11-18-2010: Beltre and Martinez projections


Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez represent the top free agent bats at their respective positions this offseason. We have the payroll flexibility, so it seems like a no-brainer that we should re-sign both of them, right?

The problem is not the annual salary, but the number of years we would need in order to place a successful bid on these players. Oakland has reportedly offered Beltre 5 years and $64M. At the end of the deal, he will have played his 36-year old season. Do we really want to sign him for that many years? Martinez may also require 4-5 years to sign as well.

One way to help decide that is to look at aging curves and apply them to our projections for 2011 to get a year-by-year look at what Beltre could do over the term of that deal. Let’s take a look at how their true talent is likely to regress with age if they follow the same aging patterns as most top players in baseball.

Adrian Beltre

Year Age PA AB H 2B 3B HR R RBI BB SO SB HBP Avg OBP SLG OPS wOBA
2011 32 593 552 152 32 3 21 71 76 36 87 8 5 0.276 0.327 0.458 0.785 0.351
2012 33 569 532 145 30 2 20 67 72 33 83 7 5 0.273 0.321 0.448 0.769 0.344
2013 34 539 506 136 27 2 18 63 66 29 78 7 4 0.269 0.314 0.437 0.751 0.336
2014 35 503 474 125 24 2 16 57 60 25 72 6 4 0.264 0.306 0.423 0.730 0.327
2015 36 462 438 113 21 2 14 51 53 21 66 6 3 0.259 0.298 0.408 0.706 0.317
2016 37 417 397 101 18 1 11 44 46 17 60 5 3 0.253 0.288 0.391 0.680 0.305

You can see that Beltre has perhaps 3-4 years left as an above-average bat in the AL (a prediction based on other players’ aging curves). His stellar defense figures to continue, so he will still be a valuable player at age 35. Just not as valuable as he is right now. By the time he’s 36, he could be Pedro Feliz.

Victor Martinez

Year Age PA AB H 2B 3B HR R RBI BB SO SB HBP Avg OBP SLG OPS wOBA
2011 31 511 462 133 26 2 16 60 74 46 58 0 2 0.287 0.354 0.453 0.808 0.360
2012 32 498 453 129 24 2 15 58 71 43 56 0 2 0.284 0.349 0.445 0.794 0.354
2013 33 479 438 123 22 1 14 55 68 39 54 0 2 0.280 0.342 0.435 0.777 0.347
2014 34 454 418 115 20 1 13 51 63 35 51 0 2 0.275 0.334 0.424 0.757 0.339
2015 35 425 393 106 18 1 12 46 57 30 47 0 2 0.270 0.324 0.410 0.735 0.329
2016 36 390 364 96 16 1 10 41 50 25 43 0 1 0.264 0.314 0.395 0.710 0.318
2017 37 353 331 85 14 1 8 36 43 20 39 0 1 0.258 0.303 0.379 0.682 0.306

Victor’s bat looks to maintain a lot of value from the catcher position for 4-5 years, but his defense is nowhere near Beltre’s. In fact, he’s considered to be in the lowest catcher quartile by most sabermetric measures. Throw in the aches and bruises and stress on his knees if he continues to catch full-time, and he may miss significant time due to injuries, further lowering his value. By age 36, his bat may be something like Jason Varitek’s was at that age.

So am I in favor of re-signing these two key bats? Only if we can stick to a maximum of 4 years for Beltre or 3 years for Martinez. If we miss out on them, it’s certainly possible to replace their production elsewhere in the lineup (LF or 1B should work). We’ll have to see how the market plays out; that’s exactly what Theo Epstein is doing.

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2 Responses to 11-18-2010: Beltre and Martinez projections

  1. Steve says:

    Your analysis is completely skewed by the fact you actually believe these players will decline each season. They could also be hitting all the way through their 4rth, or 5th, season, especially Martinez who is a natural talent with the bat.

    • redsoxtalk says:

      Steve, the numbers I am presenting are not what I think their ACTUAL numbers will be. Considering that there is a huge amount of season to season variation, they may very well overperform or underperform these numbers in any given year. What I am attempting to measure is the change in true talent based on the expected attrition rates around baseball. If you look hard enough, you can always find players who just don’t seem to decline with age. But those guys are the exception and not the rule. For every Mariano Rivera or Jim Thome, there are literally dozens of other players who didn’t play up their level at older ages.

      Catchers, especially, do not hold their value after age 35 unless their last name is Fisk:
      http://bbref.com/pi/shareit/buD2G

      Can you guarantee me (or even give me a high level of confidence) that V-Mart will not decline in performance based on injury or age? What is your reason for believing that, besides Martinez being naturally talented with the bat? If you can’t back up that kind of statement, then it is not wise/responsible to invest in a long-term deal with that player. You don’t just go out and sign the best free agents every year. That kind of logic is how the Yankees of the early 2000s were born.

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