Friday, December 19, 2003


Joe Sheehan over at BP eloquently makes the case why the Players' Union made the right call by nixing the A-Rod trade if it required him to restructure his contract.

Rob Neyer at ESPN does what he does best and notes that the difference between Manny/Nomar and A-Rod/Magglio is "essentially a wash."

And Yankees fan Lee Sinins is very excited, as his club finally inked "the best available free agent in this year's market". What, you say? Confused? Read on:

During the 7 years in which their careers have overlapped, Sheffield defeated Guerrero in RCAA 5 times, with one of Guerrero's 2 wins being by the razor thin margin of 1 RCAA. Over that span, Sheffield holds a sizeable 364-265 lead in RCAA. Over the past 3 years, Sheffield has a 170-111 lead and over the past 5 years, it's 284-210.

The one thing that Guerrero has over Sheffield is youth. However, Sheffield hasn't shown signs of an age decline and ages 35-37 is far from what it is used to be and Guerrero hasn't shown age related come into his peak improvement. Instead, he's been erratic, with his RCAA dropping into the 20s twice in the past 3 years, Sheffield's only non 40+ season in the past 6 was all the way down to 36. So, given Sheffield's much higher starting point, I regard him as the better bet to continue to be the better player over the next 3 years. And that's even before we throw in the fact that there are questions regarding Guerrero's back.

And while we've expressed similar sentiments over the past weeks here at Calzone, we appreciate hearing them again coming from these more eloquent and concise voices.

Lee's comparison, however, while factually accurate, is nonetheless a little deceptive.

I'm going to use Runs Created instead of Runs Created Above Average, only because RC are readily available online whereas RCAA are not.

Using Runs Created, Guerrero now leads Sheffield over the last seven seasons 849 to 805*. Sheffield even has more plate appearances over that span, 4281 to 4193. However, since Sheffield also made fewer outs, he has a miniscule advantage in Runs Created per 27 Outs. Guerrero averaged 8.35 RC27 while Sheffield averaged 8.36 RC27.

The kicker, of course, is that Guerrero was only 21 years old in '97. Sheffield was 28. And it's not unreasonable to expect a player to be more productive the seven years between 28 and 34 than the years between 21 and 27.

Here's how the two compare between their age 21 and 27 seasons:

player age 21 age 22 age 23 age 24 age 25 age 26 age 27 total RC27
Sheffield 72RC 15RC 123RC 83RC 70RC 57RC 149RC 569RC 7.30RC27
Guerrero 53RC 134RC 136RC 153RC 125RC 151RC 97RC 849RC 8.35RC27

Yes, Sheffield had less playing time over that stretch, but that's not unexpected for a kid in his early twenties. Guerrero on the other hand was the Expos everyday RF by the time he was 22, and it wasn't merely out of necessity for a struggling ball club. He was good. Really good. And over the years as his strikeouts have gone down and his walks have gone up (he had a 0.5 BB/K for his first couple of years but these last two years has been around 1.2 BB/K) he's become even better.

I think it's fair to predict that Guerrero will be more productive between age 28 and 34 (provided he gets off the turf and onto some grass) than Sheffield was.

But if you're asking whether the $13M a year spent on Sheffield is a better value than the $15M+ Guerrero will end up costing (he already turned down $60M for 4 yrs from the Expos), than I think the Yankees made a wise investment. Lee's right to be enthusiastic. A-Rod or no A-Rod for Boston (it makes so little difference), the Yankees are still the team to beat in the East.

*Since I'm not really sure how Sinins calculates RCAA, I can't quite explain this discrepancy. For the record, Sheffield still leads Guerrero in Equivalent Runs, 788 to 731. If I felt more comfortable using logs I'd probably continue ahead with EqR and calculate EqAs [EqR=5*OUTS*EqA^2.5] instead of RC27.

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