Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Free Agent Signing of the Year

Mike Cameron

Mike Cameron: 1 year at $7 million with $10 million team option for 2009


Signed to provide some outfield defense at a bit of power, Cameron exceeded expectations for the Brewers, having a terrific season at age 35 and helping push Milwaukee into the playoffs. Injuries and a suspension limited him to just 120 games, but that makes his 1.42 WPA/LI all the more impressive when you consider he racked it up in just 508 plate appearances. When you combine average to above average center field defense with a bat that’s worth 1.5 wins over an average hitter, you have a +4 win player. Based on Cameron’s 2008 performance, he was worth between $15 and $20 million on the free market, or more than twice what he actually made. Toss in the team option that now looks like a no-brainer, and Cameron was truly one of the best signings of the winter.

I fully agreee. The author also points to Bradley and Lohse but ultimately goes with our boy:

You could make an argument for any of the three, but I’m going to go with Mike Cameron as the 2008 free agent bargain of the year, since he will continue to provide value in 2009 for the Brewers.

So good.

22 comments:

DannyNoonan said...

I agree. The guys that sat behind me on my 9-pack were Mike Cameron haters. I think that means they were also complete idiots. I swear to god they had a discussion about whether or not Gwynn should start over Cameron and one of them actually said, as an argument in favor of Gwynn, "Cameron is okay, but he's just not a hitter." It astounds me just how many people can't see that he's really good.

Anonymous said...

Cameron was a perfect fit for the Crew.

Chris said...

Yes a guy who will strike out 3-4 times a game and blew more than a few catches in the outfield. That is the perfect fit for the Crew.

I for one cannot wait to spend 10 million on him next year. And you know they will.

No TGjr is not the answer to the Brewers Centerfield question but neither is Cameron.

Hell while we are at it lets pick up Counsell's option too.

And Sheets, let resign Sheets he was so huge for the Brewers down the stretch run how can we not resign him?

E.S.K. said...

The depth and breadth of your baseball intelligence is staggering.

To clarify your "facts" he struck out 1.18 times per game, not 3-4.

DannyNoonan said...

Cameron struck out 142 times in 120 games. That's fewer than 3 or 4 times per game. Strike-outs aren't really that much worse than the other kinds of outs. He has an OBP almost 100 points better than his average and he slugs a ton.

He had a 109 OPS+, which was 4th highest on the team for starters.

tracker said...

That's crazy talk. Bradley had a 163 OPS+ and cost less.

"Strike-outs aren't really that much worse than the other kinds of outs."

Really. Please support.

DannyNoonan said...

A strike-out guy is less likely to hit into a double play than a ground-out guy. All else being equal. He's also less likely to advance a runner though.

E.S.K. said...

Tracker, Bradley was a DH, so while the author calculates them both to be +4 win players, Cameron gets the edge.

PaulNoonan said...

Yes, center-fielders are more valuable.

Re: Strikeouts - Ryan Howard is always ranked 1 or 2 in strikeouts. He's also very valuable. Adam Dunn, same deal.

PaulNoonan said...

Strikeouts aren't good, of course, but they're not any different than a weak Jason Kendall groundout.

PaulNoonan said...

http://www.firejoemorgan.com/2007/03/war-against-war-against-strikeouts.html

tracker said...

You've proven -- if firejoemorganesque snark can be regarded as "proof" -- that high strikeout totals are often byproducts of high home run totals. But I didn't question that. This is the statement that requires defense:

"Strike-outs aren't really that much worse than the other kinds of outs."

I don't buy it. I buy, "Strikeouts are bad, they don't advance runners, and they don't give you near as great a chance to reach base or advance baserunners via defensive misplay. They usually require more pitches to get a guy out, but in this day of 12-man pens, bfd. However, lots of guys who swing hard and hit for power strike out more frequently than banjo hitters like Kendall, so learn to live with it."

E.S.K. said...

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=2617

PaulNoonan said...

An excerpt:

As you can see by the round, lifeless blob in the middle of the graph, there is virtually no positive correlation between a team's strikeout totals and its runs-scored totals. When it comes to offense, an out is an out is an out.

On an individual level, the evidence against strikeouts as the scourge of the earth only gets more damning. Check out the correlation between Ks and the various elements of offensive production:

Correlation of SO/PA with (all players 1950-2002, 300+ PA)


Metric Correlation
----------------------
ISO +0.388
SLG +0.198
BB/PA +0.125
OBP -0.100
AVG -0.290

OPS +0.106
MLVr +0.005

While it might not be overwhelming, there is a distinct, positive correlation between an individual's strikeout rate and a number of useful attributes: hitting for power—as represented in this case by isolated power (ISO, or slugging percentage minus batting average) and slugging percentage (SLG)—as well as drawing walks—as represented by walk-rate (BB/PA). Of course, causation is a sticky subject, so try not to misinterpret the above data as "proof" that increased strikeouts cause an improvement in a player's secondary skills. It's just that where one group shows up, often so does the other.

tracker said...

Flawed, in support of this argument anyway. He says strikeouts aren't so bad, then goes on to prove exactly what we've already established: not that strikeouts aren't so bad, but that many productive players strike out a lot. His support of "strikeouts aren't so bad" is a throwaway sentence that cites "little statistical evidence" to prove they are bad.

All he proves is that productive players are forgiven their high strikeout totals. It's like Favre's interceptions. A Favre interception sucks as bad as an Allan Evridge interception. You forgive Favre's interceptions because of all the other stuff he does to help you win. But his interceptions aren't less bad than any other hack's.

DannyNoonan said...

Well, sort of. I think that's what the second part says. But the first part says that a strike out isn't any worse than any other kind of out.

Do you have any data to suggest it is worse?

tracker said...

No. But conventional wisdom, the majority opinion and Joe the Plumber says that a strikeout is bad. You, the bucker of conventional wisdon, therefore, bear the burden of proof.

PaulNoonan said...

Typically, the affirmative assertion requires the prove, lest we end up assuming a constant attack of pink dragons farting nerve gas.

Anyway, As we have 1. data that 2. suggests that strikeouts are not that harful, and you have 3. Joe "The Plumber" Morgan, certainly the burden is back to you.

tracker said...

Here. I have data too. This proves that pink dragons fart nerve gas.

Metric Correlation
----------------------
ISO +0.388
SLG +0.198
BB/PA +0.125
OBP -0.100
AVG -0.290

OPS +0.106
MLVr +0.005

Well, no, I guess it doesn't. But neither does it prove strikeouts are not bad.

PaulNoonan said...

But that is from Part 2, intended to show that strikeouts may, in fact, be OK. Part 1 covered "strikeouts are not bad) and had an awesome globular chart.

tracker said...

The globularity was awesome indeed. And it proved that no correlation should be assumed between team strikeouts and team run scoring. This does little to prove, however, that the strikeouts aren't that bad. Rather, it proves what we already know: that high run producers like Adam Dunn, Ryan Howard etal, are often high strikeout guys, but they're still OK. But only because they're high run producers. Their home runs are good. Their strikeouts are bad.

Brett Favre threw many interceptions. Brett Favre won many games. Therefore, interceptions must be OK. This, of course, is equally flawed logic, but short of qualititative analysis of the value of advancing runners on balls in play or of challenging Bill Hall to make a defensive play, and how many of those moved runners resulted in runs scored that otherwise wouldn't have been scored, and in the fact that the ability to field balls in play may require an opponent to replace say, Ryan Braun with Craig Counsell, I'll continue believing most strikeouts suck worse than other outs.

PaulNoonan said...

Yes, but this doesn't measure Brett Favre, it measures everyone. If Brett Favre throws a bunch of fucking stupid interceptions, he can make up for them, but if Tyler Thigpen throws the same number, it kills him, as it does with most QBs. I suspect that if you put together an awesome globular chart comparing the number of picks thrown by QBs (or even better, interception rate) to a team's overall offense, that you would see a ginormous inverse correlation; as picks go up, offense sucks balls, to use the mathematical terminology.

Your comparison, therefore (assuming my assumptions are correct) isn't very good. If strikeouts are lousy, we would expect to see a correlation between striking out and bad offense when we look at the whole league, and it's simply not there.

Granted, there may be interpretations of this data that jive with your idea. The biggest hypothesis that springs to mind is that the non-productive strike-outers get weeded out and only the big guns remain, and we therefore have a crappy sample, but if that were the case there would be a big unexploited market of marginal players who strike out. There may be some truth to this (See: Branyan, Russell), but it's much more likely that Strikeouts just aren't that bad.

One last thing. There does appear to be a level at which strikeouts become so damaging to a hitter that he cannot be productive, as the BABIP required to sustain offense becomes enormous. Let's call it the Jack Cust level. Teh damage of the strikeout at that point is total.