2014 Reds / Homer Bailey / How Valuable Is...

What the Lincecum contract says about advanced metrics and Homer Bailey

[We interrupt our regularly scheduled all-Price-all-the-time fascination to return for a moment to our previous obsession, all-Homer-all-the-time.]

The conventional wisdom among Reds’ fans that Tim Lincecum’s new deal means Homer Bailey will be even harder to sign long-term is absolutely right, but maybe not exactly for the reason many people are thinking.

In case the news didn’t penetrate the wall of sound caused by everyone preaching accountability, yesterday the San Francisco Giants announced they had reached a two-year deal with Lincecum that pays the 29-year-old righty $35 million, or an average annual value (AAV) of $17.5 million.

What that means for Bailey is not, simply: Wow, look at how much clubs are paying for even mediocre pitching these days. It’s that, but with an important nuance. The Lincecum deal is compelling proof that major league baseball clubs are using advanced metrics for valuing their players.

There’s an insightful article by Dave Cameron at FanGraphs today that makes this point. Here’s the summary in case you don’t want to read it all: There are much better measurements than ERA for how a pitcher has and will perform. The Lincecum contract is the latest installment in the growing pile of evidence that major league baseball teams are paying more attention to stats like xFIP than they are to ERA. Cameron makes this case in great detail. The article is well worth the read if you have the time.

Smart major league teams are implementing the latest iteration of Moneyball – acquiring players who are undervalued when judged by traditional statistics. Lincecum’s past two seasons were downright awful when measured by ERA. But looking at FIP, xFIP and SIERA, he’s been well above average. And therefore, in the Giants’ view, worth $17.5 million/year. (Keep in mind that San Francisco paid a premium to reach a short-term deal.)

Baseball’s front offices are buying the evidence that those advanced stats are better predictors of future performance than ERA. Or, to borrow Bob Castellini’s paraphrase of Bronson Arroyo, they’re freakin’ intelligent.

And clubs are putting their money where their multiple regression is.

Homer Bailey is probably busy with his bow and arrow right now, oblivious of the Lincecum deal. But you can bet his agent isn’t. While Bailey has made steady progress in lowering his ERA (from 4.46 in 2010 to 3.49 in 2013), he’s a genuine superstar when measured by the advanced stats. Homer’s ERA is 40th best among all pitchers in baseball, which is respectable (Lincecum’s was 70th). But his FIP is 23rd, his xFIP was 18th and his SIERA was 14th best.

That’s elite. And, to Texans, cash on the barrelhead.

The implications for the Reds and Redleg Nation: Homer is going to be even more expensive to re-sign. Homer is worth it, so the Reds should pay-up. And third, Homer is too important of a piece for 2014 to trade.

An old school fan may not give a rip for FIP or have a care for SIERA. It’s even your Selig-given right to judge pitchers based on Wins if you must. But it’s becoming clearer that to make sense of today’s baseball headlines and develop a reasonably informed opinion on what tomorrow will bring, we need at least a passing familiarity with the fancy new ideas.

87 thoughts on “What the Lincecum contract says about advanced metrics and Homer Bailey

  1. Is Timmy underperforming, unlucky, or a little of both? No one knows even with adv metrics. His last two years have been rocky, that uncertainty is built into his new deal in the form a two-year arrangement. If the Giants were truly sold on the predictive value of adv pitch metrics, they would have gone for longer deal maybe at less cost per year? In the end they could just be desperate too. Cain coming off a bad season, Vogelsong pumpkining/injury issues, and the continued performance with Zito. Maybe this is just a deal with the devil you know…

    One things for certain, while Tim’s future is cloudy, Homer’s is much brighter and will probably fetch a pretty penny on the open market shoud everything hold form until then.

    One issue I’ve raised with adv metrics before and in Jasons prediction wrap-up (perhaps got buried in the older thread), it what is the +/- error associated with FIP etc. There are some assumptions in all three major metrics, which generate a some quantity of error, but I never see it cited or discussed.

  2. I honestly have never heard of FIP, xFIP and SIERA before reading this article. I just am not a believer in these metrics. if others want to thats fine, but I wouldnt pay that kind of money for Homer. i would trade him for several major league ready prospects.

    • @gschiller13: I posted this to you before, and I will again.

      Statistics are facts. They can’t be argued, they simply are. An RBI is an RBI, a R is a R, a SB is a SB, etc. These are basic counting statistics measured by 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. Easy to see, easy to compute. Weighted statistics are no different. The mathematics are more sophisticated than simply counting, but these too are facts which cannot be challenged.

      So your not being a “believer” in these facts is kind of like saying you don’t believe in gravity.

      Using the statistics is where the real challenge comes in to play. There are linear and nonlinear regression models to say x, y, z, statistics create more runs (think money ball), and THOSE can always be argued. The statistics underlying the models cannot.

      • @David: David, interesting breakdown but Im not a believer. Homer Bailey isnt worth $17 million a year. i wouldnt event pay him $10 million a year. I would trade him to some team that values these stats and get young and cheaper talent in return. The game is about asset management and $17 millions is a waste of assets.

        • @gschiller13:

          In today’s age of increased TV revenue Homer is easily worth 10 million on the open market, and possibly 17+ to teams with money. You think as if this is 10-12 years ago. Bailey has dominant stuff, which is rare in MLB. His potential combined with his recent output will command more coin than his ERA suggests. The Reds just paid Arroyo 10+ this year to be the team’s # 4 starter. They can afford to pay Homer at least that much, and they should. Otherwise, the prospect of sending the aberration that is Mike Leake to the hill every week as the team’s #3 against the Pirates and Cardinals is a recipe for a .500 season.

    • @gschiller13: Yes, yes, we all know how much you love to warm your head in sand. It’s fine to have a final opinion that you’d rather trade him for several major league ready prospects but to ignore tangible statistics and pretend they don’t exist or mean anything? No partial credit, next time show your work.

  3. Measures are very necessary (unless you like playing the lottery) as long as they align with your goals or vision. I love advanced measures and data as long as the measures used give the Reds an advantage over other teams. FIP, SIERA seem to be excellent ways to evaluate pitchers and that is important. To me the $1million dollar question is: what can you use to help players get better? How does one relate FIP with pitching mechanics? Its one thing to assemble a team, but its another to get it to perform at a high level. What advanced metrics could be used to identify what a player needs to do to get better? What think ye Redleg nation?

    • @Big_Red_Fan: Most advanced metrics are created to have some predictive analysis of future performance, rather than a “diagnostic” effect, as you mention here.

      For a pitcher, off the top of my head, advanced data collection metrics, such as “how often do guys swing and miss at my fastball/curve/change/slider?” or “What’s my OPS-against when throwing the fastball/curve/change/slider?”

      Things like that, in conjunction with common sense, might help a pitcher decide to throw more curveballs to righthanded hitters while behind in the count, or throw more fastballs inside to lefties when ahead in the count.

      But trying to take xFIP for example, and use it (or what it tells you) to become a better pitcher is sort of the wrong approach. That would be akin to studying for the a specific test, getting a good score, then expecting you are “smarter” because of your score. It may or may not be true. Also, if you wanted to take the things going into FIP (The “three true outcomes; homers allowed, walks, Ks) and try to maximize (minimize?) them, you’d come out with wanting to give up fewer homeruns (duh!), walk fewer guys (duh!), and strike out more guys.

      However, the strikeout more guys may conflict with giving up homers (heat in the zone) or walking more guys (junk in the dirt). So there’s a balance based on each pitcher’s style. Perhaps to give up fewer homers you try and elevate the ball less often. That coudl then in turn change the amount of strikeouts you get since low balls are easier to hit than high balls. It’s kind of like trying to hit a moving target.

      My two-cents.

    • @Big_Red_Fan: Now my two-cents from a hitting perspective!

      In order to get better as a hitter, its all about not getting yourself out. Swinging at pitches high and inside, for example, lead to a disproportionally higher percentage of pop-ups than any other pitch location. Pop-ups have the lowest BABIP of any batted ball, so basically, they aren’t good.

      Understand that, and then figuring out when opposing pitchers may be likely to throw you up-and-in will give you an insight into when to look for those pitches and you’ll probably be less likely to swing at them.

      That, in and of itself, isn’t an advanced metric, but the data collection done on pitches (pitch f/x) and batted balls is light years ahead of where it was even 5 years ago. The data is available for those who are willing to sort through it.

      For example, if you have been particularly bad in the past (AVG/OBP/SLG) when swinging at the first pitch, you may decide to swing at fewer first pitches. That’s a smart way to use data and “advanced metrics mentality” to improve your on-field performances. Or, if you know you’re going to get a pitch low-and-away on 0-2 count (because the data tells you so), you can decide to swing at fewer 0-2 pitches (even if they seems close at first).

      Ultimately, identifying your own hitting style and doing what you can with the data available to maximize your natural ability to contribute is the best part about “advanced metric mentality.” But it still takes actual physical skill and practice to do so. This is where things like hitting coaches come into play. If Billy Hamilton decided to be a home run hitter so his advanced metrics were better he may start swinging as hard as he can with an uppercut swing on every pitch. We all know that would be a disaseter. A hitting coach can step in and sya “Billy, that’s a poor approach. Let me teach you to bunt, son.”

      Again, just my two-cents! I think the real benefit in on-field improvements lies in understanding the mounds of data at our (their) fingertips.

      • @prjeter: Thank you for the thoughtful explanation.

        Turning this conversation to the Homer Bailey discussion. Does FIP and SIERA etc. help the Reds achieve thier vision of “being the team that no one wants to play” at the price they are willing to pay? It seems to me that the Reds should use the money to get more offense. I like Homer. I’ve been cheering for him as he has struggled especially since I think the Reds rushed him into the majors too soon. But in the end, this business is about winning and I think the offense needs more help than the ptiching. BTW, I am assuming that Cueto gets and stays healthy.

  4. I’m sorry, but I still believe you’re wrong Steve. To me, the question is whether Bailey WANTS to stay with the Reds. I’m a supporter of advanced stats, but if you can get some studs for a year of Bailey, you do it. On the other hand, if he wants to sign for less than what he’s worth (say, 3-4 years with an annual salary in the 12-15 million range) then I’d take it. The Reds just need offense too much to sign all three of Latos, Leake, AND Bailey, and of the three, I think Bailey is the least likely to sign and the one who can give you the most value in return.

      • @rhayex: I’m not sure the Lincecum deal translates to $20MM per for Bailey. I think $15MM per will come closer to a contract extention for Bailey. The key will be how many pers. Homer is entering his age 28 season and facing FA for his age 29 season. Bailey is entering his prime performance seasons. The next contract Homer signs after his arbitration is complete will be the only big contract of his career. He needs big bucks per or several pers in the contract. Does $100MM for 7 years sound about right?

    • @rhayex: Homer’s not going to get $20 million/year unless he’s willing to sign for two or three seasons, which I doubt he will. Homer will be difficult for the Reds to sign, especially if the Rangers show interest. (Although one of our commenters who is from Dallas seems to be of the impression that the Rangers aren’t interested in Bailey. Didn’t explain why he thought that, though.)

      I think about Homer in 2014 the way I did about Shin-Soo Choo in 2013. Choo would have been great value to trade. We now risk losing him to free agency and receiving nothing but a compensation draft pick in return. Yet it never occurred to me that the Reds should trade Shin-Soo Choo. They were trying to win in 2013 and Choo was too important to trade.

      A team can’t be exclusively looking toward the future. They also have to dedicate resources to the present if they want to actually win.

      I don’t see Mike Leake, while a nice player, as being as instrumental to the Reds winning either this year or next. But a different club would see great value in him as a #4 pitcher, or even #3 for two years. He’s who I would trade.

      • @Steve Mancuso: I agree with your logic on Leake, trade him now and keep Bailey. The Blue Jays need pitching and have been shopping their hitters, Jose Bautista would look awfully nice in LF, not to mention a Right Handed power bat. If you could package Ludwick in with Leake for a player like Bautista, I think that would be a great trade. Leake provides the controllable affordable pitching value for the Blue Jays and Bautista is still productive, it also provides salary relief for Ludwick as “insurance” if Bautista does go down. The link below is where I saw the Blue Jays were listening to offers on him.

        http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/mets/post/_/id/79015/make-the-call-sandy-jose-bautista

  5. Absolutely agree with this. Reds have a little bit of leverage and would take some of Bailey’s FA value away by giving him a qualifying offer. That would knock some teams out of the running and presumably would knock the offers that would be on the table to a lower level, depending on how teams value their first round pick. Hopefully the Reds can use this leverage and get a deal done now, even if its in the range of 5-6 years and $100mm. A nice comparable would be Matt Cain that got 8 years and $140mm. A 5-6 year contract takes him to age 32-33, an 8 year deal takes him to 35.

  6. Advanced metrics are more about accepting the underlying concept than the particular statistic. There nothing particularly complicated about FIP or xFIP. You can calculate them yourself if you know how many walks, strikeouts, hbp and home runs the pitcher has given up. No functions more complicated than addition, subtraction and multiplication. On base percentage isn’t more complicated than runs batted in. You just have to decide conceptually which one you value more.

    So, for example, these pitching stats, what you have to figure out first is this: Do pitchers have control over balls put in play? If you’re in agreement with the concept (or the stats) that pitchers have little to no control over that, then you need a statistic that isolates how the pitcher does at preventing balls being put in play not the runs he gives up. That’s FIP basically.

    Next, if you believe that home runs are basically a function of the number of fly balls a pitcher gives up, then you want your statistic to isolate just that factor. By that theory, over a certain length of time (at least a season) a pitcher could be lucky or unlucky with home runs. So you create a statistic that neutralizes home runs. That’s xFIP.

    Sometimes I think people resist the statistic when what’s really the issue is the underlying concept.

    • @Steve Mancuso: I’m not sure how I feel about FIP and xFIP… because I do believe pitchers have control over balls put in play. What they throw and where they throw it has effect on it being a fly ball, or a ground ball. Hard hit, or soft hit. If the batter is capable of getting the barrel on the ball, or if it jams them inside and they can only bloop it.

      My example for this would be Aroldis Chapman. How many times do you see players get such poor contact against him that the best they can do is either a soft ground ball, or an infield fly? I’ve seen him where it seems like for weeks that the only balls put in play are soft ground balls or infield flies. Because of how he throws, he often controls how balls are put in play.

      I also think homeruns aren’t just a function of the number of fly balls a pitcher gives up. A ball is thrown inside and jams a guy, but he’s strong enough to force it out of the infield and it becomes a pop up to shallow-ish left. How is that fly ball equal to a fast ball that is grooved down the center and is mashed all the way back to the warning track, as far as which is more likely to end up in a homerun? All fly balls are not created equal, and I think it goes back to pitchers having control on how a ball is able to be put in play. Latos had a 1.13 GO/AO this past season and gave up 14 home runs. Arroyo had a 1.11 GO/AO this past season and gave up 32 home runs.

      If home runs were just a function of the number of fly balls a pitcher gives up, how does 0.02 GO/AO difference between Latos and Arroyo account for 18 home runs difference in a season? Unless a pitcher has control over the matter based off of his pitches and his pitch location.

      • @ToddAlmighty: Those are good points and it’s important to keep in mind there are pitchers who are outliers – Bronson being a good example.

        On the other hand, while it seems that Chapman’s pitching would control balls in play more, his BABIP last year was .280. Mike Leake’s was .285 and Bronson Arroyo’s was .267. So throwing hard isn’t necessarily related to where balls end up. Chapman’s big edge is his number of strikeouts that never get put in play.

        The GO/FO does make a difference. Ground outs become hits more often than fly outs. But ground outs rarely (ha) become home runs. The statistic SIERA tries to put some values on those ideas.

  7. Can I ask, why does everyone have to believe in advanced metrics 100% tgo be a fan of the Reds. i have been a fan for a long time now and I dont believe in advanced metrics. if you beleive it in fine, but dont tell me I have to also. Also, any ,metric that says Bailey is worth $17 million is a faulty metric.

    • @gschiller13: Sounds like what you want to say is: “Any way you cut it, that’s a lot of money and I wonder if the Reds would be better off trading Bailey before the salary gets that high.”

      What it actually sounds like when you post is: “Get off my lawn. You guys and you’re new fangled numbers are dumb. I’m right. I won’t discuss because I refuse to not ‘believe’ in something that there really isn’t a choice about ‘believing’ in as David pointed out.”

      Nobody would be giving you grief if you gave any indication of engaging in a discussion rather than just spouting opinion that is loosely based on logic. That’s not the culture here, so if you feel singled out, that’s why.

    • @gschiller13: Nobody is forcing you to “believe” in advanced metrics in order to be a fan. What many people here take offense to may be your word choice. You say you don’t “believe” in advanced metrics like its the boogey man or Santa Claus. Maybe if you chose to say that you don’t “trust” advanced metrics you would get less of a hard time here. There could be various reasons why one would not “trust” advanced metrics, as Steve lays out above, but saying you don’t “believe” just sounds silly.

    • @gschiller13: I can’t speak for everyone, but I can tell you that my problem is mainly that you keep saying you “don’t believe in advanced metrics,” and whta that sounds like is that you think they are fake, or in some way fraudulent. You say it (a lot), and it sounds like you mean it like you’re saying you don’t believe in the Easter Bunny.

      But really, it would be like saying you don’t believe that warm air rises. It’s not up an issue of belief, it’s a measurable scientific fact. Now, if what you mean to say is that advanced metrics aren’t important to you, that’s different. To say that the principle of warm air rising isn’t important to your life is no big deal. To say that you don’t believe it makes you sound willfully ignorant.

      So I would just suggest, if you want to keep posting your opinion on advanced stats, that you just say that you don’t find much use for them in evaluating players. You will not get a lot of supporters on this board, but some. But saying that you don’t believe in them, that puts you in different territory to me.

    • @gschiller13: You’re creating straw arguments pretty fast there. No one said “everyone has to believe in advanced metrics 100% to be a fan of the Reds” but nice try. That’s about the only way your side of the argument would seem reasonable. No one is saying anyone “has to believe” anything here. False characterization to make your own argument plausible.

      Try the reverse: What would you say about a person who didn’t “believe” in even 1% of advanced metrics, does that sound well-informed?

      ERA is an “advanced metric” compared to Runs allowed. Do you “believe” in ERA?

      The point of the original post was to point out that actual major league baseball teams are using the advanced metrics to evaluate players because they are beginning to recognize the refinements are more accurate predictors of future performance. Don’t most businesses look for the most accurate ways to predict future aspects of their market?

      Tim Lincecum just got paid $17.5 million per year for two years and there isn’t a single statistic, new or old, that doesn’t have Homer being better the last couple years, including ERA. I don’t know that Homer will get that much if he’s looking for a longer term contract, but it will be in that ballpark.

      Ignoring modern ideas about baseball will continue to leave you completely astonished about what’s going on in the real world.

      • @Steve Mancuso: Steve you make good points. Nut there is absolutely no way the Reds can pay that high of a salary for Homer Bailey. They should trade him for the best package they can in my opinion.

    • @gschiller13: And so to the extent you have, after having been given many suggestions to the otherwise, continued to post without regarding a fair account of a reasonable argument and tend to negate others’ opinions blindly, you are regarded as a troll, even if you are a Reds fan. At some level not respecting what’s being asked of you within the culture of the thread is, by most accounts, trolling. You don’t have to agree with things, but you are asked to be reasonable and fair. That’s not too much to ask.

  8. Fair point. My use of the term believe is poor. I do think that their use in evaluating players is overrated. However, if teams do value the numbers that Bailey produces via these advanced metrics, the Reds should trade him now. $17 million should not be a price the Reds should pay.

  9. I was waiting for your response to the Lincecum deal Steve. I know that Lincecum’s peripherals aren’t nearly as bad as his ERA has been. He is a better pitcher than then it appears when you look at his traditional W-L, ERA line. What would alarm me as a Giants’ fan is his declining K/9 rate and the fact that his average fastball velocity has dropped 3 MPH since 2011. That could be why the Giants only grabbed him for 2 years, I don’t know.

    Homer’s agent is going to want some serious money for him to stay here. Looking at his peripherals, he may be worth it but can the Reds really afford it? Being that Latos is younger, might he be a better long-term bet?

    I’m with you as far as not trading him this off-season though. If the Reds want to win, he’s more valuable in their rotation in 2014 than pretty much anyone I think they could get in trade. Also, the qualifying offer after the 2014 season should be a no-brainer as it is likely that Homer will get more on the market.

  10. I think the Lincecum deal means it will be very difficult if not impossible to keep Bailey as well as Latos. However, they should be able to restock the team on the fly by trading both.

    • @gschiller13: If you trade Homer this year, what does your rotation look like? How is the 2014 rotation as good as the 2013 rotation? If you trade Latos next off-season, what does the rotation look like for 2015? Stephenson should be ready and you may get a solid MLB-ready hurler in one of those deals but prospects are prospects.

      Where I’d generally agree with you is more in the length of deals for pitchers as they are at a higher career debilitating injury risk than position players. I also think that heavy spending on relief pitching is a poor use of resources for a small or mid-market team.

      I think the Reds are going to need to extend one of Latos or Bailey to keep that rotation solid going beyond 2014.

      • @LWBlogger: I think the plan if you trade Homer this offseason would be to add Chapman and Cingrani to replace him and Arroyo.

        That said, you would probably need to add someone else, also, since they won’t be able to throw a ton of innings and as insurance against injuries.

        But if the Reds feel they can add someone like Phil Hughes or Dan Haren on the cheap, get a nice return on Bailey, and free up some cash in the process, that would make sense to me. Obviously, that’s a lot of ifs, but that’s how it makes sense to me. I’ve been suggesting Bailey for Beltre + cash. Bailey goes to Texas, we upgrade the offense, and the pitching doesn’t get much worse.

        Latos
        Cueto
        Cingrani
        Leake
        Chapman
        Hughes

      • @LWBlogger: LW I think the Reds window is closing.I am not expecting them to win next year or 2015, so in my opinion I would try and get the best young players they can for Bailey and sign a Scott Feldman type pitcher to replace him.

  11. Just wanted to break my offseason silence to voice my appreciation for the opening parenthetical aside, which a) made me chuckle and b) made me realize how much I miss visiting this site multiple times every day. Spring can’t get here soon enough.

    As for Lincecum, I think $17.5MM is an insane amount to pay someone who will likely help you win one of every 9-10 games. For that money, I’d rather have Choo.

    • @Davis Stuns Goliath: Even by the advanced metrics, Lincecum is pretty mediocre. Steamer has a decent projection for him next year. It will be curious to see what ZiPS things of him. I personally think that the deals for Pence and Lincecum reflect the increased revenue that teams are getting. As Steve M has been saying for a while now, payrolls and salaries are going to go way up. We’re seeing it in these kinds of deals.

  12. I still feel like the Lincecum’s contract is a pretty huge overpay, no matter how you look at it.

    His strikeouts are down, his velocity is down, his average against is up, his whip is up. His FIP is lower than his ERA, but it’s been above league average both of the last two years. 2013 was better than 2012 for him, but that doesn’t mean it was good.

    That’s what I don’t get about the fangraphs article. They should be the first one’s to point out that you have to do some serious cherry picking to find advanced stats that make him look even average.

    If I’m signing a free agent, I’m hoping that I’m getting decent deal. If the league is paying $5 million per WAR, I hope I’m paying less than that. If Lincecum puts up 7 WAR over the next two years I’ll eat my hat, and that would just be getting league average value for the deal, not a good value. If you use all of your payroll to get league average value, you’re going to be an average team.

    • @al: There is a lot of work being done to see if the value of a win is more than that $5-million, considering the increase in revenue and payroll for teams. The figure being kicked around in SABR circles is more like each win being worth $7-million.

      • @LWBlogger: See, there’s no real “value” of a win, there’s just the average of what teams pay for free agents, and the average WAR totals of those free agents. Of course there is inflation, but that doesn’t change the fundamental fact that if you are getting league average value for your dollars, you’re going to have an average team.

        If the average is $7mil per WAR this offseason, I’d be surprised, but not shocked. That would mean Lincecum would need to put up 5 WAR over two years (he’s put up just over 2 in the last two years) just to be average value at hyper-inflationary rates. That is an overpay to me.

        • @al: I agree with all your statements here. Well put. Overpay, even though I believe Lincecum will be slightly above-average for the next 2 years.

        • @al: Yes, it is still an overpay. I just can’t believe Sabean made first the Pence deal and now this.

  13. I think the Giants way overpaid for Lincecum and I am not so sure it is as much on advance metrics as being a fan favorite in SF. But hey, this is the same club that gave Barry Zito $100+ million dollar contract, so they have done this before.

    Does this raise the floor for Bailey…maybe some, but I’d have to see how a couple more free agents sign before saying so.

    Of course there are also reports that LA is talking 300 million for Kershaw. He’s a great pitcher, but that’s pretty nuts.

    • @earl: See, that’s a point I was going to make. I think the article is interesting, but I also think it might just be a coincidence. I live in the Bay Area, and having been subjected to a lot of the Giants, I could really see it either way.

      Maybe they are convinced by his xFIP- that he’s going to be good the next couple of years, but just as likely they just are desperate for pitching and know the fans love him. They may never have looked at those stats at all.

  14. If any of you guys are really into looking at the Lincecum deal and whether it is worth it or not, you should definitely read the Cameron article cited at the top of the post. It’s exceptionally interesting and thorough in relation to the contract. He points out that the AAV is inflated by the unusually short-term nature of it.

    Think how much the Reds would be willing to pay Shin-Soo Choo per year if he was willing to sign a two-year deal?

    And pitchers are even more variable from year to year.

    • @Steve Mancuso: Cameron also does just come right out and say this though:

      “I think, realistically, $17.5 million a year, and a no-trade clause, and the lost value from getting a draft pick had Lincecum signed elsewhere, probably does make this an overpay.”

      It seems like you’re arguing that it isn’t an overpay, but arguing for the article, so I’m not really sure how to make sense of that.

      • @al: No, I’m not saying it wasn’t an overpay. I just like all the reasoning Cameron goes through to get to his conclusion. He does make the point that the advanced stats are a better case for the contract that one might think based on ERA. It’s an overpay, but not a crazy overpay.

    • @gschiller13: I guess that my question is, what are you basing that $10-million figure on? He’ll likely get close to that on a 1-year contract if he goes to arbitration this year. So is that where you are getting the figure?

  15. A couple of points on Lincecum. I think the guy has re-invented himself as a pitcher so a lot of what we saw earlier in his career won’t be reflected in the way he pitches now.

    A second part, less tangible, is that the Freak is very popular in San Francisco. They will probably pay a tad more for that, just because.

  16. I would give Bailey 7 years and 100 mil in a heartbeat

    I agree that offering Bronson now is a no brainer, and I would be happy either way. He comes back and you have 200 innings. He leaves and you have a draft pick.

    The pod cast was wonderful and they thought that there is no way that Bronson signs for 1 year based on the freak’s new contract.

    There are a lot of teams in need of pitching. Invest in it now.

    I remain bullish on trading Leake

  17. I literally LOL’d at this article. They now have “advanced” metrics to explain overpaying for a fan favorite pitcher.

    • @Bubba Ho-Tep: Agree 100%.
      It is not a depreciation of the value of OBP to acknowledge that the Reds sunk the farm on Votto to fill a certain role (i.e. be Pujols is how I believe it was expressed in the Jocketty interview) and thus don’t have the money to bring in somebody else to fill that role if Votto is unable or unwilling to fill it.

  18. “An old school fan may not give a rip for FIP or have a care for SIERA. It’s even your Selig-given right to judge pitchers based on Wins if you must. But it’s becoming clearer that to make sense of today’s baseball headlines and develop a reasonably informed opinion on what tomorrow will bring, we need at least a passing familiarity with the fancy new ideas.”

    Very, very condenscending straw man remark. I’m old school, and I don’t believe in wins as a good measurement since it’s a team stat. I still think I am an informed enough fan to have a reasonable “opinion on what tomorrow will bring.” All of us who are ‘bubblegum card stat scout guys’ are not stuck in the middle ages, and the near constant implication of that here is getting mighty old…..and I reserve being called a troll a right restricted to someone I’ve been married to.

    As to the contract situation, CLEARLY Lincecum was paid on past performance, and distant past at that. I don’t have the stats in front of me, but wasn’t his ERA two years ago over 5? And it had to be about 4.5 last year. He was pulled from the rotation for the post season. That kind of money for a long man is nothing short of stupid.

    But with that being said, it’s clear we will have to pony up to keep Homer. I’d play hard ball, but he is on the improving side and I think he may hit his prime in the next two years. I am curious what direction the team will take toward pitching coaches and the Aroldis experiment. Those things could be determining factors. I don’t think Homer is a injury prone risk (but one never knows), he doesn’t have to be the only ace, and unless we retain Choo and add two more big bats (very, very unlikely) we have to keep this rotation strong in order to move far into the post season. pay the man.

    • @preach: I think you’re taking the tone in the last paragraph a little less playful than it was intended. I’m basically just trying to move people off the view that you can judge a pitcher well based on how many earned runs scored when he was pitching in a given season.

      That said, you’re also kind of proving my point on Lincecum. Without moving beyond ERA, the new deal doesn’t make any sense at all. When you consider that Lincecum’s advanced stats this year were better than Mat Latos, it’s a little more reasonable, even if still a bit of an overpay. That’s a far cry from nothing short of stupid.

      • @Steve Mancuso That said, you’re also kind of proving my point on Lincecum. Without moving beyond ERA, the new deal doesn’t make any sense at all.:

        It doesn’t really prove your point. Teams sign bad deals with fan favorites all the time. You guys have repeatedly mentioned BP’s deal as being bad. It doesn’t mean they looked at the “advanced” stats, it just means they made a bad deal.

        • @Bubba Ho-Tep:By whatever metric you use, he was pulled from the starting rotation for being bad, and since then he has lost 6 mph on his fastball. The only saving grace is it’s just a two year deal. It’s still not a far cry from stupid.

        • @preach: By any metric at all, Lincecum is a seasoned MLB pitcher. Those don’t grow on bushes and alleging the guy has a brain, he will still be able to get people out. The Giants can look around for somebody better and might find somebody better — eventually.

        • @preach:

          That’s the thing about these “advanced” metrics, they are used to try and justify whatever the sabremetric guys want to justify or not justify. If it’s on FanGraphs it must be true!

          It’s a bad deal all around.

          Remember to the sabre guys knocking in 100 RBI is a bad thing.

        • @preach:

          Remember to the sabre guys knocking in 100 RBI is a bad thing.

          Wow, what a ridiculous statement. Not once have I ever seen anyone on RLN say that knocking in runs is a “bad thing”.

          You, sir, are trolling.

        • @docmike: Honestly not trolling, I’ve seen sabre guys saying the knocking in RBI is less important than getting a walk.

        • @Bubba Ho-Tep:

          It does prove the point if you are willing to listen.

          Steve is just saying that by some traditional statistics, the contract would seem to be a gross overpayment. But that by some newer stats, the contract (while still an overpayment) is not nearly as bad.

  19. Does hitting a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 7h inning of a game where the Red Sox already lead 5-0, qualify as clutch?

    Just asking, because several people discounted Joey Votto whenever he hit a homer or knocked in runs in a game the Reds were already comfortably ahead in.

      • @gschiller13:

        The funny thing is, you could ask 10 people what “clutch” means, and you’d get 10 different definitions. It’s such a nebulous term, that’s what makes it hard to quantify what exactly “clutch” means.

        Let’s look at Ortiz. His career batting average is .287, but his playoff BA is .277. Also, his career slugging pct is .549, but in the postseason it drops to .528. So, there really is no evidence whatsoever that Papi “steps up his game” in the most important games.

  20. I’ve always said, not that I don’t believe in advanced metrics, but that you always have to take them with a grain of salt. For example, with Lincecum, the Giants just paid through the wazoo for a pitcher with a losing record the last 3 seasons. And, bottom line with anything in this is going to be winning games. That statistic is the most meaningful. For, what advanced metrics can’t do is things like figuring out why the other players on your team aren’t performing and run producing when you pitch and they are performing and run producing when others pitch. And, for some, that lack of run support can end up affecting your own game, making you think you have to press even harder to keep the other team from scoring.

    Again, I will not denounce advanced metrics. But, with Lincecum, 3 losing seasons in a row, and the Giants are paying this much for him? One losing season, I wouldn’t have a problem paying this much. Two losing seasons in a row, you have to start considering. But, three losing seasons in a row, when the advanced metrics would be saying this shouldn’t be going on? There is simply something else the advanced metrics aren’t catching (like, maybe the rest of the team doesn’t think they need to perform as well when he takes the mound, thus giving lower run support; the advanced metrics would catch the lower run support, but it won’t catch why), where one may very well have to go back to the basics. As in, are they winning games? And, with Lincecum, the last 3 consecutive seasons, he hasn’t.

    • @steveschoen:

      Are you trying to prop up win-loss record as a meaningful statistic for a pitcher? That has got to be the worst stat there is, completely useless. It is at hugely dependent on your run support, not to mention the fact that you are also dependent on your bullpen holding leads for you, as well as whether your defense commit errors.

      The fact that a pitcher can “lose” a game while only giving up an single unearned run, like what happened to Clayton Kershaw in the series against the Cards, has to tell you something. That, along with the fact that a pitcher can give up 6-7 runs in 5 innings, and still get the “win” if his team bails him out at the plate. Just a garbage statistic. I wish they would completely get rid of it.

      • @docmike: Well, yes and no. Let me ask you this. Who wins the division, the team with the lowest FIP, lowest SIERA, lowest ERA+, etc.? Or, is it the team with the most wins? Which team wins the NLDS, the team with the lowest FIP, lowest SIERA, lowest ERA+, etc., or the first team to 3 wins? Which team wins the NLCS, the team with the lowest FIP, lowest SIERA, lowest ERA+, etc., or the first team to 4 wins? Which team wins the WS, the team with the lowest FIP, lowest SIERA, lowest ERA+, etc., or the first team to 4 wins?

        Tell me which one would be more important, the number of wins or the other things.

        We aren’t talking a “one game Kershaw happening”. We are talking about structuring a team and paying out long term money and a lot of money.

        Like I said, you have to be careful getting too much into the advanced metrics. Like I said, one losing season with Lincecum, I wouldn’t have a problem putting out that much money. Two consecutive losing seasons? I have to start questioning it. Three consecutive losing seasons, I would start leaning towards not putting forth that kind of money.

        If you want to put out that kind of money for a pitcher with a losing record for the past 3 consecutive seasons with great advanced metrics, that’s fine. I’d just rather put that money into a pitcher with a winning record for the past 3 consecutive seasons and great advanced metrics.

  21. I am never really sure if the butthurt over the use and study of advanced metrics is trolling, flat-earth style obstinance, or just all alternative accounts Marty Brenneman has made to covertly discredit RLN.

  22. This is a fascinating conversation that goes to the heart of being a baseball fan in the modern sabremetric era. My opinion on Bailey is that the Reds should sign him to as many years as he’ll agree to, up to 5 or 6. I have a hard time in general betting on a pitcher’s health and strength beyond that time frame (see Kershaw, C vs. Dodgers, LA – should be interesting). And I agree with Steve Mancuso that Leake is likely to have more value to (some) other teams than he does the Reds and is therefore the best choice for a trade from the starting staff. I also think the same may be true of Chapman as a closer. But that said…

    Does correlation imply causation? How do we know that the salary for Lincecum is really based on a recognition of the value inherent in some advanced pitching metrics and not on his “fan favorite” status, his past performance combined with a seeming return to almost full arm strength, or even just a “we want to sign him so no one else can” approach? I’m not saying the money isn’t based on FIP, xFIP or SIERA, I’m just asking if we really know that or not.

    I agree with whoever said “Stats are facts” but I also strongly agree with the notion that not all balls in play are created equal, and that the pitcher definitely has some control over those outcomes. If the sabremetrics guys are deeply skeptical of batting average as a valuable measure of hitting prowess, why do we still come back to BABIP? Why not SBIP (Slugging % on Balls in Play?) And why did an organizational shift to emphasize a two seam / cutter type fastball to induce more ground balls work so well for the Pirates this year and why has a similar approach been so effective for the Cardinals for many years? If we have to say “These are better measures for pitchers, but they can’t explain the difference between a fly ball guy and a ground ball guy, or between a Latos and an Arroyo” then maybe we need some better better measures.

    Bottom line, there is gold in them thar hills, but lots of pyrite too. And THAT means we all have some great stuff to debate alongside the old saws of Big Red Machine vs. ’27 Yankees, Aaron vs. Ruth vs. Pujols (ok, maybe not that last guy any more), Weaver vs. Lasorda (or Alston) vs. Anderson vs. Baker vs. Price. And now Bailey vs. Latos vs. Leake vs. Lincecum, FIP vs. ERA vs. GB/FB/SO ratios. Cool.

    • @Chris DeBlois: It’s certainly possible that the primary explanation for Lincecum’s contract is that he’s a fan favorite. It may also be that the Giants looked past ERA to more advanced stats. Or, drumroll, possibly some of both. The Cameron article provides more data points than just Lincecum from last year – other pitchers who seemed to be treated based at least in part on their advanced stats.

      • @Steve Mancuso: Steve – I’m not suggesting that Lincecum’s deal wasn’t based at least in part on the quality of his advanced stats. No doubt it was at least in part, just as with many other players going back to the Moneyball A’s. And I’m sure that Homer Bailey’s agent will make sure the Reds are well aware of the quality of his advanced stats relative to his peers. But I am suggesting two things: one, that there are certainly other factors involved in these decisions and negotiations and it’s impossible for us to know the relative importance of those various influences, and two, that even as these advanced stats become more accepted their flaws also become more apparent. I’ll be fascinated to see what’s coming next in terms of better tools to evaluate past player performance and predict future performance for these sorts of player selection and signing decisions, and even more interestingly to help players and coaches develop better techniques and approaches to maximize positive outcomes.

        • @Chris DeBlois: I agree with all of that. Although I think the one thing we can infer is that the Giants weren’t looking at Wins or ERA. I’m sure it was part fan favoritism, the short-term nature of the contract.

          The deal was a pay cut for Lincecum, not something you see every day. He earned $22 million last year and $40 million the past two.

  23. We live in a new contract reality where the huge $10-12M per year contract will be quickly be pushed to $20-25M per year. I think players who locked in their long contracts in the past two year (including Votto) will regret it in the next two years. Other, less talented players, will be making more.

    I’m just a schmo so I think agents see the writing on the wall as well. Long extensions for players just about to clear team control may be paused until the new reality settles in. I think we’ll see a lot of 2-year contracts.

  24. This is an interesting tidbit that I have not seen mentioned before. Add this to the discussion about Homer, Chapman, and Bronson. Remember folks we are a small budget team. The signing of Choo and the future costs of Bailey and Chapman are serious money considerations along with the continued growth of Votto’s salary. The trading of both Chapman and Bailey along with the extending of Bronson and elevation of Cingrani start to look logical to me.
    Robb Hoff Yahoo Sports wrote;
    Homer Bailey -The promotion of Price might prove an impetus for Homer Bailey to consider a contract extension because of his proclaimed appreciation for Price. If not, Bailey will be pitching his final season for the Reds unless he is traded first. After waiting eight years for the perennial can’t-miss prospect to finally produce ace-caliber numbers, the Reds now face the reality that the time is coming for Bailey to find greener pastures in a bigger market. Bailey has thrown more than 200 innings for the past two years while posting a 3.68 and 3.49 ERA respectively and tossing two no-hitters. In his final year of arbitration eligibility, Bailey stands to reap the reward for his success to the tune of $9 million. As much as Price and Reds’ Country want Bailey in the rotation for one more year, the trade yield that the Reds could command for Bailey before the season starts may prove too tempting to pass on.
    Bronson -The Reds will gain $6.5-million in payroll relief with the departure of veteran pitcher Bronson Arroyo via free agency but will still be on the hook for the remainder of $15-million in deferred money installments that Arroyo will receive annually through the year 2021. Because of his appreciation for Price, Arroyo may be willing to combine a free agent qualifying offer of $14 million and the rest of the deferred money owed into a $24-million, two-year deal. If Arroyo stays, the Reds will have more latitude to trade either Bailey or Chapman with Tony Cingrani waiting in the wings to replace either.
    Chapman-The primary concerns about switching Chapman from closer to starter are an innings limit and development of a third pitch for Chapman to add to his 100-m.p.h fastball and 92-m.p.h slider. Neither concern should stop the switch by spring training unless of course the Reds decide to trade Chapman, which was recently speculated in a deal that would send Detroit Tigers’ pitcher Rick Porcello and power-bat prospect Nick Castellanos to the Reds for Chapman. Chapman is in the final year of his contract with the Reds because his $5-million player option for 2015 won’t be enough to keep him with the team. His salary arbitration eligibility converted his $3-million salary for 2014 into a bonus that will be added to his arbitration value. The two-time All-Star is looking at a big pay increase that could cause the cost to keep him with the Reds in 2014 to soar over $10 million. With those kinds of numbers at stake, Chapman’s next defection — to a big-market team — is just a matter of time.

  25. It’s been said that there are two types of pitchers: guys who have had Tommy John and guys who are going to have Tommy John.

    What the Lincecum situation says to me is that the era of pitch counts and innings limits will quickly give way to the economic realities of free agency. My prediction is that the pendulum is about to swing the other way. When a Lincecum commands $17.5 m/yr, Arroyo $14 m/yr, etc. teams will simply be unable to afford to venture into FA for pitching. There soon will be no other course than to maximize as many innings as possible from young pitchers regardless of whether these pitchers survive 6 years of MLB service time without having reconstructive surgery.

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