Tuesday, November 09, 2010

2010 N.L. Catchers

In the American League last year, it seemed that the market pushed hard on the top catchers. Would the same principle apply in the National League?

Ten Most Expensive N.L. Catchers 2010

1Brian McCann$19$23-5$23$22$20
2Miguel Montero
3Geovany Soto  $13$13+1$15$15$4
4Russell Martin
5Yadier Molina$11$110$12$14$15
6Bengie Molina$3$11-8$11$14$15
7Chris Iannetta
8Ryan Doumit$9$10-1$12$13$8
9Ramon Hernandez $10$8+2$3$9$5
10John Baker$0$7-7$7$9$11


Hardly. The average salary of $12 per catcher doesn't even come close to the $16 per catcher the A.L. experts paid last year.

Some of this, of course, is because these catchers weren't nearly as good in 2009 as their A.L. counterparts. The N.L. contingent earned $11 on average, compared to the $14 on average the best A.L. catchers earned. Even so, the A.L. catchers received a $2 bump per player, versus a mere $1 bump per player in the N.L.

Unlike in the A.L., Rotoman is as aggressive as the market here. He took me to task for comparing his bid limits to ZIPS in my last post...and rightfully so (for reasons I'll expound upon at a later date). However, there's no denying the difference between a $3 difference between his projected bids and the market versus a tie with the market. I don't know if the market was being too conservative, Rotoman was being too aggressive, or if there is some other factor at play here.

You'll notice that while ZIPS might be out of line on the whole, player for player it doesn't do that badly in "predicting" where the bids are going to fall. The Martin bid seems silly even without the benefit of hindsight, but all of their other prices seem relatively sensible. It isn't until you start looking at the best catchers - as opposed to the anticipated best catchers - that ZIPS falls apart as a predictive model.
Top 10 N.L. Catchers 2010

1Buster Posey$19$3+15$4$14-$1
2Brian McCann
3Miguel Olivo
4Geovany Soto
5Carlos Ruiz$13$7+6$3$9$8
6Yadier Molina$11$110$12$14$15
7Ramon Hernandez
8Yorvit Torrealba$10$1+9$1$3$6
9Rod Barajas
10Ryan Doumit$9$10-1$12$13$8


Bidding $1 less for Olivo than what he earned in 2009 isn't absurd in and of itself...but bidding a combined $20 for Olivo and Iannetta would be. The same principle applies to Torrealba and Barajas. Based on what they earned in 2009, there is nothing wrong with those projections, but you can't bid more than what your league (or team) has to spend. 

I'm going to continue to use ZIPS, but keep in mind that it will be more useful when looking at the most expensive players at each position than when looking at the 10 best players at each position.

Once again, Rotoman is close to the market in this group of catchers, just like he was with the 10 most expensive backstops. And commonality doesn't explain; there are fewer repeaters between lists here (5) than there were in the A.L. (7).

Looking at the best catchers, it seems more likely that the market is more conservative in the N.L. and Rotoman is more consistent from league to league. Rotoman gives the 10 best N.L. catchers a $1 pay cut on average compared to a $2 pay cut in the A.L. On the other hand, the market give the A.L. catchers a $2 pay raise per catcher while giving the N.L. catchers a $1 pay cut. This sounds small, but as my regular readers know this is a significant paradigm shift.

The N.L. catching corps simply didn't have the sexy/marquee name (Joe Mauer) or the up-and-coming superstar (Matt Wieters...oops) that the market went wild for. Beyond this, though, there was simply a little more conservatism here. I pointed out last year that this is the more typical pricing scheme for catchers.
We anticipate that there won't be many elites, so we hedge our bets. The market paid for who they thought the elites (Martin and McCann) would be, while refusing to give raises to almost anyone else.
This was pointed out ad infinitum in Alex Patton's old books, but we're not predicting what these catchers are going to earn. We're placing bets, and our bets on catchers typically are somewhat conservative. The Mauer and Wieters bets in the A.L. are the exception, not the rule. Buster Posey might be the 2011, N.L. version of Wieters, and in start over leagues I wouldn't be surprised to see him go for around $25. He will be the exception, though, and not the rule at a position where owners typically are careful.

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