Martin’s Metrics

A fun little tale of three players as originally posted by GM Martin Abresch on 9-26-17 on the GLBL SLACK thread.

Here is something that I’ve meant to do for a while. Three players, same position. Here they are in 2017:

year age AB H D T HR BB BA OBP SLG WAR
A 2017 31 523 134 18 1 33 61 .256 .334 .484 7.7
B 2017 31 479 145 33 4 0 76 .303 .401 .388 6.0
C 2017 27 551 159 38 4 24 44 .289 .343 .503 8.7“`

Two power hitters. Player A slugs homers; player C hits fewer home runs but scatters more doubles. Player C also wins the Lake Superior Player Award. Player B is an on-base machine. All three are clearly All-Star caliber players. (edited)

Same three players, now in 2018:

“` year age AB H D T HR BB BA OBP SLG WAR
A 2018 32 444 108 19 0 24 72 .243 .349 .448 6.8
B 2018 32 504 177 24 6 2 82 .351 .442 .435 9.1
C 2018 28 475 144 31 0 21 43 .303 .364 .501 8.9“`

Player C has another outstanding season. Player B has a career season and wins the Lake Superior Player Award. Player A puts together another strong season, slugging home runs and drawing walks.

And once more, the players in 2019:

“` year age AB H D T HR BB BA OBP SLG WAR
A 2019 33 526 138 22 2 17 65 .262 .344 .409 6.7
B 2019 33 532 155 14 6 3 74 .291 .379 .357 5.5
C 2019 29 417 117 28 0 12 34 .281 .335 .434 5.2“`

Player A holds steady in terms of WAR, homering less but doubling more. Players B and C come down from their 2018 highs, but they both post 5+ WAR seasons, nothing to scoff at. For the fun of it, lets look at their total WAR over these three seasons:

A 21.2
B 20.6
C 22.8

So here is the big question: which player do you want on your team going forward? All three of these players became free agents after the 2019 season. There wouldn’t seem to be a bad choice among them: all three are clearly All-Star quality, even in their worse seasons. Perhaps you prefer Player A’s power or Player B’s on-base skills or the fact that Player C is four years younger than the other two.

Even now, looking back, I would say that it’s a virtual toss-up. And I recall being surprised at the time of how little competition there was for their services in the off-season.

The power-hitting Player A is third-baseman Fu-Chi Li, then of Milwaukee. The on-base machine Player B is third-baseman Kevin Thomas, then of Toronto. The younger Player C is third-baseman John Roberson, then of Owen Sound.

Let’s see what they did in 2020:

“` year age AB H D T HR BB BA OBP SLG WAR
Li 2020 34 491 111 27 0 20 76 .226 .336 .403 6.1
Thomas 2020 34 472 142 18 4 5 87 .301 .410 .388 7.0
Roberson 2020 30 323 69 8 0 9 25 .214 .272 .322 1.8“`

Li only has a .226 average but all those doubles, homers, and walks keep him productive. Thomas has another strong season and posts a .410 OBP. Roberson … umm … ouch. Well, maybe that was a fluke.

Next season:

“` year age AB H D T HR BB BA OBP SLG WAR
Li 2021: 35 478 131 28 0 24 72 .274 .370 .483 6.0
Thomas 2021: 35 521 172 25 6 3 80 .330 .424 .418 5.6
Roberson 2021: 31 353 74 13 1 8 31 .210 .279 .320 0.7

Thomas would have been paid $29 million in 2020, but he executed his player option and began the off-season asking well over $30 million per season. Toronto all of a sudden had a big hole at third base. I couldn’t afford Thomas’s request, so I looked at Li and Roberson. Chicago snapped Li up for 6 years/$111 million or $18.5 million per season. I offered Roberson 5 years/$110 million or an average of $22 million per season and was surprised that nobody else drove the bidding up further. Thomas waited most of the off-season to sign, then was scooped up by Owen Sound for a bargain: 3 years/$39 million.