More and more, I’m seeing talk of Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays being traded to another MLB club due to declining abilities.
If you look at things statistically, such talk is balderdash…for now.
When I watch the Rays, I usually have the computer on playing a simulation called Out Of The Park Baseball, which I have talked about before. To analogize OOTP wouldn’t be fair to it really, but let me attempt it. It is basically the history of baseball on a giant spreadsheet with infinite ways to modify it.
Playing OOTP, for me the key statistic to look at is called WAR, which is short of Wins Above Replacement. When I play the sim against the computer, I look at players below 0 in WAR once the season is at least 25% over with, and I trade only those people during the course of the season. A good GM in OOTP and in MLB strives to find players who can give them an upgrade in WAR, and players who are cost effective to acquire based on WAR. For example, if a player has a 5 WAR rating makes $25-million a year, and if another player has a 3 WAR making $7-million a year, it is more cost effective to take the latter player when available. You want good players at good bargain prices.
During the past two seasons, Evan’s WAR slipped from 6.2 playing 160 games in 2013 to 3.3 playing all 162 games in 2014. He has a 2.5 rating playing 93 of the team’s 95 games so far, so that projects to 4.3 if he plays every game the rest of the year if his stats continue as they have.
While Longoria’s stats are improving from last year in terms of WAR, people forget that he made $6-million two years ago when his WAR was at 6.3. He makes $11-million this season, so if his 4.3 WAR stat for this year verifies, he becomes nearly three times less cost effective as he was two seasons ago if you divide his salary by his WAR.
Should the Rays get rid of Evan now? NO. Who are the Rays going to get a third to replace him at his caliber under Tampa Bay’s present economic conditions?
Should the Rays consider it once the season ends? YES. The off-season will give them a lot more time to mull things over, whereas the rush to the trade deadline at the end of this month might trigger a bad decision.