Quick disclaimer: I think Alex Rodriguez is overrated, over paid, doesn’t show up in the clutch, and is a whiner. Ok with that out of the way, many people consider A-Rod (silly nickname) the best baseball player in the league, a sure-fire hall-of-famer, and destined to rewrite the record books. Back in 2003, the New York Yankees traded Alfonso Soriano for Alex Rodriguez. I thought the move was silly and didn’t make sense. Soriano made less and offered similar production. Not to mention, the Yankees already had Derek Jeter at shortstop. Well the Yankees didn’t call me up for my opinion and as such they’ve been “stuck” with A-Rod for the last 5 seasons. During those 5 seasons the Yankees haven’t won a World Series, but the Boston Red Sox have won 2. Just saying.
Ok, well I’m a data driven guy. I love data. With Soriano and the Chicago Cubs seemingly headed to the World Series (wouldn’t it be great if they won) it got me thinking about Soriano and Rodriguez. I pulled the stats and I was flabbergasted. For the purposes of streamlining this comparison, we’re going to look at the following statistical categories: Salary, Games, Hits, Runs, Stolen Bases, RBI, Home Runs, Batting Average, OPS, and World Series titles. Check this out:
- Salary: A-Rod $120,389,252 (AVG of $24,077,850) vs. Soriano $46,900,000 (AVG of $9,380,000)
- Games: A-Rod 743 vs. Soriano 681
- Hits: A-Rod 845 vs. Soriano 799
- Runs: A-Rod 578 vs. Soriano 461
- Stolen Bases: A-Rod 104 vs. Soriano 125
- RBI: A-Rod 592 vs. Soriano 423
- Home Runs: A-Rod 201 vs. Soriano 166
- Batting AVG: A-Rod .304 vs. Soriano .284
- OPS: A-Rod .975 vs. Sorano .867
- World Series Titles: A-Rod 0 vs. Soriano 0
- A-Rod made nearly 3X as much as Soriano did from 2004 – 2008
- A-Rod has played in 62 more games
- On the whole A-Rod’s raw stats are better than Soriano’s with the exception of stolen bases
- Neither player has produced a title
So on the surface, A-Rod seems like the better performer. If your course correct for the games played differential, the numbers get within +/- 10% of each other. For example Soriano averages 1 home run every 4.10 games. If you scale out the home runs for Soriano to the same 743 games A-Rod has played you’d end up with 181 home runs. Fascinating.
The real question though should be, “Is Alex Rodriguez worth 156.69% more (that’s the salary differential) then Soriano?” If we assume the goal for the Yankees, as it is every year, is a World Series, then no. But, let’s be serious, no one wins the World Series every year. So let’s find a way to normalize the player’s value. Thank god for win shares. During the time period we are evaluating, Soriano had 98 win shares, while A-Rod had 151 win shares.
According to the win shares formula, A-Rod produced 53 more win shares. Based on the formula, 53 win shares, means A-Rod generated 17.67 more wins over those 5 seasons. As a percentage he was 153% better than Soriano. This is where the surprise came in. Even though the raw numbers don’t seem to indicate A-Rod was worth 156.69% more money, his win shares seem to indicate he is.
For what it’s worth, I’d argue the Yankees would have been better off keeping Soriano and filling the third base hole with someone else. But, that’s just me 🙂