Teixeira, Giles deals don’t match up

Let’s look at two players who avoided arbitration today: 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).

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5 Responses to “Teixeira, Giles deals don’t match up”


  1. 1 Dave January 18, 2006 at 12:46 pm

    An important thing to remember here is that lineup spots are scarce, so the more you can cram into one, the better off you are. Because of the scarcity, the incremental change in going from a 20 VORP to a 40 VORP player is a lot different than going from a 40 VORP player to a 60 VORP player. This also has to do with the relative scarcities of 60 VORP, 40 VORP, and 20 VORP players. So, yes, Teixeira is getting paid more, but he’s one of very few people in the upper echeleon. That counts for something.

  2. 2 eric January 18, 2006 at 12:52 pm

    Players deserve whatever contracts they get. Scott Boras doesn’t have magic pixy dust that forces Tom Hicks to sign ridiculous contracts.

  3. 3 jer January 18, 2006 at 1:45 pm

    As well, some players just don’t mind taking a bit less than market to stay where they are happy. I think Atlanta is one of those classy organizations that a player would probably like to stay in, as long as they are in the ballpark (hah!) of their percieved value. Unless, of course, you are Rafael Furcal and are looking for the team who throws down the biggest pile of cash on your desk. If you were a player and money didn’t matter, who would you play for: The Dodgers (a mess!), or Atlanta (14 consecutive trips to post-season).

  4. 4 Benjamin Kabak January 18, 2006 at 1:58 pm

    Eric: Scott Boras may, however, have better negotiating skills than Bick. It’s just an idea I’ve tossed out. I’m certainly not married to it.

  5. 5 Freddy Toliver January 18, 2006 at 2:07 pm

    I think there are a few aspects to each player, contract, and team that you haven’t mentioned that might explain the difference in contracts.

    1) Teixiera is more important to his team as a superstar and keystone player than is Giles. Teixiera is the face of the Rangers, while Giles is, to most fans at least, not close to being the best player on his team or the most marketable commodity.

    2) Teixiera is a power hitter while Giles is an all-around type hitter. Players like Giles always get lesser contracts compared to players that do one thing really really well, whether it is power or speed. As an example, look at Soriano’s numbers – He’s similar to Giles and I bet his WS, VORP, & WARP3 are somewhere between Giles & Teixiera. He was paid almost as much in 2005 as Teixiera will get in 2006. It’s not right, but it is real.

    3) Giles has a very bad injury history. He missed 3 months in his 2nd season, then two more months in his 4th season. I think this might contribute to getting a lesser contract.

    4) Maybe the teams are revealing something about their plans with Teixiera and Giles with these contracts. Teixiera is obviously the key player on the Rangers and they want to continue that. Giles might be viewed now as a one-year player and the Braves will take their chances with his free agency or even plan to let him leave via FA if prospects like Betemit or Hernandez can replace him.


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