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Astros' Players Actual vs. WAR Values in 2009

It's been well chronicled that the Astros are team that has much of it's $103 million payroll tied up in four players: Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Carlos Lee and Miguel Tejada. This certainly isn't the most prudent way to operate a big league ball club, but the team has been in contention for the latter portions of 2008 as well as a majority of 2009. Much of the reason has been because the four men just mentioned have perfomed very well- more than justifying their salaries in most cases.

I wanted to take a look at the actual vs. "earned" value of many of the key contributors to the 2009 Astros. By "earned" value, I mean what the player has earned in terms of dollars converted from their WAR score for the first half of 2009. The WAR data can be found at, and the actual contract values are from Cot's Baseball Contracts.

Total Astros Payroll, 2009: $102,996,414

Player Contract Value WAR Value (through 88 games) Difference
A. Arias $401,500 $1,400,000 $998,500
T. Byrdak $1,000,000 ($1,500,000) ($2,500,000)
J. Fulchino $400,000 $900,000 $500,000
M. Hampton $2M (before bonuses) $4,400,000 $2,400,000
L. Hawkins $3.5M (before bonuses) $1,100,000 ($2,400,000)
B. Moehler $2,300,000 $700,000 ($1,600,000)
R. Ortiz $750,000 ($2,200,000) $1,450,000
R. Oswalt $14,000,000 $8,300,000 ($5,700,000)
W. Rodriguez $2,600,000 $9,200,000 $6,600,000
C. Sampson $449,000 $4,100,000 $3,651,000
J. Valverde $8,000,000 $600,000 ($7,400,000)
H. Quintero $610,000 $0 ($610,000)
I. Rodriguez $1,500,000 (plus bonuses) $2,500,000 $1,000,000
L. Berkman $14,500,000 (plus bonuses) $10,400,000 ($4,100,000)
G. Blum $1,100,000 (plus bonuses) $2,600,000 $1,500,000
J. Keppinger $427,500 $3,700,000 $3,272,500
K. Matsui $5,000,000 $1,500,000 ($3,500,000)
M. Tejada $13,000,000 $8,400,000 ($4,600,000)
M. Bourn $434,500 $9,700,000 $9,265,500
D. Erstad $1,750,000 ($4,200,000) ($5,950,000)
C. Lee $18,500,000 $5,500,000 ($13,000,000)
J. Michaels $750,000 ($3,300,000) ($4,050,000)
H. Pence $439,000 $9,700,000 $9,261,000


Phew. What can we take away from this? Here's what I garnered:

  • Our outfield is either vastly out performing their current salaries (Bourn, Pence) or the Astros will have a hard time not losing $10 million in the exchange (Carlos Lee). Remember, these players have 74 games to add to their WAR totals and thus make themselves more valuable.
  • Speaking of the outfield, Erstad and Michaels are making out like bandits: Combined, they're $10 million behind their actual salaries. This puts the performances of Bourn and Pence into proper perspective.
  • Kaz Matsui was worth $8.8 million in 2008, but his value has plummeted in 2009. If he stays healthy though, he still has a chance to break even
  • Miguel Tejada is doing a damn good job of not being overpaid. Thank you, Miguel.
  • I love Lance and Roy. For reals. They took less than market value to stay in Houston, and will out perform their salaries again, most likely.
  • The two Je(Geo)ff's are a nice value. Kepp especially. Trading Drew Sutton may not have been in vain after all—at least in 2009.
  • Pudge's bonuses will kick in if he stays healthy, but as of now, he's been worth signing
  • Humberto Quintero is a sense.
  • Like Pudge, Russ Ortiz and Mike Hampton have been good signings through 88 games. Nice work, Ed.
  • Brian Moehler has not been good. Sorry, Brian. LaTroy Hawkins has been pretty solid, but his hefty contract makes him look less good in comparison.
  • Alberto Arias and Jeff Fulchino were a couple savvy waiver wire pickups.
  • Chris Sampson continues to be underrated. His RAR (runs above replacement) is the highest of any NL Central relief pitcher
  • Tim Byrdak is a LOOGY who is decent at getting lefties out. Even his above average ability to get righties out isn't enough to keep him out of the red