Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Zito Contract Details plus Estimates

AP has released Zito's contract information:



The 28-year-old Zito, represented by superagent Scott Boras, will make $14.5 million in 2008, $18.5 million each in '09, 2010 and 2011. In 2012, the sixth year of his contract, Zito will receive $19 million and then $20 million the following season. He has a full no-trade clause.

Zito's option will become guaranteed if he pitches 600 innings between 2011 and 2013, 400 innings from 2012-2013 or 200 innings in 2013, with 180 innings pitched in 2011 or 2012. If his option becomes guaranteed, Zito can void the contract and receive a $3.5 million buyout.

He also will earn a $500,000 bonus for winning the Cy Young Award, $200,000 if he finishes second in the voting, $150,000 for third place, $100,000 for fourth and $50,000 if he's fifth. If he wins a second time, he would get a $750,000 bonus and $1 million if he wins it a third time or more.

Other bonuses include $250,000 for MVP -- with $150,000 for second place, $100,000 for third, $75,000 for fourth and $50,000 for fifth. If he were to be named World Series MVP, that would be worth $200,000, while an NLCS MVP would get him $100,000. He earns $100,000 for a Gold Glove and $100,000 for being an All-Star.

Zito also will stay in a suite for road trips.
That is a nice haul.

Estimates for Zito 2007

I have been collecting various estimates of Zito's 2007 performance forecasts (sorry, lots of spacing for some reason, scroll way down, don't know how to fix HTML, copied out of Google's Doc program...but it's a nice table :^):






















































































Estimate



IP

H

HR

BB

SO

ERA

WHIP

BB/9

K/9

HR/9

BF

218

218

29

92

145

4.14

1.42

3.8

6.0

1.2

Chone

216

190

23

79

166

3.88

1.25

3.3

6.9

1.0

ZiPS

216

196

25

96

165

4.01

1.35

4.0

6.9

1.0

Marcel

193

183

24

79

141

4.17

1.36

3.7

6.6

1.1

BJH

218

195

24

87

161

3.76

1.29

3.6

6.6

1.0


BF = Baseball Forecaster (by Ron Shandler)
BJH = Bill James Handbook (but not endorsed by Bill, done by John Dewan, who owns Baseball Info Solutions, co-author of book)
CHONE = forecast by Chone/Sean Smith at his site.
Marcel = forecast by TangoTiger at his site.
ZiPS = forecast by Dan Symborski at his site (freshly forecasted).

The Chone forecast notes "This is the first complete release of the data. All players are park adjusted and projected to a mythical stadium that is completely average, and somewhere between the American and National leagues, just off the interleague play highway. " So since AT&T is not an average stadium, HR-rate should go down about 16%, though oddly enough the runs scored still is neutral - I guess the extra doubles, triples, and errors help make up for that somehow, as nothing else is above 100 except for those.

TangoTiger notes "it is the most basic forecasting system you can have, that uses as little intelligence as possible. So, that's the allusion to the monkey. It uses 3 years of MLB data, with the most recent data weighted heavier. It regresses towards the mean. And it has an age factor."

Dan Symborski notes "ZiPS projections are computer-based projections of performance. Performances have not been allocated to predicted playing time in the majors - many of the players listed above are unlikely to play in the majors at all in 2007. ZiPS is projecting equivalent production - a .240 ZiPS projection may end up being .280 in AAA or .300 in AA, for example. Whether or not a player will play is one of many non-statistical factors one has to take into account when predicting the future... ZiPS is projecting based on the AL having a 4.51 ERA and the NL having a 4.37 ERA." This is the first I've seen of a difference between the two leagues that I can measure in ERA: 0.14. Thus since he just did this estimate for Zito after his signing, this estimate presumably includes this deduction for the NL. Particularly since his K/9 is on the higher side.

Bill James Handbook/Dewan notes "the projections are based on variables like past history (obviously), recent workload and role, age and minor league performance when applicable." In addition, since the book came out before Zito signed, these numbers are probably based on him signing with an AL club and thus are now too high since he signed with an NL club. Using the 0.14 difference, that would drop his ERA to 3.62.

Not sure exactly how Baseball Forecaster does their forecast but he is clearly a Bill James disciple (though Bill James don't believe pitching projections can be done). Since it came from a book that was published before Zito signed, his numbers are probably good if he signed with an AL team, but would be ratcheted downward since he is now in the NL. They release an update in March, I will try to remember to write a post on that when I get the chance. But using the 0.14 difference, that would drop his ERA to 4.00.

Giants Thoughts

Looks like most forecasts have Zito in the 4-ish range: from 3.76 to 4.17. They average out to a 3.99 ERA (3.95 ERA if you lower BF and BJH projections). That would be a solid #2 starter based on the Hardball Times analysis for a playoff team. Which is not that bad, though for the total package you are paying him for, one would think he should be the ace. As I will try to show in an upcoming post, his contract is not that bad if you assume another big jump in salaries in the 2007 off-season as well.

Personally, I have no great idea on what's really behind each forecast, though I've placed their notes on methodology above. But there are a lot of people who believe in these numbers and the author's used their baseball knowledge to guide their projections. So for all I know, these are all reasonable estimates and their similarities are very striking.

That said, I won't quite go lemming and swear that he will do like these estimates. The more I look at Zito's numbers sabermetrically, the more I think he's the rare Rueter-esque type of pitcher who don't fall into the round holes that sabermetrics depend upon to categorize players but don't handle square players like Rueter and perhaps Zito not so well. Not that these forecasts takes into account sabermetric principles necessarily, but I note this in case they do.

In fact, one of my recent thoughts is that the preponderance of RHP data relative to LHP data might be screwing up forecasts of LHP. For one thing, when similarity scores in baseball-reference.com brings up RHP as match for LHP, that cannot be really true. The LHP comes up against the RHP platoon disadvantage much more than a RHP against a LHH, so the LHP must therefore be a better skilled pitcher than a RHP with similar career stats, but his stats overall is depressed because of the RHH advantage. And if he has more skill, he should not decline as much or as quickly as a RHP with similar career numbers, I would think better skilled players hold onto their advantage longer, especially since he starts out at a higher skill point, he will reach replacement level of performance later than a similar RHP.

So I will present these numbers to put them out there. If anything, I would consider these numbers to be ceilings on how well Zito might do, particularly since he will experience less HR in SF than he did in Oakland and he is now pitching in the NL and not the AL. He should derive some advantage from seeing a pitcher hit 3 times in a game, resulting in increase in K/9, and decrease in H/9, BB/9, WHIP, and HR/9. And the BF projection and the BJH projection were made before Zito was signed by the Giants.

In particular, I would lean towards the CHONE forecast or the BJH forecast. The CHONE forecast tries to place the players performance in a neutral park setting but one between AL and NL, thus he's over estimating runs and underestimating K's since Zito is now in the NL. And the BJH is close to what I would expect for Zito. As I had noted, his ERA was about 3.8 the past two seasons and in 2005, he was unlucky by saber principles while 2006 he was very lucky, so I would think his skill level is around the 3.8 ERA level then you subtract off for him being in the NL now, which pushes his ERA to the 3.7 area. That's getting closer to ace status, especially if you are looking only at the overall MLB ace status, where the borderline is 3.78 ERA.

1 comment:

  1. When I wrote "ceiling" what I meant was that these estimates would be the worse I would expect from Zito and that, if anything, he would be on the better side of the range of estimates or even beat them.

    I was also going to note a thought that popped up in my mind: this is probably the biggest name going from one Bay team to the other since Vida Blue (another lefty) joined the Giants via a trade by the A's. The only other name I can think of was Dusty Baker from Giants to A's (I think the Giants released him) and Rod "Shooter" Beck from A's to Giants, but it was a minor trade, he was doing well but was in A-ball if I remember right (not sure if high or low) and the Giants didn't give up anyone big, I don't think, though he was probably a better player at that point than Beck, my vague memory recalls.

    ReplyDelete

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