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Monday, February 16, 2004

How Much Better Does A-Rod Make the Yankees? 

Frankly, I don't think that much. Especially if they make him a third baseman. Soriano is one of the two best second basemen in baseball. In Texas, I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts he puts up numbers almost as sick as A-Rod did. Now the Yankees have nobody at second.

Don't get me wrong: A-Rod is better. But how much better? Let's try to be scientific about this. Last year, he led the AL in Win Shares with 32. Soriano was essentially tied for fourth with 27. The previous year, it was A-Rod 35, Soriano 30. So it seems that A-Rod is about five Win Shares better than Soriano. But wait a minute! That's as a shortstop.

In 2002, seven of A-Rod's Win Shares came from the defensive side. In 2003, 6.5 did. As a general rule, shortstops get more opportunities to help win games defensively than third basemen do. So, generally, shortstops get more defensive Win Shares. Now, in order for A-Rod the third baseman to continue to amass the same number of defensive Win Shares as he has the last two years, he would have to instantly be the best defensive third baseman in the world. Even Scott Rolen only had 4 defensive win shares last year. Eric Chavez, a bona-fide wizzard at the hot corner, had the most at the position with 6.4.

Now, who knows? Maybe he will be better than Rolen. He's certainly a better athlete, but I'd say it's unlikely this year. Let's be very charitable and say that A-Rod's unusual athletic ability will make up for some of his lack of 3B experience, and he's almost as good a third baseman next year as Rolen was in 2003. That still means we have to hack off about three Win Shares from his total.

Now the expected difference between A-Rod and Soriano is only TWO Win Shares, and that's a difference of less than one win for the team. Plus, whoever they put at second will be worth significantly less than Aaron Boone was at third. So, by my count, the Yankees are STILL a worse team than they were the day before Boone tried that 360 dunk.

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