Lest anyone takes this seriously, let it be known that the following analysis is tongue-in-cheek.
Today, Fangraph’s fulltimer and known Mariners lover David Cameron posted on a topic titled “Free Agent Signings That Worked.” The comments section immediately devolved into a “you missed that guy” and/or “this guy is the best” and/or “this guy doesn’t belong” type of affair. I missed the boat on that.
One of the players on the list was Adrian Beltre who for the sum of $10 million with a mutual option designed never to be accepted, has provided the Red Sox with 5.7 WAR. What I wondered aloud was, what happens if we deduct the intrinsic costs. By now you might be on the same page as me and realize I’m calling Jacoby Ellsbury‘s lost season and Jeremy Hermida‘s summary dismissal as the intrinsic costs of employing Adrian Beltre. I call this an intrinsic cost because if we accept (again let me remind you, tongue-in-cheek) that owning Beltre was the necessary condition that caused the injuries to Ellsbury and Hermida, then Beltre’s actual value is not adequately captured by his WAR.
I’m going to use CHONE pre-season projections as my baseline for measuring the value of Ellsbury and Hermida.
Let’s start with the obviously better player, the once injured, thrice DL’d Jacoby Ellsbury. Jacoby has managed just 18 games this season and a pitiful .237 wOBA, but CHONE projected a healthy .353 wOBA over 142 games. Depending on how you weigh his defense, that leaves you with a 3.5-4 WAR player.
Then there’s Jeremy Hermida, who was ostensibly Ellsbury’s top backup. CHONE projected a .340 wOBA in 130 games. The games estimate immediately strikes me as a little too high so if we adjust that downwards we get a player worth about 1 WAR. But then there’s the consideration of how he actually did. In 52 games, Hermida managed a paltry .269 wOBA, which led to his dismissal. His actual -.7 WAR may have at least in part been due to his early June collision with Beltre. Or perhaps Beltre recognized an under-performing player and dealt with him the best way he knew how.
So what’s the final tally here? The author of two collisions, Adrian Beltre seems to have eliminated 4.5-5 WAR of projected value from the roster, although the actual production of the players in question is closer to -1 WAR. Further obscuring the final tally is the competence of the Red Sox backups. While Ellsbury(-.3 WAR), Hermida (-.7), Mike Cameron (-.3), and Eric Patterson(-.3) have provided negative value to the roster the back up quintet of Jonathan Van Every (.1), Ryan Kalish (.1), Josh Reddick (.2), Daniel Nava (.6), and Darnell McDonald (1.2) have done a decent job of keeping the outfield afloat. Still you have to figure that at the very least, a healthy Ellsbury adds 3.5 wins to the roster. Ultimately, that’s what I’m comfortable deducting from Beltre, 3.5 wins. Yes, a lot of fudging just happened in that paragraph.
Beltre WAR (5.7) – damages (3.5) = Net Wins (2.2)
Dollars ($10)/Net Value (2.2) = Dollars per Net Win (4.54)
Suddenly Adrian Beltre is an average free agent signing, eh?