13 October 2016

BORAS (Position Players): 2017 Update

Eleven months ago, I published the first version of the model that bears a great acronym and a horrible name: BORAS (Ballplayer Observation-based Remuneration Assumption System).  What I found was that with only knowledge of age and performance over the past three years that it was able to be a front line predictor of salaries in comparison to experts and systems using crowd knowledge.  One more note, this model does not consider injury history at all. 

For this year, I updated the model by including the salaries from last year.  The model has shifted slightly.  Last year's model basically attached a 50% value to the most recent season, a 15% value to two seasons ago, and a 35% value for three seasons ago for the variables considered.  That has shifted slightly.  This year's version with last year's contracts added now put a greater emphasis on the most current year at around 55%, a slightly increase in year 2 at 19%, and a steep drop of year three to 26%.  This weighting suggests that front office may be moving toward placing greater value on more recent seasons than long term production, but, again, this shift is minor though significant.

Anyway, lets move on to the projected salaries.  I will split them up by position.  Let me know if you want other players and I will try to incorporate them in updates.

Matt Wieters 31 2 20.2
Jason Castro 30 2 20.4
Alex Avila 30 2 19.8
Kurt Suzuki 33 1 8.4
Wilson Ramos 29 3 40.1

Catcher is a position that I think BORAS will have trouble with in that it does not consider pitch framing skills to a great extent.  Still, it is remarkable that a superb pitch framer like Castro is viewed on par with someone like Wieters.  It is also remarkable that Avila comes across at such a high salary when the feeling in the market is that he is a poor catcher.  I also imagine Wilson Ramos' injury will have a dampening impact on his deal.

First Base
Edwin Encarnacion 34 4 67.5
Logan Morrison 29 2 16.7
Mitch Moreland 31 1 8.1
Brandon Moss 33 1 9.5
Adam Lind 33 1 7.8
Mike Napoli 35 1 9.7
Steve Pearce 34 3 39.6

The first takeaway I see is that my gut thought Encarnacion would be looking at a greater payday.  As a solid four WAR player these past three years, I would have assumed he is looking at something more like 20 MM.  BORAS disagrees and sees a very good, but aging, player.  Another interesting contract is the projection of Morrison getting a multi-year deal.  Age may be a big factor here, but he has been quite underwhelming at first.  Finally, poor Steve Pearce and his arm injury.  Without the arm injury and with a competent September, Pearce could have been looking at putting up about 10 WAR total over the past three seasons.  Instead, I think he might become one of the biggest bargains.  It would not be the worst thing if the Orioles try to pencil him in as a DH/Jack-of-all-Trades player.

Rest of the Infield
Neil  Walker 31 4 60.5
Chase Utley 38 1 11.3
Erick Aybar 33 2 21.5
Justin Turner 32 5 96.7

I am grouping the rest of the infield simply because the pickings look slim.  So slim that I wonder if I remembered everyone.  Anyway, it should be interesting to see how the injury impacts Walker.  Utley resurrected himself a bit this year with decent defense and a passable bat.  Justin Turner went from being an extra on a MacPhail Orioles' squad years ago to perhaps the Jewel of the Offseason, according to BORAS.

Yeonis Cespedes 31 4 69.8
Colby Rasmus 30 2 23.2
Dexter Fowler 31 4 64.3
Jose  Bautista 36 2 28.8
Jay Bruce 30 1 7.2
Josh Reddick 30 3 40.9
Mark Trumbo 31 2 18.3
Pedro Alvarez 30 1 8.3

BORAS thinks that Cespedes would be nuts to opt out of his deal.  Dexter Fowler's one season bet on himself has turned out monumentally well for him.  Jose Bautista's BORAS numbers seem awfully lower, but his rather unimpressive 2016 campaign makes it unlikely he will see the 100+ MM he was hoping for and completely unlikely for the 200+ MM he dreamed of.  Jay Bruce looks like his option will be turned down.

Trumbo.  Folks will look at all the home runs Trumbo hit.  They will likely look over his poor defense in right field and that his offense contributed little besides home runs.  The result is a rather middling player.  I think in the outfield or at designated hitter, a 2/18.3 deal makes complete sense to me.  However, I think Trumbo can actually play first base.  If you think Trumbo is a competent first baseman, like I think he is, then BORAS thinks he should see 3/39.5.  That will be the bet.  To the Orioles, Trumbo is not all that needed or exactly useful because first base is a taken position.  However, another club with a hole at first base should value him at a greater level.  The best play for the Orioles would be to offer the QO at around 18 MM with the belief that a team in dire need for a 1B will feel free to let go of their draft pick for Trumbo.

Alvarez.  Alvarez' value is quite minimal because he is restricted to DH.  There are claims that he has improved at first base, but it would be surprising to think he is anything more than poor there.  If someone actually thinks he can play there, then he is a 2/20 player.  Again though, the Orioles really do not have that as a need and would be better set with someone who can play a different position in a pinch.


Pip said...

I was unclear about this last year: if a player accepts an offered QO, how long, if at all, must a team wait before trading that player?
If Trumbo accepted, could he be traded immediately, or would the team have to wait for a time?

Jon Shepherd said...

Free agent rules. Player cannot be traded until June 15th without their consent.

Roger said...

Looks like Jay Bruce is the Trumbo/Cruz of the year. A LH OF with a potentially huge bat that could play very well at OPACY. And decent defense to boot. If the O's can get Bruce for 1 at 7.2M then they should snap him up. They should also include a team option for a second year at a higher salary. Rasmus might be good as a RF/backup CF but Bourn will be a much better "deal". The O's need to snap up Bourn too at his very likely much reduced rate. Bourn and Bruce will resolve the O's OF issues leaving SP and C as the main concerns. I bet anything the O's try to get Ramos cheap and let Joseph/Pena do the catching until he returns from injury. Unfortunately about 15 other teams will try to do the same and someone else will pay more. Castro is an interesting "buy low" candidate. Will he hit or won't he? Might be better for the O's to count on Joseph as a bounce back candidate especially with more innings to get more consistency. Pena is a fine backup until Sisco is ready. Mancini will fill the DH slot.

This list looks very good for the O's if they can play it to their advantage. Oddly, if the O's do not sign a FA SP then arbitration should not kill the payroll this year especially with Wieters off the books. They could keep their draft picks for once and have a very competitive team. The O's could have a very quiet winter if they can make Bruce and Bourn their primary signings (and dump Gallardo's salary). They could spend the rest of the time on a Machado extension.