with no likelihood of pitching until 2015, if then. But, the Cubs took a trade flier on Arodys Vizcaino in 2012. Here it is 2014. So, Danny Hultzen is more of a throw-in and hope for the best piece. From Lookout Landing, A Seattle Blog:
Nothing worked out according to plan regarding Danny Hultzen, other than him being a very good pitcher when he pitched.
2B/SS Nick Franklin has a rough first season in Seattle, first doing ok, then a slump in August, then a partial rebound. Now, he’s out of a job (Cano), and available in trade from MLB Trade Rumors. At 23, this March, Franklin has value even to the Cubs. He is capable of playing 2B as the Cubs fans might of had their fill of Darwin Barney, whose glove is good, but his bat is not getting better (Franklin was better 5-6 year younger). As a lefty, Franklin hit 11 home runs. And while the Cubs are stocking up on RH mashers (Baez, Bryant, Soler, Almora), they need just a bit of balance in the future (Arismendy Alcantara and Franklin are switch guys).
Last is C Jesus Montero. He was recently called out by GM Jack for his ballooning up by 40 lbs.
“We are disappointed in how he came in physically,” Zduriencik said bluntly.
That disinterest in conditioning in the offseason didn’t do much change the minds of people who have been skeptical of Montero’s work ethic. It certainly didn’t inspire Zduriencik, who was clearly unhappy with the situation.
“It’s up to him,” Zduriencik said. ” I have zero expectations for Jesus Montero. Any expectations I had are gone.”
It’s a far cry from when Montero was expected to be serious offensive contributor when they acquired him from the Yankees before the 2012 season. In 2012, Montero hit .260 with 15 homers and 62 RBI in 135 games. It seemed to be decent start to be a big league career. But now it’s seems to be headed backward at a pace much faster than Montero running the bases.
Understandably, he’s a flier. He needs a new home. At 24, from Guacara, Carabobo, Venezuela he would be someone you try to mold back to a respectable MLB backup catcher, with power.
Luis Gohara was a 16 in Rookie ball. But you gotta like 5 years from now if he’s developed right. Jack won’t be around the front office in five years if the Mariners don’t win this year or next much.
Plausible trade: Samardzija and Lake/Ruggiano for Paxton, Hultzen, Franklin, Montero, Gohara. Seattle gets a solid #2 pitcher – to take stress off Walker – who can be a #1 against #4 starters daily. Ruggiano for Franklin in the batting order. Seattle has a versatile OF with potential to balance their lineup card. Franklin and Paxton could flame out – but the Shark value is satisfied if they are only 1-2 WAR players for 3-4 seasons. Hultzen is a flier. Montero one too. Gohara is a long way from a finished product – so its potential more in 2018.
Pittsburgh and Texas: Pittsburgh is inter-division and James Taillon and Tyler Glasnow are not pieces they should trade. They spent enough years at the bottom, and don’t want that position again. Texas should buy more arms…or less trades with the Cubs or Tigers.
The Mariners get a 2-3-4 WAR pitcher in a ballpark suited to Shark’s abilities. A righty in Justin Ruggiano that might balance their offense and can play passable outfield in all 3 fields. The Cubs get 2 good pieces – Franklin and Paxton – that can do plenty towards the future if they meet and achieve their talent levels, never a certainty. Hultzen and Montero are fliers for the future – with both having to overcome and persevere going forward. Gohara too is a long shot – that won’t hurt Seattle for years if ever, nor benefit the Cubs by 2018, if ever. It’s a balance in trades.
Many will say the Cubs got took – but they will lose Samardzija unless they meet his price or demands by 2015′s end. And he’ll be over 30. Some will say the Mariners got the burn – because they lose Franklin and Paxton who might be 4-5 years of solid performance. So who blinks?
The talk I hear most often in regards to players, most recently from fans, is: “He’s 30. He no longer worth the long-term investment going forward.” It perplexes me how jaded some have become about 30-year old players. The march of time is relevant, don’t get me wrong, but it seems we just like to shoot the horse after he just won the race (making it to his prime.)
Its well known that most production in a player will take place before he hits the round age of 30. And that his most expensive rate happens as he matures as a ballplayer and hits free agency. So, most MLB offices are looking to save cash by signing them in the early days of their WAR best years, with contracts ending right around 30-31. (Assuming a 6-8 year contract, and the front office guys buy out a couple of years of arbitration and 1-2 free agent years below market prices.) So, that’s the model.
This graph below reflects the top-tier players since 1901 WAR production. Data collected courtesy of Fangraphs (for WAR) and Lahman’s database for ages (to calculate age: Birth date – 4/15/xx, Robinson’s debut date.)
Roger Hornsby, Melt Ott , Al Kaline, and Ty Cobb were the youngest 5WAR hitters on this graphic. Bob Feller, Doc Gooden, Gary Nolan, Milt Pappas and Bert Blyleven were the babes on the pitchers list. On the other end, over 40, when father time is ticking fast on a career, guys like Cy Young, Nolan Ryan, Warren Spahn, Randy Johnson, Tom Seaver, and Greg Maddux all defied the convention that 40 is it. Only three batters – Honus Wagner, Luke Appling and Carlton Fisk – did the trick of 40 being just a number.
Pitchers, in general, were able to put up 4.0 WAR (ace-like production) after 35 a bit easier than the slugging hitter. I suspect, that hurlers adapt better to those days without their best stuff, decreasing velocity (location masters like Maddux), and using their encyclopedic knowledge of both hitters and the art of throwing balls by the eager folks with sticks. If they have survived this long, the prospect of a so-so day, or guys on base, matters less. The salty vet has a few tricks left, and can rely on it, in a pinch. Batters: its about reflexes, timing, vision, and rhythm, as much as it always is. Their knowledge helps – but a young gun with 95MPH+ or those balls hit are just a little less powerful, or their legs and back are slowing them up too much on the field.
These guys over 30 still generate approximately 32-35% of the high quality WAR. It’s still possible to get good performance until 35. The HOF career player gives you a little more, thereafter.
Chief Bender, Bob Feller and Bert Blyleven were prodigies. All put up 3+WAR well below 20 years of age. Bryce Harper, Ty Cobb, Willie Mays, and Mel Ott were the less than 20 guys with a great feel for the game, providing starting stuff before they could drink (based on 21 today.) Clown questions are often asked of these young men: how did you get so good? Do you think you can play until 35, and be Babe Ruth or Cy Young? At this age, no one knows their future.
Ted Williams ended his career past 40 with a home run. Rickey Henderson was being Rickey and stealing bases past the mid-life crisis point. Davey Lopes, another speed merchant, put up a nice 2.45 WAR over 40. Stan the Man, Dave Winfield, Barry Bonds and Hammering Hank Aaron got some more dingers to finish out their Homeric runs. Even with all the ‘roids, it didn’t lengthen careers of the modestly successful much. No unusually 2+WAR players exist.
Pitchers, again, last well past north Dallas and 40. The Ryan Express flew until 45. Charlie Hough and Jamie Moyer both threw under 80MPH, and somehow got their sons out. Tommy John, the arm didn’t fall off past 40. Clemens, Paige, Perry, Niekro, and the list goes on to Mariano Rivera, the sandman, finally slept in 2013.
|WAR (4P – 5B)||10,384||12,663|
The game is not over at 30. Sure, you don’t want 5 or 10 players pushing the 35-40 age group regularly on your team. Father time will run out on your playoff hopes. But, a few fellas can and will surprise, and so, the assessment of health, and contract flexibility must be taken together. It’s a risk; but a guy can put up some respectable numbers, especially if he once was the youngest star on the field.
Much has been said about the recent roulette spins the Cubs find themselves making. The gambles on lower investment, one-year players to be flip at the trade deadline. The international hunt for October players tied to the youthful, high-potential, but high-bust rates found in offshore haunts. The minor league rebuild project that Theo & Jed have stocked directly from the aging carcasses of players once known as Cubs. And now, the final remaining vestige of the 2008 Cubs is one Jeff Samardzija. The front office is prepared for the final bet on black, spinning the Shark, or jumping the Shark, as the case maybe.
So, what is the Shark’s true valuation? Is he promotable as a #1 arm? And given that 2 years of control, what is he worth in trade pieces back? And finally, who should the Cubs target?
Looking at the 2013 season, 56 pitchers were ranked above 2.5 WAR in the MLB, according to Fangraphs. 21 were above 4.0 WAR, for the study, defined as an Ace. #2 starters were 35 remaining arms (4 relievers posted above 2.5 WAR.) Thereafter, 22 pitchers generated a 1.8-2.4 WAR, this is your average #3 pitcher.
The table below shows the averages of various metrics and standard deviations for important pitching categories.
|2013 Pitcher Type||fWAR(avg)||IP(avg)||xFIP(avg)||K/9(avg)||BB/9(avg)||HR/9(avg)|
|Ace (21 >=4WAR)||5.0||208.5||3.22||8.67||2.30||0.70|
|2013 Pitcher Type||fWAR(dev)||IP(dev)||xFIP(dev)||K/9(dev)||BB/9(dev)||HR/9(dev)|
|Ace (21 >=4WAR)||0.83||17.9||0.41||1.34||0.64||0.20|
|Ace (+1 S.D.)||5.86||226.4||2.81||10.01||1.66||0.50|
|#2 (+1 S.D.)||3.51||211.1||3.30||8.75||1.98||0.62|
|#3 (+1 S.D.)||2.29||191.2||4.30||8.05||3.39||1.22|
|Class of Pitcher||#2||#1||#2||#1||#3||#3|
As you can see, Aces throw more IP, with more K’s, better walk rates, and substantial better HR/rate differential than #2 pitchers. (Standard deviation though for both classes was .2HR/9IP.) None of this is surprising. The bigger question though is: to see group Samardzija actually falls in.
Shark does not rate well on two important factors: HR/9 and BB/9. Meanwhile, the innings and K rates rate as ace-like. What this basically shows he’s got characteristics of 3 levels of pitchers: ace velocity/stuff (K rate) and ability to throw innings; a low #3 starter on walking (-1 S.D.) and #3 level for HR rate (1.05 is below average for a #3). His xFIP is good enough to be in the class of a #2.
So, Shark is, at best, a solid #2 starter. He is projected as a 3.1 WAR using Fangraphs Steamer, this is contrary to prior statistics as he seems incapable of reducing his home run rate or his walk rate down to ace-like levels. His BABIP (.314) hurt him slightly (.290 for the league) in 2013 while his GB rate (48.2%) does bode well. Shark’s 71.7 LOB% is below what aces typically average 76.0+/-3.5%, but more like #2-3 starters.
And so what is a #2 starter now worth to a team in the hunt?
If Samardzija is traded before the season starts, his reasonably expected contribution for two years should be at 5.5-6.0 WAR (65%), with an outside probability of 8.0WAR(20%) and 2.5 WAR(15%) if an injury should take place, like Tommy John, losing a year. This produces a weighted average (risk adjusted) of 5.7WAR.
The cost to receive this rate will be around 35% of the free agent price level in year 5, and 50% of free agent price in year 6, if we set WAR at $6.1M/WAR. As Shark has a short track record of success, his WAR base will be 2.5 and 3.5 for those seasons. Recently, Samardzija was valued at $5.35M – my rough 2014 calculation at 35%2.5(eWAR)6.1M equals 5.338M. His 2015 value at 3.5WAR would be roughly $10.675M, which lines up to the high side with Jeff Sullivan’s recent article that mentions Shark’s 2015 arbitration number. (These too are just working projections and would take a different model to work up right.)
From there, you can look at the yearly calculations run based on probable performance scenarios. Ace Jeff was set at 20% outcome. This is fair, if you think he’s capable of such a move up. Normal Jeff is at 65%. This is due to his steady enough nature velocity wise and the lack of overall hard miles on the arm. Injured Jeff was put at 15%. Baseball Prospectus did a study on injury factors. Jeff, never being hurt, would be about a 4.9% likelihood for injury, but for the fact he threw 3,425 pitches in 2013 and according to Pitcher Injury Factors, had some slight spikes in errant release point late in the season. This increases his likelihood of injury. So I padded the number to 15% based on this paragraph:
To give you some estimate of the effect that might have, imagine that a pitcher went from 3000 pitches in a season to 3300 (the equivalent of going from 30 starts with 100 pitches per start to 110 pitches per start). The increased chance of a DL visit is on the order of a couple of percentage points. Given that the baseline rate for a pitcher who is not previously injured is 4.9 percent, that’s not trivial. Managers, please see to it that your pitchers never throw another pitch.
|$/WAR on FA Market||$ 6,100,000|
|Extension @2.5 WAR||$ 15,250,000|
|Arb Shark Salary||$5,337,500||$10,675,000||$16,012,500|
|WAR by Pitcher Type||Prob||WAR Production||Total|
|Shark’s WAR Ace||0.2||4||4||3.5||3||2.5||17|
|Shark’s (WAR) Norm||0.65||2.875||2.875||2.5||2||1.5||11.75|
|Shark’s WAR Hurt||0.15||1.5||1||2.5||2||1.5||8.5|
|Arb (Surplus Val)||Extended||AAV of Contract|
|Ace Surplus Val||$32,787,500||Ace Shark||$4,485,294|
|Norm Surplus||$19,062,500||Normal Shark||$6,489,362|
|Hurt Surplus||-$762,500||Hurt Shark||$8,970,588|
If for 2 seasons, Shark produced at “ace-like” levels of 4.0 WAR or above, his surplus value to a team is $32.8 M. This is what would be needed (above his $16.1M arbitration salary) to acquire WAR in the Free Agent market. Even “normal Jeff” has a $19.0M dollar incentive for the acquirer. This is what we are looking to get from a prospect back – value in the form of $19-33M of production, risk adjusted value (as to the probability such top prospects don’t work out – we need more to satisfy that surplus value correctly.)
If a team wants to extend him for say $15.25M for 5 seasons and he produced his ace level over that time frame, it would be well under-market rate at $4.485M. Normal Jeff though is slightly overpaid – but WAR values for free agents will rise with baseball’s inflation, making this almost a moot point. Hurt Jeff will hurt anyone.
This is the calculation the Cubs have been doing: to get him in the $60M range (expecting NORMAL Jeff), while marketing him as a 3.5+WAR per season upper tier #2 pitcher, Ace Jeff.
So what prospects could the Cubs receive?
The very best prospects have potential to generate substantially better WAR than Samardzija has to date, or will in the future. However, to identify said winners is no easy task.
I started with a logical assumption (to me): that the value of top prospects pretty much follows the same as value curve as picking the 1st year draft, ONLY amplified to reflect how much further along these players are in the process of becoming big leaguers. I looked at how to adjust this out to a level that reflects the nature of said progression. I started by selection two ideas: one was the top WAR producer for the years 1990-95 in the 1st round only of those drafts. This set the peak value (averaging those top numbers out). Call that a start point – a HOF player (74.83 WAR) is currently in the minor league top prospect bin. I almost guarantee it. The goal is to find this gem.
The second, was to find a curve that models the decline from this hidden HOF star down to the 300th best prospect in the minors, a guy who is in the top 6.7% of the entire minor league pool of (say 4,500?), but isn’t that special compared to 750 big leaguers (he could have 4-1WAR years). I found that with this 2009 study by Sky Andrecheck, titled, “Draft Picks and Expected Wins Above Replacement“. To me, it just reflects the pyramid of the talent pool getting smaller, while the expected value increases. And it makes some sense: about 10-15 guys will make substantive impacts per season in the majors (1 per two teams) – while maybe another 40 will get to stay on due to natural turnover of talent. Older players leaving, and injuries. Tom Tango commented on the analysis, so it can’t be that off.
Sky’s model baseline formula was this:
WAR= a * (selection#)^ b, where a and b are the parameters of the model.
Running a non-linear regression, we find those parameters equal to a=19.8 and b=-.50. The model fits very well as you can see from the graph [below].
Replace selection # with prospect ranking, and the graph appears like this:
My Top prospect shift (to the right) garnered this graph, which is truncated some for easier insertion.
I feel the Cubs have secure about 10WAR to break even on this trade. That which is lost (Samardzija at 5.71 expected WAR) + a 4.25 WAR premium based on the most likely positive scenarios of value surplus at $25.9M average or 4.25 WAR. (15% injury risk premium – he gets hurt – is born by the acquirer. It is a sport.)
So to get 10WAR, you could just say a mid-50s prospect with a 100% success rate will accomplish it, but that is implausible; and also ignores the slim chance he does that in just 6 control years.
No, a scenario that likely gives you what you want has to be the success rate for a prospect class times the expected average WAR for that group. Something like this – although, the success rate is something to discuss.
|Tier||Prospects||Avg. WAR*Success Rate||Success Rate|
In short, the Cubs could feasible ask for four 15-60 mid-tier prospects, if a team actually had that number and wanted to part ways. (No one does – so that means you have to barter some.) But the likely reason no one wants to give up a top tier prospect for Samardzija is that it is an OVERPAY. Two prospects is really hard to swallow – a top 15 plus a top 60 would be a 5WAR differential to the Cubs. Yet, if someone is desperate, they may overpay later at mid-season, assuming Shark is healthy and doing well. So too, the injury risk premium shifts back to the Cubs….
It takes two to tango, or gamble, as the Cubs will do.
I’d add self-sabotage. Good thoughts. Often hard to follow by one’s self. Only so much ability exists in one’s self. Limiting value that is, but I’ve never seen all this positivity work out for me. Try as one does…
Originally posted on LeadToday:
When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.” ~Honore de Balzac
There are not many obstacles bigger and more challenging for people on the road to success than the tyranny of self-doubt. It’s robs people of their ability to think clearly. It cheats them of their creativity and can paralyze them straight into the failure that they so greatly fear.