Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Looking Ahead to 2012 - Alex Rodriguez
You can make the case that no player is going to be more important to the Yankees’ chance of winning the World Series this year than Alex Rodriguez. His health and his performance could be the difference between a great season for the team and a bad one.
Last year Rodriguez had a strong spring training, hitting .388/.444/.898 with six homers. He looked healthy and carried that into the regular season, where he hit .321/.452/.696 through his first 17 games. Unfortunately, it was not sustainable as he proceeded to hit .289/.343/.438 until July 7, at which point it was determined that he needed knee surgery and he was placed on the DL. Rodriguez returned on August 21 and finished up the year by hitting a WOE-ful .191/.345/.353.
It was a disappointing season, particularly when compared to his 2010 and his 2011 projections entering the season.
|avg 2011 proj||428||368||101||18||1||23||50||6||78||.274||.365||.511||.377||67||102|
By pro-rating his average projection to his actual 2011 PA we can see that the primary problem was the lower home run rate. Most of his other stats were right around where they projected to be on a rate basis.
There was some good news in 2011. Rodriguez had what might have been his best defensive season at 3B. Zone rating had him at about 10 runs saved compared to average, UZR had him around 8, Plus/Minus had him around 9 and Totalzone had him around 7. Rodriguez is more valuable if he can play a good 3B, although given the ongoing concerns with his health it may not be the best way to maximize his availability.
So what might be in store for 2012? Funny you should ask…
For more information about the projections above, you can read the first post in this series.
I’ve included his 2011 and the league average line for his 2011 PA as frames of reference. I haven’t adjusted league average for DNYS, so mentally adjust that upwards to account for the way it boosts offense.
Geez, PECOTA loves it some A-Rod, huh? Most of the other projections are bunched together pretty closely and are probably more realistic as a baseline. Even if that’s the case, they’re good projections on a rate basis. The larger concern is going to be how often he can play. I don’t think an Eric Chavez/Eduardo Nunez contingency plan will be much better than replacement level, so if you look at his average offensive projection pro-rated to different amounts of playing time you can get a feel for the impact.
100 PA: 7 BRAR
200 PA: 13 BRAR
300 PA: 20 BRAR
400 PA: 27 BRAR
500 PA: 33 BRAR
600 PA: 40 BRAR
700 PA: 46 BRAR
CAIRO Percentiles Forecast
I can’t stomach the fact that PECOTA changed it’s underlying components and assumptions in a bunch of ways to make Rodriguez look better than CAIRO, so here’s where I can fix that.
I have a hunch that a healthy Rodriguez just might hit somewhere between that 65% and 80% forecast. What I don’t have a hunch on is whether a healthy Alex Rodriguez even exists any more. But WTH, it’s spring training. Let’s go with it. If Rodriguez hits that 80% forecast and gets 700 PA his line would look like this.
That probably makes him the AL MVP.
Rodriguez doesn’t steal bases much any more, which is probably prudent since it reduces his injury risk. He still runs the bases pretty well overall though.
gaR:base running runs above average on ground ball outs
aaR:base running runs above average on fly ball outs
haR:base running runs above average on hits
oaR:base running runs above average on wild pitches/passed balls
SBR: stolen base runs above average
Rodriguez’s great defensive season in 2012 doesn’t quite make up for the fact that he was below average for the prior four seasons, but it has improved his projection to about average. For comparison’s sake, he projected at around -4 heading into 2011.
Rep: Replacement level adjustment (22 runs per 700 PA pro-rated to projected PA)
RAR: Runs above replacement (Rep + Pos)
BRR: Base running runs (does not include SB)
Def: Projected runs saved defensively
WAR: Wins above replacement (RAR + BRR + Def) divided by 10
I realize I sound like a broken record, or should I say a corrupted MP3 file, at this point, but it really all comes down to how often Rodriguez can play this year. He’s not what he used to be, but he still projects as one of the Yankees’ top three offensive players. If the Raul Ibanez experiment doesn’t work, Rodriguez as the DH vs. RHP with Eric Chavez at 3B might be the best alignment the Yankees can use vs. RHP since Rodriguez has a pretty small projected platoon split (wOBA of .371 vs. LHP and .363 RHP).
I was contemplating what kind of contract Rodriguez would have gotten if he were a free agent this past offseason? If I project Rodriguez out through the end of his contract in CAIRO, here’s how it looks.
edit: Updated Table
If you use that with an estimated defensive decline of 1.5 runs per season, here’s a look at Rodriguez’s projected WAR, Value (assuming $5M per win) and salary.
edit: Updated table
If this is how the rest of his career plays out, a fair market deal is probably 6 years and $41M. Is an overpayment of $102M bad? It’s probably not as bad as a $36M overpayment and a lost draft pick for zero value, speaking hypothetically. But I digress…
I’ve been negligent in fulfilling my pie chart duties of late, so here’s one that compares the average projected value for all of the remaining seasons to the average salary owed.
If Rodriguez’s career does play out the way this projection says it will, he’ll end up with a career line that looks like this.
edit: Updated table
Here’s the same thing, but with two additional scenarios. In the first one he hits his 65% forecast in 2012 and in the second one he hits his 80% forecast.
edit: Updated table.
It’s looking less and less likely to me that Rodriguez will catch Hank Aaron or Barry Bonds. Then again, now that he’s got the scarlet S on his chest I don’t know that passing them would be worth as much as it would have been if he were ‘clean.’
I have to admit that a small part of me still thinks we may see an MVP-caliber season out of Rodriguez this year followed up by a better than expected decline through the end of his contract. It’s not likely, but it’s possible.