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  • Mauer's Not Going Anywhere

    Don't buy into the hype. Joe Mauer isn't getting traded.Ask yourself this question, and be honest in your reply: If Joe Mauer were becoming a free agent this offseason, is there any chance – ANY chance, whatsoever – that he would fetch a six-year, $138 million contract?

    I think the answer is pretty clearly no. That's the prorated remaining portion of the eight-year contract Mauer signed with the Twins after a 2009 season in which he was arguably baseball's best player. He was 26, he was one of the game's most popular players and he was as healthy as he'd ever been.

    That was then, and this is now. In three seasons since, Mauer has hit .311/.393/.429 – impressive numbers but nowhere near the otherworldly stats he compiled in his MVP campaign. He has been besieged by injuries, missing a quarter of his team's games. And as he prepares to enter his 30s, he has already begun to transition away from catcher.

    Mauer is a great player and a tremendous asset. But any way you slice it, his value has declined pretty sharply over the past three seasons, which is largely a testament to how insanely high it was at the time he re-upped with the Twins.

    My point in all this is to say that no baseball team is going to give up quality prospects for the right to absorb Mauer's enormous and substantially risky contract. For all the hubbub about the catcher being put through waivers earlier this week – an extremely routine and procedural move that probably shouldn't have been reported in such provocative terms – the truth is that Terry Ryan would have been a fool not to expose Mauer to the league. He said as much himself.

    If some team were to go crazy like the Dodgers and offer up good young players to take on more than $100 million in salary commitments (extraordinarily unlikely since that bonanza was basically unprecedented), shouldn't the Twins at least hear them out? There is no downside to testing the waters, and certainly no player should be considered flat-out untradable by anyone when it comes to a rebuilding team.

    As you'd expect, Ryan got no bites. Because no team is in position to do what Los Angeles did. Had that wacky trade not gone down so recently, this "story" would have been a passing note rather than a daylong talking point.

    Mauer's oversized contract and full no-trade clause make it extremely improbable that he'll be moved, now or in the future. I mean extremely improbable – like Jim Carrey so-you're-telling-me-there's-a-chance improbable. It might be fun to daydream about what kind of impact such an outlandish move might have, but at the end of the day such thoughts are nothing more.
    This article was originally published in blog: Mauer's Not Going Anywhere started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 34 Comments
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Curt View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      The positional adjustments are:
      +1.0 wins C
      +0.5 SS/CF
      +0.0 2B/3B
      -0.5 LF/RF/PH
      -1.0 1B
      -1.5 DH
      From baseball-reference.com:
      To compute a player's Positional adjustment Runs, we add together for each non-pitching position: Position multiplier (from above) × innings played at position / 1,350 Innings. For players who are only pitchers this is Pitcher Positional Adjustment (from below) × (PA/4) / 150.

      It looks to me like the positional adjustments are proportional to the amount of time played at each position.
      Baseball Reference has his WAR at 2.6, not 3.8.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by SeanS7921 View Post
      And when you discuss a position player all you bring up Nelson is crappy OPS and then have the nerve to rip on WAR as a good indicator of performance. WAR is a much better indicator ask Keith Law for a not super crazy advanced stat to judge value.
      Let me ask you this: do you trust UZR in partial-season samples? If you do, you're not using it right. If not, what reason is there to trust fWAR – a metric heavily influenced by UZR – in partial season samples?

      Also, focusing on any numbers he's posting this season overlooks the realities of his situation that are going to weigh heavily on any general manager's mind, namely the significant durability issues.

      Also, does the fact that Mauer will catch only ~75 games this year have more to do with the fact that the Twins are out of contention, or the fact that the last time he caught 100-plus games he broke down? I don't think you can say one or the other with confidence.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      I think the reason that Mauer is DH'ing has to do with the fact that the primary DH can play catcher and Mauer won't get beat up as much. If the Twins had a Kubel type player at DH and were winning then I would expect to see Mauer behind the plate more.

      The only thing that scares me about Mauer is that the end of the contract will likely be a poor value. But that's true of pretty much all of the mega contracts that get signed. At some point you have to commit money to stars.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      For anyone who hasn't read it yet, a great article on the Mauer contract by one of my favorite writers:

      http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/37609880
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by SeanS7921 View Post
      And when you discuss a position player all you bring up Nelson is crappy OPS and then have the nerve to rip on WAR as a good indicator of performance. WAR is a much better indicator ask Keith Law for a not super crazy advanced stat to judge value.
      Let me ask you this: do you trust UZR in partial-season samples? If you do, you're not using it right. If not, what reason is there to trust fWAR – a metric heavily influenced by UZR – in partial season samples?

      Also, focusing on any numbers he's posting this season overlooks the realities of his situation that are going to weigh heavily on any general manager's mind, namely the significant durability issues.

      Also, does the fact that Mauer will catch only ~75 games this year have more to do with the fact that the Twins are out of contention, or the fact that the last time he caught 100-plus games he broke down? I don't think you can say one or the other with confidence.
      I think it's even worse than that. Unless I'm mistaken and it's changed, UZR doesn't even attempt to assign a defensive value to catchers. It's too hard. So fWAR just gives all catchers the same number generic UZR number to use in it's WAR calculations.

      Few serious saber folks pay much attention to WAR any more. It's on it's way to joining Win Shares in history's junkpile of attempts at an "uberstat."
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post

      I think it's even worse than that. Unless I'm mistaken and it's changed, UZR doesn't even attempt to assign a defensive value to catchers. It's too hard. So fWAR just gives all catchers the same number generic UZR number to use in it's WAR calculations.
      Wouldn't it be surprising if the person who (has claimed he) knows the most about WAR on this site has that wrong? Maybe, maybe not.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by Curt View Post
      It looks to me like the positional adjustments are proportional to the amount of time played at each position.
      I was hoping your first response (saying it was surprising that the formula didn't take that into account) was kind of sarcastic . Maybe it was. That you have had to go back to it because it didn't sink in is kind of amusing to me. And kind of sad. I'm not really surprised that presenting actual facts has been virtually unacknowledged, though.
    1. Curt's Avatar
      Curt -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Curt View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      The positional adjustments are:
      +1.0 wins C
      +0.5 SS/CF
      +0.0 2B/3B
      -0.5 LF/RF/PH
      -1.0 1B
      -1.5 DH
      From baseball-reference.com:
      To compute a player's Positional adjustment Runs, we add together for each non-pitching position: Position multiplier (from above) × innings played at position / 1,350 Innings. For players who are only pitchers this is Pitcher Positional Adjustment (from below) × (PA/4) / 150.

      It looks to me like the positional adjustments are proportional to the amount of time played at each position.
      Baseball Reference has his WAR at 2.6, not 3.8.
      FanGraphs does a similar apportionment:
      The position adjustments are then scaled to match the games played at each position for a particular player. This way, players that spend time at multiple positions get a hybrid adjustment based on their playing time at the respective spots.
    1. Curt's Avatar
      Curt -
      Quote Originally Posted by CDog View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Curt View Post
      It looks to me like the positional adjustments are proportional to the amount of time played at each position.
      I was hoping your first response (saying it was surprising that the formula didn't take that into account) was kind of sarcastic . Maybe it was. That you have had to go back to it because it didn't sink in is kind of amusing to me. And kind of sad. I'm not really surprised that presenting actual facts has been virtually unacknowledged, though.
      What?
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Curt View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Curt View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      The positional adjustments are:
      +1.0 wins C
      +0.5 SS/CF
      +0.0 2B/3B
      -0.5 LF/RF/PH
      -1.0 1B
      -1.5 DH
      From baseball-reference.com:
      To compute a player's Positional adjustment Runs, we add together for each non-pitching position: Position multiplier (from above) × innings played at position / 1,350 Innings. For players who are only pitchers this is Pitcher Positional Adjustment (from below) × (PA/4) / 150.

      It looks to me like the positional adjustments are proportional to the amount of time played at each position.
      Baseball Reference has his WAR at 2.6, not 3.8.
      FanGraphs does a similar apportionment:
      The position adjustments are then scaled to match the games played at each position for a particular player. This way, players that spend time at multiple positions get a hybrid adjustment based on their playing time at the respective spots.
      Except that Fangraphs ranks Mauer #13 in American League WAR rankings, while Baseball Reference rates him as #34 overall. Mauer's slash numbers are very, very pedestrian-to-mediocre as a non-catcher (DH/1B/PH): 268/356/364, which lends one to think that FG overweights his C positional adjustment in their valuation model.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by Curt View Post

      What?
      Just an apparently opaque attempt to say, "Nice job."
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by CDog View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post

      I think it's even worse than that. Unless I'm mistaken and it's changed, UZR doesn't even attempt to assign a defensive value to catchers. It's too hard. So fWAR just gives all catchers the same number generic UZR number to use in it's WAR calculations.
      Wouldn't it be surprising if the person who (has claimed he) knows the most about WAR on this site has that wrong? Maybe, maybe not.
      I stand corrected.

      Fangraphs does not use UZR to calculate a catcher's fWAR. It can't, since there still is no UZR data compiled for catchers.

      However, they have changed their methodology. In place of the UZR they use for every other defensive position, they substitute "Stolen Base Runs Runs Saved" (a DRS methodology that attempts to give credit/blame to catchers and pitchers for stolen base attempts) and "Runs saved from Pass Pitches" (an attempt to use an algorithm to determine which catchers are best at blocking balls in the dirt).

      So...yes. fWAR does not include UZR data for catchers. It has, however, been modified since I last looked into it to include some estimates of 2 aspects of catcher defense.

      You can decide for yourself if two estimators, of two parts of catcher defense, is a valid way to determine who's the most valuable players in MLB.
    1. SeanS7921's Avatar
      SeanS7921 -
      Few serious saber folks pay much attention to WAR any more. It's on it's way to joining Win Shares in history's junkpile of attempts at an "uberstat."- USAFChief
      Well maybe saber nerds hate it now because its mainstream. Its an accepted stat, ESPN just added it to its stats, that's huge. Its everywhere and effective.
    1. PopRiveter's Avatar
      PopRiveter -
      Um... "glerb."
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