FanDuel - WFBC

October 31, 2013

Red Sox win the World Series.: David Ortiz named series MVP.

posted by Joey Michaels to baseball at 12:22 AM - 35 comments

Aw yisss...

posted by hincandenza at 12:25 AM on October 31

When they won in 2004, my grandfather (a lifelong Boston fan who'd literally waited his whole life to see them win) went ballistic with joy. He's gone now, but I wept a few happy tears tonight on his behalf because he would have been thrilled to see them win it at Fenway. Boston Strong indeed.

Also, the first five games of this series were weird and hard-fought. The Cardinals are a great team and could have won this. Hats off to their team and their fans - they're a pretty classy bunch.

Still, thrilled Boston won.

posted by Joey Michaels at 12:26 AM on October 31

/dons helmet and goggles

/goes to sleep

posted by yerfatma at 12:26 AM on October 31

Yeah, the Cards did represent this series, it was a great WS, but once the Sox started putting up runs it felt like the last few innings was an extended coronation. Once Tazawa got that bases loaded out in the 7th, that seemed to kill the last best chance for St. Louis. I know I was on pins and needles when Farrell left Lackey for one more batter, but luckily for the Sox it didn't ultimately matter.

The ownership era of John Henry has been a fucking godsend for Boston fans.

posted by hincandenza at 12:40 AM on October 31

Hats off to the Red Sox. Pretty impressive to win a third World Series in a decade, with very different personnel than the first one in 2004.

As a Cardinals fan, I am happy to have seen two World Series wins in the past 10 years (witnessing the clinching of one in person and going to at least one game in each of the four World Series the Cards have been in since '04), and think they will be competitive in the coming years. I do feel bad for Beltran, who I think likely will not be back with the Cards. Seems like a guy that deserves a WS ring.

posted by holden at 12:47 AM on October 31

What a crazy series. An obstruction call to win a game. A game ending pick off. Ortiz hitting everything. The Cardinals abandoning their offensive approach to winning games. Really, really good pitching all around. Ortiz hitting everything. Beltran robbing a grand slam. Pedroia's stab on the obstruction play. Wacha dominant until game 6 of WS. Gomes 3-run shot. Ortiz. Gold Glovers, Waino and Yadi letting a ball drop between them.

While the officiating was complex at times, I thought the series was called fairly and most importantly - correctly.

I was hoping for more Molina v. Baserunner matchups. I think it's time to shave. I would've stopped pitching to Ortiz in game 3. Having 3 games in the NL prevents Napoli from batting next and you can roll the dice on the walk. It's the World Series - fuck pitch counts. I <3 AL managers in NL parks. I watched the series on BT Sports - I hope I never have to hear Rick Sutcliffe ever again. But I guess that's what I said about McCarver last year.

All in all, a great ending to the season. This to me was a classic World Series pairing which I want to see again and again. But next time, I want to change the ending a little.

posted by BoKnows at 01:20 AM on October 31

Outstanding end to an outstanding series. I know I'm going to annoy my grandkids with tales of Ortiz.

posted by dfleming at 06:40 AM on October 31

Congratulations to the Red Sox players but fuck you, John Farrell.

posted by grum@work at 08:16 AM on October 31

Going from worst to first has been done before. The Sox carried it a step further. They went from Valentine to Valhalla.

posted by beaverboard at 08:40 AM on October 31

A feel-good story for Brian Villarreal: "World Series ring for Brayan Villarreal, who faced 1 batter for Boston and walked him on 4 pitches for a walkoff loss." [via]

posted by yerfatma at 02:36 PM on October 31

Carlos Beltran must be seething at that one, yerfatma.

posted by dfleming at 02:44 PM on October 31

This Red Sox team is remarkably devoid of star power. Other than David Ortiz, was anyone else an unquestioned star player entering this season? The only other possibilities I can think of would've been Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester and maybe Jacoby Ellsbury.

posted by rcade at 02:54 PM on October 31

I was saying this to my dad - other than Ortiz, the Red Sox really don't have players who'd be considered in the top 2-3 at their position (maybe Pedroia.) Same with the Cardinals.

A lot of guys who are pretty good, but winning after jettisoning some of their best players really should be a model that teams look at. Star power costs you greatly, but depth might be what helps you win it all. The Red Sox were on their 4th closer by the time they got to Uehara.

It'd take a lot of stones to pass on Kershaw or Cabrera right now, but looking at the Angels/Dodgers/Yankees there's some logic to consider it.

posted by dfleming at 03:09 PM on October 31

maybe Pedroia

I'll admit to being biased from watching him play most days, but who the heck are the 3 guys ahead of him? In fact, who's the one?

posted by yerfatma at 03:48 PM on October 31

Other than David Ortiz, was anyone else an unquestioned star player entering this season? The only other possibilities I can think of would've been Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester and maybe Jacoby Ellsbury.

Pedroia is a star. He's won an regular season MVP (Ortiz hasn't), ROY, 3 gold gloves, and a silver slugger.

Jake Peavy won a Cy Young Award (unanimous vote) and an NL Pitching Triple Crown.

posted by grum@work at 03:51 PM on October 31

I'll admit to being biased from watching him play most days, but who the heck are the 3 guys ahead of him? In fact, who's the one?

People would say Robinson Cano.

It's either the batting numbers (Cano has been significantly better the last three seasons), or durability (Cano has 160 games played in the last 7 seasons, compared to Pedroia averaging 141 games played in the same time period). They have traded off on gold gloves the past 5 years, so defense (in some eyes) is pretty much a wash (with a slight advantage to Pedroia).

posted by grum@work at 04:05 PM on October 31

Peavy should be considered a star, given that he's being paid like one and he was an all star a couple years ago. But he is six years removed from that Cy Young season and hasn't been in the top 10 of Cy Young voting since then.

posted by rcade at 04:09 PM on October 31

I'll admit to being biased from watching him play most days, but who the heck are the 3 guys ahead of him? In fact, who's the one?

Cano.

Zobrist's had a higher WAR two years ago and the same as Pedroia this year. Matt Carpenter had the highest WAR of all second basemen this year. I'd list Pedroia above them both, as would most, but on the point of who're more valuable at the position, they're at least in the discussion. Brandon Phillips is a ways back.

There's a reason that I put him in brackets - I figure he's been in the top 3 each year.

Peavy was a star before he got hurt, but there's a pretty good chasm between that guy and the guy everyone was nervous letting start in the World Series.

posted by dfleming at 05:25 PM on October 31

I'm almost sad to not see the series go 7 games, especially with the Peavy storyline, but maybe I'd be pushing my luck.

Speaking of luck, I'm still struck by how much luck it takes to win a WS. I believe the Red Sox entirely deserving, but there were so many instances over the entire playoffs that if changed only slightly would have led to the Red Sox falling short. I thought Farrell leaving Lackey in to face Matt Holliday was asking for trouble, and the Red Sox were lucky he only gave up the walk.

The Red Sox got the key hits, the Cardinals didn't. It's difficult to believe the Red Sox didn't lose another game after the obstruction call. And I still really have no idea how the Red Sox won when you consider their pitching was down to Lester and Lackey for the most part. Then again, they beat a lot of good pitchers with an offense that seemed to do just enough.

The dodgers winning the WS was my nightmare scenario. I wasn't crazy about the idea of the Tigers winning it. But other than the white towels the fans wave at home I have a hard time finding something I don't like about the Cardinals (and they got rid of the dodgers).

I was hoping for more Molina v. Baserunner matchups.

Me too. Just never happened. And there weren't that many chances. And I guess more than anything Molina just kills thoughts of a running game.

This Red Sox team is remarkably devoid of star power.

Well, Ortiz, Pedroia, and Ellsbury are all top notch players, but yeah, that was pretty much the story of the Red Sox season. This was not as talented a team as 04/07. Signing a bunch of B and C level players and having it all work out. It created a deep team. But everything went right this year, and I don't see that happening again. They need to get better. Unforgettable team, and super fun as a Red Sox fan to root for, but I would be shocked if the team constructed as is would have a long shelf life.

Boston's moment of a lifetime

posted by justgary at 05:25 PM on October 31

My rose-colored glasses assume Pedroia's offense was hurt all year by the Opening Day injury (UCL tear) he played through.

Zobrist's had a higher WAR two years ago and the same as Pedroia this year so defense (in some eyes) is pretty much a wash (with a slight advantage to Pedroia [over Cano]).

FanGraphs has Pedroia with 1.0 more WAR than Zobrist this year. He's behind Cano in total WAR, but I would not be one of those people who think their defensive value is close. Since his first full season, he's #2 overall in WAR for 2B. The crazy thing is Chase Utley is #1; that's one of those players I feel cheated that injuries took him away so early. Utley is ahead of Pedroia in spite of playing about 100 fewer games (and about 250 fewer than Cano).

posted by yerfatma at 05:42 PM on October 31

I was completely at peace with the baseball universe, watching my team coast to victory and a World Series title. Everything was perfect ... then I saw him; Breslow, warming up. Killed my buzz, started thinking about a possible game 7.

posted by smithnyiu at 06:39 PM on October 31

But other than the white towels the fans wave at home I have a hard time finding something I don't like about the Cardinals

That's the thing about the Cardinals - Deadspin was doing their darndest to make them out to be monsters, but it comes across as comedy because the team is both talented and classy. I felt genuinely bad for them that they lost (and even though I would have been sorely disappointed, I would have been glad for them had they won).

In my Red Sox vs every-team-that-isn't-the-Red-Sox universe, the Cardinals may well be my favorite NL team. Basically, this was my ideal World Series for this particular decade.

posted by Joey Michaels at 07:17 PM on October 31

The play on the field in the first 3 games certainly fell short of the term "classic", but the drama of the series made up for it. It was nail-biting in the last 3 games until Tazawa induced the final out of the 7th. Some random thoughts:

MLB network showed a graphic of the pitches Ortiz struck for base hits. Each hit was represented by a small green circle. At the end of the graphic, the strike zone was a green blob but there was not a single mark out of the zone. Talk about someone who was really locked in.

Uehara Koji's calm and poise in the pressure of the World Series made me believe he had once been through the Hell of the August High School Tournament in Koshien Kyu Joh in Osaka. Those of you who have followed Japanese baseball will understand that it is nothing but a wall of noise from first pitch to last out. Oddly enough, Uehara never played in Koshien. Maybe he really is some sort of robot made by Sony.

Having done some umpiring myself, I tend to watch the umpires as much as I watch the players so far as the TV screen will let me. The work of the crew in the World Series was excellent. I look at positioning, how a call is made, whether or not the call is correct (and if not, why not), and overall attitude. The call at the plate as the 3rd run scored on Victorino's hit was a great example of an umpire getting it all exactly right. Jim Joyce positioned himself on the 3rd base line extended through the plate, moved just a touch toward the infield as he realized the throw was short, thus was in perfect position to see the runner's leg and the catcher's glove. From any other angle, the runner appeared to be out. Joyce's strike zone might have been a bit generous, but it was absolutely consistent.

The City of Boston was remarkably calm after the game. There were only something like 15 arrests, mostly for disorderly conduct, one for a DUI hit-and-run, and a couple of minor assaults on police. This did not extend to a few college campuses outside the Boston area. University of New Hampshire and Plymouth (NH) State College both had some extensive problems. The riot police in Durham (UNH) were called out because students were massed in the middle of Main Street and were blocking traffic. Pepper spray and pepper balls (sounds like the results of a Viagra overdose) were used. At Plymouth the students were celebrating in a campus residential area by burning couches. Fortunately the couches were unoccupied at the time.

posted by Howard_T at 08:02 PM on October 31

Forgot one thing. There was a large, gold bottle of champagne being liberally sprayed in the locker room celebration. The bottle had been supplied by David Ortiz and cost him something like $125,000. According to a couple of the sports talking heads, the bottle was emptied in just over a minute at the cost of $1,650 per second. Excess is wonderful.

posted by Howard_T at 08:25 PM on October 31

FanGraphs has Pedroia with 1.0 more WAR than Zobrist this year.

Unless I am having vision problems, they're both at 5.4, no?

Zobrist is also a peculiar case, because if he did the exact same thing he did last year (5.4 WAR in 700 PA), he'd be 0.1 behind Pedroia's total since 2002 with about 100 fewer PA. Having watched the two a lot during BOS-TB games, perhaps it's the homer in me but it just felt like Pedroia was more impactful.

posted by dfleming at 08:39 PM on October 31

Since we're now officially in the hot stove season, do you think think we'll eventually start seeing WAR based contracts? I still have strong reservations about some elements of WAR, but I'm curious if there is some payroll/rules reason we've not seen a WAR contract. Baseball has some rules around performance based contracts (that I think stem from cases like Eddie Cicotte being denied a substantial bonus for 30 wins, when he was benched for several games stuck at 29 wins), but I wonder if it would start making sense to have base pay plus WAR incentives. If done well, it seems like a win-win for the club and the player. The downside is that the team might end up paying a fortune for a monster year... but that still seems better than paying guaranteed money to guys like Crawford et al.

The current estimated value of a WAR is about $6-7M. If you were an Ellsbury, would you sign a deal that was 5 years, guaranteed $4M base pay/year, and $3M/WAR? Sure, if you have a 2012 season, you'll make $7M, and be a little overpaid but not horribly so for the franchise... but if you have another year like 2011, you'd make $28M that year. Which, for an 8.1 WAR player is a pretty good deal for everyone. The player would never get a guaranteed contract at an 8 WAR rate, while the club can't exactly complain that theyre paying $30M/yr for a player producing $48M in value. To meet his hope of say a 7/140 rate, he'd have to produce ~4 WAR a year. If he can't, he probably not a $20M/yr player... but if he exceeds that he sees even more money.

Mike Trout should sign a contract like that. If he's as good as he has been, hed be the highest paid player in the majors every year. If he drops off a cliff/gets injured at some point, he'd stop making that kind of money, but still have a steady guaranteed contract that the Angels could swallow without much fuss.

posted by hincandenza at 11:31 PM on October 31

but I'm curious if there is some payroll/rules reason we've not seen a WAR contract.

Three reasons:

1) Who's calculating WAR? Baseball-Reference.com and Fangraphs can't agree on the final value because they use different numbers for some of the components.

2) The defensive component of WAR is definitely the weakest part, and prone to some heated disagreements among its supporters. Calculating defense is still in its infancy, and there are components that are simply ignored in the calculations (catcher pitch framing, for example).

3) Because it isn't a "simple" stat (HR are HR, AVG is universally calculated, even OPS is well understood), I don't think anyone wants to leave it up to some formula that they don't understand to determine their livelihood.

Here is how it's explained on Wikipedia:

Baseball Reference uses six components to calculate WAR for position players: The components are batting runs, baserunning runs, runs added or lost due to grounding into double plays in double play situations, fielding runs, positional adjustment runs, and replacement level runs (based on playing time). The first five factors are compared to league average, so a value of 0 represents an average player.

bWAR = (P_{runs} - A_{runs}) + (A_{runs} - R_{runs})

The term P_{runs} - A_{runs} may be calculated from the first five factors, and the other term from the remaining factor.

Batting runs depends on weighted Runs Above Average (wRAA), weighted to the offense of the league, and is calculated from wOBA.

wRAA = ({wOBA - .320}/{1.25}) * (AB + BB +HBP + SF + SH)

where

wOBA = {(a1 * uBB + a2 * HBP + a3 * 1B + a4 * 2B + a5 * 3B + a6 * HR + a7 * SB - a8 * CS) / (AB+BB-IBB+HBP+SF)}

Here, "AB" is the number of at bats, "BB" the number of base on balls ("uBB" is unintentional base on balls and "IBB" is intentional base on balls), HBP the number of times hit by pitch, "SF" the number of sacrifice flies, "SH" the number of sacrifice hits, "1B" the number of singles, "2B" the number of doubles, "3B" the number of triples, "HR" the number of home runs, "SB" the number of stolen bases, and "CS" the number of caught stealing.

a1 to a8 represent weighting coefficients. Baseball Reference eliminates pitcher batting results from its data, computes linear weights and wOBA coefficients for each league, then scales the values for each league and season.

The positional adjustment is a value dependent on the players position: +10.0 for a catcher, −10 for a first baseman, +3.0 for a second baseman, +2.0 for a third baseman, +7.5 for a shortstop, −7.5 for a left fielder, +2.5 for a center fielder, −7.5 for a right fielder, and −15.0 for a designated hitter. These values are set assuming 1,350 innings played (150 games of 9 innings). A player's positional adjustment is the sum of the positional adjustment for each position played by the player scaled to the number of games played by the player at that position, normalized to 1,350 innings.

I have a BMath degree, and I shudder when I look at that.
Eight different weighted coefficients are used in the sub-component of a sub-component of a sub-component of the formula?
Arbitrarily determined weighting for defensive position?

And you want your paycheque based on that calculation?
Where the difference could be millions of dollars a year?

posted by grum@work at 12:14 AM on November 01

The exact formula could be set in the contract, or state that it is the average of 3 well-known and respected calculations. This is not insurmountable or as variant as you imagine; a different formula might cost you a few million but in the scale of things is easily absorbed for the massive benefit.

The player doesnt have to calculate the value himself, you know. Seeing as Joe Schmo sabermetric enthusiasts can crunch this value in an afternoon, it's not exactly an impossible hurdle. This is what agents are for: to tell the player "If you equal your performance thus far, you'll make $X a year, with a minimum guaranteed at $Y"

Given that at $3M/WAR, Mike Trout would have earned about $60M over the last two years, why the hell WOULDN'T you sign that contract? Because math is hard? I dont have a math degree, but at $30M/yr, I'd happily calculate and double check Trout's compensation for a mere 1% handling fee.

posted by hincandenza at 12:57 AM on November 01

Since we're now officially in the hot stove season, do you think think we'll eventually start seeing WAR based contracts?

As a negotiating point I'd be surprised if it hasn't happened already. Scott Boras prepared a 73-page report on Prince Fielder when he was selling him as a free agent, I'd be amazed if WAR (and similar SABR-ish metrics) weren't involved. Teams have access to tools and internal statistical measures we'll never see as the raw data is private, stats are very significant to some teams.

If you're talking about a contract with WAR-based incentives I'd say just this side of never, the defensive component of WAR is far too volatile for either side to want to use it.

posted by deflated at 12:57 AM on November 01

Unless I am having vision problems, they're both at 5.4, no?

How strange: for the current year I went with this link at Fangraphs which shows the 1.0 difference. Oh, Zobrist played 31 games in right and 15 at SS. So we're both correct (but I think you're a little more correct).

posted by yerfatma at 09:51 AM on November 01

I still really have no idea how the Red Sox won when you consider their pitching was down to Lester and Lackey for the most part.

Reminiscent of Tom Kelly's "Two and a Half Men (and a Closer)" rotation in the 1987 Series, featuring Viola, Blyleven, and Riordan.

Which was reprised by Lasorda the following year with Hershiser, Belcher, and Howell.

Tougher to pull off in today's compressed 2-3-2 format, without the added travel/rest days of the more relaxed 2-2-1-1-1. (And Kelly's Twins were a dome squad, so four out of seven games with no chance of a rainout).

posted by beaverboard at 09:59 AM on November 01

Given that at $3M/WAR, Mike Trout would have earned about $60M over the last two years, why the hell WOULDN'T you sign that contract? Because math is hard? I dont have a math degree, but at $30M/yr, I'd happily calculate and double check Trout's compensation for a mere 1% handling fee.

Incentive-based contracts are already pretty rare, and typically deal with playing time incentives for players who are massive injury risk. Achievement-type incentives other than playing time are typically for things like All Star appearances, home run or batting titles, etc. and typically add marginal comp to the overall deal (i.e., are not a major component of overall compensation, but more token bonuses).

The primary reason this will not be done is because a contract is an attempt to balance risk in a kind of veil of ignorance/original position state. With fully guaranteed contracts, the club is at risk that players break down and are unable to play or unable to play to expectations (the crazy thing about this Cardinals team and the run they were able to make is that they paid Chris Carpenter, Rafael Furcal, and Jason Motte approx. $24MM this year in the aggregate and none of them played a single game -- and each of them, save Motte, would likely have been a pretty significant upgrade over his replacement). The player, on the other hand, takes the risk that he will majorly outperform his contract and thus have left money on the table. So the parties try to find some fair middle ground that protects the club from the downside risk of the player underperforming/not playing (while giving the club the upside of potential overperformance) and the player takes the sure thing of a guaranteed contract knowing that if he ends up getting injured (even career-ending), he will get paid his guaranteed amount (but taking the downside risk that he could end up underpaid relative to performance).

posted by holden at 10:16 AM on November 01

Mike Trout would have earned about $60M over the last two years, why the hell WOULDN'T you sign that contract?

I don't disagree with you now that the results are in, but there are a few questions or reasons I think this is a bad idea for players and for teams:

1) What % of players are vastly underpaid, based on WAR, like Mike Trout? It seems to me the only scenario that really applies to is players who are under team control for a period of time where their ability to get raises is muted by an existing pay structure or arbitration system. Once you're a FA, $30m/season for that kind of production is attainable.

2) Performance-based contracts benefit GMs - what happens if Trout is hurt for the year? Today, he gets paid - tomorrow, he doesn't. Especially for pitchers, the prospect of a season-ending injury at some point in your career is a good one. You're trading certainty on a pretty good FA market for uncertainty and a small amount of upside financially. Trout at his current rate gets $30m/year on the open market - do you think an achievable variable contract at $40m or $50m is out there? The top players aren't hitting much of a ceiling these days in guaranteed money.

3) Performance-based contracts would kill small market teams with a budget. Seriously - a team like Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh or Oakland, whose success doesn't scale in terms of financials (seeing as they can't get people out to see some really exciting players) - you could almost see a situation where they're forced to trade players away mid-season because they can't afford how successful they are.

posted by dfleming at 10:23 AM on November 01

Deadspin was doing their darndest to make them out to be monsters, but it comes across as comedy because the team is both talented and classy

I think it came across as comedy because it was intended to be comedy. Deadspin is pretty much 100% snark, especially Drew Magary. While the article was based on a kernel of truth about the self-righteous nature of the Cards and their fans, it was intended to be an over the top charicature of that kernel. It wasn't until angry Cards fans started writing in and behaving just like that charicature that Deadspin really ran with the idea.

posted by tahoemoj at 11:54 AM on November 01

1) What % of players are vastly underpaid, based on WAR, like Mike Trout?
Actually, if WAR's value is $6-7M/yr, then almost every player is underpaid who has a positive WAR over 2. The people who would be hurt by such contracts are players with a couple of great years who then go into a stretch of having 1.0 WAR or less seasons at say $12M/per.

2) Performance-based contracts benefit GMs - what happens if Trout is hurt for the year? Today, he gets paid - tomorrow, he doesn't. Especially for pitchers, the prospect of a season-ending injury at some point in your career is a good one. You're trading certainty on a pretty good FA market for uncertainty and a small amount of upside financially. Trout at his current rate gets $30m/year on the open market - do you think an achievable variable contract at $40m or $50m is out there? The top players aren't hitting much of a ceiling these days in guaranteed money.
I wouldn't say such contracts benefit GMs only. You are absolutely right that the standard contract trades maximum fair pay for mitigating risk- on both sides.

The traditional contract is the Powerball day for a player when they re-sign after becoming established; that guaranteed money is meant in part to pay them for the years they were having great years under club-controlled terms, but also balancing against the fact that by the time they sign that contract, the player is probably near or starting their downhill slide.

A-Rod was much pilloried for his $250M contract and its extension but... he was absolutely worth every penny. He's a three-time MVP with two other 2nd place finishes to vastly inferior players, and his career WAR is already 115, which at a 50% payrate of $3M per (half the actual value of a WAR) means that the $353M total in contract money he has earned and also still has left through the rest of his Yankee contract has already been paid for, basically twice over. If he stays in the game after this winter, every WAR he puts out is in one sense effectively free. As much as the Yankees will carp about it, A-Rod was an 8+ WAR player for most of his career in NY, which by current estimations should have been paying him $42M/yr, not $25-28M.

A player like Trout might be the first to hit that $30M/yr payrate and would be a great candidate for an early re-signing as it is, but a WAR based contract means he starts making huge money now, while LA avoids the possibility that if he tanks completely due to injury/weight gain or something they're saddled with a huge and absolutely unloadable contract. LA especially should be worried about that, having brought over guys like Pujols and Hamilton who- as good as they were- are going to be less and less valuable with each passing year.

Trout benefits by getting the A-Rod money while he's one of the best players in the game, at a risk that in a few years he'll get the minimum guaranteed only due to injury/debilitating skills.

But- he already takes that risk, that by the time he's in a good negotiating position to get the big contract he won't be commanding the money he could now. He's not arbitration eligible until 2015, and not a full free agent until 2018, so he's putting out nearly 10 WAR a year for barely above the league minimum! That's why I see it as a balanced benefit: players get money early and often when they're good, with no ceiling if they "jump" to the next level, but at a risk to the long term steady contract- which they only needed because they were underpaid during their early and prime years.

Teams might end up paying a guy like Trout a fortune- but it's not like they aren't getting actual, on-field wins for that performance. And over the life of the contract, there's a decent chance the player actually exceeds what the traditional contract would have paid.

And that's why I think such a contract would benefit Ellsbury. He and Boras are going to have to argue this winter that the player people would sign would be 2011 Ellsbury and not 2012 Ellsbury (and probably agree that 2013 Ellsbury is a closer approximation). If he's really the 2012 version, then any team that pays him will be seriously burned- the worry about which will scare away suitors. But if teams can sign him at $4M/yr but run the risk he'll put up an 8 WAR season when fully healthy and thus cost him A-Rod's salary... well, that'd be worth it if you were the Cubs for example. Ellsbury is 30 years old, so everything says you don't sign him to too huge a deal- but he and Boras want a huge deal because of the 20 WAR he's put out already. If they are right, a WAR contract gets him that big payday. If they are wrong, he still makes millions as a 1.0-2.0 WAR/year guy, not far off from what a guaranteed contract pays.

The numbers I've heard are that Ellsbury wants a 7/140 deal, and this during his age 31 to 37 seasons when we'd expect a CF to drop off the table in the last couple of years. However, by the contract I outlined, that'd be a 7/$28M deal with a $3M/WAR payout, and he'd have to average 5 WAR a year to equal a 7/140 deal.

He was an everyday player since his rookie year, so in those 6 years he's put up 20.4 WAR or 3.4 a year; this would be a payout of $14.2M/yr if he kept being that player. However, he also was injured during two of those years, so if we take the 4 years he played full seasons, he put out 4.9 WAR/year, hence the 7/140 contract hopes.

Not as many teams will want to risk that kind of money on a player who effectively missed half or all of two different seasons in just 6 years. But more teams would risk paying out a WAR-based contract, since if he's playing at the level he hopes he'll meet or exceed that 7/140 number. In this way, a WAR based contract opens up Ellsbury to more markets and teams (including Boston it should be said), which increases his chances of getting that 7/140 payout after all- and possibly more.

3) Performance-based contracts would kill small market teams with a budget. Seriously - a team like Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh or Oakland, whose success doesn't scale in terms of financials (seeing as they can't get people out to see some really exciting players) - you could almost see a situation where they're forced to trade players away mid-season because they can't afford how successful they are.
This is somewhat true, but we wouldn't necessarily see many WAR based contracts- their real value is initially for the young budding superstars or the questionable but potentially high upside established players looking for that big deal. The real sticklers for the current model are the overpaid superstars getting sweet deals.

To be honest, I still would like to ultimately see something akin to a rotisserie payroll situation: each team is required to put in $X + Y% of their revenue to a general payroll fund. The Player's Union then remits that money to the players based on a player-determined scheme, not dissimilar to my WAR-based contract. Teams would then get certain amounts of "payroll buxx" to spend on players, and lock them into a 3 or 5 year deal, with that payroll buxx amount being not strictly linear but related to the amount they put into the general fund- essentially lower income teams would get disproportionately more buxx than they put in, while the highest income teams would get proportionately less. The Yankees would actually come to like this model: they'd still have an edge, although the payroll tax and its complications would be replaced by something that actually was used on payroll and not lining cheap owner's pockets. If a player blows up and starts earning far more than the team can "afford", the Player's Union makes up the difference from the general pool since it's probably offset by someone having a shit year who makes less than expected (happily, they can create formulas that pay out all players fairly, regardless of age/length of service, from the general pool- and that pool would reflect a fair percentage of gross revenue from MLB, so you wouldn't have any scummy Charles Comiskey type owners).

On average, this type of plan would be fair to all players, would maximize payroll, and depending on how you skew (or eliminate) the proportionality could even bring much needed parity to teams. Players would mostly play where they wanted and get paid fairly for what they did. I'm not sure how we'd avoid all the good players running to the same team, going 125-37, and winning the WS in a romp, as you'd want some way for teams to "lock in" a fan-favorite player for a few years, since fans would grow tired of a revolving door of players each year, but it seems achievable.

And I think one way to get to this model would be a return to performance based contracts, since we aren't living in the Eddie Cicotte or even Curt Flood era anymore.

posted by hincandenza at 02:08 PM on November 01

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