The Baseball Graphs Blog
Monday, November 27, 2006
Updated Win Shares
I’ve updated the Win Shares files in the baseball graphs FTP section. The files now include all historical Win Shares, including 2006. There are three Excel spreadsheets:
- Win Shares by team
- Win Shares by player per season
- Win Shares by player per team per season
The data covers two Excel sheets, which makes it hard to look at all the data at once. So I’ve also included a CSV file with all player/team/seasons broken out. This file can be imported into Access.
You can download the files at ftp://ftp.baseballgraphs.com/winshares
These files are provided as a public service. If you have questions or see problems with the data (which wouldn’t surprise me at all), leave a comment.
Update (11:22 CST): Found a couple of mistakes (incorrect player labels). Corrected.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Ryan Howard and Justin Morneau were crowned the Most Valuable Players in their respective leagues. Neither choice was particularly insightful, but neither choice was terrible, either. I would have voted for Carlos Beltran in the National League, with Howard probably third on my ballot behind Albert Pujols. Still, if you want to vote for a guy who hits 58 home runs, I won’t complain.
The choice of Morneau is less defensible, but not horrible. Good buddy Aaron Gleeman makes the case that Morneau wasn’t even the most valuable player on his own team, but once you accept that baseball writers simply aren’t going to choose a pitcher for MVP (unless he’s a lights-out reliever), the choice of Morneau over Mauer becomes defensible. Not right, mind you, just defensible. After all, the guy did lead his team in batting WPA by a good margin. As JP says, While Morneau’s selection was a head scratcher, it wasn’t even in the top five greatest injustices (according to Win Shares) in the past twenty years.
But something truly inexplicable and horrendous happened yesterday; the sort of thing that makes you throw up your hands in disgust. Word is that the Dodgers are about to sign Juan Pierre to a five-year deal worth $44 million—just about $9 million a year. I know that this is the year of outrageously paid free agents, but this signing is just terrible no matter what other players are receiving.
I know a lot of people feel differently, but I actually understand the outrageous Soriano contract of $17 million a year for eight years. I mean, it’s clearly outrageous, but I understand the underlying economics that led to it. The Pierre deal is different. It’s the result of not understanding what makes baseball players and teams successful.
He was two Win Shares Above Bench last year, and one the year before. Even if you apply my Net Wins Shares Value findings (which you shouldn’t, at least not without a lot of other considerations), Pierre is worth $4 million a year, at most.
Salary inflation results in outrageous salaries for really good players, but it doesn’t justify bad judgement.
Monday, November 20, 2006
The Tribune Company is for Sale
Reports are that the Cubs signed Alfonso Soriano to an outrageous contract: $136 million for eight years, or $17 million a year. The dollars are amazing, but the it’s the length of this contract that astounds me. Soriano will be 38 when his contract is up, and the years from 33 years old through 38 years old will represent enormous risk for the Tribune Company, or more likely someone else.
The Cubs are indeed owned by the Tribune Company, which is up for sale. The latest I’ve heard is that observers are unsure if the Tribune Company will split up its businesses or sell them altogether, but the Trib, and the Cubs, are most definitely for sale.
This may be the most amazing thing of all. A company on the block is committing itself to long-term contracts on a riotous scale. I’ve been involved in several mergers and acquisitions, and I’m struck by two things:
- Companies don’t commit themselves to long-term contracts when they are up for sale. They assume buyers don’t want to take on long-term risk.
- If they do sign long-term commitments, they usually have an accepted bid and are going through due diligence with a buyer, in which case they touch base with the buyer before making the commitment.
Which leads me to believe one of two things is happening here:
- The Tribune Company has a strong prospective buyer for the Cubs, or…
- The Cubs are worth more with Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez under long-term contracts than with cash in the balance sheet.
Last I heard, there were two strong prospective buyers for the Tribune Company but neither one was exactly into due diligence. Of course, I’m not a part of the business circle. I just know what I read.
In the end, I believe the Tribune Company thinks that signing Soriano and Ramirez will increase the value of the Cubs (and the Tribune Company). Otherwise, you wouldn’t see these deals happening on the North Side. As outrageous as they seem, these contracts may actually be good for business. And if that’s true, it puts these outrageous free agent salaries in an entirely different perspective.
UPDATE: Maury Brown has an article covering this precise topic in today’s Baseball Prospectus. Maury essentially thinks that the Trib just doesn’t care as much about saving money as they used to, since they won’t own the Cubs in the future. I think he’s misreading the situation. My guess is that the value of the Cubs is probably uppermost in the minds of Trib executives.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Holy Cow, Sean Forman
You could find boxscores on the Retrosheet site in the past, but Sean (the proprietor of Baseball Reference) has added several remarkable twists. In particular, he has added popup windows (click on any red text) that adds amazing context to the stats and the play-by-play. For example, this is an all-time favorite game of mine; click on Jimmy Qualls’s three at bats. Grrr….