Albert Pujols hitting a home run

Image via Wikipedia

Just when Erik says we have been quiet about the Albert Pujols situation, we will have two posts within just a few days.  With word coming out that the Cardinals were reluctant (maybe even adamant) about not going more than 6 years on a deal with Albert, now is a good time to look at how he may age over the life of any deal.  For this particular exercise I’m going to borrow a methodology that Tango has employed previously and look at historical comparisons based on accumulated WAR.  I built my first list of comps by looking at who had the best WAR/season up through their age 30 season (where Albert sits now) and included anyone with 2 WAR/season of Albert (22 players).  I then looked at how that list of players performed in their age 32-38 seasons (a 7 year deal), 32-39 seasons and so on.  The results are summarized in the table below.  Totals are cumulative rWAR

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32_38 32_39 32_40 32_41
Max 70.0 78.2 78.6 83.2
75th 44.9 49.3 50.5 50.5
50th 36.9 39.0 40.4 40.1
AVG 37.4 39.6 40.7 41.6
25th 26.2 26.8 26.8 26.9
Min 14.5 14.5 14.5 14.5

It does appear that those stop accumulating at a decent pace around years 7 or 8. I haven’t run the financials on any of these WAR totals yet other than a select few, so can’t report what these necessarily equate to in terms of deals. That’s a post for another day, or maybe for another author if anyone wants to take a crack at it.

I also built a list of comps based on how players had fared only in their ages 28,29, and 30 season.  Using a list of players that were within 1.5 WAR/season of Pujols either direction (24 players) I came up with the following table

32_38 32_39 32_40 32_41
Max 70 78.2 78.6 83.2
75th 44.3 49.1 50.3 50.3
50th 31.5 33.9 35.4 35.4
AVG 34.6 36.9 37.8 38.7
25th 20.4 20.9 20.9 20.9
Min 8.1 7.7 7 7

Not too different. This is a little lower as the level of greatness was higher to be in the first group.

What does all this mean for the Cardinals and Pujols?  Well, I’m not exactly sure.  I’d have to run the financials on all of these WAR calculations to get a firmer idea here.  Most of the numbers show that 10/300 is a bad idea, but we already knew that (Pujols would have to be at the 75th percentile or better to be worth that deal).  The data does support that anything beyond an 8 year deal doesn’t look like a good idea.  6 or 7 would probably be best, with 8 as the upper limit.

All of the WAR data in the article is from http://www.baseball-reference.com/

UPDATE:  Tango using my calcs

By my calculation (weighted $ per WAR of around 6MM$ per win), this comes out to:
7 years / 225MM$
8 years / 240MM$
9 years / 250MM$
10 years / 260MM$

So there you have it

Steve Sommer

Simulation analyst by day, father and baseball nerd by night

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7 Responses to “Albert, Aging, and History”

  1. Here’s what Wall Street Journal had to say:

    Using a standard aging curve, Mr. Pujols is expected to produce about 48 WAR over the next 10 years, and estimating future salary inflation at 5% a year, those wins would be worth $286 million.

    That would put him just under your 75th percentile for 10 years. I’m sure they kept it pretty simple, but it is interesting none the less.

    • Which makes sense since AP is probably generally better than the populations used as comparisons as Jim points out.

  2. The talent/accomplishments curve is not symmetrical around Pujols’ level, so there would be more players who are similar but worse than who are similar but better, so it may be the case that the expectation for Pujols is closer to the 75th percentile than the 50th percentile.

  3. [...] an expected AAV between $26-30 million. Today at Gas House Graphs, Steve posted an article entitled Albert, Aging, and History in which he included players similar to Pujols in Wins Above Replacement (refer to FanGraphs’ [...]

  4. [...] years, $267 million Tango gets $225 million over 7 years and up to $265 million over 10 years. Steve Sommer shows you can probably expect about 40 WAR from Pujols over 10 years, but 8 years is probably the [...]

  5. [...] about what Albert Pujols’ value will be over the next 7-10 years, I suggest you go here…Or here…Or here…Or take a look at the discussion here. Haven’t had enough? Read [...]

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