Pie in the sky

Not even the most clairvoyant psychics can predict the future with complete accuracy – but when it comes to projecting baseball stats, few do it better than CHONE.

They just recently released their projections for the 2010 season, and it’s fair to say that compared to the big dogs in the American League East, players on the Toronto Blue Jays are significantly lacking when it comes to star players who provide wins above replacement level.

Regardless, I decided to put together a simple pie graph based on those 2010 WAR CHONE projections, which finally made all those hours goofing off in Grade 10 Computer Class worth while.


Pitchers were left out because CHONE did not have WAR projections for many of the starting pitchers and relievers, so I just went with the positional players. I also omitted any positional players on the 40-man roster or Spring Training invitees whose WAR was a negative value.

First off, it’s interesting to note that after Hill, Lind, Overbay, Wells and Snider, there is a glut of players in the middle who are signed to minor league contracts who have higher WAR totals than the majority of the starting lineup. Standout candidates include guys like Mike McCoy, Joey Gathright and Jarrett Hoffpauir, who theoretically might not even crack the 25-man roster out of Spring Training.

What are the WAR values relative to their salary? I took it a step further and broke down how the payroll is divided amongst the positional players as well.

Obviously the huge thing that sticks out like a sore thumb is the Blue Jays literally have all their eggs in one basket with Vernon Wells. His $21 million dollar salary in 2010 accounts for 42 percent of the entire payroll devoted to positional players. Even if Wells does bounce back this season, his value will be nowhere near the amount of money the Blue Jays will be paying him for the next five years.

The left side of the infield, which includes Encarnacion, McDonald, and Gonzalez accounts for 18 percent of all the total salary for the starting lineup. The combination of those three infielders only total 2.2 wins above replacement level.

So what conclusions can we draw from these graphs? If the CHONE projections are accurate, as predicted by most, the Young Guns will be the main contributors in 2010, with the old veterans rounding out the pack.

Some players are grossly overpaid, some are grossly underpaid, and then there are others in the middle of the pack that are receiving fair market value for the skills they contribute to the team.

For those interested, feel free to check out the full excel chart.

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

9 thoughts on “Pie in the sky

  • January 18, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Vernon's salary doesn't really hit you until you see it in pie chart form. Scary stuff.

  • January 18, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    So because all of these players have a positive WAR, this suggests that all of these players are better than replacement level, is that correct? Or can you not have a negative WAR?

    I would think by definition, most of these guys in my mind are replacement players, guys you could easily find if something should happen to your regular guy.

  • January 18, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Colt, when Halladay/Rios/Rolen/Ryan were still on the team, I might not have looked so bad – but now that Wells is the only player on the team who is making more than $10 million a year, it really sticks out like a sore thumb.

    Peter, there actually were a couple of guys on the 40-man that were projected to have a negative WAR (Brian Dopirak for example). The WAR value measures how many more wins a player provides as opposed to a Triple A call-up. And you're totally right – it seems like half the team is "replacement players" themselves!

  • January 18, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Wouldn't Wins above average production (WAAP) be more relevant than replacement triple A talent. With a team of average players representing enough win shares to produce a .500 record.

    In theory if this stat were to be developed, you could just add up your teams total WAAP to project your teams record.

  • January 18, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    Peter, that's certainly some interesting food for thought. Maybe we will see a stat like WAAP on Fangraphs in the years to come. That would be cool if you could total the stats and come up with a rough idea of how many wins a team is projected.

    Mattt, thanks for the kind words – I'm glad you liked it! I knew learning Microsoft Excel pie charts would eventually pay off in the future.

  • January 19, 2010 at 5:13 am

    I love the Payroll Commitments pie simply because of how much Wells's salary takes up. Amazing.


    I also believe in pie.

  • January 19, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Peter and Ian,
    You could use WAAP, though WAR is essentially the same thing, just adjusted to a lower "average" (a AAA call-up). THis means that, in relative terms, you aren't overvaluing anyone – just comparing them all to a lower threshold. Everyone is being compared to theoretical "minimum salary" player that would take their place (of course, in reality, not all teams use such replacements).
    I'm not sure WAAP would actually calculate team wins any better than WAR because "average production" is not necessarily the same as the average of "each team's starting players". (and, of course, it would simply be a projection that would, on average, be off by +-5ish wins). But as it is, a WAR of around 50 is supposed to be about a .500 level team.

  • January 19, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    eyeB, it's not the total 2010 salary – but even so, V-Dub takes up at least one third of the total 2010 payroll for the Blue Jays. I believe in him too, brother.

    QJays, if CHONE releases all the WAR values for the entire 40-man roster, it would be interesting to tally up the values and see what the win total is for the 2010 Blue Jays. Then we have to wait until the end of the season and see how accurate that prediction was. It is unreasonable to say that they might go 70-92?

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