We're all used to bandying about the term position scarcity when it comes to catchers and middle infielders, but sometimes the reality is quite the opposite. It's quite a drop from Rollins to Tulowitzki, but even so, having five $20+ earners at the position will change the way you look at it.In at least one respect, the position got even richer in 2008.
Top 10 N.L. Shortstops 2008
Seven shortstops cracked the $20 barrier in 2008. With the exception of Tejada, there's clearly a hierarchy at work here.
- Reyes, Ramirez, and Rollins are still the elites of the group. Relatively speaking, Rollins' 2008 numbers are disappointing, but a letdown had to be expected, as Rollins had come off what was a career year.
- Theriot, Hardy and Drew were part of the second-tier of shortstops (at least based on their prices). Based on Theriot and Hardy's 2007 performance, their owners were likely hoping for a small profit.
- Guzman was an end game or crapshoot play, while Barmes and Hairston were undrafted free agents in shallow leagues or reserve picks in deeper leagues. In one of his old books, Alex Patton once exclaimed that $1 players and reserve list players are often interchangeable. In this case, Guzman and Barmes broke camp with their respective teams and could have been auctioned, while Hairston started in the minors and would have only been available in a reserve phase (in most leagues).
Surprises like Guzman, Barmes and Hairston are fairly atypical; we don't see guys like this in the Top 10 often. What it usually means when guys like this are here is that they either had exceptional seasons - given the expectations in late March/early April - or there were some disappointments.
In 2008, it was a little bit of both.
Ten Most Expensive N.L. Shortstops 2008
|7 (tie)||Stephen Drew||$20||$14||+6||$18||$17||$8|
Tulowitzki, Furcal and Greene leap from the screen. However, it is also important to note that the new Big Three dropped from $46 average earnings in 2007 to $37.33 last year. If Reyes, Hanley, and Rollins had had the good grace to duplicate their 2007 seasons, then the average earnings would have jumped from $20 to $23, and this group wouldn't feel so disappointing.
But you can't sugarcoat the fact that this group was disappointing. Only Drew and Hardy turn a profit; losing money on eight out of 10 of these hitters isn't a formula for success, even if the losses were relatively low. The market tried scaling back on both Ramirez and Rollins, but even then it couldn't quite predict how far both would fall.
After being relatively timid in most of these other groupings, Patton and Sports Weekly both finally go toe to toe with the market and recommend spending about the same amount of money per player. Patton beats or ties the market on Ramirez, Rollins, Tejada, Drew and Hardy, while Sports Weekly ties or beats them on Ramirez, Rollins, Furcal, Tejada, and Escobar.
After pointing my finger at the tout leagues and accusing them of being in Stage One, I have to admit that with the exception of Reyes they're recognizing the fact that they only have so much money to spend.
Some of them are, anyway.
Ten Most Expensive N.L. Shortstops 2008:
(broken out by bids)
(broken out by bids)
|7 (tie)||Stephen Drew||$20||$14||+6||$14||$16||$13|
This is the same chart just presented, but now the last three columns show the bids from the expert leagues that comprise the average salary in the chart above.
Looking at the average salary, there is almost no difference. But CBS Sportsline goes nuts on the top players and then (obviously) runs out of money for the guys in the middle. Missing out on Khalil Greene is not missing much at all, but losing out on Hardy and Drew would be costly (in this hypothetical three-way battle).
The bigger problem is that the winner of Reyes in the Sportsline auction didn't get to stop at $45 because the next highest bid was $44. This isn't a Vickrey auction. The winning bidder lost $11 on Reyes.
It's worth expanding this analysis to see if Sportsline is merely overspending on the shortstops or if they're overspending across the board.
But I'll get to that in another post.