Monday, July 16, 2007

Will Young Be A B?

People who use the decision to hold on to Alfonso Soriano last year, with the decision to hold on to Dmitri Young this season are missing the key factor. By not trading Soriano, the Nats walked into two extra draftpicks. Ideally, it'd have been a first rounder and a sandwich pick, but they netted Jeff Smoker, a first-round talent, -- SIGN HIM CHEAPOS!1!!!! -- and Jordan Zimmermannnnn, who's eating batters alive in Burlington, VT.

With Dmitri Young, there's likely no safety net. They either trade him for the crap other teams are offering, or they let him waddle around the clubhouse for the rest of the season, either to re-sign him (which wouldn't be the worst thing in the world) or to let him waddle elsewhere, receiving nothing in return.

So they should trade him now, taking whatever crap other teams offer, since it's a use-it-or-lose-it kinda proposition with Dmitri. The catch is that there are lots of other DH/1B types out there, and the supply likely exceeds the demand, further lowering his value to other teams. So it's not going to be easy, and it's likely that if a move is made, it's going to be more of a Daryle Ward-type deal than a Livan Hernandez-sized one. (No, those weren't fat jokes)

There is a little wrinkle though. There's an outside chance that Dmitri could net some compensation. Let's take a look at that.

Free agent compensation is determined by the dreaded Elias Sports Bureau. The formula they use have never (as far as I know) been released publicly, but the general concepts are known. Players are grouped by similar position -- in Dmitri's case, he's with other 1B, DH's and OFers -- then ranked in a series of stats. For that group of players, they consider Plate Appearances, Batting Average, On-Base %, HR and RBI. They weigh each of those factors for what the player has done over the previous two seasons. I've heard that they pro-rate some of those stats for time missed on the DL, but I can't find any actual confirmation of that.

Once the players are ranked and given a score, the top 20% of the players are assigned as Type-A free agents. The next 20% are Type Bs.

(The formulas are a complete joke, and they usually bear little resemblance to how players actually perform, but that's a debate for another time)

Last year, Dmitri Young was a ... nothing
. He ranked 75th out of the 113 AL 1B/DH/OFers. His 'score' of 40 would've placed him 74th in the NL, just ahead of Endy Chavez. (Is that ironic or not?)

To gain compensation this year, he'd have to move up 30 places or so in the standings. To get a feel for what he'd need to do, I decided to look at what those players did right around the Type-B cutoff.

Assuming things are relatively constant from year-to-year -- which I don't know if you can do, but if you're looking for precision, you ain't payin' me enough -- he'd need to finish 46th. I spit out the stats for players 10 places above and 10 places below. Then I summed up their stats and figured out what the 'average' player in that area did. If you want the full spreadsheet, it's here.

If we compare that to what Young has done since 2006, we can get a rough idea of the chances of him netting a pick.
     Average    Dmitri
PA 830 503
AVE .281 .304
OBP .345 .352
HR 23 15
RBI 90 72

Dmitri is ahead in 2 of the categories, and has a good chance of finishing ahead in the RBI total. He likely won't reach the PA mark, but another 250 or so would put him just short of the total. He'll be short on homers, but not terribly so.

Among his 'cohort's, Young would have the second highest average, and is middle of the pack on OBP. If he gets up to about 750 total PA, that's a total that would've placed him 12th -- middle of the pack -- in the group. He'll easily be top-10 in RBI in that group.

Add it up, and he's likely in the upper half of that group. He's likely going to be a Type B Free Agent.

If that's the case, the Nats' decision could change. The offers they get would likely not be any better than the supplemental draft pick they'd get for letting him walk at the end of the year.

Of course, letting him walk at the end of the year isn't quite that easy either. First, the Nats would have to be willing to offer him salary arbitration -- tho many teams have a wink-wink agreement for their players to decline, if offered. And there'd also likely be a lot of pressure for the Nats to re-sign him anyway, which would mean no pick anyway.

The Nats know the formula and what goes into it. And they have access to better stat databases than I do. I'm sure they've got some lowly intern (or $20K schlub!) working on this very question, using up-to-date stats.

But the TRADE DMITRI!1!!! answer isn't nearly as clear cut as I thought it was a few hours ago.

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