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How Overpaid is Joe Mauer?

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#1 jokin

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 02:58 PM

I posted this elsewhere, but thought it was worth general discussion, as well. I've argued that this ridiculous contract has paralyzed the Twins ability to compete until 2018. For #3 hitters, Joe is 6th overall in OBP, but second from the bottom (28th) in slugging percentage, does this sound like the attributes needed of a "typical" batter in the 3-spot?


Mauer's Ranking Versus Other No. 3 Hitters Ranked by OPS (Including Contract)




1) Hamilton 402/455/866/1321 $15.25 Mil

2) Kemp 359/446/726/1173 $10.25

3) Wright 400/489/591/1080 $15.25

4) Votto 319/466/543/1059 $11.41

5) Beltran 298/406/653/1058 $13

6) Ortiz 348/412/614/1026 $14.575

7) Braun 306/386/636/1022 $7.399

8) Dunn 250/393/600/993 $14

9) Joyce 287/374/565/939 $0.499

10) C. Gonzalez 300/378/550/928 $5.43

11) A. Cabrera 315/411/495/906 $4.55

12) Me. Cabrera 348/396/504/900 $6

13) McCutcheon 339/403/496/899 $0.708

14) Reddick 290/338/536/874 $0.485

15) Freeman 284/340/507/847 $0.535

16) Mi. Cabrera 224/345/485/830 $21

17) A-Rod 280/334/424/808 $30

18) Markakis 254/346/455/801 $12.35

19) MAUER 286/406/387/793 $Twenty-Three Million







Edited by jokin, 14 May 2012 - 05:04 PM.


#2 puck34

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 03:03 PM

Whatever happened to regular stats? Batting Average, Doubles, Home Runs, & RBI?

#3 jokin

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 03:05 PM

I purposely used the "trendy stat-lines" to appease the sabre-geeks:p

#4 puck34

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 03:06 PM

I purposely used the "trendy stat-lines" to appease the sabre-geeks:p



I know, I know.........It wasn't intended for you as much as I'm just old school and a bit overwhelmed by all the new data

#5 jokin

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 03:13 PM

I guess I'm asking what is the "proper" mix of power/timely hitting/ability to get on base for a "typical" #3 hitter. And with applying a salary metric to the mix.

#6 Boom Boom

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 03:14 PM

Whatever happened to regular stats? Batting Average, Doubles, Home Runs, & RBI?


Batting average is right there - .286. His .387 SLG means he hasn't hit many doubles or home runs.

#7 James

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 03:24 PM

So, this doesn't really tell me that he is over paid, more that maybe Gardy should look to move him to a different spot in the batting order, like, maybe #2.

You can come up with statistics to prove anything. Forty percent of all people know that.


#8 gunnarthor

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 03:31 PM

Let's give him a bit more time. If he ends up posting a 135-140 OPS+ again, I think he'll be worth it. Mauer does things that annoy me (it would be great if he'd turn on a 3-0 pitch once in a while) but I don't think he or his salary are real problems. Even if you think he's overpaid some, he's not overpaid by 23m.

#9 Highabove

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 03:39 PM

Funny you should ask this question. In this morning's edition of USA TODAY, Bob Nightengale list his MLB's worst Contracts. Joe comes in at number 2

" He's a swell fella. Great role model. But his eight-year, $184 million contract is the biggest albatross on any payroll in baseball. Mauer, who just two years ago was considered the finest catcher in baseball, now can barely stay healthy enough to catch, let alone hit for power. The only thing considered softer than this demeanor is his batting average. He is hitting.286 and has hit just one homer. Incredibly, he has hit only two home runs in 460 at-bats at Target Field since his new contract. Toronto's Jose Bautista has 10 in just 47 at-bats at Target Field. The Twins are playing him more frequently at first base to keep him healthy, but the Twins made him the highest-paid catcher in baseball history to handle a pitching staff. If he plays mostly at first base, and continues to be powerless, he's only a $5 million to $7 million player. Take away his 28-homer season of 2009, and Mauer has never surpassed 13 homers in a season. Little wonder why the Twins' front office is seriously thinking of moving the fences in next year."


Link
MLB's worst contracts: We have a new, ahem, winner

Edited by Highabove, 14 May 2012 - 04:22 PM.


#10 jokin

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 03:50 PM

So, this doesn't really tell me that he is over paid, more that maybe Gardy should look to move him to a different spot in the batting order, like, maybe #2.


Really? Look at the amazing production numbers, in contrast to Mauer's paucity of power, from most of the players above him, (ie, what will McCutcheon command for a contract when he finally escapes Pittsburgh? IMO, on a team like the Pirates, he is the perfect #3 man). In numerous internal batting measures, Mauer is hitting lower marks than even last year's disatrous season, marked by numerous career lows (Check his GB/FB %-- Scary!). Only in walk rates is he hitting career highs. I agree about moving him to a different spot and have advocated the #2 spot since he got here, he never has been a great #3 hitter with the exception of his one (apprently) "career year" in 09. But in moving him to another spot in the batting order, and with his apparent evolution to becoming a half-time catcher, I would argue that he is/would be even MORE overpaid.

#11 one_eyed_jack

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 03:54 PM

1. You can't judge a 8-year deal by 33 games. Yes, we'd all like to see more production, but the conclusion that he has "paralyzed" the Twins for the next 6 years is melodramatic and silly. 2. Even if he is as grossly overpaid as claimed, there's nothing that says you can't compete with overpaid guys on your payroll. Barry Zito's contract with the Giants was widely regarded as one of the worst in baseball for years. Yet despite that, they managed to not only compete, but win a World Series. 3. Far too many tears have been shed and tantrums thrown over Mauer's contract. For years I listened to Twins fans whine endlessly about how the team wouldn't pony up to keep its best players. Then they did with Mauer, and it's been a nonstop hissyfit about him being overpaid. Welcome to big league baseball, folks. You either pay big bucks to keep your best players, or somebody else will. And yes, you'll end up overpaying for some guys. It's just not realistic to think you can field a team of all-stars with league-minimum contracts.

#12 jokin

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 03:57 PM

Let's give him a bit more time. If he ends up posting a 135-140 OPS+ again, I think he'll be worth it.

Mauer does things that annoy me (it would be great if he'd turn on a 3-0 pitch once in a while) but I don't think he or his salary are real problems. Even if you think he's overpaid some, he's not overpaid by 23m.


Speaking of annoying, how about swinging on those first pitch meatballs down mainstreet? It seems that Mauer's goal in every at bat is to draw a walk, rather than taking an agressive approach, the result is he looks for one kind of pitch in his preferred zone and then swings one way and resultantly ends up with ground ball after ground ball.

#13 twinsnorth49

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 04:03 PM

What is it the you guys want the Twins to do about it? All the endless hand wringing and moaning about Joe's contract fascinates me, it's done, get over it. You guys are right, is that what you want, recognition? A gold star? I've said it before, I'll say it again, all of this bitching is in hindsight and everybody is perfect in hindsight. He's not the 1st guy to get overpaid, he's not the last. Big baseball contacts are based on past success which is rarely repeated, they are doomed from the start, it's an accepted culture.

#14 snepp

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 04:07 PM

In this mourning's edition of USA TODAY,


Freudian slip?

:)

#15 jokin

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 04:08 PM

1. You can't judge a 8-year deal by 33 games. Yes, we'd all like to see more production, but the conclusion that he has "paralyzed" the Twins for the next 6 years is melodramatic and silly.

2. Even if he is as grossly overpaid as claimed, there's nothing that says you can't compete with overpaid guys on your payroll. Barry Zito's contract with the Giants was widely regarded as one of the worst in baseball for years. Yet despite that, they managed to not only compete, but win a World Series.

3. Far too many tears have been shed and tantrums thrown over Mauer's contract. For years I listened to Twins fans whine endlessly about how the team wouldn't pony up to keep its best players. Then they did with Mauer, and it's been a nonstop hissyfit about him being overpaid. Welcome to big league baseball, folks. You either pay big bucks to keep your best players, or somebody else will. And yes, you'll end up overpaying for some guys. It's just not realistic to think you can field a team of all-stars with league-minimum contracts.


I haven't instilled any melodrama in my comments, pretty much just facts. You have instilled few facts into the discussion and gone emotionally bombastic in the other direction.

1) I agree with your point, but you completely ignore the facts on the table. Mauer's health and production have fallen off markedly since Shapiro held up the Twins. This risk was not properly assessed by management and you now have one player who is unable to play his proscribed postition full-time and has a "grossly" (your word) distorted salary that represents about 25% of the entire payroll. Any corporate exec would tell you that tying up one-fourth of your payroll in one unproductive entity for 8 years paralyzes a company's ability to react to changing market conditions. Not silly or melodramatic.

2) Zito's contract was one of the worst, no question, but, as a starting pitcher, Zito only affected 20% of the Giants games and the club was fortunate to have SP depth to fill the breach. This is called "contingency planning" in worst-case scenaros. What was the Twins contingency planning? Oh yeah--trade away Wilson Ramos....

3)No tears or tantrums, hissyfits or whining from me. Refer back to point #2 about proper stewardship of resources for a mid-level-market baseball club.

Edited by jokin, 14 May 2012 - 04:19 PM.


#16 BHtwins

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 04:25 PM

Mauer's contract is about affensive production at defensive scarcity. How many other catchers on that list of #3 hitter sparky? It wasnt a bad deal then and its still really not that bad of a deal. Not Mauers fault he isnt catching much thus far.

#17 Rosterman

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 04:26 PM

The contract is there, but must be taken out of the equation. He is basically the face of the franchise and needs to be marketed as such, unless you feel we should send him on his ways. I'm sure there is at least one team out there that would absorb his contract for just 115 or so games as a catcher...and they might actually keep batting him third. But basically Mauer should be considered outside-the-box. Put him in his own category and say the team payroll is....then add Mauer in. His hometown value is/can still be/high. But if I was management, I would look for an opportunity. The other consideration...Mauer signed thinking the Twins were going to win. Does he want to play 8 seasons on a so-so team? I doubt it. It makes him look all the worse in the long run. It's too bad he can't give any of the money back, or adopt someone each year. But no one said Twins baseball had to pay him that much except us fans here in town...basically. He is cute in the Head and Shoulders ads!

#18 jokin

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 04:38 PM

Mauer's contract is about affensive production at defensive scarcity. How many other catchers on that list of #3 hitter sparky?

It wasnt a bad deal then and its still really not that bad of a deal. Not Mauers fault he isnt catching much thus far.


Hey Sparkler, there are none. Apparently Mauer's days as a catcher are numbered as well. It is arguable that it was a bad deal then and there is little doubt that it now is widely recognized as one of the top two (at least) worst deals in baseball(See Highabove's post above for just the latest confirmation). Just wishing it weren't true doesn't make it go away. The problem with the deal at the time was that there were strong hints that Mauer's health would always be in question, his leadership ability at a leadership position was non-existent, his personality was "aloof" and his hitting production was frequently untimely or inconsequential. The problem with the deal now goes beyond Mauer's complete power outage, he quite demonstrably is no longer a top-level defensive catcher, which coupled with his apparent unpopularity with the pitching staff makes him more a liability at the position.

#19 Highabove

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 04:52 PM

Many of us never considered that the payroll would start to plummet so soon after the opening of Target Field. Next years payroll could easily be in the low 80's. Subtract Mauer's contract, and Ryan will have less money to work with then he did at the Dome.

Edited by Highabove, 14 May 2012 - 05:21 PM.


#20 BD57

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 05:48 PM

The contract is the contract. Imagine the firestorm that would've erupted if the Twins hadn't signed Mauer. Here's the scenario Mauer is a local kid drafted #1 by the Twins. In 2009, he won the batting title, hit 28 HRs after sitting out the first month, OPS+ 171. At the time, no one "knew" 28 HR in 5 months was an "aberration." CW was that Mauer's power would pick up as he became more experienced, etc. At the time, no one knew Target Field was going to be a pitcher's park or that the difference between the Dome & Target would be so significant. The contract was signed before the Twins began play in their new ballpark - the one which (the Twins told us) would allow them to generate the revenues required to actually compete. So "naturally" the first thing the Twins should've done is drive a hard bargain with the 'hometown boy who makes very good' and risk losing him to free agency. The Twins would've been accused of double-crossing the fans - "the Pohlad family's going to rake in the money and sit on it," etc. Joe Mauer happened to be negotiating an extension at the best possible time for him - career (to date) season, he hits the equivalent of 32-35 HR, drives in the equivalent of 120 runs, wins the battling title, MVP, etc. The Twins happen to be negotiating an extension at a less than opportune time for them - moving into a new park where income is going to go up (making it harder to cry "poverty"), when any reluctance on their part to pay the man will be construed as miserly.

#21 twinzgrl

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 05:57 PM

The Twins management GAVE Joe this contract. No one held a gun to their heads. They don't seem to be whining about it. Have you ever seen the number of MAUER jerseys at TF or out in public. I work at a public school, and MAUER jerseys and T-shirts are everywhere. As another blogger noted, he IS the face of the franchise. I don't think the TWINS or anyone else thought he'd catch for the next eight years. He will transition to another position. Did you see the foul he took off the inside of his knee? I think it is admirable that he has played in almost all the games in one capacity or another. I believe he will win another batting title at some point. Most ballplayers are overpaid. So are movie stars. Get over it. The TWINS have plenty of money to spend on players. They just choose not to. If you don't like it, find another team to cheer for. I am so sick of the MAUER bashing.

#22 BHtwins

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 05:59 PM

Not a very big Bob Nightengale fan, mostly think he is an opinionated ass so I dont really care if his opinion is Mauer is overpaid. Mauer still is an above average catcher by most metrics and the reason as far as I can tell he hasnt started at catcher as much is why, when a measurable portion of your roster is made up of catchers would you risk your best player to catch everyday. Again, not Mauers fault that the Twins use their resources like **** and Morneau is hurt. The reason Mauer is boo'd is the same reason Ted Williams was boo'd. That is that their expectactions are wildly out of control and the average casual baseball fan is an idiot on judging the value of a player. As it is, if Mauer last 4 to 5 more years catching regularly he is almost certainly a hall of famer and probably one of the top 5 catchers of all-time.

#23 Montecore

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 06:18 PM

BD57 nailed it. And, didn't someone mention not long back that moaning and groaning about this (the contract) was a dopey waste of time which it is? I like Mauer, like him as the face of the franchise and like to see him do well, contribute to victories as we all do.

#24 Alex

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 06:19 PM

The problem with the deal now goes beyond Mauer's complete power outage, he quite demonstrably is no longer a top-level defensive catcher, which coupled with his apparent unpopularity with the pitching staff makes him more a liability at the position


Really? Where do you get this information, especially the second part?

Beyond that, a couple of things. I appreciate that you went to the effort to use data to try and back up your initial claims. I should add that I don't think Mauer is performing at the value of his contract this season. There's a major flaw in the initial question, as hinted at by others: Hitting order is not a position and does not have much to do with player value. If we shift Mauer to the 8th or 9th spot, he's suddenly far more valuable by that logic. Additionally, many of the players you list are under team control, so including contracts of non-negotiated salaries is somewhat misleading. Admittedly, it would do little to help Mauer in this case anyway in this analysis.

I don't think anyone would argue this is going to be a good contract. However, I think a lot of people think it's worse than it actually is because of the way people value certain stats over others. In fact, Nightengale's evaluation falls prey to exactly that, quoting only average and HR. Again, I'm not arguing here that Mauer is playing at the value of his contract, but I'm pointing out that what is examined is not always indicative of complete value.

Here are a couple of other metrics: (Note these assume his current numbers stand for the entire season, which I think is actually a conservative estimate. They also assume he continues to play half his games at catcher. If he plays more C, these numbers increase. If not, they will likely decrease unless he ends up being a lights out defensive player at 1B).

-WAR: Mauer's WAR is currently .9, according to http://www.baseball-reference.com. If he continues with the same numbers he'll end the season with a 4.5 WAR, not a great number, but one that puts him as borderline all-star.
-WOBA: Again from Fangraphs, is .352. well above average.
-Value: http://www.fangraphs.com/ gives player value in a monetary amount. A nice item to look at in exactly this kind of discussion. Mauer's value through the season so far is $3.7M. Multiply that out and you $18.5M.

To be certain, these are not $23M numbers, nor are they even good for Joe. However, I was actually surprised by, relatively, how good they were. Sure, some will dismiss them for whatever reasons, but these are, imo, representative of his actual holistic current value without nitpicking and choosing specific individual numbers, and I'm actually expecting all of them to improve as the season goes on.

#25 glunn

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 06:47 PM

The contract is the contract.

Imagine the firestorm that would've erupted if the Twins hadn't signed Mauer. Here's the scenario

Mauer is a local kid drafted #1 by the Twins. In 2009, he won the batting title, hit 28 HRs after sitting out the first month, OPS+ 171.

At the time, no one "knew" 28 HR in 5 months was an "aberration." CW was that Mauer's power would pick up as he became more experienced, etc.

At the time, no one knew Target Field was going to be a pitcher's park or that the difference between the Dome & Target would be so significant.

The contract was signed before the Twins began play in their new ballpark - the one which (the Twins told us) would allow them to generate the revenues required to actually compete.

So "naturally" the first thing the Twins should've done is drive a hard bargain with the 'hometown boy who makes very good' and risk losing him to free agency.

The Twins would've been accused of double-crossing the fans - "the Pohlad family's going to rake in the money and sit on it," etc.

Joe Mauer happened to be negotiating an extension at the best possible time for him - career (to date) season, he hits the equivalent of 32-35 HR, drives in the equivalent of 120 runs, wins the battling title, MVP, etc.

The Twins happen to be negotiating an extension at a less than opportune time for them - moving into a new park where income is going to go up (making it harder to cry "poverty"), when any reluctance on their part to pay the man will be construed as miserly.


I think that this is an excellent analysis. I also agree with those who say that Mauer is likely to get back to being more productive as time passes.

Let's all be glad that we are not in as bad a position as the Angels with Pujols.

#26 Alex

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 06:48 PM

Many of us never considered that the payroll would start to plummet so soon after the opening of Target Field. Next years payroll could easily be in the low 80's. Subtract Mauer's contract, and Ryan will have less money to work with then he did at the Dome.


If Mauer's contract truly handcuffs the organization, then it's certainly an issue. However, if anyone should have considered the payroll would plummet, it should have been the organization. That element is their choice, at least for this season, and they could now be in a downward spiral as far as that is concerned: cut the payroll---> not as much talent ----> not as many wins ----> fans coming to games ----> cut the payroll.

I'm still of the opinion that they aren't going to spend much of that $23M even if they could have it back.

#27 Thrylos

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 07:34 PM

A: Small Sample Size: The Mauer Contract compares favorable to The Fielder Contract and The Pujols Contract at this point.

B: Big Picture: The Twins were between a rock and a hard place with this one and they had to do it. They ones who are screaming about Mauer's contract now would be the ones who would be screaming for the Pohlad's head if they did not sign him. And if they did not sign him, the backlash would be so bad that there would be no Target Field.

Big picture is sometimes more interesting than small sample size.

For one, I am sick and tired about all that whinning about Mauer's contract, something that was done years ago. Can't change it, move on, and try to discuss things that the Twins can change to improve the team
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#28 Guest_USAFChief_*

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 09:03 PM

A: Small Sample Size: The Mauer Contract compares favorable to The Fielder Contract and The Pujols Contract at this point.

B: Big Picture: The Twins were between a rock and a hard place with this one and they had to do it. They ones who are screaming about Mauer's contract now would be the ones who would be screaming for the Pohlad's head if they did not sign him. And if they did not sign him, the backlash would be so bad that there would be no Target Field.

Big picture is sometimes more interesting than small sample size.

For one, I am sick and tired about all that whinning about Mauer's contract, something that was done years ago. Can't change it, move on, and try to discuss things that the Twins can change to improve the team



Might want to think about that'n for a minute or two.

#29 twinsnorth49

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 09:10 PM

Just wishing it weren't true doesn't make it go away.


Neither does bitching and moaning about it with apparently no point.

#30 Shane Wahl

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 09:12 PM

Really? Where do you get this information, especially the second part?

Beyond that, a couple of things. I appreciate that you went to the effort to use data to try and back up your initial claims. I should add that I don't think Mauer is performing at the value of his contract this season. There's a major flaw in the initial question, as hinted at by others: Hitting order is not a position and does not have much to do with player value. If we shift Mauer to the 8th or 9th spot, he's suddenly far more valuable by that logic. Additionally, many of the players you list are under team control, so including contracts of non-negotiated salaries is somewhat misleading. Admittedly, it would do little to help Mauer in this case anyway in this analysis.

I don't think anyone would argue this is going to be a good contract. However, I think a lot of people think it's worse than it actually is because of the way people value certain stats over others. In fact, Nightengale's evaluation falls prey to exactly that, quoting only average and HR. Again, I'm not arguing here that Mauer is playing at the value of his contract, but I'm pointing out that what is examined is not always indicative of complete value.

Here are a couple of other metrics: (Note these assume his current numbers stand for the entire season, which I think is actually a conservative estimate. They also assume he continues to play half his games at catcher. If he plays more C, these numbers increase. If not, they will likely decrease unless he ends up being a lights out defensive player at 1B).

-WAR: Mauer's WAR is currently .9, according to http://www.baseball-reference.com. If he continues with the same numbers he'll end the season with a 4.5 WAR, not a great number, but one that puts him as borderline all-star.
-WOBA: Again from Fangraphs, is .352. well above average.
-Value: http://www.fangraphs.com/ gives player value in a monetary amount. A nice item to look at in exactly this kind of discussion. Mauer's value through the season so far is $3.7M. Multiply that out and you $18.5M.

To be certain, these are not $23M numbers, nor are they even good for Joe. However, I was actually surprised by, relatively, how good they were. Sure, some will dismiss them for whatever reasons, but these are, imo, representative of his actual holistic current value without nitpicking and choosing specific individual numbers, and I'm actually expecting all of them to improve as the season goes on.


I just wanted to bump this again to make sure people read it.