December 18, 2012

Posnanski Expects Big Decline for Pujols, Hamilton: Joe Posnanski predicts that the Angels' Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton will contribute less offensively over the next five years than the Royals' Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez. "Josh Hamilton, as mentioned, will turn 32 years old in May. ... Pujols, as mentioned, will turn 33 in January," he writes. "Players of those ages of 32 and 33, more often than not, are in full decline mode, some frighteningly so. "

posted by rcade to baseball at 01:13 PM - 8 comments

This is exactly what I want to hear as a Rangers fan who just finished burning all my notebooks full of love poetry to Hamilton. But I am skeptical that his prediction will prove true, given that the bar he's setting for the beasts of Anaheim is pretty low.

posted by rcade at 01:15 PM on December 18, 2012

Hamilton will also have to deal with the dreaded "marine layer" in Anaheim, although maybe that's only in left field . . .

posted by Mookieproof at 03:27 PM on December 18, 2012

"marine layer" in Anaheim

In Anaheim? I always thought the Marine layers were the girls who worked the bars outside Camp Pendleton.

posted by Howard_T at 11:38 PM on December 18, 2012

Howard_T: In Anaheim? I always thought the Marine layers were the girls who worked the bars outside Camp Pendleton.
Hey-yo, Howard's working blue today! :)

It is an interesting premise, and is the heart of Moneyball style thinking. The guys who are 22 are going to be vastly cheaper (we'll say at a salary of 1/A of the superstars) than the proven stars, and there's some decent chance (we'll call it a 1 in B chance) they have a 3-4+ WAR production year-over-year. In general, any player getting regular time in the majors at or before his 22nd year is fairly likely to have a high upside. Meanwhile, the 32/33 year olds who were churning out 7-8+ WAR years are almost a certainty to drop to 3-4 WAR very quickly- or worse.

If the pay rate multiple of A (i.e., superstar costs A times as much as 22-year-old) is greater than B, then the young player will "pay out" better than the superstars. For example, if the 22-year-old costs 1/20th of what you pay Hamilton and Pujols, while they are a 1/5 (20%) chance of equaling or exceeding the 3-4 WAR or better of the superstar over the next 5-10 years, then they're a great bet: they "pay out" at a 4x rate of your investment.

However, it's just not that simple, for several reasons:

  • You can't just go to the 20-year-old future superstar store and pick out a guy who is the next ARod or Mike Trout. Teams with players who are in the majors at age 19, 20, or 21 are not going to let them go easily: these are the heart of a successful team, the highly productive yet cost-controlled young player. Not that some teams don't trade away these guys anyway- but when they do, history usually looks at it in a very negative light.
  • You can't actually pick which player is going to produce; you can guess, but you could be wrong. Whereas even with a dropoff, Hamilton and Pujols are likely to have a combined net positive contribution of 7-8 wins for the next 4-5 seasons. You pay a premium for the certainty, if you can afford it.
  • Those 22-year-olds could be the next ARod or Trout or Pujols... but not next year. And some teams are spending more money to compete immediately, not build a long-term infrastructure.
  • Many contracts are signed for X years to clinch the deal, but are really for Y years, where the Angels are hoping that Pujols and Hamilton help bring them a Series berth or title in any one of the next 3 or so years. If they win the World Series in 2013, 2014, or 2015, they are likely to not care as much about the high cost per win they'll be paying those guys in 2016-2018
  • The value of a dollar is simply different for different franchises; clearly an Anaheim, LA, or NYC dollar is far cheaper, and thus they can and do spend a lot more for the same production. A midwest franchise by comparison has to conserve their money because they have less of it- so they have to pay less $ per win than a team like the Yankees.
  • Perhaps most importantly, many of the drop off expectations and calculations were set before the modern era. Even if you take PEDs off the table, legitimate medicine can and will prolong the career and effectiveness of players. Those top players will have the money and incentive to prolong their careers more than most, and when their knees start to creak or the elbow gets sore, they'll have more options like surgery, stem cells, blood transfusions, and god knows what else coming down the pipe. So while Hamilton and Pujols will drop off... the drop off for superstars may become less pronounced, or their effective time extended such that 37 eventually becomes the new 32.

All that said, I get Posnanski's point, that this is a "bad deal" from the perspective of money/win the Angels will be paying. But they only have to have one or two serious playoff runs in the next few years to make this "worth it"; a World Series win will make those last couple of years of Hamilton and Pujols an acceptable albatross on their payroll.

posted by hincandenza at 12:20 AM on December 19, 2012

This is exactly what I want to hear as a Rangers fan who just finished burning all my notebooks full of love poetry to Hamilton.

Jeez, poetry to Hamilton; Tebow being your "moon," "sun," and "stars"?

You may be a little too emotionally attached. ;-)

posted by dyams at 06:12 AM on December 19, 2012

Just a little overattached. And now I may have to come up with words that rhyme with Pierzynski.

posted by rcade at 10:59 AM on December 19, 2012

I may have to come up with words that rhyme with Pierzynski


posted by beaverboard at 11:13 AM on December 19, 2012

Yet finding a rhyme for Pierzynski will be easier than rhyming Purple or Orange...

posted by Folkways at 12:08 PM on December 19, 2012

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