A little look at Astros’ value

Today’s post is looking at something I am calling WAR$. WAR is a value that attempts to compare the statistical worth of players to a single standard. WAR$ is Dan P’s effort to compare the value of the players. Basically, this simply looks at bang for the buck – how much WAR we get per $1 MM of salary for each player.

This ends up as an interesting exercise that reminds us why a team that wants to sustain success must be willing to keep mixing in the high-value WAR$ guys onto their roster.

Position Player WAR Salary (millions) WAR$ per $1 MM
DH/LF Yordan Alvarez 6.8 $0.76 MM 8.9
SS Jeremy Pena 4.8 $0.7 MM 6.9
RF Kyle Tucker 5.2 $0.76 MM 6.8
CF Chas McCormick 1.3 $0.7 MM 1.9
OF Jake Meyers 0.5 $0.7 MM 0.71
UT David Hensley 0.3 $0.7 MM 0.43
3B Alex Bregman 4.5 $13.0 MM 0.35
1B Jose Abreu 4.2 $19.7 MM 0.21
2B Jose Altuve 5.1 $29.0 MM 0.18
LF/DH Michael Brantley 1.3 $16.0 MM 0.08
C Martin Maldonado 0.3 $5.0 MM 0.06
1B Yuli Gurriel -0.3 $8.0 MM -0.38
         
         
RP Hunter Brown 0.9 ~$0.13 MM 6.92
SP Cristian Javier 3.7 $0.70 MM 5.29
RP Bryan Abreu 1.3 $0.70 MM 1.86
SP Jose Urquidy 1.2 $0.70 MM 1.71
RP Seth Martinez 0.8 ~$0.5 MM 1.6
SP Framber Valdez 3.7 $3.0 MM 1.23
SP Luis Garcia 1.4 $1.25 MM 1.12
RP Ryne Stanek 2.2 $2.10 MM 1.05
RP Rafael Montero 1.3 $2.73 MM 0.48
SP Justin Verlander 5.9 $25.0 MM 0.24
RP Ryan Pressly 0.9 $10.0 MM 0.09
RP Hector Neris 0.5 $8.00 MM 0.06
SP Jake Odorizzi 0.1 $5.19 MM 0.02
SP Lance McCullers 1.4 $15.95 MM 0.001
RP Phil Maton -0.3 $1.55 MM -0.19

Notes – all WAR and salary values are taken from baseball-reference.com.

A couple players like Hunter Brown and Seth Martinez are shown at reduced salaries because they spent significant time in the minor leagues.

Thoughts…..

  • In 2022 the Astros spent about $200 MM for 54 WAR – which comes out to about $3.7 MM per 1 WAR. That means someone at 0.27 WAR$ is right at the average amount for the team.
  • It is no surprise that some Astros young studs like Alvarez, Tucker, Javier, and Pena are so high on this list. They are producing like stars, but being paid minimum or near minimum.
  • Just because some players have lower WAR$ (e.g., Justin Verlander, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, and Ryan Pressly) does not mean they don’t have worth to the team. It just means they need to be offset by those who bring more value to the team at those lower salaries.
  • The placement of Hunter Brown is probably due to the small sample size, but it still shows what value youngsters can have.
  • The pitchers don’t have as many high-scoring WAR$, but they have that solid set of Montero, Stanek Valdez, Garcia, Martinez, Urquidy, and Abreu, all well above average between 0.48 and 1.86 WAR$.
  • Gurriel bottomed out on this list, so there is no question why they made his replacement so high on their off-season list.
  • The WAR$ is going to erode pretty quickly as so many of these players enter arbitration. So, they need to keep rolling in newbies to help out in that value area.

So, what are your thoughts on this?

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35 comments on “A little look at Astros’ value

  1. Then you have the Mets, a team with absolutely no consideration for fiscal responsibility. It might work for them. But paying talent more money is not insurance against injury. If cracks develop, the local faithful in NY won’t remain faithful for long. And we’ve seen owners come in, promise a championship, spend like wealthy guys that know little about baseball, fail and then lose interest, selling for a profit and then heading on to less challenging investments.

    What to make of Carlos Correa? He’s always been good at involving himself in some sort of unexplained drama. The Giant brain trust must be red faced right now, but I’d bet they’ll be better off having gotten cold feet and leaving Correa at the alter. Carlos is willing to play third base? He really must not have been thrilled about the prospect of being left on the sideline without a 300 million contract.

    I’m so lucky to be continually enriched by the way our club has decided to remain relevant season after season. Yuli was an experiment. Bryan Abreu an unheralded prospect before his breakout season in 2022. Gosh, Jeremy Pena! Montero. Stanek. Even Chas McCormick and his 700 K a year salary. And probably the least expensive best rotation in MLB. And Tucker and Alvarez.

    We’ll still have our graybeards like Altuve and Bregman and our new Abreu and Pressly and Brantley. But as Dan continually preaches, our foundation will remain intact only as long as two or three of our young talent continue to squeeze their way onto the Astro roster. And I get so much out of watching those new guys identify themselves. To me, it’s better than signed a Verlander.

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  2. Correa’s signing by the Mets is just a proverbial cluster$#%@! We used to say the Yankees were the best team that money could buy. Now that honor (sic) has gone to the Mets. I personally think the Giants will eventually be thankful this deal fell through. While a lot of teams have decided to follow the Astro model of how to build a Championship team, there are those that think that money can buy a WS victory.
    On another issue I wish we could sign Framber and Tucker to LT contracts. Framber is more likely but if Tucker is looking for the $ he’ll probably be gone. But the good news is that we have several up and coming outfielders who we hope will be ready to step up and become the players that we need. At least we have him for 3 more years. The coming 2023 season should be really interesting.
    I’m happy about the current state of the Astros.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We know that Altuve is worth the money he is being paid because his WAR is way up there in All-Star level, he was just named the best second baseman in baseball and he is the backbone of a World Series champion.
    Yet, Altuve’s WAR$ is less than that of David Hensley or Jake Meyers.
    I think your WAR$ stat proves one thing: A team gets the best value from a player in the original six years of normal pay.
    A team like the Mets may buy a WS championship, but they will never do it with value
    Dan, what will be Cano’s WAR$ this year when they pay him $24 million to not play for them.

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    • Yeah, and that guy in his first six years of play has the incentive to really work his butt off. A guy like Albert Pujols simply could not play his butt off after signing his big contract. The only stat he led MLB in after his 30th year was grounding into double plays. Trout will be the next example. And all the other new guys joining the Decade Plus club, will they take the day off with a sore toe, or will they keep playing 150 games during the regular season. All these new dynamics will be fascinating to watch.

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  4. My take away is that WAR, huh, what is it good for? I think the value of the (composite) stat has become cheapened. I like your data inversion.
    We’ve come to accept that a single WAR is worth about $8M on the free agent market because that was the going rate back around the time we signed Colby Rasmus. The problem is we’re trying to make things linear when they clearly aren’t.

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  5. It seems to me the hot stove season is winding down for the Astros. I wonder if any other players will land here. I think Crane is going to wait for the after-Christmas markdowns.

    Meanwhile, SF Giants fan Tony Bennett (who is also an Astros fan since he hates the Dodgers) told me he came up with this song:

    Fastballs zing, are you WHIPpin’ it?
    In the seams, that’s how they’re grippin’ it
    A beautiful sight, were happy tonight
    Winning in a hot stove wonderland

    Gone away are the blue chips
    Here to stay are new prospects
    Signed for a dance and a song as we roll along
    Winning in a hot stove wonderland

    In the shadows we can build up farmhands
    And project that they’re like Hunter Brown
    You’ll say are they Singletons? We’ll say no, man
    Just do your jobs, you’ll make it to H-town

    Waiver claims we’ll acquire
    As we dream that they’ll catch fire
    To face unafraid the trades we have (or haven’t) made
    Winning in a hot stove wonderland

    In the shadows we can build up farmhands
    Make our hitters get their K-rates down
    We’ll score lots of runs with swings in the zone, man
    Unless opposing pitchers knock ‘em down

    When we’re old, ain’t it thrilling
    To win more championships, Lord willing
    We’ll frolic and play the Astronaut way
    Winning in a hot stove wonderland
    Winning in a hot stove wonderland
    Winning
    In a hot stove
    Wonderland!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. The “hit” tool is the key for the Astros. The reason for that is because the player who can hit, will also hit for power in Minute Maid Park. With the not-so-far fence in LF and the not-so-far-not-so-tall fence in RF, players who make good contact will get their home runs, too. Bregman and Altuve are good examples of that.
    2023 shift changes are going to get that BABIP back up in line with the rest of baseball because the Astros will have at least 3 LH batters in their lineup who will no longer have to negotiate a rover in RF and those 3 batters all have the hit tool and not the K tool.
    From the right side, Altuve will have holes on the left side of the infield that his high BA and speed to 1B will get him hits like he got when he was younger.

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    • Agree. The team as a whole will benefit, because the Astros have hitters not teams that K a lot and homer a lot. More contact equals more opportunities for all the hitters to find holes. Guys with some wheels might find more.

      When you look at Yordan, Brantley, and Tuckers spray charts they hit enough to left to keep defenses very honest – i.e. using the LF and CF to rover short right versus say a Schwarber that has a chart that is just red on one side.

      League batting average was .243 last year. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s up to .255 next year and the Astros are among the league leaders in increased average – maybe even 15-16 points.

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  7. Someone mentioned this previously, but it really hits home that the other teams are chasing the Astros and perhaps they are “overspending” to try and close the gap. The problem being that if you get tangled in too many, too long contracts – you are bound to be sitting around waiting for player X or Y to get over that season ending or career stalling injury.
    The Astros seem to be sticking to their plan which has been a top-notch plan since they started breaking through in 2015.
    Ride the wave ‘Stros!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan, we’ll probably never hear. But I was thinking that with his excellent arm, he might be able to cheat back a bit, maybe providing himself a bit more range. But is Carlos prepared to full out dive to stop balls hit hard down the line and conversely, how good can he get at coming in on a bunt? It’s a throwing angle he just has not had to deal with.

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  8. * When the offseason started the Astros went after the two free agent targets they wanted the most. When they signed Montero and Abreu very quickly, there was a lot of talk about the Astros overpaying.
    After the free agent frenzy of the last two weeks and the huge numbers being paid to players, there is now a lot of talk about how shrewd the Astros were to jump out ahead and get the players they wanted and that the crazy market has now proven how smart the Astros were.
    * The Astros lost none of their top 30 prospects to the Rule 5 draft and have not had to trade any of them either.
    * The Astros have moved up two spots in the first round of the MLB draft because of the Dodgers and the Mets both exceeding the Luxury Tax Limit by more than $40 million apiece. They draft 28th after winning the WS. The Astros still have all their money available for the January International Free Agent frenzy coming up, as they stayed under the LTL in 2022.

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    • But his career is likely over. I was amused reading some of the comments. It was mentioned a couple of times that the Astros might want him. Sure we would and we’d also like jump off the top of the San Jacinto Monument with out a parachute.

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    • It’s hard to imagine that a guy that did that is going to get 34 million dollars this year. The Dodgers seem committed to him never playing another inning for their team again but there is 34 million reasons (and likely no trade suitors) to suggest he might.

      If his agent was smart he would have him in some type of counseling and doing volunteer work. He would have started doing things 5-6 months ago to start trying to change his image.

      When I read some of the details I wasn’t surprised it was overturned. They have a string of text message exchanges between them that pretty much demonstrate that it was consensual. Their versions don’t match, but the text messages match his. Being a hyper intense weirdo isn’t illegal but when it becomes this public it’s doubtful any employer wants you representing their product.

      I can’t see a franchise that dismissed the greatest general manager in team history, the best GM in the sport at the moment, because he knew his players were being a little edgy with signs, and then trading for a guy that will cost 34 million to wreck your team image. BUT we did trade for Robert Osuna AFTER he had served a suspension for it and that was nonconsensual.

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      • And more updates – the Dodgers are only on the hook for 22.5M of the 32M salary this year – or the 34M AAV tax figure – as Bauer still has forfeitures for 50 games this year. Unfortunately, that puts them back below the tax threshold for this year, but at least it’s a thorn in their side to pay a guy 22.5M to sit at home.

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  9. The problem with WAR$ is that you can’t keep it that way. Tucker is going to get 4-5M this year (may already be set and I don’t know). Next year, probably 8-10M, and after that the sky will be the limit. Same with Framber who is already midranging it.

    Javier and Brown and Pena will probably be at the top for WAR$ this year, but pay days a comin. Which players they elect to keep and which ones they let go….. They kept Altuve, Bregman and LMJ and let Springer, Correa, Cole, Morton, Keuchel all go. They have made the commitment to Yordan. They probably can’t keep both of Tucker and Framber while dealing with Altuve and Bregman in 3 years. Those are problems for 3 years from now. Right now, lets just get another WS title and cement as the team of this era.

    No way in 2013 could anyone have seen this coming. Well, Ben Reiter did. I didn’t.

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    • Yeah – that is what I was saying with my last bullet point in the article – arbitration will eat away quickly on WAR$ which is why we have to bring in new cheap folks steadily

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      • Yeah, heaven forbid, but we might need Dirden to turn into our next Tucker.

        A guy like Jose though, he might not be looking for the kind of money that would preclude him from playing his whole career in
        Houston.

        It will be interesting to see how Will Wagner develops his hit tool in the upper minors. Wise ballplayer.

        I don’t think everyone will go for the big money.

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    • One of the things that might keep the core together is the idea that the Astros could end up being one of the great teams in baseball lore.
      The first six years are already in the books with two championships. If the guys decide they want to be part of that and make good money in Houston, too, there is a chance for a good 10-11 year run.

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    • Yikes, and I thought Cohen would have gotten the real specs on Correa re his foot/leg/ankle non-issues from Boras. But alas, both Correa and Boras seem to both be on the verge of losing a whole lot of money!

      So will Cohen be reckless and damn the torpedoes or revert to using good business sense? Either way, the Giants are looking a whole lot smarter on Christmas Eve!

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  10. https://www.chron.com/sports/astros/article/jose-altuve-alex-bregman-astros-17500173.php
    This is what I was referring to earlier. You pick out the guys who want to be here and who you want to stay here and then you try like hell to make them happy with their income and keep letting them get big playoff checks as a bonus.
    The guys who want to make you pay more than you can afford, you get as much value out of as you can during their time here and then let someone else pay what you can’t match. And, if they are dead set on going, you give them a QO and get a draft pick and use it for the future.

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