The Payoff Pitch
The Payoff Pitch
In addition to finding and developing talent, one of the key uses of a statistics system for personnel is figuring out how much to pay people.
The Red Sox, and for that matter any major league team, will not reveal exactly how they decide a players worth. Market forces certainly play a major part, but teams must also decide whether paying tens of millions of dollars to a player will generate appropriate returns. Oakland As GM Beane said recently at the conference in Chicago that he knows exactly what a player is worth to him based on how many wins hell contribute to the team in a season. "But Im not going to tell you it," he laughed. However, the fact that the Sox hired Bill James provides some insights into how they may be tying their analysis to their checkbook. James has created several methods to estimate the value of a player, including a formula he published in 2002 called Win Shares. Win Shares takes a mathematical approach to evaluating the contribution of an individual player to a teams overall performance. It considers a variety of statistics, including pitching, hitting, walks and defensive contributions, and adjusts them for a particular ballpark and the league. Some parks are more hitter-friendly, such as Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, where the thin air allows batted balls to carry farther. At its basic level, a single Win Share is one-third of the credit for winning a game. So if the Red Sox win 95 games this year, there will be 285 Win Shares to spread among players. Spread across the 25-man roster, an average player might wind up with 10 Win Shares.
But consider the Sox acquisition in the off-season of star pitcher Curt Schilling. According to James system, Schilling achieved 24 Win Shares in the 2002 season and 15 in 2003, for an average of 19.5. To get Schilling, the Sox had to assume his $12 million salary. Other pitchers with similar Win Shares in 2003 were the Sox Pedro Martinez (20 Win Shares, $17.5 million salary), the Yankees Mike Mussina (19, $16 million) and Seattles Jamie Moyer (18, $7 million). Schillings $12 million price tag is at the low end of the range.