A large chunk of Joe Mauers offense value is positional scarcity.
Has a catcher of his best 5 comps 4 are Hall of Famers or certain hall of famers. His last 3 best by age comps are hall of famers. If he catches regularly through age 32 or 33 he will almost certainly be in the discussion. If he doesnt he probably wont unless his offensive numbers rise significantly
In other words, has a catcher he is probably underpaid, has a 1b or DH he is kinda ho hum.
One more time: I have seen no evidence--none, zilch, nada--that WAR measures anything. I haven't even seen an attempt by the proponants of war (visit Fangraphs! Please!) to validate their theory. It is a mathematical formula that generates a number. That's all you, or anyone else as far as I've seen, can claim with certainty. It may be a perfect measure of how many wins Joe Mauer is responsible for over a mythical "replacement player," but then again, it may be complete garbage. The point is, how would you, or WAR's proponants, know that?
Furthermore, a reasonable person looking into WAR would have to at least question the following:
1. The formula itself is pretty questionable. For example, position player WAR uses three disparate measures (wRAA, UZR, UBR), and then mashes them together into a single number. Even if we accept the validity of those three numbers, they measure separate things using separate formulas. Meshing them together is like adding body temperature, blood pressure, and age and saying you're a 289/120. It makes no sense. And that's even IF we accept the validity of the three numbers themselves, which is questionable at best. Even the inventor of UZR, for example, says UZR is unreliable over a sample size of a single season. Yet that number is used in calculating WAR.
2. The number from the formula above is then "position adjusted." WAR would tell you if Brett Gardner played CF for the Yankees, while Granderson moved to left, their WAR would be different. Same players. Same team. Same spot in the batting order. Same offensive numbers. Same mythical "replacement players." Yet by swapping positions, both of their WAR changes. WAR would tell you if Joe Mauer plays 1b, he's worth 25 less runs than if he plays C. Ignoring the questionable logic of this premise itself...where did they come up with these numbers? I'll tell you...they pretty much took the "defensive spectrum," and assigned random numbers to it. That's pretty much the story. I understand it's easier to find a 1B that puts up a .300/.400/.500 line that to find a SS that puts up identical numbers, but that doesn't mean those numbers generate more team runs simply because the player moves across the diamond.
I could go on. You are of course free to believe what you wish. If you think WAR is an accurate measure of anything, good for you. I am skeptical at best, and it's not because I haven't done the research to form my own opinion. Frankly, I'm surprised anyone who puts some thought and effort into looking into WAR pays it much attention. I suspect within a few years, few people will.
Coming off the year he had. Signing the contract was a no brainer. I also was heartened that the Twins reached into the wallet and paid. That was a huge moment in Twins history because I still remember Calvin Griffith. This aint your Daddy's Twins anymore.
It completely sucks that Mauer has become this injury thing but the swing is still sweet.
I also get the impression that some posters over value the long ball. For those who over value the power part. Mauer can get it back, it's a slight swing adjustment. Will he... That's a good question.
If Mauer is hitting over .300 at the trade deadline and looking healthy and if the Twins decided to start the rebuild and put Joe on the block looking for prospects. Both the Yankees and Red Sox would pick up the phone and take a large portion of the contract And send a decent player or two over. (the twins probably won't do this).
If he gets Hurt again. He will play be in a Twins uniform for the duration of said contract.
I am not clear on what you don't understand about the position adjustment? Mauer catching, for instance, means that some scrub isn't catching and taking up a spot in the lineup (Butera) while 1B or DH is occupied by someone much better, in theory, than Butera. There is nothing difficult to understand about that. WAR isn't perfect (defense, stolen bases and speed in general), but it is pretty good. It's better than simple seeing-eye scouting and merely looking at homers or rbi or batting average. OBP is the number one statistic that requires little math.
USAFChief nailed why I think WAR is basically useless. It's "overanalytical" (too complex of a formula with inconsistent methodology) and "lazy" (attempting to explain everything about a player with one useful number) at the same time. But we're a bit off track with all the WAR talk...
I understand that we are "overemphasizing the long ball", but as Game 163 of the 2008 season showed (the Thome HR for the White Sox), hitting the ball over the wall is the one place the defense can't catch it. Also, if you hit a lot of balls to the warning track and beyond, you may end up with a lot of doubles even if a lot of those balls don't leave the yard. You will almost never end up with a double trying to but the ball on the ground or hitting a lazy liner with runners on base.
WAR may not be a good stat, but I do believe in OPS. OPS even figures in walks, which should benefit Mauer because selectiveness at the plate is supposedly one of his strong points. And .729 last year is not going to cut it. (Bill James defines "average" as .700 to .766). But in years where his HR total has been below 10, he has managed OPS's in the .860 to .880 range, such as 2008 and 2010. I think those the seasons are the "real Mauer". But that is not the Mauer we paid for. We'd have to be crazy to expect .365/.444/.587 every year, but I don't think it was unreasonable to pay him $184 million on the assumption that (a) He could be a .300 hitter with 20 HR's or so for several seasons to come; and (b) that keeping him with the new ballpark was absolutely necessary for marketing reasons.
I'm not going to overreact too much to 2011, and I'll give him a chance to get back to that "2010" type level. But I'm afraid that 2009 Mauer is much like 2006 Liriano - an amazing anomaly that we hope for, but will never see again.
WAR isn't useless, but it isn't an end all be all stat either. It should never be used alone as a way to judge a player on his "value" to a team.
Of course it is far from perfect, though I think it can be useful when you are looking at alongside numerous other stats to sort of paint the piture on a players overall value: Including OPS, OPS+, BABIP, Range Factor, UZR, wRC+, wOBA, K rates, BB rates, GB/FB/LD rates etc
Assuming he is healthy, Mauer will be fine, I don't think he will be some 1.000 OPS guy consistently ever, but if he sticks in the .850-.890 OPS range while playing C he provides plenty of value.
All stats have value but they ALL lose their value when they are used exclusively.
For example... Same player... Different WAR every year sometimes very large swings. As long as you have that kind of margin of error. You better understand the margin of error. I don't and I'm very sure that very few on this board understand it either and yet they post all kinds of stats and quote them like pros.
There is so much more to this game.
Not understanding positional scarcity is to not understand baseball. That is kind of a basic principal that is both old school and new school. No matter how you measure it, a 2nd baseman who hits 30 homeruns is rarer and thus more valuable then a 1st baseman who hits 30 homeruns. Mauer to be a 23 million a year player has to catch a significant number of games. Catchers with Mauers offensive numbers are rare, a couple per era rare, thus have the high positional multiplier and the higher value
WAR isnt mythical. Its completely objective. You cant cheat the formula. Replacement level players are not arbitrary. They are -2.5 Wins in the AL
OPS is a nice quick dirty way to figure offensive value. It has its uses but it undervalues OBP which in turn overvalues slugging.
A short aside on your comments on WAR since this isn't the place (but yet this is the thread where it exists): I've been to fangraphs plenty. No need for you to encourage me to visit their site. And the information there is quite clear to me as far as what it means and how it's calculated. Your follow-up comments indicate that it's not clear to you. That seems to be the end of that road, so I don't know what reason we have to be upset with anyone.
I'm not attempting to make you believe in the value of a statistic. If there were a thread on that topic, maybe I would. This was about Mauer. I used facts to make a point, you (and the original claimant) didn't like the facts I picked, so I picked others. I don't see what's not civil about that.
I was the one who threw the V-Mart comparison up there, and then seconded the criticism of WAR. You are right that this is a discussion about Mauer, not WAR, but you missed my point...
I went back and read what you said. Your argument that my stats didn't support my argument (about V-Mart being a better hitter thus far) referenced his WAR stats on Baseball Reference. But I don't believe in WAR, and neither does USAFChief. Therefore, an argument that V-Mart is better than Mauer because of WAR, while not necessarily false, isn't going to have any impact on my opinion. That was the whole point of discussing the merits of WAR in the first place.
I linked Baseball Reference because that's where I usually go for quick information and statistics. I was not relying on sabermetrics in my argument, and certainly not WAR. My basic argument was that Mauer and V-Mart have had similar career paths in many ways:
- Both are catchers who broke into the league in the early 2000's (though V-Mart got a later start and is a couple of years older).
- Both of them are rarities at their position - middle-of-the-order catchers frequently discussed as "elite" hitters
- Both of their promising careers have been marred by recurring injury problems
- Both of them have transitioned to 1B and DH as they approached 30 years old to keep their bats in the lineup, and avoid the daily rigors of catching
And discussing the two of these similar careers as hitters, I felt that V-Mart's career average of .303 and an average of 20.16 HR per 162-game season is as valuable or more valuable than Mauer's averages of .323 and 14.76 HR's per full season. Which is also not to mention that Mauer's numbers are skewed heavily by a single year that he will almost certainly never replicate. Meanwhile, V-Mart has had five 20-HR seasons, despite all of his injury problems.
Yes, Mauer has a higher career OPS (again, smaller sample and skewed by '09). And yes, I'm leaving out defense, which was a strong point of Mauer's game, and an advantage in his favor. However, I feel that there was a point around the 2010 All-Star game (where he missed 2B with a throw by about 20 feet) after which his defense has been very average. Also, of course, Mauer's contract did not start until 2011, and he's not going to be a full-time catcher pretty much from now on.
My point is not that Mauer is not a very good player...he certainly is. But when you ask questions like "is he worth $184 million", or is he truly an "elite" hitter in today's game, those questions require a much higher degree of scrutiny. And unless you expect everything about Mauer's health, production, and approach to change in his 30's, I don't believe he will be have been statistically more valuable as a hitter than someone like V-Mart, looking back on their careers.
3 points to make. And since maybe nobody is going to care enough to read down to the bottom, I'll put my close up here: I love this site and I love the discussions. I think the audience here is perhaps slanted a bit far toward the uber-analytical crowd - which gets me into trouble when trying to make a point because I'm over my head - but I'd prefer that slant over the opposite, which would be people making indefensible, general statements. Well done to all, including whoever put this site together and everyone who contributes. Think about how far the activity of discussing/arguing our favorite team has come in the last five years.
1) I'm reasonably intelligent, despite what my daughter thinks. Or wife. Or boss. I'll stop now. And in general, I much prefer advanced stats when evaluating a player over BA and HR (I recognize that these were the two stats I cited originally, and regret that). My problem is that I don't have the time or the interest to dive really, really deep into their origins and meaning. All of this leaves me with enough knowledge about them to be dumb enough to try to use them in an argument. Having said all that, I do get annoyed when SOME (not all) people use WAR like a bible and don't cite any other stat. It reminds me of when ... well, it reminds me of when people used to measure hitters based solely on their BA. I understand that it attempts to measure in one stat a player's value, and I think it does very well. I don't understand it's intricacies, particularly how the replacement player performance is calculated, but that's fine. I trust that it generally works. But it's proponents would do well to not just say [paraphrasing here, this isn't a literal quote] 'his WAR is great so that really should be the end of the discussion.' Some collateral discussions beyond WAR would improve your arguments.
2) I need to go away from stats here. And I will likely lose many of you by doing so. I'd like to be able to talk just about how it is to WATCH Mauer. Not track every nuance of his performance. And I think that it's not as much fun or awesome to watch him anymore. He used to be MUST SEE. If he was coming to the plate, you had to pay close attention. He was going to get a hit. I never thought of him with power, so I don't much care that he doesn't have any. But he used to be exciting to watch. You used to expect something good. Now, I have to say, I expect a GIDP or a soft liner to the short outfield. It's sad. Maybe the pure stats don't back up this impression. But when I'm watching a game, and I see him hit another grounder to short, I don't console myself by saying "well, that at bat sucked, but his WAR is ok this season." Sorry, I just don't. If you can, more power to you. But I think there's a bunch of us who just miss seeing him be dominant.
3) The Contract. I understand completely all the arguments that the Twins had to sign him. Had to. I generally agree. Certainly agree as a fan. I think for the vast majority of us to talk about how the front office had to do it from a business and baseball perspective ... well, I'm not sure we're qualified. We don't know the inner numbers of the business, of the ballpark, of a lot of things on the commercial side. I'm a financial analyst in the electric utility industry. I'm VERY quantitative every day. But since I don't have the raw data that Pohlad, Ryan, and Smith do, I can't analyze. And I don't mean the big round numbers that get in the press.
I didn't say I thought it was a bad contract. I said I'm fearful for the future of the contract. It's quite reasonable to say that it was a necessary contract at the time, but now two years later it's starting to have an odor. I think we all thought it would stink at some point. We just didn't expect that point to come soon. Maybe it's not here yet. I hope not. GO TWINS.
1) I feel like I'm largely the one (in this thread) carrying the torch for the advanced stats. I should say that I think they have limitations, too. In my original post (in this thread) mentioning WAR, I used only that. The reason for that was I was disputing a claim that on the page given by the link there was evidence of a far superior career to Mauer's. For a variety of reasons, in that particular case and that particular claim, I'd say that it's not such a bad place to use a summary stat that's WAY in one player's favor as enough evidence that he's not FAR inferior. But since folks didn't like that, I should point out again that I then went back and found a bunch of other stats, too. As to your comments about the intricacies of the calculations. I think for those that are new to them, the basics are not all that imposing. Wins are based on runs. Runs are based on hitting the ball, running the bases, and preventing the other team from doing that. All the advanced stats do is measure those abilities to create and prevent runs (and thus win games).
2) I know what you mean and I at least partially agree. When I would talk to people about Mauer (or having the inner dialogue with myelf....we all do that...right? right?), I always said or thought or noticed how often he hit the ball right on the button. It felt like every time. He squared up the ball over and over and over, and hardly anybody can do that. The first time I felt like that wasn't the case was the start of last year. There were some stretches where it was back last year, but for the most part it stayed gone. In the bit of Spring Training I got to see (on TV), it looked like it was mostly there again. In four games since Friday, it hasn't been always like it once was. But....it's four games. I'll be shocked and disappointed if he doesn't get back to that where "every" at bat ends with him whislting the ball somewhere after blistering it right on the screws. And just to keep being "that guy"...I'll point out that most of his groundouts go to 2nd, not short. Hehe.