Valuing Mike Lowell

Aw, what the heck. I’ve got the files open, so why not discuss another player.

Mike Lowell has apparently signed a three-year, $37.5 million deal to stay with the Red Sox. Here are his estimated values (in millions) over the three past three seasons, along with the overall and weighted averages.

Season	Value			
2005	$8.39
2006	$12.25
2007	$15.42
---	---
Average	$12.02
WA	$13.19

After his 2005 season in Florida, a friend of mine asked me what I thought of Lowell. I said, “I have no doubt in my mind, this guy is done.” Shows what I know. Anyway, I think he is better than his 2005 but not as good as 2007. With aging and salary growth, I suspect $12.5 million/year for three years is just about right.

10 Responses “Valuing Mike Lowell”

  1. Kyle S says:

    JC, I have to admit I find your valuation results rather curious. Mike Lowell in 2005 hit .238/.296/.360 with 8 home runs and a 77 OPS+. BPro says he was worth a scant 2.5 runs more than a replacement level third baseman on offense after adjusting for his home park. How is that worth $8.4 million? If the answer is “fielding” – how good of a fielder do you think he was that year? UZR says he was 3 runs below average (source) which would mean he was the definition of a replacement player in 2005.

    On the other hand, Tom Glavine in 2006 pitched 198 innings of 114 ERA+ baseball. You pegged that earlier today as worth $8.8 million. For the life of me, I cannot understand how Lowell’s 2005 was even close to as valuable as Glavine’s 2006.

  2. dan says:

    How was Lowell worth $8.39million in 2005? He was 4.8 runs BELOW replacement level in VORP, and no amount of defense can make him worth that much. The going rate for marginal wins is about $2million per win, and (for those who still like win shares) Lowell had -1 WSAB. If you prefer your stats, he had a .744 PrOPS. Hardly worth over 8 million in value.

  3. Dave says:

    Years ago (probably 30 by now) Bill James wrote something to the effect that Fenway Park inflates offensive numbers such that the Red Sox should constantly churn their offensive players and not resign players to long term deals after monster season(s). Now I know that you take park factors into account when you value players but does Fenway have some type of exception to player evaluation or have I completely misunderstood (and probably misquoted) what Bill James wrote. Interestly that after he became an advisor to the Red Sox they at one time were aggresively shopping Manny.

  4. JC says:

    Yes, that value for Lowell seems a bit hight to me too. The reason for the high value is the defensive adjustment that I’m still experimenting with. It’s based off of balls in play typically fielded at a position. It has nothing to do with Lowell being good at the position, simply the fact that all baseball players are quite valuable—even the bad ones—and that he played a lot.

    As an aside, I’m not a fan of replacement level metrics nor the dollar values typically assigned to those metrics. I describe the offensive system in detail in my book—it’s too long to go into here—and I don’t plan to have the defensive system ready for a while. But, given that these guys have defensive value I want to at least make an attempt to correct for this when evaluating their contracts.

    At this stage, I’m unsure of whether a value like this is giving me some information that I was missing or whether it’s overstating the defensive contribution. It will be interesting to see how it works for other free agent contracts.

  5. Rick says:

    Couple of things. Lowell is a pull hitter and with the shortness of LF his numbers have been inflated because a number of balls that would normally be outs in a regular park are hits of one kind or another there. If he went to almost any other park his numbers would suffer.
    I like to take inflation into account with salaries.
    Correct me if I’m wrong JC, but with a 10% inflation rate his salary in 2010 would be just over $10 million in those dollars. Depending on his regression, he could still be worth the money even then.

  6. Rick says:

    Also his BA was very high this year because of his higher than normal BABIP and he hit a lot of singles in the second half. His power numbers went down like the normally do.

  7. JC says:

    10% inflation is a bit high. 2-3% is more reasonable from glancing at the CPI. In 2010, that’s about $11.5-$12 mil in today’s dollars.

  8. dan says:

    I read the book and agreed with the system as I was reading it. I didn’t go page by page at the end to see the players who I did and didn’t agree with, but seeing Lowell at that value seems extremely inflated.

  9. JC says:

    Thanks for reading the book, Dan. :-)
    The book only includes offensive value for position players. I’m tinkering with my defensive adjustments with the numbers I’m presenting this year. Also, these numbers are adjusted for salary growth to 2007.

  10. Rick says:

    The 10% figure I used for the inflation rate was for baseball salaries. I know it fluctuates a bit. I wasn’t clear on that. I didn’t mean the inflation rate for us normal folks.