We're #4! We're #4!

In perhaps an eerie forecast of our 2011 standings, the Cubs rank the 4th worst in net gain via trade (according to the Baseball-Reference's wins above replacement statistic) over the last five years. Today, Beyond the Boxscore had a nifty info-graphic, depicting the Cub's shame:

Here's a note on the methodology and why the gains do not equal the losses from the author, Chris Spurlock:

What I looked at was potential WAR lost by being traded. If Team X had kept Player Y, what WAR would they have received via that player’s performance? So the “WAR sent” ended up being the total WAR a particular player achieved after he left the trading team. For example, Mark Teixeira has accrued 19.7 WAR since leaving Texas, so I assigned 19.7 WAR sent to Texas as a result of that trade, because they lost out on those stats as a result of losing Teixeira. The “WAR received” category, on the other hand, is strictly the WAR that player put up while with the receiving team. So, because Teixeira totaled 6.3 WAR while with Atlanta, that’s the value the Braves get in WAR received. So it makes sense then that WAR sent would be much higher.
This post is not meant as a naked bashing of Jim Hendry, mind you. Mr. mb21 of Another Cubs Blog has done an excellent job over the last year of carefully dissecting Hendry's work, and the verdict is more nebulous than this graphic may appear.

Still, we've not had trades go our way lately.

UPDATE: Mr. AK in the comments makes some very knowing complaints about the info-graphic. Please do read them. They summarize as such:
These calculations have a critical flaw. I hope he works to correct it, because he's done a lot of work, but right now, it's a pretty picture, yet a pretty distorted one.

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  1. Nope, they haven't gone the Cubs way since right before the years this guy looked at. The free agent signings haven't been as good either. Makes me wonder what other influence there is that we're not seeing. It seems unlikely to me that someone can be well above average at his job for about 5 years and then well below average for the next 5. Maybe it's not unlikely. Maybe that's just life as a general manager in baseball. I don't know. Seems odd though.

  2. Excellent thoughts, mb. It makes me wonder if there was some under-the-radar front office hiring/firing 5 years ago that dramatically altered the effectiveness of the club?

    On a side note, however, commenters on BtB did not that the ESPN trade tracker may have missed some transactions -- most notably Silva for Bradley, which will likely go down in annals of history as a win for Hendry.

  3. The methodology they used for calculations is pretty bad right now. Particularly the fact that he includes all WAR compiled even after the years of player control. The Josh Hamilton trade is responsible for over 15 wins of the Cubs' deficit. That's also why the explanation for WAR sent being higher than WAR received makes no sense. WAR lost to free agency penalizes the original sending team but not the recipient. That's just awful.

    Look at the Rangers. Of course they're going to look terrible, because they're penalized for all of Gonzalez and Teixeira's WAR since they dealt them. Just imagine the giant pit they'd be in if the A-Rod trade were included in there. Sorry, but that's just not right. It doesn't give us anywhere close to an accurate picture of a trade's value.

    These calculations have a critical flaw. I hope he works to correct it, because he's done a lot of work, but right now, it's a pretty picture, yet a pretty distorted one.

  4. Sorry to pile on, but he's saying that trades have only worked in favor of ten teams in MLB. The other 10 have been screwed over. It fails the smell test from a mile away at this point.

  5. No need to apologize, AK! You're input is most prescient (and I will update accordingly)!