I mentioned there would be a more in-depth look a the Astros 2009 roster today and this is the first part of that attempt. My plan is to look at three different phases of the roster, starting with the monetary worth of all the players, followed by how the position players performed and then how the pitchers did. Hopefully, by knowing what the Astros were last year, it will help predict what they need to do in 2010 to be successful. Onward and upward after the jump...
Helped by the wonderful people over at FanGraphs, I charted the Astros entire roster on both their value in dollar amounts and their actual salaries, which I got from Cot's Baseball Contracts. I added all of them up to get the team's total value for the season and how much money they actually spent. I should also note before we dive into analysis that I adjusted the pitcher's values for their batting, which I'll talk about more in a minute.
The Astros players performed at a value worth 95.2 million this season, while the payroll came in around 106.2 million. This means the team underperformed the payroll by about 11 million dollars. I was a little surprised at this, as I mentioned yesterday in the Dave Clark story, the Astros outperformed their pythag record by six wins. I thought this might translate into value for the club. It did, but not to the extent I expected.
In fact, if we discounted the pitchers' batting, the team would have outperformed payroll by about 7 million, but some of the pitchers, like Oswalt, Wandy and especially Moehler, all were hugely affected by poor batting. Moehler went from one of the few bargains on the team to being one of the biggest detriments. Oswalt also underperformed his contract by about 3.7 million, though he was one of a handful of Astros to contribute double-figure value.
On the plus side, Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence combined to produce 33.9 million of the Astros overall 95 million value. Both are playing on pre-arbitration contracts, so were the two biggest values on the team. Wandy was also a huge value, adding 11.8 million over his 2.6 million dollar contract, but lost 3.8 million because of his hitting. That seemed a bit high to me, but as I thought about it more, the only way pitchers can't hurt their team batting-wise is to pitch in the American League, and I'm not sure Wandy would have put up the same value if he had pitched in the tougher league.
Who else were values? Jeff Fulchino came in fourth, with a 3.2 million positive difference, while Mike Hampton was fifth at 2.6 million. It also didn't hurt that Hampy added 0.8 million with his bat. Chris Sampson and Alberto Arias were the next two on the list and the last two that topped 2 million in positive difference between their contracts and their worth. Anther surprise for me was Edwin Maysonet outperforming his contract by one million.
The other side of that coin is the guys who underperform, and the worst at that was Carlos Lee. At -7.9 million, he had the biggest negative difference on the team. The only two players coming close to that were Darin Erstad and Jose Valverde, who both clocked in with negative-5 differences. Doug Brocail and Tim Byrdak were the next two on the bottom, followed by Geoff Geary and Roy Oswalt. The reason so many of these guys are relievers is that their salary greatly exceeded their worth. In fact, the only one who added positive value to the team was Valverde at 3 million. Quick shot analysis of this is that relievers really are fungible, so it's silly to pay more than a million dollars for all but the best closers. Otherwise, you're wasting monetary resources on a position you can fill many different ways.
As for Lee, that contract is an absolute albatross. His hitting is great and all, but his defense hurts the club out in left field and he won't always hit like he's doing now. On the current open market, you can definitely find a bargain that can hit 30 homers and bat .280 for left field without spending 10 million per year, much less the 18.5 Lee earned in 2009.
That's all the analysis I'm going to do now, because I'll get into more detailed looks at player performance later, but I've included the data I used for the entire team for you to peruse below. Look for more posts on the managerial hiring process too as we get more information.