Friday, December 26, 2008

How much are Tigers hitters worth?

FanGraphs continues to come through with free and accessible advanced statistics. The latest addition to the rich database is replacement win and dollar values for all major league hitters. The values are based on total batting and fielding contributions with adjustments for position, ballpark and league. The system is similar to WARP created by Baseball Prospectus but the FanGraphs system has a better fielding component (UZR) and thus is probably more accurate.

In my first dip into these new data, I looked at the estimated dollar values for the current Tigers. The second column of Table 1 shows how much each Tiger was worth, on average, over the last three seasons. The third column is their 2009 salary. The table shows that the only Tiger whose estimated value ($3.7 million) is substantially less than his 2009 salary ($14 million) is Gary Sheffield. There are also a few bargains: Curtis Granderson ($18.5 versus $3.0), Placido Polanco ($12.2 versus $4.6) and Adam Everett ($4.6 versus $1.0).

There are a couple of caveats that must be mentioned though. First, if Cabrera had been a first baseman all of the last three years, his value would have been closer to $14 million. Plus, if you consider that his average salary over the rest of his contract is $17.3 million, his contract might not look as good in the future. It's good that they moved him to first though because that's where he belongs and I'm also happy that his bat will be in the Tigers line-up the next seven years.

The other issue is Carlos Guillen who, of course, has been moved to left field after playing various infield positions over the last three years. Had he been a left fielder from 2006-2008, his value would have been around $9 million which is close to his $10 million 2009 salary and less than the average salary of $12 million over the remainder of his contract. If he continues to regress and have health problems, this contract could become a problem.

Table 1: Dollar values for current Tigers


Avg Value 2006-2008 (millions)

2009 salary (millions)

Miguel Cabrera



Curtis Granderson



Magglio Ordonez



Carlos Guillen



Placido Polanco



Brandon Inge



Adam Everett



Gary Sheffield



Gerald Laird


$2.5 (est.)

Marcus Thames


$3.0 (est.)

Ramon Santiago



Matt Treanor



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