The Biggest WAR Bargains of 2009: Part 1

Ben Zobrist
Image by Keith Allison via Flickr

Currently in the MLB, the average player value, per win, is about $4.5 million. So, if a player’s WAR (Wins Above Replacement) in a season was 2.0, that player would have been worth about $9 million. Naturally, there are going to be a lot of players getting paid much more than they’re worth, like, say, Vernon Wells, and there are also going to be plenty of players providing lots of cheap wins. Obviously, as a GM, if you’re able to find those types of players, budget becomes less of an issue, and you field a better team.

So, here are some of the players that really gave their respective teams more for their money in 2009:

Ben Zobrist: Zobrist was the biggest bargain of the season, by far. He had the highest WAR in all of baseball at 8.5 ($38.2 million value), and he only earned a measly $415,900. For reference, you can compare that to Vernon Wells, who was worth -0.1 wins this year (-$200,000 value), and got paid almost $5 million.

Evan Longoria:
Longoria had a phenomenal sophomore year in 2009, and with his $550,000 salary, it should be pretty obvious that he was a bargain for the Rays. Longoria’s actual 2009 value: $32.7 million. Whoa, the Rays got a lot of really cheap wins this season.

Franklin Gutierrez: Guti wasn’t quite the slugger in ’09 that the previous two were, but he provided value in a different way; with the glove. His defense was phenomenal in center field, and because of that, the Mariners got 5.8 wins out of him for only $455,000. Gutierrez’s actual 2009 value: $26.2 million.

Troy Tulowitzki: Tulo was an integral part to the Rockie playoff run this year, and he was quite a cheap asset. He earned an even $1 million on the season, but his deserved income was about 24.6. Based on his contract, it looks like he’s going to be a cheap asset for the Rockies until at least 2012.

Pablo Sandoval:
Rookies generally aren’t getting paid more than around $400,000, so when one is worth even 1-2 wins, they’re usually a huge asset. Well, Pablo Sandoval earned just over $400,000 and was worth 5.1 wins. So yes, he was a huge asset for the Giants. Sandoval’s actual 2009 value: $23.1 milion.

There were plenty of other bargains in the MLB this year, so I’ll have a second part to this next week.

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  1. geo

    October 26, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Zack Greinke had the highest WAR in Baseball, not Zobrist. Greinke’s was 9.4.

  2. Griffin Cooper

    October 26, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    That’s a good point – I should have clarified that this was strictly for position players. Nice catch there.

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