A few days ago Elvis Andrus signed an 8yr/$120M contract with Texas that had some heads shaking in the industry. Here locally, the immediate focus was on our own pre-free agency shortstop Ian Desmond and what his future FA value may be in light of this monster deal.
Sidenote: I just don’t get the Andrus contract. You mean to tell me you can’t find another shortstop in the minors who can field nearly as well as Andrus and hit 15% below MLB replacement level (his career OPS+ is 84)? Or at least find one who you can get away with paying just a couple million dollars a year at best. What am I missing in Andrus that makes him worth this kind of money? Is it all about his defense? Meanwhile Texas has one of the best prospects in all of baseball (Jurickson Profar) in the minors featuring as a middle-infielder who could have naturally replaced Andrus at short … instead they’ll waste his talents at 2nd base and likely move Ian Kinsler to the outfield at some point in the future. Dumb.
Does the Andrus contract really affect Desmond’s value? So it may, according to The Washington Times‘ Amanda Comak. MLBtraderumors weighed in on the topic as well, claiming that Andrus “may not have as much pop” as Desmond but is clearly better defensively, and has been consistently “good” for four years.
Is that all really true? Is Andrus really that much better of a player than Desmond? Lets take a quick peek at some value, hitting and defensive stats for both players. I’m using 2009-12 for Andrus (all full seasons) and just 2010-12 for Desmond (again, just using full seasons for comparison purposes):
|Andrus OPS+||Andrus bWAR||Andrus fWAR||Andrus uzr/150|
|Desmond OPS+||Desmond bWAR||Desmond fWAR||Desmond uzr/150|
Using just the full seasons, we can see that Andrus has always been a weak hitter; even when Nats fans were burning Desmond in effigy for being such a bad hitter in 2011, he was still for the most part as good as Andrus ever was. And that was before 2012 when Desmond broke out and hit like a middle-of-the-order guy.
How about Defensively? Andrus’ career numbers at short show a very good defender while Desmond shows a defender on the improvement, nearly matching Andrus’ UZR/150 rating in 2012. Is Desmond THAT much behind Andrus defensively at this point?
How about Value? Note i’ve put in both WAR figures because this is one of those examples where I cannot defend baseball-reference’s war calculations; how does Andrus have a BETTER 2012 WAR than Desmond given that they’re nearly identical in defensive metrics but Desmond vastly outhit Andrus? Fangraph’s war does show this accurately, putting Desmond’s war at 5.0 to Andrus’ 3.9.
Yes I get that Andrus has now performed ably for 4 straight seasons while Desmond has been exceptional for only one. Is that a $100 million dollar difference? But ask yourself this question; if Desmond hits at a 110-120 OPS+ clip for the next two years AND continues to be a positive UZR/150 defender … is he a 9-figure player? I guess so in today’s market.