Sunday, November 21, 2004

Jose Guillen vs. Juan Rivera

The 2004 performances of Jose Guillen and Juan Rivera aren't worlds
apart. Rivera hit .307/.364/.465 with a VORP of 22.3. Guillen hit
.294/.352/.497 with a VORP of 39.9. Rivera's top line looks a bit
better, despite the lack of power, hitting only 37 extra base hits (12
HRs) compared to Guilen's 58 (27 HRs).

But Guillen has a much higher VORP. Part of this is due to extra plate
appearances (640 vs. 426). If you give him the same number of
at-bats, his VORP would still only project out to 33.5.

Why does VORP think Guillen is so much better than Rivera? Because it
takes into account the difficulty of situation, factoring in the
ballpark (i.e., hitter's park vs. pitcher's park) and the quality of
the competition. Normalize out their batting averages (a stat called
EqA: equiv. average), and Guillen hits .282, while Rivera hits .279,
making them quite similar. Rivera has a slight edge in getting on
base, but Jose's power is much greater.

Both of these guys are still in the prime of their career. They both
have a good shot at similar numbers next year, though Guillen is a bit
more proven (though not too much). All other things being equal, I
think Guillen is a clear choice.

The question is whether Guillen is worth about $3M more in salary.
Compared to the market, the $3.5 we'll pay for Guillen is a great
deal. But paying Rivera $400K is a better deal. There's no doubt about
it. Even shedding Izturis, who wasn't going to be worth much,
considering we're overpaying Guzman to do the same job, the salary gap
still favors Rivera.

But don't underestimate the value of fielding a team that will get
people in the seats. Sure, Guillen is no Gary Sheffield, but you can
see people drawing the parallel, as he's a slugger who was a star in
Anaheim and had some personality problems. I think the more people
that can be passed off as stars on the field will put more people in
the seats, meaning more money in the budget for next year.

By the way, MLB will be broadcasting the name announcement at noon on Monday, when we'll officially be the Nationals. Reportedly, our team logo will also be unveiled.

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