Actual Salary vs. "Earned" Salary

To evaluate how efficient the Brewers organization has been in the past three years, we can compare what they paid each player to what the player's production would have been worth on the free agent market at that time.

For position players, this is pretty easy now that Fangraphs has player salary listed right next to player value on each page. Position player value factors in offense (wOBA) and defense (UZR), and it adjusts for position.

Pitchers are a bit more difficult. Fangraphs doesn't have them listed yet, so I used StatCorner's Pitcher WAR (based on tRA) and multiplied WAR by the following: $3.7 mil for 2006, $4.1 mil for 2007, and $4.5 mil for 2008 (which is what Fangraphs has done for position players).

The long version is in this spreadsheet on Google Docs. For the three years, I have value, salary, and difference in that version. That data does not fit in the window, so I just condensed it to the differences.

The number in the column basically amounts to the type of deal the Brewers got on a player. A positive number means the player "earned" more than they made-- which is good for the Brewers. A negative number means the player made more than they earned (Suppan and a host of 2008 relievers qualify).

It's worth noting that most players are underpaid, because they are not eligible for free agency. To truly judge the organization's shrewdness in the free agent market, we should only be looking at the players signed via free agency. But pre-arby and arby players are the best way to get cheap production, and the Brewers have utilized the young core for a lot of production at little cost.

Finally, the column on the right just adds up the first three. That's the difference, in the past three years, between the player's salary and their production. I think that might get confused for how much their performance was worth-- it's not. It's how much more their performance was worth than how much they were paid.


2006 Diff 2007 Diff 2008 Diff Total Difference Since 2006 w/ Brewers
Jason Kendall 3.2 4.3
Prince Fielder 3.7 20 12.6 36.3
Rickie Weeks 3.2 11.2 8.5 22.9
Bill Hall 19.1 1.8 0.8 21.7
J.J. Hardy 2.2 18.1 22.3 42.6
Ryan Braun 11.8 17.9 29.7
Mike Cameron 12 12
Corey Hart 1.3 17.9 6.7 25.9
Gabe Kapler 6.9 6.9
Craig Counsell 0.8 3.1 3.9
Russell Branyan 4.9 4.9
C.C. Sabathia 18.4 18.4
Ben Sheets 8.5 0.25 12 20.75
Yovani Gallardo 4.62 0.9 5.52
Manny Parra 6.9 6.9
Dave Bush 15.35 8.95 3.75 28.05
Jeff Suppan -0.3 -12.5 -12.8
Seth McClung 2.45 2.45
Carlos Villanueva 2.3 2.12 6.35 10.77
Eric Gagne -12.3 -12.3
Salomon Torres -.8 -.8
David Riske -7.2 -7.2
Guillermo Mota -3.6 -3.6
Brian Shouse 4.35 0.7 5.05

Couple of notes:

  • How ridiculous was Sabathia, who gave the Brewers $23 million in value in half a year for about $5 million dollars and a LaPorta?
  • Even when the metric looks upon most contracts favorably (Bill Hall didn't have negative value last year, he was slightly positive overall), Jeff Suppan winds up way below zero. The Brewers wasted $8 mil and got 1 win below replacement from Suppan. 
  • Given production relative to salary, Hardy has been the Brewers' "best deal" over the last three years. 

It's tough to draw an overall conclusion on a general manager or organization based on only this data, but it really looks like the Brewers have done an excellent job of utilitzing young, cheap talent and getting a lot of production from it. They have a tendency to overpay mediocre-- or even below replacement level-- pitching, but it appears they're getting smarter in that department now.

Once again, go check out this spreadsheet on Google Docs for the full data-- how much each player produced and made in the past three years.

This is really an interesting way of looking at player evaluation-- and it's awesome that Fangraphs has such a nice overall metric on its player pages now. Lets just hope they can get it out for pitchers soon too.

EDIT: Amended Torres's value, was -1.8, is now -.8.

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