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Thread: BTB: How Much Does a Win Really Cost?

  1. #1
    High five! nate's Avatar
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    Sep 2005
    Irvine, CA

    BTB: How Much Does a Win Really Cost?

    Interesting revisit of a free agency win cost. Check it out here.


    If you get a one-win player for $6 million, thatís an overpay. In most corners of the analytical baseball world, player acquisitions and signings are judged as fair, ripoffs, or bargains according to this standard.

    But thereís a problem: a win doesnít cost $5 million. A win costs...

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2002

    Re: BTB: How Much Does a Win Really Cost?

    I have never really understood the baseline on this concept. Can anyone help me out?

    If you have all 0 win players, how many games do you win? 81? some other number? Surely not 0 right?

  4. #3
    Member joshua's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Re: BTB: How Much Does a Win Really Cost?

    Quote Originally Posted by swaisuc View Post
    I have never really understood the baseline on this concept. Can anyone help me out?

    If you have all 0 win players, how many games do you win? 81? some other number? Surely not 0 right?
    FanGraphs and BR both calculate WAR the same way now...so this question is much easier to answer. IIRC a team completely made up of replacement level players at every spot would have a .295 winning percentage. Or 47.8 wins.

    Salaries are constantly going up and the amount of obtainable wins always remains the same. So the cost of a win is going to increase every single year.

    But the name of the game isn't getting 1 win per 7 million you spend in free agency, that's the average value of a win. The goal is to find value and pay less than 7 million per every win over 47.

  5. #4
    Where's my chair? REDREAD's Avatar
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    Apr 2000

    Re: BTB: How Much Does a Win Really Cost?

    This is interesting analysis, but here's the problem I have with it.

    Let's assume for the sake of argument that WAR is a perfect measure of "wins" you purchased. I don't agree with that statement, but lets assume it.

    There's lots of 1-2 win players available. There's very few 5+ win players.
    Therefore, the entire cost per win methodlogy is flawed.
    Heisey had a 1.2 Fangraphs WAR last year.. He's obviously not worth 8.4 million on the open market, yet that's what the 7 million/win formula tells you he's worth. Now granted, part of this is due to a flaw in the WAR formula, but it makes my point.

    Votto was a 6.2 WAR player last year. Bruce was a 4.1 WAR player next year.
    Again, assuming WAR was perfect, Votto gives you 2.1 more wins with Votto than Bruce, so if both were free agents, Votto's incremental 2.1 wins is pretty huge, for a few reasons:
    1. Shortage of 6.2 win players on the market
    2. You can only field 8 position players at a time. This is obvious, but you can't buy 5 Heiseys and get the same production as one Votto. By the same token.. Getting 6.2 out of Votto is better than 4.1 out of Bruce and 1.2 out of Heisey, because we can assume we can get another outfielder to get us the 0.1 WAR difference.

    I guess my big problem with this analysis is when you get to the elite players, you are paying a lot more for that incremental 2 more wins per season. That's why guys like Votto get the monster contracts.. Saying 7 million/win is overvaluing the common resources (like Hiesey).

    Also the 7 million/year number seems very high. I know it's based on actual results, but the many mistakes in FA/extensions drive that number up. The Giants paid Zito 126 million for 5.9 WAR between 2007-2013.. That's obviously a horrible deal, but deals like this drive up the cost per win.

    So, I will cut this short, but I never liked the analysis of "Player X should get us 6 WAR over the contract, so at 5 million/win as long as we pay him under 30 million, it's worth it".. Especially since WAR is flawed.
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