Monday, July 11, 2011

Can money buy you glove? Bat? Anything?

Seeing as the MLB All Star Break has arrived, it seems like a good idea to write something that either summarizes the first chunk of the season or previews the second chunk.  Since I seem to be terrible at predicting baseball outcomes (see my post predicting the division standings for a nice example), I’ll try my hand at looking back at results from the first ninety-some games of the season.  And since everybody loves to hate athletes who get paid exorbitant amounts of money to play children’s games, let’s see how good of a team can be assembled from the most highly paid players at each position.

The All-Salary Team
Below is a list of the highest-paid players at each defensive position, along with a full complement of starting pitchers (no one cares about bench players and relievers, anyway).  The first dollar amount next to each player is their actual salary for 2011, and the second dollar amount is the amount of money that they could expect to earn based on their statistics this season if their performance thus far carries into the second half.  Those numbers are based on their Wins Above Replacement (WAR) as computed by
C              Joe Mauer                              $23 million              -$2.9 million
1B            Mark Teixeira                        $23.1 million            $22.92 million
2B            Chase Utley                           $15.3 million            $23.6 million
3B            Alex Rodriguez                     $32 million               $34.1 million
SS            Derek Jeter                             $14.8 million            $8.3 million
OF            Vernon Wells                        $26.6 million            $1.3 million
OF            Carlos Beltran                       $19.3 million            $26.8 million
OF            Carlos Lee                             $19 million              $11.3 million

P            CC Sabathia                            $24.3 million            $37.8 million
P            Johan Santana                         $21.6 million            $0.0 (has not played due to injury)
P            Roy Halladay                          $20 million               $41 million
P            Carlos Zambrano                    $18.8 million            $13.4 million
P            Barry Zito                               $18.5 million            $4.6 million (has only started 6 games)

Sum:                                                     $276.3 million           $222.1 million

Some things I noticed:

1. FanGraphs’ system for assigning how much money a person should make is a little out of whack (see Halladay, Roy).

2. As a point of reference, the Yankees lead the majors in salary with $201 million.  Of course, this is with 12 more players than the above team, so a full roster with super-salaries would cost a bit more like $400 million (which, when you think about it, really isn’t THAT much higher than the Yankees’ when you consider that even the bench players would cost $15 mil)

3. I was shocked to discover that Cliff Lee’s 5-year / $120 million and Jayson Werth’s 7-year / $126 million contracts offer them only $11 and $10 million in 2011, so they weren't on this team.  So Nationals fans can feel a little better about themselves this time around.

4. A-Rod is hitting a comparatively “meh” .295 with 13 homers and 52 RBI’s this season, but because of what has apparently been his best defensive season since 2003, he’s doing great.  Go figure.

5.  Johan Santana vs. Roy Halladay:  Go Phils.

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