Crawford and Gonzalez

I’m pretty whipped after four tiring days in Orlando, so today’s post isn’t going to be a complete argument as much as it is an interesting tidbit to digest. Using the ridiculously awesome new mutli-year capabilities of the leaderboards, I decided to filter my personal dashboard for position players to show the 2006-2010 years, giving us the best players in the game over the last five years. This is what it looks like (click to expand).

It’s the usual names at the top, though you might be surprised how highly Matt Holliday ranks. But, this isn’t about the Cardinals left fielder. Go down to the bottom, where I’ve cut the screenshot off after the 18th spot on the list. You might notice the last two names have something in common – they were both acquired by the Boston Red Sox this week. That’s right, over the last five years, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford have been virtually identical in value.

They’re nine months apart in age. Gonzalez has a shoulder problem that required surgery this winter, and he also cost the team three of their better prospects to acquire in addition to all the money they’re going to owe him in a long term extension. And yet, Crawford is seen as the guy who cost too much. Interesting, no?

This all comes back to the different perceptions of skillsets. Gonzalez has been labeled a high on base slugger, while Crawford has gotten tagged with the slap-hitting speedster label. These labels do more to obfuscate the truth than anything else. Crawford’s skills produce value in a different way than Gonzalez’s skills, but they do produce value. Given Gonzalez’s shift out of Petco, and Crawford’s potential move in front of the Green Monster, I’d expect the first baseman to outproduce the left fielder over the next five years, but the prices Boston paid also reflect that expectation.

Our reactions to these deals should be similar. If you liked the Gonzalez acquisition, you should like the Crawford one too. If Crawford was too much money for the expected production, than so is the upcoming Gonzalez contract. They are more similar than they have been portrayed.

We hoped you liked reading Crawford and Gonzalez by Dave Cameron!

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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Mike G.
Guest

Anyone who plays Roto wouldn’t be surprised by Holliday’s ranking in the least.

Scout Finch
Guest
Scout Finch

Anyone who is familiar with Coors Field wouldn’t be surprised either.

There is only one name on that list with a higher BABIP: Ischiro Suzuki, and no one on that list has a lower BB% than he.

A fine 2010 for Holliday that was certainly redemptive for his short stay in Oakland. Let’s see what 2011 brings.

Don
Guest
Don

I don’t think we need to wait for 2011: Holliday is a very good offensive player. While he wasn’t great in Oakland, particularly power-wise (.286/.378/.454 in 400 PAs), he hit .353/.419/.604 in St. Louis in the 235 PAs he got with them in 2009, which he followed up with a very strong .312/.390/.532 line in 2010. That line is almost identical to his career average, which sits at .316/.388/.543 over 4,300+ PAs. I think we know what kind of player Holliday is.

jim
Guest
jim

I see 6 guys on that list that have a lower BB% than Holliday, which over the past 3 seasons has been over 10% each year. His BABIP of .331 in 2010 is probably more in line with what I would expect going forward.

fredsbank
Guest
fredsbank

i remember my first time hating a member of the rockies for playing at coors field

fredsbank
Guest
fredsbank

career .360 wOBA away, 115 wRC+… yeah he’s not the monster he was at coors, but he’s hardly a slouch

greg
Guest
greg

Head-to-head is better

greg
Guest
greg

There’s Chase Utley! World’s greatest defender who also got the Yips in the last two postseasons! That guy is smooth as silk. It’s no wonder he’s so high on all the untested metrics boards, I mean–advanced metrics. The advanced metrics boards.

Chase Utley
Guest

Yip yip.

B N
Guest
B N

Untested metrics? I will admit, there are plenty of issues I can bring up about linear-weighted metrics but untested isn’t one of them. These metrics are SPECIFICALLY trained for their projection value, i.e. their ability to determine the best fit from the inputs. You literally use a train/test approach to make these weights. I fail to see how much more one could ‘test’ such metrics.

There are plenty of things you can complain about that linear weights are a dumb “rough approximation” of things. But untested? There’s a laugh.