Thursday, November 18, 2010
Projecting The Rest of Derek Jeter’s Career
Since rilkefan asked about a comparison of Derek Jeter and Eduardo Nunez over the next five seasons, here’s a look at what CAIRO says about that.
Before presenting the numbers, I’ll say that projecting even next year is a crapshoot, so projecting out to the next five seasons is even more of one. So take whatever follows with several pounds of salt.
First up, here’s a look at how Jeter would project from 2011-2015, assuming he follows the standard aging curve.
BRAR: Linear weights batting runs above replacement level (park and position-adjusted)
wOBA: Weighted on-base average
Def: Projected runs saved defensively compared to average
WAR: Wins above replacement level (BRAR plus Def divided by 10)
The defensive projection is assuming a decline of about 1.5 runs per season, but it’s possible that the current projection of -7 is understating how poor of a defender Jeter may be. There is some evidence that the play by play metrics are not fully capturing all of the plays that Jeter’s missing, but at this point I don’t consider it enough evidence to change from using several different play by play metrics that are reasonably useful and for which we have at least four years of data.
And here’s how Nunez would project over the same time period, also assuming he follows the standard aging curve.
Nunez’s offensive projections leave a lot to be desired, because he really hasn’t hit all that well in the minors, and he’s really not young enough to expect a significant improvement. A line of .274/.318/.369 in 6 minor league seasons just isn’t that good.
Although I’ve included it here, Nunez’s defensive projection is essentially worthless, since it’s only based on his brief time in the majors. From what I saw, I doubt he’d even be an average defender, but I’m no scout and I really didn’t see enough to make any useful assessment. But I just can’t see his glove making up for that offensive projection.
With the data we have so right now, it’s hard to see a situation where Nunez is going to be more valuable than Jeter over the next four seasons. That doesn’t mean Jeter can’t underperform his projection or Nunez can’t overperform his, but right now that’s just not the most likely scenario.
Of course, this needs to be tempered with the fact that CAIRO has two biases. The first bias is the Yankee boosting algorithm which makes all the Yankees several wins better than they actually are. The second bias is the anti-Jeter algorithm that I created to account for my hatred of Jeter. So the gap is probably larger than this would show.
Anyway, since I don’t like to put all my faith in what one system might say, a less rigorous way to look at what Jeter may do may also be somewhat enlightening. So, using his list of most similar players through age 36 from Baseball Reference, here’s how the eight players who played after age 36 performed over the rest of their careers.
I’m going to only discuss offense here, given the issues with defensive metrics past and present. I’ll also note that the similarity scores on Baseball Reference don’t account for era (aside from OPS+) so we need to temper how much we take from them.
Morgan was probably a better player than Jeter through age 36 once you adjust for context, so expecting Jeter to play to that level is perhaps wishful thinking. Barry Larkin’s career actually models Jeter’s career through age 36 fairly closely on a rate basis, although Jeter’s greater durability gives him an edge in accrued value.
Those are remarkably similar lines, aren’t they?
Larkin played four more years and put up a lackluster line of .266/.334/.385 (OPS+ of 87) while averaging 93 games and 351 PA per season. According to Baseball Reference’s WAR he was worth 2.4 WAR and got paid $27,700,000 for that.
On one hand, Jeter’s greater demonstrated ability to stay healthy is probably a point in his favor. If Larkin would have played more he’d have been more valuable. On the other hand, the fact that Jeter has played so much probably means he’s accumulated more wear and tear and his performance may be impacted.
Morgan put up 11.8 WAR from ages 37-40. If the Yankees sign Jeter for four years CAIRO estimates they’ll get something like 6.0 WAR out of him, which is a bit less than the midpoint between Morgan and Larkin. So that at least seems to be in the ballpark.
Hopefully they can keep the contract terms to three years, but I guess even a fourth year is not going to be a catastrophe on the field, even if it’s going to be a pretty hefty overpay.
Next entry: Projecting Derek Jeter and Eduardo Nunez Again
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