Wednesday, January 18, 2006

As you know, the Angels have wrapped up several arbitration-eligible players in the past few days, including K-Rod, Scot Shields, John Lackey, Legs Figgins, and others.

All of these signings struck me as a appropriate and fair. For each one of them, their actual performance is "worth" more in wins than what they're getting paid, which is what happens when you have productive players in their pre-free agent years.

Here are the seven arb-eligible players the Angels have, along with how many Win Shares they produced in 2005 (per The Hardball Times) and Wins Above Replacement (from Baseball Prospectus)
Player   Win Shares   WARP
Figgins 22 5.9
Lackey 17 6.1
Shields 12 6.1
K-Rod 11 6.2
Rivera 9 1.7
Donnelly 7 2.6
J. Molina 7 2.8
TOTAL 85 31.4
The team had 285 Win Shares total (all teams receive three Win Shares per win), so these guys accounted for nearly 30% of the team's wins by this measure. Clay Davenport's WARP method is even more generous to these guys: the team as a whole had 68 Wins Above Replacement, so these players accounted for 46% of the team's wins by that metric.

That WARP figure seems wacky to me, but I think this illustrates how important our inexpensive players were in 2005. And the good news is that this group of players will make just a bit over $15M or $16M in 2006, for a team with a likely payroll in the neighborhood of $90M-$100M. So they will continue to provide good value for their money, provided they stay healthy and productive.

This is, of course, a huge boon to the Angels, to be spending 15% of their money on roughly 40% of their wins. It's because of that that we haven't really been burned by overpaying the likes of Garret Anderson, Darin Erstad, and Orlando Cabrera. And with pre-arb guys like Casey Kotchman, Dallas McPherson, and Jeff Mathis scheduled to make greater contributions this year than in the past, this trend should continue.

This is a credit to the Angels farm system and minor league scouting (note that only three of the seven current arb-eligible players were actually Angel draftees), both of which have been a strength in the reign of Bill Stoneman. I'm as eager as anyone to point out when I think he's made a mistake, but credit should be given out when its due, and this is one aspect of team management at which the Angels have excelled in recent years.

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