Teixeira, Giles deals don’t match up

Let’s look at two players who avoided arbitration earlier this week: Rangers’ first baseman Mark Teixeira and Braves’ second baseman Marcus Giles.
These two days were announced within hours of each other. Giles signed a one-year $3.85 million deal with the Braves while MVP candidate Teixeira got a two-year $15.4 million deal from Texas. Over at Baseball Musings, David Pinto opined that Teixeira’s signing suggested that Marcus Giles is underpaid.
While he may not have matched Teixeira’s .301/.379/.575 43-homer season, Giles’ .291/.365/.461 line from the second base position is worth more than half of one year of Teixeira’s deal. Or at least that’s how the argument goes. Let’s look at some other numbers.
For this chart, I’m going to compare Teixeira and Giles across three sabermetric measurements. The first is Win Shares, a Jamesian stat that relates a player’s individual stats to the number of wins he contributed to the team. Three win shares is equal to one win.
The second is VORP or Value Over Replacement Player. VORP is defined thusly: “The number of runs contributed beyond what a replacement-level player at the same position would contribute if given the same percentage of team plate appearances.” A replacement player is the next available option; that means, either the first guy called up to the Majors from AAA or the option the waiver wire.
The third is WARP-3, a Baseball Prospectus stat, that looks at Wins Above Replacement Level. The rational is similar to that of VORP.

Win Shares VORP WARP-3
Marcus Giles 23 48.8 8.1
Mark Teixeira 33 73.1 10.5

What we see first is very little variation across the three statistics. Based on Win Shares, Giles contributed 7.6 wins while Teixeira contributed 11. Based on VORP, Teixeira’s value was approximately 1.5 times that of Giles’. Based on WARP-3, Giles was 8.1 wins better than replacement while Teixeira was just 2.4 wins better than Giles.
So what these numbers show is that David Pinto’s original feeling was correct. These salaries do not match up with the production offered by these two players. Either Teixeira is being overpaid or Giles is being underpaid.
It’s hard to say that Teixeira is underpaid simply because he will be 26 in April and has gotten steadily better each year. He ought to be a perennial contender for the MVP award and has a Gold Glove, for what that’s worth, as well. The Rangers’ doling out $7.7 million a year for his services seems more than reasonable.
Giles on the other hand is certainly underpaid. He’s one of the game’s top second baseman and, at 27, is entering his peak player years. He doesn’t enjoy the same home park benefits that Teixeira enjoys in Texas. Even so, his production is clearly not that inferior to Teixeira’s.
With two players near the top of their respective positions locked up to contracts on the same day, it’s interesting to compare them and wonder what happened. Here’s one solution: Maybe Scott Boras, Teixeira’s agent, is really that much better of an agent that Joe Bick, the man representing Giles. For all the hype and negative publicity surrounding Boras, he really just might be that much better at getting his clients the deals they deserve (and sometimes even the deals they don’t deserve).


4 Responses to Teixeira, Giles deals don’t match up

  1. The main difference, besides their agents, is that Teixeira is three years younger and is already a much better hitter. Granted they’re different types of hitters and Arlington helps his stats a little, but there’s no getting around 100 to 150 points of slugging percentage.
    That three year difference is a lot, as Giles, at 27, has probably his a plateau, and is very likely to put up numbers similar to this year’s, something like .290/.375/.450 for the next three years or so. Teixeira, on the other hand, should be improving in the next couple of years. Would anybody be surprised if he hit .330 next year with 50 homers? Heck, if that happens, Teixeira will be underpaid!
    Sure, he plays an easier defensive position but he and Giles were essentially even at saving defensive runs in 2005 (+12 FRAA for Teixeira, +10 FRAA for Giles, according to BP), and Runs Saved are Runs Saved.
    None of this is to say that Giles is not underpaid, just that it’s not as simple as
    Giles WS/Teixeira WS = Giles $$/Teixeira $$
    And of course Atlanta is always reluctant to dole out multi-year, big money deals if they can avoid it. They bucked that trend with Chipper Jones and wound up having to suffer through a couple of injury-plagued, sub-par seasons with him despite the fact that he’s still making MVP-type money.

  2. Evan says:

    Tex will sure look good in a Boston uniform in 3 years.
    I kid. Kinda.

  3. Benjamin Kabak says:

    Just to clarify two points:
    1. I don’t think Teixeira is overpaid. If anything, he is underpaid. My main points are that Giles is underpaid and the two contracts don’t match up.
    2. Tex will clearly be in the Bronx in three years when the Yanks have the leverage and need for a stud first baseman just entering the late years of his peak.

  4. JPMouton says:

    I’m a huge Braves fan and MArcus is my favorite player, and I agree that he is underpaid, but those 2 and a half wins that Texieria is worth over Giles are more valuable than most 2 and a half wins. It’s not a linear value, the first couple of wins are not worth as much as the last few. Those last 2.5 wins represent value over an All-Star, which is certainly hard to find.

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