A Baseball Player and His True Value

Terms like batting averagestrikeout, and stolen base were coined in the nineteenth century, while other statistics like total average (1970s) and on-base percentage (1984) are still relatively new to us. For those that follow baseball either religiously or just casually, those terms mentioned above should be familiar to you. But what about things like Defense independent pitching statisticsPeripheral ERA, or my personal favorite…NERD (Narration, Exposition, Reflection, Description)? Some thirty years ago, baseball historian Bill James coined a new term, sabermetrics, that would shape the way we look at stats. Sabermetrics, as defined by, is the application of statistical analysis to baseball records, esp. in order to evaluate and compare the performance of individual player. So, basically, a fantasy baseball manager’s dream.

Everyday, I tune into a baseball game or watch highlights and I hear about things like batting average and value over replacement player and I often wonder, “if Joe Schmo can come up with some unimportant stat, why can’t I?” Of course to Joe Schmo, his stat is probably the greatest thing since 1924 (the first year sliced bread was sold). I’ll have the same feelings about my new statistic, True Value (or TV for short. Hope I don’t get sued by whoever controls Philo Farnsworth and his patents).

True Value is rather simple. It takes four general already made up stats and turns it into one unique stat to determine a baseball player’s true value. Batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage, as well as a player and his salary will all formulate in his True Value. The equation looks something like this.

TV = (AVG + SLG + OBP) / SALARY(in millions)

By taking the three most important statistics that a hitter can have (those three measure how often he gets on base, his power, and his hits to at bats ratio), we can truly see if he is deserving of the contract he signed. As a side note, if you think that equation up there looks confusing, just take a look at the NERD equation:

pNERD = (xFIPz \times 2) + (SwStrk%z/2) + (Strike%z / 2) + LUCK + 4.69

Have fun with that.

Anyway, let’s look at some examples of players and their stats from the 2010 regular season.

Let’s use the reigning AL MVP Josh Hamilton from the Texas Rangers. His splits (AVG/SLG/OBP) were .359/.633/.411, which is a 1.403 combined total. Josh Hamilton made $3.25 million dollars last year. 1.403/3.25 = .432. This number gives us a starting point as to what is considered great, good, and bad. Obviously, the higher the stats and the lower the salary, the higher the true value. Players on the Marlins and Rays have an advantage, so let’s take a look at Hanley Ramirez and Evan Longoria to see if this holds up.

Hanley Ramirez: (.300/.475/.378)/ 7 = .165

Evan Longoria: (.294/.507/.372) / .950 (made $950,000 in 2010) = 1.234

This is a fantastic comparison between three all-stars with three different salaries. Hanley Ramirez, while considered an off year for what we are use to, had a very nice year. He batted a respectable .300, but the fact that he made exactly seven million dollars this year dropped his True Value number significantly. Evan Longoria, on the other hand,  had a lower batting average and on-base percentage than Ramirez and was lower in all three when compared to Hamilton, but because he only made $950,000 last year, his TV was exceptionally high.

This new stat is no where near finished, but at least it’s a start and it gives us something to think about. When on a limited budget, like an Athletics team or a Rays team, maybe this will come in handy. Of course with this, new questions arise, like “well would I rather have Hamilton or Longoria on my team?” I can’t answer that.

I’ll just let the sabermetrics freaks figure that one out.

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