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Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Braves spent $40M on a reliever. Is that allowed?

The Braves just spent a chunk of money for a reliever. The $40 million Will Smith is guaranteed – the total could rise to $52 million over four seasons – isn’t a record outlay for the position, but it’s not that far off. The fourth year hinges on a club option, but the first three are for $13 million each. Aroldis Chapman, Wade Davis and Kenley Janson landed contracts at average annual values of $16-to-$17 million. Craig Kimbel will make $16 million for his next two seasons. Difference is, those guys were Brand Names.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 14, 2019 at 07:29 PM | 76 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: braves, will smith

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   1. Sweatpants Posted: November 14, 2019 at 07:56 PM (#5901248)
Is this the guy who got caught with goop on his arm against the Braves and threw a tantrum when he got ejected for it?
   2. Lars6788 Posted: November 14, 2019 at 07:58 PM (#5901249)
Is this the guy who got caught with goop on his arm against the Braves and threw a tantrum when he got ejected for it?


Yes
   3. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: November 14, 2019 at 08:19 PM (#5901254)
"Will Smith" is a much much bigger "Brand Name" than any of Kimbrel, Chapman, Davis, or Janson...
   4. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: November 14, 2019 at 08:23 PM (#5901256)
Sort of a waste for him to go to the NL East but not Philly or Miami.
   5. Darren Posted: November 14, 2019 at 08:25 PM (#5901257)
The $40 million Will Smith is guaranteed – the total could rise to $52 million over four seasons – isn’t a record outlay for the position, but it’s not that far off.


I mean, it's half the record, and that's pretty close.
   6. CFBF's Overflowing Pathos Posted: November 14, 2019 at 08:31 PM (#5901260)
The Braves are going to be paying Smith and Melancon a combined $27 million next year, which...whew boy.
   7. PreservedFish Posted: November 14, 2019 at 08:42 PM (#5901265)
It's more than the Albies extension. Which is nuts. Clearly I don't get something fundamental about the new baseball economics.
   8. QLE Posted: November 14, 2019 at 08:45 PM (#5901267)
Somehow, the Giants giving him a qualifying offer seems to be working for them. Who knew?
   9. Jose Goes to Absurd Lengths for 50K Posted: November 14, 2019 at 09:01 PM (#5901271)
That an MLB rleiever got offered and rejected 18 million for one year then signed a multi year deal almost immediately makes me think there may have been some discussion in advance.
   10. JRVJ Posted: November 14, 2019 at 09:11 PM (#5901276)
If Donaldson is signed by another team, how do the Braves end up?

I think they'd get a better pick than the one they're losing from this signing (between the 1st and 2nd rounds, versus a late 2nd round pick which the Braves are foregoing), but do they also get back $500K in international market money which they are foregoing with this signing?

   11. Rally Posted: November 14, 2019 at 09:26 PM (#5901278)
Disappointed that he didn't sign with the Dodgers.
   12. bbmck Posted: November 14, 2019 at 09:44 PM (#5901280)
119 pitchers have at least 50 games of 1+ IP and 0 Runs in 2018-19 combined, highest % of such outings among the 119:

77% - Felipe Vasquez
76% - Roberto Osuna
75% - Kirby Yates, Ken Giles
74% - Craig Kimbrel, Blake Treinen

73% - Keone Kela, Edwin Diaz, Will Smith
72% - Aroldis Chapman, Sean Doolittle
71% - Zack Britton, Liam Hendriks
70% - Hansel Robles, Seth Lugo
   13. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 14, 2019 at 09:52 PM (#5901283)
Braves spent $40M on a reliever. Is that allowed?
If people weren't allowed to do dumb things, we'd be living in a very different country right about now.
   14. DCA Posted: November 14, 2019 at 10:38 PM (#5901291)
Yes it's allowed.

Not sure this is better for Smith than 1/$18 and going back on the market in a year. But maybe he wants to play for a contender.

But someone giving him 3/$40 is pretty much exactly to expectations. If you wanted to add a good RP, it's either Smith or Will Harris or trade. After that, you could overpay for Daniel Hudson based on 25 good innings or hope Brandon Morrow is healthy. It's not an overpay if it's what's necessary to land the player.
   15. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 14, 2019 at 10:49 PM (#5901292)
It's not an overpay if it's what's necessary to land the player.
If that player doesn’t add commensurate value to the team, it’s absolutely an overpay.
   16. The Duke Posted: November 14, 2019 at 11:04 PM (#5901294)
Strange move. Braves are notoriously penurious. Finally they open their wallet and an old reliever falls out. On top of that they just traded for a wheelbarrow full of relievers at the deadline. Seems like they would be spending for a donaldson replacement or a starter.
   17. The Yankee Clapper Posted: November 14, 2019 at 11:19 PM (#5901299)
But someone giving him 3/$40 is pretty much exactly to expectations.
MLB Trade Rumors projected Smith to sign for 3 years/$42M. He doesn’t come with a guarantee, but the Braves didn’t overpay.
   18. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: November 14, 2019 at 11:25 PM (#5901302)
Don't the Braves have thirty-seven really good minor league pitchers? (Number may be approximate.) If minor league pitching is your strength, you'd think that a move like this would be low on your list of priorities.
   19. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 14, 2019 at 11:33 PM (#5901305)
MLB Trade Rumors projected Smith to sign for 3 years/$42M. He doesn’t come with a guarantee, but the Braves didn’t overpay.
Smith is a 29-year-old reliever who has exceeded 1 WAR in exactly one of his seven seasons (2.1 in 2019) and has posted 4.5 WAR total in those seven years. It’s an overpay even if it was projected.
   20. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: November 15, 2019 at 12:33 AM (#5901313)
Disappointed that he didn't sign with the Dodgers.

Didn't want to have to move back in with his auntie and uncle...
   21. manchestermets Posted: November 15, 2019 at 05:34 AM (#5901323)
Smith is a 29-year-old reliever who has exceeded 1 WAR in exactly one of his seven seasons (2.1 in 2019) and has posted 4.5 WAR total in those seven years. It’s an overpay even if it was projected.


Haven't you previously expressed the view that assigning a $/WAR value isn't sensible where young players are available that can undercut that? Well, that works both ways. If young players who can undercut that aren't available, then you have to go to the marketplace and if there's a shortage of effective relief then you have to pay what the market demands.

[Forgive me if I've assigned someone else's views to you as the basis for this.]
   22. bfan Posted: November 15, 2019 at 07:31 AM (#5901326)
Don't the Braves have thirty-seven really good minor league pitchers?


Not any more; they traded them for ineffective late-inning relievers to get them over the hump which they could not get over.
   23. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: November 15, 2019 at 08:27 AM (#5901334)
Not sure this is better for Smith than 1/$18 and going back on the market in a year. But maybe he wants to play for a contender.


He’s from Georgia, which might also play a role.
   24. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: November 15, 2019 at 08:30 AM (#5901335)
Somehow, the Giants giving him a qualifying offer seems to be working for them. Who knew?


This.

JFC - I cannot believe this. I suppose the Braves system is still pretty loaded so what do they care about the pick (a 2nd rounder? 3rd?)... but it amazes me that this worked out so well for the Giants.
   25. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: November 15, 2019 at 08:47 AM (#5901341)
Didn't want to have to move back in with his auntie and uncle...


Great, now I'm going to have that song in my head for the rest of the day.
   26. Rally Posted: November 15, 2019 at 08:53 AM (#5901345)
Didn't want to have to move back in with his auntie and uncle...


I was also thinking about the potential end of game battery. Has there ever been a pitcher throwing to a catcher of the same name?

I can think of just one, a pitcher with a killer changeup and big ears who faced the Gashouse Gorillas.
   27. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: November 15, 2019 at 09:00 AM (#5901351)
I was also thinking about the potential end of game battery. Has there ever been a pitcher throwing to a catcher of the same name?


Next year, possibly, Robert Stephenson could be pitching to Tyler Stephenson.
   28. Rally Posted: November 15, 2019 at 09:09 AM (#5901355)
Does Tyler go by his middle name?
   29. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 15, 2019 at 09:13 AM (#5901359)
Haven't you previously expressed the view that assigning a $/WAR value isn't sensible where young players are available that can undercut that? Well, that works both ways. If young players who can undercut that aren't available, then you have to go to the marketplace and if there's a shortage of effective relief then you have to pay what the market demands.

You never have to pay what the market demands for a particular player or position. This deal is an overpay because $42M spent elsewhere could have added more talent to the team.

If FA RPs cost $12M/WAR, while other FAs cost $8M/WAR you simply don't sign FA RPs. Improve your team somewhere else on the diamond.
   30. PreservedFish Posted: November 15, 2019 at 09:35 AM (#5901363)
So I'm trying to figure out how the timing is significant. Did Smith's agent go to teams and said, "He'll accept the QO unless you offer X?" And the Braves bit? It makes perfect sense from Smith's point of view, and I wonder if this is common practice.
   31. Random Transaction Generator Posted: November 15, 2019 at 10:23 AM (#5901387)
I was also thinking about the potential end of game battery. Has there ever been a pitcher throwing to a catcher of the same name?

Did Javy Lopez ever catch Javier Lopez in Boston?
   32. Nasty Nate Posted: November 15, 2019 at 10:31 AM (#5901389)
30. PreservedFish Posted: November 15, 2019 at 09:35 AM (#5901363)
So I'm trying to figure out how the timing is significant. Did Smith's agent go to teams and said, "He'll accept the QO unless you offer X?" And the Braves bit?
That's exactly what Ken Rosenthal reported:

Will Smith’s agent, Jeff Berry of CAA, effectively used the qualifying offer as leverage, telling interested teams he wanted a deal by today’s deadline or Smith would accept the one-year, $17.8M offer from #SFGiants. In the end, the #Braves bit.

   33. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: November 15, 2019 at 10:48 AM (#5901392)
Does Tyler go by his middle name?


Alas, no. I checked and was hoping that Robert Stephenson's middle name was Tyler, but, also, no.
   34. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 15, 2019 at 10:48 AM (#5901393)
Haven't you previously expressed the view that assigning a $/WAR value isn't sensible where young players are available that can undercut that?
Yes, that's part of the reason why I think the "FA contracts have averaged $X/WAR, so Player Y is 'worth' $Z" syllogism doesn't work. The other part of it is that the $/WAR numbers are inflated by contracts (such as this one, but more so the Cabreras and Stantons of the world) that were quite obviously bad ideas from the start. So the syllogism basically comes down to "teams should keep repeating their mistakes!" The nature of free agency is such that most of the time, the only way you're going to find much "surplus value" in an FA contract is by artificially limiting the comparison to a pool that includes the much, much worse FA contracts.

Well, that works both ways. If young players who can undercut that aren't available, then you have to go to the marketplace and if there's a shortage of effective relief then you have to pay what the market demands.
Snapper already addressed this in a different way in 29, but Smith is a fungible reliever who happened to have a nice season (and be a closer!) in his walk year. Seriously - he had never put up more than 1 WAR before. Given that 83% of players are relievers these days, spending big bucks on that kind of guy is not a wise allocation of resources.

   35. DCA Posted: November 15, 2019 at 10:58 AM (#5901397)
Seriously - he had never put up more than 1 WAR before.

Reliever WAR is a really crappy metric. By more traditional measures, his 2019 was good but not out of line with his career.

Smith FIP in 2019: 3.23
Career*: 2.91

Smith ERA in 2009: 2.75
Career*: 3.03

Smith ERA+ in 2019: 152
Career*: 132

* ignoring his rookie year as a SP
   36. PreservedFish Posted: November 15, 2019 at 11:02 AM (#5901398)
It's worth noting that Smith fares somewhat better by fWAR. 2 fWAR season in 2018. This article, written last January, asserts that Smith is as good as just about any reliever out there. I seem to remember Fangraphs writers also loving him even back when he was on the Royals and Brewers. So he's nerd-approved, and it's not right to call him a fungy* coming off a lucky year.


*Did I just coin this?
   37. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 15, 2019 at 11:07 AM (#5901402)
Reliever WAR is a really crappy metric.
Why - is there something in the way that WAR is calculated that breaks for relievers? (Genuine question, I'm nowhere near smart enough to bother with trying to comprehend the nuts and bolts underlying WAR calculations.) Seems like the WAR powers that be should fix that then, no?

Smith has been a pretty good but not dominant reliever for the past several years. His underlying stats are nice, but at least WAR would have you believe that that level of relief pitching doesn't actually contribute all that much in terms of wins. Possibly because of limited innings, or possibly because WAR just doesn't work for relievers. In any event, that's not a $40 million guaranteed guy. There's value there, sure - and I suppose to the extent that any reliever can be counted on to be reliable from one year to the next, Smith has established a good track record. But so had Wade Davis (better, even). And Kelvin Herrera. And Bryan Shaw. And...
   38. Rally Posted: November 15, 2019 at 11:18 AM (#5901405)
Did Javy Lopez ever catch Javier Lopez in Boston?


Sadly, no. Both were on the 2006 Red Sox, Javy pitched 16 innings and other Javy caught 15 games, but the splits show they were not battery mates.
   39. Rally Posted: November 15, 2019 at 11:23 AM (#5901406)
Why - is there something in the way that WAR is calculated that breaks for relievers? (Genuine question, I'm nowhere near smart enough to bother with trying to comprehend the nuts and bolts underlying WAR calculations.) Seems like the WAR powers that be should fix that then, no?


It really breaks because of the really small sample size. In a good year these guys are pitching 60 innings. In a bad year (injury wise) they might only throw 15, or none at all. Good or bad luck can result in an ordinary reliever putting up good WAR, a good reliever having a bad WAR. More so than for other positions, just because of sample size.

How do you expect WAR calculators to fix that? I'd love to bring back Mike Marshall, Goose Gossage, Dick Radatz, and guys like that. Don't hold your breath though.
   40. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 15, 2019 at 11:26 AM (#5901408)
It really breaks because of the really small sample size. In a good year these guys are pitching 60 innings. In a bad year (injury wise) they might only throw 15, or none at all. Good or bad luck can result in an ordinary reliever putting up good WAR, a good reliever having a bad WAR. More so than for other positions, just because of sample size.
Well right, but that's just WAR reflecting the variability in underlying performance for relievers, right? DCA seems to be saying there is a disconnect between underlying performance and the resulting WAR for a given reliever in a given year.
   41. DCA Posted: November 15, 2019 at 11:35 AM (#5901414)
I think WAR for RP has a few other issues - per B-R at least there's a leverage component which gives extra WAR to closers and therefore takes it away from others. So Smith gets extra credit last year due to his role, not his actual results. The starter/reliever replacement level differential that is becoming problematic with openers and bulk RP. Defensive component is I think team-specific and therefore may not reflect actual defensive performance when the pitcher is on the mound (especially important for high K relievers with small BIP sample size).

Basically, there's a lot of voodoo between the raw stats and the final result.
   42. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 15, 2019 at 11:40 AM (#5901417)
I think WAR for RP has a few other issues - per B-R at least there's a leverage component which gives extra WAR to closers and takes it away from others. So Smith gets extra credit last year due to his role, not his actual results.

Not quite. All relievers get leverage credit, except the garbage time guys. Closers just get the most.

Look at the Yankees. Chapman is at 1.51, Britton 1.42, Ottavino 1.38, Kahnle 1.24, Holder 1.11. You have to get to guys like Nestor Cortes, and Luis Cessa to get LI < 1.

Any good reliever is getting a boost to WAR for leverage.
   43. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 15, 2019 at 11:40 AM (#5901418)
per B-R at least there's a leverage component which gives extra WAR to closers and therefore takes it away from others. So Smith gets extra credit last year due to his role, not his actual results.
So that would support my point even more - his one year of more than one WAR was because of the closer pixie dust.
   44. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 15, 2019 at 11:45 AM (#5901421)
So that would support my point even more - his one year of more than one WAR was because of the closer pixie dust.

Partially. Yes.
   45. PreservedFish Posted: November 15, 2019 at 11:48 AM (#5901424)
FIP removes a lot of voodoo, and by FIP he's a top 10 reliever.

Doesn't mean he'll be worth the money, but the Braves are sitting pretty with basically only Freeman and Melancon at what we might call "market rate" salaries. They won 97 games with an uninspiring bullpen. They make as much sense as anyone to spend like this here.
   46. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 15, 2019 at 11:53 AM (#5901426)
FIP removes a lot of voodoo, and by FIP he's a top 10 reliever.
Does the "voodoo" negate the basic concept, though, that even top relievers just don't pitch enough innings to move the needle all that much in terms of wins?

Doesn't mean he'll be worth the money, but the Braves are sitting pretty with basically only Freeman and Melancon at what we might call "market rate" salaries. They won 97 games with an uninspiring bullpen. They make as much sense as anyone to spend like this here.
I guess. Doesn't make the contract any smarter, though, because those resources could always be allocated elsewhere.
   47. PreservedFish Posted: November 15, 2019 at 11:59 AM (#5901429)
Does the "voodoo" negate the basic concept, though, that even top relievers just don't pitch enough innings to move the needle all that much in terms of wins?


No, of course not. Smith averaged 1.3 fWins over the last 3 years. Even if we take the $8M/WAR number for granted, it's borderline.

I guess. Doesn't make the contract any smarter, though, because those resources could always be allocated elsewhere.


Well, yes and no. A 97 win team only has so many holes, and you can't buy a Cole or Strasburg without making a gazillion dollar commitment, even if they're far more likely to earn their money in the year 2020.
   48. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 15, 2019 at 12:02 PM (#5901430)
A 97 win team only has so many holes, and you can't buy a Cole or Strasburg without making a gazillion dollar commitment, even if they're far more likely to earn their money in the year 2020.
Well, $40 million could sign a lot of international talent...oh, wait.
   49. Greg Pope Posted: November 15, 2019 at 12:07 PM (#5901434)
I was also thinking about the potential end of game battery. Has there ever been a pitcher throwing to a catcher of the same name?

Didn't Scott Service pitch to Scott Servais once? Not spelled the same, but I believe that they are both pronounced the same.
   50. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 15, 2019 at 12:12 PM (#5901435)
Well, yes and no. A 97 win team only has so many holes, and you can't buy a Cole or Strasburg without making a gazillion dollar commitment, even if they're far more likely to earn their money in the year 2020.

They have holes in RF, and LF or 3B (depending on where they play Riley).

Add the $12M to the $6M they're paying Markakis, and I bet you can top his 0.8 WAR.
   51. PreservedFish Posted: November 15, 2019 at 12:28 PM (#5901443)
I will admit that I'd much much rather have Ozuna - predicted for 3 years, $45M by MLBTR - than Smith.

But perhaps they've already budgeted for a new outfielder. It's slim pickings this year in FA: Castellanos, Dickerson, Avi Garcia, Puig, K Calhoun. Moustakas at third. One of these guys could be had for cheap.
   52. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: November 15, 2019 at 12:51 PM (#5901448)
A 97 win team only has so many holes, and you can't buy a Cole or Strasburg without making a gazillion dollar commitment, even if they're far more likely to earn their money in the year 2020.

I haven't really done a deep dive into the Braves roster, or what they have lined up for 2020. But I don't think that really describes them all that well. They had 4 position players with over 4 WAR, and no other position player with more than 1.1 WAR. Surely they can find some holes there to spend some money on if they want to.
   53. Rally Posted: November 15, 2019 at 12:56 PM (#5901451)
Didn't Scott Service pitch to Scott Servais once? Not spelled the same, but I believe that they are both pronounced the same.


Yes and no.

Not pitcher to catcher, but yes pitcher to batter. Servais went 2 for 6 with a double off Service.
   54. vortex of dissipation Posted: November 15, 2019 at 01:22 PM (#5901459)
Unfortunately, Greg Olson (the catcher) was released by the Braves after the 1993 season, a couple of months before they signed Gregg Olson (the pitcher) for 1994. However, Gregg Olson did take over Greg Olson's uniform number, #10.
   55. The Yankee Clapper Posted: November 15, 2019 at 01:57 PM (#5901474)
You never have to pay what the market demands for a particular player or position.
The idea is - or should be - to win a lot of games, make the postseason, and win a championship, not merely have the best spreadsheet. If you aren’t willing to pay any players fair market value, you’ll have to be lucky to have a successful team. The trick, of course, is deciding which players are worth paying top dollar for.
   56. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 15, 2019 at 02:36 PM (#5901494)
The idea is - or should be - to win a lot of games, make the postseason, and win a championship, not merely have the best spreadsheet. If you aren’t willing to pay any players fair market value, you’ll have to be lucky to have a successful team. The trick, of course, is deciding which players are worth paying top dollar for.

You'll win more games, and more championships acquiring wins more efficiently. I'm not saying don't spend the $40M. I'm saying spend it on somebody better than Will Smith.
   57. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 15, 2019 at 02:42 PM (#5901496)
I'm saying spend it on somebody better than Will Smith.
Well, this particular Will Smith anyway.
   58. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: November 15, 2019 at 03:26 PM (#5901508)
Looks like I'm a few hours late with this comment, but anyway: dear lord (or at least: dear Sean), please get the leverage component out of WAR.

Relatedly: WAR is a counting stat, so a player pitching only a few innings shouldn't be able to lead to wild swings in how much of it he's got. Rather, it should guarantee that he hasn't got much of it. Just like with every other counting stat. That a guy pitched only a few innings doesn't mean that he's going to have an unpredictable number of strike outs, it means that he's going to predictably have only a few. The leverage component screws with this, because it lets small numbers of innings carry a lot of weight, and hence small variations in performance across those innings lead to large differences in outcome. That shouldn't be possible with a counting stat.
   59. PreservedFish Posted: November 15, 2019 at 05:19 PM (#5901551)
It does seem that teams - even smart teams - value relief pitchers beyond their apparent WAR impact. The $/WAR for relievers must be higher than for other positions. Why?
   60. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 15, 2019 at 05:26 PM (#5901555)
Just to piss us off with the parade of (sometimes slightly less anonymous) relievers.
   61. Sunday silence Posted: November 15, 2019 at 05:57 PM (#5901560)
It does seem that teams - even smart teams - value relief pitchers beyond their apparent WAR impact. The $/WAR for relievers must be higher than for other positions. Why?


It seems to be already mentioned upthread, and that is that in game, high leverage situations probably make their value somewhat inflated then the raw numbers would suggest.

THe concept is not too hard to understand but I think many of us (most?) have problems with it because that idea doesnt really come into play with most other positions. Take for instance position players, you really can't assign them more value than their WAR suggests because you dont really have a choice in what situations in which to play them. A regular is always going to bat once ever 9AB and he's going to get fielding chances on a more less random basis.

It would be nice to have ROberto Clemente or Undruh Jones the designated fielder when someone hits a line drive with bases loaded and game tied, but alas it's not a manager's choice.

I had also thought that base stealing might be a skill that is undervalued for the same reason: i.e. that managers/runner can CHOOSE when they want to steal. And so they might be able to make their talent count in high leverage situations. But having looked at a few runners I gave up on the idea because you really dont get all that many chances to steal second base in the 9th inn. of a tied or one run game. YOu just don't and so WAR for good base running maxes out at about 2.0 WAR/season if that (maybe Rick! and no one else).

Perhaps Herb Washington (PR specialist for the As) might be some exception but even for him I dont think there was all that many chances to do that.

And there's also bunting, I suppose. YOu can choose when to bunt and so a good bunter like Jay Bell might have been more useful, but then again there's the problem that exactly how many times will he get to bunt with runner on first, tied game, 9th inn. ? At other times, the value of a bunt is seriously questionable so....

So that leaves Closers. Managers can put closers into certain situations when there is higher leverage. So I guess it does make sense, this concept of being a bit more valuable than your actual WAR but how much, I dont know. Maybe a 50% boost for someone used exclusively in tight games?
   62. Lars6788 Posted: November 15, 2019 at 06:33 PM (#5901563)
The idea of having proven closer is worthless but fungible relievers are the bees knees.
   63. PreservedFish Posted: November 15, 2019 at 06:48 PM (#5901564)
Do you think that teams have a highly leverage-based WAR that they really trust? That we do not have?

Or is it irrational?
   64. bbmck Posted: November 15, 2019 at 07:09 PM (#5901566)
It's rational to be willing to invest $10mil or $11mil per projected WAR on a 3 year contract with a cheap buyout but only being willing to pay $7mil or $8mil per projected WAR on a 6 or 7 year contract with one or two opt outs. Until Gerrit Cole tells Scott Boras to get him as much money as possible on a 3 year contract with a 4th year team option with a tiny buyout he's going to have to settle for less $ per projected WAR than Will Smith.
   65. PreservedFish Posted: November 15, 2019 at 07:33 PM (#5901568)
That's not the point.

Last year:

Brantley, off a 3+ WAR year, signed for $16M per year, 2 years.
McCutchen, off a 2.8 WAR year, signed for $15M per year, 3 years.
Charlie Morton, off a 3+ WAR year, signed for $15M per year, 2 years.
Wilson Ramos, off a 2.7 WAR year, signed for $10M per year, 2 years.
Marwin G, off a 2.5 WAR year, signed for $10M per year, 2 years.
Jed Lowrie, off a 4.8 WAR year, signed for $10M per year, 2 years.

Meanwhile...

Familia, off a 1.4 WAR year: $10M for 3.
Britton, off a 0.7 WAR year: $13M for 3.
Robertson, off a 1.0 WAR year: $11.5M for 3.
Ottavino, off a 2.6 WAR year: $9M for 3.
A Miller, off a 0.2 WAR year: $12.5M for 2.
Joe Kelly, off a 0.4 WAR year: $8M for 3.
K Herrera, off a 1.6 WAR year: $9M for 2.


This doesn't add up. The relievers are vastly overpaid even using BR and its leverage-influenced WAR.
   66. Greg Pope Posted: November 15, 2019 at 08:13 PM (#5901571)
in game, high leverage situations probably make their value somewhat inflated then the raw numbers would suggest.
...
So I guess it does make sense, this concept of being a bit more valuable than your actual WAR but how much, I dont know. Maybe a 50% boost for someone used exclusively in tight games?

If we grant that is true, then it makes sense to add to the reliever's WAR. But it doesn't make sense for a team to pay for that. The extra WAR was created by the team, not the pitcher. It circles back to magic closer fairy dust that you're paying for.
   67. Hank Gillette Posted: November 16, 2019 at 04:14 AM (#5901599)
It does seem that teams - even smart teams - value relief pitchers beyond their apparent WAR impact. The $/WAR for relievers must be higher than for other positions. Why?


Maybe it is because it is so obvious when your relievers blow a game?
   68. Rally Posted: November 16, 2019 at 08:35 AM (#5901602)
Fish,

Even worse, all of those pitchers gave their teams negative WAR in 2019 except the 2 Yankees. And Ottavino gave back his positive WAR in a mere 2.1 playoff innings against Houston.
   69. Sunday silence Posted: November 16, 2019 at 10:37 AM (#5901617)

If we grant that is true, then it makes sense to add to the reliever's WAR. But it doesn't make sense for a team to pay for that. The extra WAR was created by the team, not the pitcher.


I think I understand what you are saying (correct me if Im wrong) but Im gonna counter your argument with this:

Whether the team created the WAR or not, his value TO THE TEAM would be greater than his raw WAR. Yes? Lets say he's objectively a 2 WAR pitcher but he was used in high leverage situations effectively making him 3 WAR. That's a value of 3 WAR to the team, no?

SO his value to the team is 3 WAR, so they should pay based on his value to the team, not to pitchers in general (when's he's like a 2) or baseball players in general.

It might make a difference to my argument if say all pitchers could be used as high leverage closers. Like they were all fungible for high leverage situations. So you've got say 375 MLB pitchers MINUS say 150 starters, leaves us with 225 possibly relievers or so. If they are capable of warming up and possibly entering a game say 5x a week. THen maybe your argument makes sense...

But what if teams know there's only say 50 guys who are able to warm up effectively most days and get in for an inn. So the ability to come into a game at almost any time would be a valuable property perhaps more valuable than his raw WAR.
   70. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 16, 2019 at 11:02 AM (#5901621)
But what if teams know there's only say 50 guys who are able to warm up effectively most days and get in for an inn. So the ability to come into a game at almost any time would be a valuable property perhaps more valuable than his raw WAR.

Wait, that's absurd. There are hundreds of relievers able to warm up and pitch an inning 3-4 days a weak. Your 5th best reliever does that as often as your closer.

Your argument has to be about quality. Even there I think it fails, because more often than not the designated closer at the start of the season is not the team's best reliever, or even 2nd best.
   71. DCA Posted: November 16, 2019 at 11:21 AM (#5901623)
It does seem that teams - even smart teams - value relief pitchers beyond their apparent WAR impact. The $/WAR for relievers must be higher than for other positions. Why?

I'm going to advance two hypotheses.

(1) Variance/Projectability

The variability of pitching performance is greater than hitting performance. Particularly downside variability. Most outcomes are outs, so a single batter systematically making extra outs is limited in the amount of harm he can do to a team's offense. But a pitcher who systematically gets fewer outs is much worse than the batter.

Related, it appears to be harder to project pitching performance (e.g. from minor league performance). Therefore, if you have the ability to acquire proven pitching (reduced downside risk) there is additional cost to do so, just because it is harder to identify replacement-level or better pitching. Maybe the model is just setting replacement-level pitching too high, because there's a lot of sub-replacement pitching happening.

(2) Redundancy

One of the reasons that you don't want to give more than $8m per WAR long-term to a free agent SS is that if your farm system produces a good SS, you are wasting the money (either moving one guy to a less valuable position, or to the bench). Either way, if you have too many at a position, you don't get full value. This is not true with pitching.

Every team needs 5 roster slots for starters and 8 for relievers (half of which can be high leverage). So if you sign a good back-end RP to an expensive multiyear FA contract, you don't have any reason to worry that one of your promising AA arms is going to make that a wasted expenditure in a year. The bullpen is big enough to optimally use both guys.

Note - this logic would also argue for increased value per WAR for starting pitchers. I think we also see that happening, at least at the top end, and even for mid-rotation guys (like Samardzija, Leake, Kennedy) though that seems to be drying up. The top guys are still getting paid though.
   72. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 16, 2019 at 11:58 AM (#5901628)
Every team needs 5 roster slots for starters and 8 for relievers (half of which can be high leverage). So if you sign a good back-end RP to an expensive multiyear FA contract, you don't have any reason to worry that one of your promising AA arms is going to make that a wasted expenditure in a year. The bullpen is big enough to optimally use both guys.


I think this is probably the reason. Every team is almost always looking for more relievers, in a way that's not true at any other position.

I still think the result is irrational. Just look at the Rockies. Or even Chapman and Ottavino's performance against the Astros.
RPs can't be relied on, and should be acquired in bulk, as cheaply as possible.

You can build a shutdown bullpen out of cast-offs and spare parts in a way you can't duplicate anywhere on the diamond. Just look at the fWAR leaderboard for RPs on Fangraphs. Half the guys you never heard of before 2019, or maybe 2018.



   73. DCA Posted: November 16, 2019 at 12:26 PM (#5901633)
You can build a shutdown bullpen out of cast-offs and spare parts in a way you can't duplicate anywhere on the diamond. Just look at the fWAR leaderboard for RPs on Fangraphs. Half the guys you never heard of before 2019, or maybe 2018.

Yes, but as a GM you can't identify your 2019 bullpen using 2019 end-of-the-year stats. The hard part is identifying those guys ahead of time. And even if you can, 3/$40m for Will Smith is still useful as it increases your margin for error.

But you are right. I think identifying cheap contributors to a good bullpen is one of the biggest value-added functions of the GM. Precisely because it's hard.
   74. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 16, 2019 at 01:20 PM (#5901646)

Yes, but as a GM you can't identify your 2019 bullpen using 2019 end-of-the-year stats. The hard part is identifying those guys ahead of time. And even if you can, 3/$40m for Will Smith is still useful as it increases your margin for error.

But you are right. I think identifying cheap contributors to a good bullpen is one of the biggest value-added functions of the GM. Precisely because it's hard.


That's why scouting and development are still a thing.

If all you needed to do was look at stats, they could hire any one of us to be GM.
   75. . Posted: November 16, 2019 at 05:00 PM (#5901697)
His stuff receded pretty badly a couple weeks before the trade deadline and never really recovered. Maybe the Braves think they can do something with him in the way that Melancon sorta kinda turned out marginally ok ... ish, but this is an overpay.
   76. Greg Pope Posted: November 16, 2019 at 11:01 PM (#5901772)
Whether the team created the WAR or not, his value TO THE TEAM would be greater than his raw WAR. Yes? Lets say he's objectively a 2 WAR pitcher but he was used in high leverage situations effectively making him 3 WAR. That's a value of 3 WAR to the team, no?

SO his value to the team is 3 WAR, so they should pay based on his value to the team, not to pitchers in general (when's he's like a 2) or baseball players in general.


My point is that you take a guy who's skill is 2 WAR and you put him in situations that get your team 3 WAR. That's why I think it's a mistake to pay for 3 WAR. Because you could get a guy that another team didn't use as closer and who earned 2 WAR and pay him. Then you get 3 WAR for the price of 2 WAR.

This does assume that there's no magic closer fairy dust. If you believe that the 2 WAR guy will melt down, but the 3 WAR guy has shown that he won't, then you pay for 3 WAR.

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