Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I'll Show You Overpaid...

I'm going to single Joel Sherman out here, but he is just stating a general sentiment that I've heard in several other places the most unequivocally (emphasis mine):
But, at this moment, Peavy has a foot injury and Rios is one of the most overpaid players in the majors. The risk is huge -- and fascinating.
"At this moment"? Alex Rios is making $5.9M in salary in 2009, which pro-rated for 112 games equates to $4.3M, and has already been worth $4.9 to the Blue Jays. He's actually slightly overpaid. And in general, saying a player who makes $6M is "one of the most overpaid players in the majors" is like ripping someone for driving a Jeep for getting bad gas mileage. Is it great? No, but let's look at the supercharged H1 Hummer parked directly next door.

Even if you are talking about Rios' value going forward, you could do a lot worse than paying a guy capable of playing a strong center field with a career OPS of .786 who steals about 20 bases per year an average of $11.75M over the next 5 seasons. For instance you could be giving $18M to Vernon Wells who can't play center and is putting up a .717 OPS to Rios' .744 this year, under the exact same circumstances.

It's not Rios' fault that the Blue Jays left him in right field because Wells and his reprehensible contract were blocking him in center, where he could have created the most value. Wells, by the way has been worth negative $3.6M to the Blue Jays this year according to FanGraphs, while making $18M.

Using this methodology, I've compiled a short, non-comprehensive list of MLB position players who, like Wells and unlike Rios actually are overpaid:

[values are extrapolated to a full season to match annual salaries,
all #'s via Cot's MLB Contracts and FanGraphs are in millions]

The guys with negative value get screwed by the extrapolation, because it multiplies their negative value, but you get the idea. Vernon Wells is the most overpaid position player in the MLB and it's only close because Jose Guillen (who actually apologized for sucking so badly) is even worse. Apparently the stank of his contract is rubbing off on the man to his left on defense.

This isn't to say that the Blue Jays handled Rios' contract well, even if he is currently appropriately valued. As Keith Law points out, they made a mistake with Alex Rios, whether it was overpaying for him initally or giving him away for free yesterday.