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Teixeira Trade a Mistake for Angels


The Angels finally made a bold move. By trading for Mark Teixeira, they attempted to improve their team for a run deep into October. Unfortunately for them, by trading Casey Kotchman in the process, the Angels hardly improved their team at all.


Using Marcel projections, we can predict that, by the end of the season, Mark Teixeira will be worth 118 runs created. Casey Kotchman will be worth 84. That means that, offensively, over the entire season, Teixeira is worth 34 runs over Kotchman. This equates to 3-4 wins.

Teixeira is also noted for his excellent defense…but so is Kotchman (actually, Teixeira is fourth in RZR among first basemen this year, and Kotchman is fifth). Thus, the difference in their difference is negligible.

Therefore, over the entire season, Teixeira is worth 3-4 more wins than Kotchman. That’s a lot.

But of course, Teixeira is a two-month rental for the Angels. That means that he will spend approximately 1/3 of the regular season in Los Angeles. Thus, he’s worth 1/3 of 3.4 wins, which is 1.1 wins.

Now, one extra wins can be extremely important in a tight pennant race. It wouldn’t be surprising if several of the races in the National League are decided by a game or two; thus, every extra win a team in a tight pennant race can obtain is tremendously valuable. Furthermore, the value of simply making the playoffs is extraordinary.

But the Angels aren’t in a tight pennant race. In fact, they’re 12 games ahead in their division – and their biggest competitors, the Oakland Athletics, have already traded 40% of their starting rotation (with perhaps more trades on the way). Baseball Prospectus gives Los Angeles a 93% chance of making the playoffs - higher than any team in baseball. 

Thus, even though the Angels have out-performed their run differential thus far (their third order record is 54-51), they needn’t worry too much about making the playoffs. Part of their over-performance can be explained by their excellent bullpen. Furthermore, at this point in the season their lead is so large – and, just as importantly, the team chasing them is significantly worse now than they have been for the most of the season – that the chances of the Angels missing the playoffs are quite remote.

So the Angels have made this trade knowing that, most likely, they would make the playoffs even if they did not make the trade. Therefore, they are essentially obtaining a playoff upgrade. 

The playoffs can last for, at most, 19 games. Even if they do last for all 19 games, chances are no batter will accumulate more than 100 plate appearances in any given October (barring a tremendous amount of extra inning games). Therefore, let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that Mark Teixeira or Casey Kotchman would accumulate 100 plate appearances during this upcoming October. That equates to approximately 1/7 of the amount of plate appearances during an entire season (Marcel projects Teixeira to finish the season with 690 plate appearances).

Therefore, we would expect Teixeira to create 16.85 runs over those 100 plate appearances (118 runs created divided by seven, for 1/7 of a season). We would also expect Kotchman to create 12 runs over those 100 plate appearances (84 runs divided by seven). 

Thus, even if the Angels first baseman accumulates 100 plate appearances during October – basically, the maximum amount possible – the difference between Teixeira and Kotchman, is 4.85 runs – for argument’s sake, let’s call the difference five runs.

Five runs. That’s half a win. And that’s assuming 100 plate appearances in October when, in actuality, the amount of plate appearances the Angels first baseman is likely to receive is far less (for example, last October Kevin Youkilis had 58 total plate appearances). If, like Youkilis, the Angels first baseman receives 58 plate appearances this upcoming October, the difference between Teixeira and Kotchman shrinks to 2.9 runs. 

Yes, Teixeira is an excellent player. The problem for the Angels is that, in order to get him, they had to give up a pretty darn good player. Teixeira would have tremendous value if he was added alongside Casey Kotchman (replacing Garret Anderson at DH, for example), rather than instead of him. Or, if the Angels were in a tight pennant race, the one win that Teixeira would add over Kotchman in the final two months of the season would be extremely valuable and important. But the Angels aren’t in a tight pennant race. They’re almost certainly going to make the playoffs, even had they not made this trade.

Therefore, this trade can be seen as an upgrade for the playoffs only. And, as such, that upgrade is simply very small, even if somehow Teixeira receives 100 plate appearances. 

Let’s not even consider the reliever headed to Atlanta (he’s got pretty good numbers in double-A) and the fact that Kotchman is under control for the next three years. Let’s leave aside the fact that Teixeira now being a member of the Angels does not give them a leg up on re-signing him in the offseason – not while Scott Boras is his agent.

The Angels made this trade in order to improve themselves in October. Problem is, this trade hardly improves their chances in the playoffs at all.