Top 10 Salaries, N.L. Hitters
|7 (tie)||Ryan Howard||$30||$37||-7||$31||$33||$32|
Some of the names here are different, but both 10 most expensive in both 2007 and 2008 averaged $40 in earnings the previous year. The 2007 buyers couldn't bring themselves to spend more than $36 per player. The 2008 market almost price enforced these guys to what they earned in '07, coming only $1 per player short.
The actual results were fairly similar to 2007, as these players averaged $35 in earnings. This group takes a loss (as it almost always has to do), but to take only a $4 average loss when so much can go wrong has to be viewed as a victory by these buyers. It's even more of a victory when you look down at the next chart, and realize that by spending big, you had a 70% chance of getting one of the 10 best hitters as well.
Top 10 Earnings, N.L. Hitters
The players who make the Top 10 Earnings list that didn't make the Top 10 Salaries list are hardly cheap. Beltran (15th most expensive), Berkman (16th), and Kemp (24th) exceed expectations, but not by very much. A group that turned a $13 profit in 2007 broke even in 2008.
Once again, the market was more aggressive this year, with their bids matching what these players earned in 2007. Patton and Sports Weekly take the more conservative road, recommending that you fall a little short of what these players earned the previous year.
Historically, that's not a bad recommendation. The top earners from any previous year are bound to take a hit, and this list would look even worse in terms of average earnings if the market had simply regurgitated last year's Top 10 and had paid big bucks for Brandon Phillips, Eric Byrnes, and Juan Pierre.
But because the market expresses preferences with its bids, all of these hitters are expensive. Kemp is a bargain, but if you wanted Kemp, you were still generously opening your wallet for a guy who earned $19 the year before.
Alex Patton doesn't recommend most of these hitters. In a three-way battle with the market and SW for the 13 players in the two lists above, Patton gets Beltran and Berkman, SW gets Rollins and Pujols, with the market getting almost everyone else (there is a tie between the market and SW on Braun and a three-way tie on Ramirez).
It can be argued that the market is overspending. The problem with that argument is that the name of the game is buying stats. Getting profits is great, but if you spend $160 on $250 worth of hitting while your opponent spends $180 on $260 worth of hitting, your opponent is going to wind up with the better offense. Unlike in the A.L., there aren't relatively cheap hitters like Johnny Damon, Josh Hamilton, and Dustin Pedroia sneaking into the Top 10 earners list. As a result, the hitters who are bargains, while certainly impressive, aren't the kind of players who you typically associate with winning teams.
Top 10 Profits, N.L. Hitters
These hitters earn $4 less than their counterparts in the A.L. bargain list. They also cost half as much. This could mean a few things.
1) Owners buying these players were lucky. Six of these players were bought in what Alex Patton defines as the crapshoot: that is, players costing $3 or less. Owners who bought Ludwick or Cantu didn't exhibit skill so much as step in clover.
2) Owners spent too much money early, leaving bargains at the end. The average Patton predictions seem to support this notion. Patton comes out ahead on Ludwick, Cantu, McLouth, Lewis, Winn, DeRosa, and Ethier (he ties on Guzman with SW). If Tout Wars hadn't uttered $1 on Schumaker, the market wouldn't have won out on any of these players.
3) The players in the middle disappointed. Last year, guys like Eric Byrnes (cost $18), Brandon Phillips ($19), and Corey Hart ($13) crashed the party with stellar seasons. This year, only McLouth and Winn made this list with double-digit earnings.
All of these reasons are possible, but #2 is the most likely scenario. Even if they didn't spend too much at the beginning, owners spent too much somewhere. And a savvy owner like Patton could have cleaned up.
A savvy Patton pupil did indeed clean up in the CBS Sportsline expert league. My blog partner John Toczydlowski spent $38 on Pujols but didn't go past $17 on any other hitter. The only hitter he bought on the bargains list was Ethier, but by keeping his other buys low, he put himself into position to pick up bargain after bargain on offense.
And when the most expensive players earn $35 per player, the problem isn't owners chasing the Cadillac players too far. It's other players getting chased past the point of no return.
Top 10 Losses, N.L. Hitters
Fielder is the only player in the top salaries list who repeats here (Teixeira just missed). But these players aren't cheap.
They cost $5 more per player than their 2007 counterparts. They were also better in 2007 than their 2007 comps were in 2006 (earning $23 per player to the $19 the 2007 group earned in 2006). But a $3 raise for these players across the board is significant.
Not surprisingly, it's the market that spends its money on these guys. Patton has the highest bids on Helton and Zimmerman. SW gets a share of Byrnes and Kearns. The market gets everyone else.
What the market is doing is spending and spending until it runs out of money. The bargains become more dramatic and so do the busts.
As I've said over and over in this series of 2008 recaps, the market is reactive. They see the top hitters earning more ($40 per player last year!) and buy them. It works (for the most part) on the top players.
But then they can't stop themselves. They keep spending on the next tier of players, and they go too far.
It's OK to get a top dog or two, and its even OK to overspend by a little. But at some point, it's better to wait for the $10-20 batch of players.
If you see your auction skewing this way next year (and if your league is anything like my leagues, they will hedge to the expert advice), bid accordingly. The bargains will come.