What’s Nate McLouth Worth?
Why do I care what Nate McLouth is worth? I have no idea. Usually my ideas come from an interesting post or comment somebody made somewhere, but this one is completely out of left field. It’s almost 2 a.m. and I have a growing headache (which begs the question of why I’m writing this anyway), so that’s all the introduction you get today.
McLouth’s .276/.356/.497 line comes out to a .372 wOBA, which is worth 23 runs above average over his 687 plate appearances. wOBA measures overall offensive output in rate form. To get the equivalent runs above average, you take the difference between the individual and league wOBA and divide by 1.15. What is Nate projected to do next season? Both Bill James and Marcel have similar projections, both pegging him around 9 runs above average.
Everyone who pays attention to this stuff, except the BBWAA managers and coaches who vote (thanks for the correction, Keith), agrees that McLouth is a terrible center fielder. The +/- system had him at like negative a billion this past season (only a slight exaggeration). Chone projects him at -9 runs in center next year compared to the average CF.
Position adjustment and replacement level
McLouth gets a bonus for simply standing out in center and not making anybody else do it, which has some value. Why do we give a positional adjustment? I’m glad you asked. Tango has your answer. So we add 2.5 runs to McLouth’s tab because that’s how much better he is at the position than a theoretical Willie Bloomquist.
The average player is about 20 runs above what a replacement level player would provide, so we now add that total to McLouth’s line, as well.
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Adding up offense, defense, position, and replacement, we get:
9 + (-9) + 2.5 + 20 = 22.5 runs above replacement level. Converting to wins, thats 2.3 wins above replacement. If he were a free agent, his open market value would be that number multipled by $4.84 million per win (the expected going rate for free agents this year– it was 4.4 last year), with an add-on of $400K in minimum salary, which comes out to $11.5 million per year. The dollars per win value changes based on the needs of the team, the financial resources, expected record, etc., but 4.84 is the overall market rate.
At some point I’ll make some pages about where I’m getting a lot of these assumptions from, since it’s becoming annoying to keep citing sources.