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Less money equals more value
Published 11/8/2012 6:00:00 AM
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There's no denying that professional sports are a business, and just like in any other business, baseball boils down to making money.

 

Some owners are partly in the game to win championships, sure, but they’re definitely all in it at least in part—if not in full—to make money off their product.

 

So here's a new way to look at the Major League Baseball MVP races: a player’s value to their team is relative to their contract.

 

The most obvious way owners guarantee a good return is by investing in big money players, improving their on-field product, which in turn increases revenue. But, sometimes those big contracts don’t pan out and players fail to produce.

 

On the other hand, you occasionally will get a player who makes little, relative to others producing at his level, and they become a great value to the organization in the most literal sense.

 

The “V” in MVP does, after all, stand for “valuable.” So, let’s look at which players in the American League and National League MVP races are most valuable to their teams.

 

So, consider a different way to judge a player's value.

 

WAR, or wins above replacement, is a metric unit that determines how many more wins a player provides during the course of the year compared to a replacement level player at his position.

 

When WAR is converted into dollars in millions, it represents what a player would make in free agency. Taking this amount and dividing by WAR you come to a number that represents how much each individual “win” is worth on the market.

 

For the 2012 season, each “win” was worth about $4.5 million, or in other words, if teams were to pay fair market value for wins, a player worth five should receive about $22.5 million.

 

Now, let’s look at the MVP candidates in each league.

 

To determine a player’s monetary “value,” I took how much money they should have been paid—WAR multiplied by $4.5 million. Using the resulting true player value, I divided it by their actual 2012 salary to find what percentage of their worth they were actually paid.

 

To teams this means that the lower the percentage of their player’s true player value they pay him, the more “valuable” they are to the team. A player earning only 10 percent of what he is worth is more valuable to the team than a player earning 60 percent.

 

All dollar amounts are presented in millions. The salary numbers for 2011 are gathered from Cot’s Contracts. Percentages show how much of a player’s value the team is actually paying.

 

American League:

Miguel Cabrera (worth $31.95, salary $21, 65.7 percent)

Mike Trout (worth $45, salary $0.48, 1.1 percent)

Robinson Cano (worth $35.1, salary $14, 39.9 percent)

 

National League:

Buster Posey (worth $36, salary $0.615, 1.7 percent)

Andrew McCutchen (worth $33.3, salary $0.5, 1.5 percent)

Ryan Braun (worth $35.55, salary $6, 16.9 percent)

 

The conclusions we can draw from these numbers is that Mike Trout was by far the most valuable player to his team in the AL and Andrew McCutchen takes that honor in the NL.

 

These numbers are not, and should not, be the deciding factor in the MVP race. I would argue they should be considered, along with many other factors, to determine the MVP though.

 

It's just another way to look at baseball through numbers, a field we’ve been advancing for decades. 

-Brett Gleason is a senior sports management major from Auburn. He can be contacted at 335-1140 or by sports@dailyevergreen.com. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of Student Publications.

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