Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Soriano: More Bullets for the Dead Horse

David Golebiewski over at Fangraphs wrote an excellent examination of Alfonso Soriano the other day. He does an excellent job breaking down sabermetric warning signs with regards to the aging left fielder. It's worth the reading:

In most cases, we wouldn't look at a couple years of UZR ratings and connect the dots like it was some quadratic equation. It's wiser to try to establish a trend line over several years because fielding is such an amorphous statistical pursuit. However, Golebiewski's observations (i.e. Soriano's downward slope in UZR over the last years) coincides to well with his (1) age, (2) injuries, and (3) steals.

On a similar note, Will and I were talking about MLB markets for talent. Over at SBNation's DRaysBay, they were just discussing the same thing. It's about the Rays, but there's a lot of universal stuff in there:

Basically, it says: as much as we may love one element of baseball (power hitting, steals, defense, starting pitching), the market will determine which one is being sold at a premium. In that same spirit, I looked up some old articles from the 2006-'07 free agency period and found this great one at Baseball Analysts:

It basically shows that in the same year that we re-signed Aramis Ramirez for $15M a year, we signed an
equally good batter who was older and of a lesser important position in Soriano -- for $18M per year! Granted, he was coming off a season in which our best sabermetrics indicated he was worth $22M (his BABIP was not out of norm, his defense in LF was solid, his sample size was full, etc.), but to say it was a freak season (i.e. completely out of line with his career) is the beginning of an understatement. In other words, we let the market screw us.



  1. The other factor that you have to consider in accounting for one player's salary versus another is something that I was told back in college. I had a professor that called in AITS dollars. Meaning how much money is player x worth just because he will get Asses In The Seats. Soriano in all his glory was at the time a well known popular player when the Cubs signed him. And even though Ramirez statistically was just as good if not better than Soriano, Soriano will get asses in the seats, jersey's sold and other means of revenue to the club. All of this combined would make him monetarily more valuable to the club as business than Aramis Ramirez.

  2. Excellent point, TJ, and something that Will and I are looking to account for at some point this offseason -- a sort of wholistic economic impact study of popular players. However, most case studies indicate that team profit is directly proportional to the team's success. Fans would rather spend that money on a Cutler jersey if the Cubs suck (essentially).