Drew vs. Sexson

JMB · December 21, 2004 at 10:44 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Excuse me while I hop back on the “Sexson contract bad!” soapbox.

ESPN is reporting that the Dodgers have agreed to a deal with JD Drew worth $55M over 5 years. If you recall, the M’s signed Richie Sexson to a deal worth $50M over 4 years.

Not only is Drew a better hitter, he plays a more important position. He’s also left-handed, which this team needs desperately.

I hear some of you out there screaming, “But he’s so injury prone!” and yeah, maybe he is. I’ll bet you his shoulder doesn’t fall off, though, which might be more than we can say for Sexson.


125 Responses to “Drew vs. Sexson”

  1. Tim on December 22nd, 2004 2:04 pm

    #82 – DMZ

    All I could find was the following from Howard Lincoln, “It was important to get a player of that caliber to come here,” he said. “I don’t think we would have gotten Beltre without signing Sexson first.”

    Now, he could be blowing smoke in an effort to justify the signing, but I’m taking it at face value that we needed a Sexson before we got a Beltre. I can’t find anything from Beltre’s mouth and I can’t find anything from Boras. Anyone else remember something similar from Boras?

    Here’s the reference to the Lincoln article I quoted.


  2. devil's advocate on December 22nd, 2004 2:51 pm

    That is just silly.

    Yeah, I know. But I’m trying to counter what I see as silly pie-eyed optimism regarding Sexson. I guess it probably comes across as me being a wet blanket… which I don’t want to be, I love this team as much as anybody else who’s wasting their time posting messages on this board. I just really don’t like Sexson. Can I apologize for being a downer, and keep on doing it at the same time? To wit…

    Sexson is one of the top 5 first basemen in baseball.

    Picking one measure of production, VORP, Sexson has had 1 (one) season in which he was among the top 5 first basemen in baseball. That was 2003, and it was before he missed an entire season with a destroyed shoulder.

  3. DMZ on December 22nd, 2004 3:02 pm

    On Sexson-to-get-Beltre: if you believe that the M’s needed to land a big free agent to get Beltre to consider Seattle as a real possibility, then that’s one thing. Without talking to Beltre, I can’t say for sure, and I haven’t. Set that aside for a second, though —

    Did it have to be Sexson and only Sexson? Could it perhaps have been another contract? Would Beltre have gone to the Dodgers for less money and fewer years in the abscence of a splash signing? Or would he still be out hemming and hawing over the negotiations?

    It’s true — we don’t and won’t ever know what really went into Beltre’s decision. But I have a hard time believing that he signed because the Sexson deal went through, and in that case that he would not have signed for, say, Drew. Or Delgado. Or… Clement.

  4. DMZ on December 22nd, 2004 3:06 pm

    Top 5 first basemen… I don’t know if it’s that clear-cut. There’s a couple of guys at the top: Pujols and Helton. Then Thome, you probably put Konerko and Delgado in there, but it’s not that far off if you’re considering total contribution to get to any of Sexson’s full-time seasons.

  5. Jeff on December 22nd, 2004 3:12 pm

    Re: Sexson vs. Thome vs. Branyan

    Figured I may as well look up the numbers.

    The difference between Thome and Sexson is about 50 walks. But thats also 50 less at bats and 50 less outs. Which gives Thome a 100-point bonus in career OPS (.979 vs .877).

    Branyan’s career OPS is less than 100 points less than Sexson’s (.797 vs .877). If Branyan’s not your cup of tea, how about Hillenbrand (.770) or Hatteberg (.771)?

    Now, those are just career OPS with no adjustments or predictions. But for his career, Sexson’s about as far from Thome as he is from Hillenbrand or Hatteberg.

  6. misterjonez on December 22nd, 2004 4:56 pm

    I wouldn’t necessarily say that Sexson is top 5, but there’s not much arguing that he’s top 10. And while that isn’t that much of a title, it’s a heckuva lot better than we’ve gotten from 1B in recent years. Look at it this way…

    We had Olerud for what, $7 million per season? He was basically a patient, medium power hitter who kept his average around .300 and had a high OBP (.390?) while he was here and performing. Sexson isn’t gonna hit .300, but his defensive contributions should at least be ‘comparable’ to Olerud, with Olerud winning the argument in the end IMHO.

    That leaves offense, and I guess it comes to how you value offensive stats. While Olerud was good at getting on base, he really wasn’t a power threat. Sexson is one of the guys that, when healthy, is pretty much a 40 HR guy. This comes with some massive K’s, but I can live with K’s if it comes in a package that can hit 40 HR and fight for a gold glove at 1B.

    I don’t think anyone on this board (or any other board, other than maybe one that is owned by a Sexson relative) believes that Sexson is worth $12.5 million per season. So let’s call it a bad signing, but a good player. It’s not as if we absolutely WASTED $4 million per season for the next four years on Christian Guzman. Let’s keep a little perspective;)

  7. NBarnes on December 22nd, 2004 5:13 pm

    1) Sexson is not ‘fantastic’ or ‘great’. Sexson, the good Sexson from 2001 or 2003, is merely good at best. The Sexson from 1999, 2000, or 2001 are completely replacable, with lines impressive only to those that don’t realize that first basemen that can hit .260 .350 .500 grow on bloody trees and are free for the picking.

    2) Sexson in no way compares to Jim Thome, who is a vastly superior hitter (and my personal incarnation of what a first baseman should hit like; I’m a Thome booster). In the more general case, this is an extension of 1); Sexson isn’t that good, and there are a lot of players that can give you production near or equal to his at a vastly reduced price.

    3) DMZ’s point that Drew’s injuries are less likely to cause him to be a complete loss than Sexson’s is an important one and one that’s been trying to evolve in my brain as well. Drew has shown that he still plays when he’s hurt, and that his fragility doesn’t keep him from hitting well and playing good defense. Sexson… hasn’t shown anything about his injury, and if he tears his arm off again in the third game of next season, that might be the time that just does it, period, and he retires. It’s not necesarily likely, but it’s possible, and we shouldn’t be taking that risk.

    4) J.R., just give up on RBIs. Really. Trust us. The arguments against them are freely available, and I won’t waste more breath here repeating them.

    5) Jerry, I didn’t say that Sexson has a 1 in 20 chance of returning from injury. I said he had a 1 in 20 chance of hitting 45 HRs next year, something that in his five complete seasons he did twice, right on the nose, in a much less right-handed-hitter unfriendly ballpark, with all of his left shoulder on the inside. It’s a SWAG (Scientific Wild Ass Guess), but I doubt I’m far wrong; it seems very unlikely to me that Sexson will match his career highs at age 30, in a new league, in a righty-unfriendly ballpark, after an injury that tends to impact a hitter’s power output. I don’t have a scientific way of predicting the future, and I don’t have BP access to cite Sexson’s PECOTA prediction. I would be stunned and amazed if PECOTA pegged Sexson’s 50% at or above 45 HR.

    6) Jerry, redux: I think that it’s very likely that next year, Pedro Martinez will be worth more wins to the Mets than Sexson will be worth to the Ms. This is not to say that I think the Mets’ contract with Martinez is a good one; in fact, I think it’s awful. That I think it’s better than our contract with Sexson should indicate how bad I think our contract with Sexson is. Remember, power-hitting low-tools-count first baseman are fungible. Really, really, really good pitchers (even if they’re only that good for six innings every sixth day) are not fungible. If you’re going to overpay, overpay for the guy that’s hard to replace. Ideally, of course, don’t overpay for either.

  8. Jim on December 22nd, 2004 5:23 pm

    Looking at games played for Drew isn’t very useful. Obviously, his broken hand is not likely to repeat, and he was part of a platoon for a couple of years in StL, IIRC

  9. NBarnes on December 22nd, 2004 5:24 pm

    *cough* New game: Contracts signed this year that are better than our contract with Sexson? 😉

    I’d rather have our deal with Sexson than the Angels’ 4 year, $32 million contract with Orlando Cabrera. I probably like it better than the 4 years, $40 million Edgar Renteria got from the Red Sox (and me a Sox fan. *sob*). I like it way better than the $21 million Jaret Wright is getting from the Yankees to hold his arm on with spit and bailing wire and throw for them.

  10. ChickenLittle on December 22nd, 2004 6:36 pm

    Hmmmmmmmmm……Richie Sexson has been successful for several years, while JD Drew has ONE good season. Drew has yet to top 40 HR in a season, and until last year, hadn’t topped 30.

    You keep justifying your position, Dave. You keep trying to prove how smart you are. Here’s a clue…..you aren’t any smarter than the next guy, you just have a blog to state it on.

    Baseball’s easy when you come at it from a “rotoworld” mentality. It’s STILL not played on paper.

  11. Jim on December 22nd, 2004 7:25 pm

    Well, ChickenLittle, based on your post I think Dave just proved that he is smarter than at least you.

  12. Dave on December 22nd, 2004 7:35 pm

    Justifying my position? In this thread, I’ve stated:

    1. That I don’t particularly like either contract, though I’d prefer Drew to Sexson. If given the choice, though, I’d rather have neither player at his current rate of salary.

    2. That the Mariners offer to Beltre was the best on the table when he signed.

    3. That the Mariners team doctors have a poor track record.

    I personally don’t see how you could construe any of thsoe comments as “justifying my position” (have I even taken one?) or trying to prove I’m smarter than anyone else.

    And, to respond to your point, which of the following seasons of Drew’s career would you consider “not good”?

    1999: 430 plate appearances, 92 OPS+
    2000: 486 plate apperances, 122 OPS+
    2001: 443 plate appearances, 162 OPS+
    2002: 496 plate appearances, 110 OPS+
    2003: 328 plate appearances, 133 OPS+
    2004: 645 plate appearances, 158 OPS+

    He’s been a significantly above average hitter five years in a row. He’s played at an MVP level twice, and an all-star level four times. It’s pretty clear that Drew has had more than “one good year”.

  13. J.R. on December 22nd, 2004 10:21 pm

    “4) J.R., just give up on RBIs. Really. Trust us. The arguments against them are freely available, and I won’t waste more breath here repeating them.”

    NBarnes, First off, don’t talk down to me.

    The thing is you are argueing against using them to judge player performance, in which case you are right, but my point is that there is more to what a player is worth then his OBP. RBI’s do equal runs, thats what they are, you can not argue with that. If a player bats .345 and hits in 72 RBIs, his bat has only contributed 72 runs to the team. If a player bats .270 and hits in 130 RBI’s he is a more valuable player to that team. Granted if the team in front of him was a difrent team, he may have only batted in 60 RBIs, but that is not the point, to that particular team he is more valuable then the first player. So in judgeing Sexsons performance basing it on previsous years RBI’s all you are judging is how he did surrounded by a completely difrent group of players then he will be surrounded by in Seattle. Thats my point. Get off your high horse.

  14. AK1984 on December 23rd, 2004 4:47 am

    Richie Sexson is to the Mariners as to what Danny Fortson is to the Sonics, which means: They are both overpaid, yet nevertheless servicable.

  15. devil's advocate on December 23rd, 2004 10:23 am

    #113 – what if your ficticious .270/130 RBI player is followed in the lineup by the other guy who batted .345 with 72 RBI? who is more valuable? with that higher BA, the .345 hitter would have made fewer outs and therefore probably knocked in more than 130; the only reason he’s got fewer RBI is his spot in the lineup.

    that’s just an example of why RBI are not a good indicator of value.

  16. topher on December 23rd, 2004 10:49 am

    Hey guys. First post on the USS. Great commentary in general. It’s a pleasure to read and usually my main source for M’s news. Without meaning to talk down to anyone, I have to agree with Nbarnes at #107 regarding RBIs being close to meaningless b/c different players have such different levels of opportunity to drive in runs. BA with RISP is better and OPS with RISP better still. The analogy to the uselessness of W-L for pitchers is about dead on. I think people tend to keep using it b/c it’s so widely disseminated in the mainstream (often idiotic) press. It’s as if a technology section in a paper expounded on the utility of a teletype machine (archaic since maybe the 80s). If the mainstream press paid much attention to relevant stats, we probably wouldn’t flock to blogs as much (Give em hell, Dave! Oh, and congrats).

    Re. Todd Helton. Helton, IMO, has been consistently overrated for his career b/c of his gaudy mile high numbers. His career home OPS, for example is a crazy 1.170 but his career road OPS is .920. Still very good, but not MVP numbers for a 1st baseman – and a whopping .250 lower than at home. Pujols, by comparison has career H/A OPS of 1.047/1.027 and Thome has 1.018/.941. Delgado is close behind at .985/.913.

    Just for fun, let me add that Sexson’s at .908/.846, and J.D. Drew’s
    at .918/.891. Obviously, this is just a back of the envelope type of analysis, ignoring age of player, recent performance etc. Beltre, for example, is at .735/.848, masking his recent studliness (.982/1.049 in 2003) – but showing his handicap at Dodger stadium. And even Helton has gotten much better at hitting on the road, going 1.183/.991 last year.

    My point is that it’s always bugged me that Helton is muttered in the same breath as Pujols, when his road numbers show him to be just ahead of Delgago and just below Thome. I don’t have time now to do a more thorough analysis, but I do think H/A OPS is an oft underlooked indicator of the value a player will bring to a different team.

    Thanks for the opportunity to contribute!

  17. topher on December 23rd, 2004 10:52 am

    Oops, I mean “Give’m hell, Derek!”

  18. J.R. on December 23rd, 2004 11:07 am

    “….the only reason he’s got fewer RBI is his spot in the lineup.”

    Number 115, I agree, as the individual value of that player, the player that batted .345 is a better palyer, but the player that batted in the more RBI’s has made a greater contrabution to that particular team as far as winning games by scoreing runs, and whoever set up that line up should get shot.

  19. J.R. on December 23rd, 2004 11:09 am

    Just for the record, I agree, RBI’s are a terable way to evaluate a player, but they are not a bad way to evaluate in retrospective, how well that player fit into his spot on that particular team.

  20. Dave on December 23rd, 2004 11:25 am


    In essence, you’re somewhat correct, but I think you’re missing the point. Huge RBI totals generally correlate well with good performance. It’s pretty darn hard to drive in 140 runs and suck. RBI’s can be used as a meta-proxy for player valuation in retrospect and generally be okay.

    However, they’re basically outdated. What do they offer that other statistics don’t? What does RBI tell us that BA/OBP/SLG/AB with RISP doesn’t? And, using rate stats gives us the bonus of knowing how to seperate the player’s performance from the opportunities he was given. Obviously, a guy who drives in 2 runs in 20 at-bats with RISP isn’t as valuable as a guy who drives in 2 runs in his only at-bat with RISP. RBIs cannot adjust for that.

    Using RBIs is like riding a bike to work. It’ll head you in the right direction, but it will take you quite a while to get there. And those people in their fancy cars will get there a lot quicker than you will.

  21. eponymous coward on December 23rd, 2004 11:50 am

    We’ve never really argued that Ibanez’s contract is a disaster, only that it was too rich for too long, given the others being signed at the time – which I think is still a fair criticism.

    Franklin’s contract was too rich when they signed it, and remains so.

    Compare Ryan Franklin’s deal to Kris Benson’s or Glendon’s Rusch’s and tell me that. Or several of the Giant signings (Vizquel, Matheny) for Ibanez.

    Not that being LESS stupid is an excuse for being stupid (I, too, think Franklin is pretty close to being a poster child for replacement-level talent- the only thing I think you can argue for him is he’s got zero injury history and he has a rubber arm that lets you use him in the pen and in the rotation- and Ibanez shouldn’t have gotten his 3 year deal when you could have had Jose Cruz Jr. for cheaper and less), but in light of THIS year’s free agent craziness, those 3 contracts aren’t quite the anchors I thought they might be for moving them.

    Which means I’ve fervently praying we DO get a chance to move one or more of them, since in at least 2 of the cases (Winn and Ibanez), there’s only one way they are likely to go in value, and it ain’t up. Franklin might be a little harder, but someone might want a back-end starter at 1.75 million who never gets injured and can do 200 IP/4.50 ERA (which is what you get if you average 2003 and 2004).

  22. Jeff on December 23rd, 2004 5:38 pm

    “And those people in their fancy cars will get there a lot quicker than you will.”

    Unless they’re stuck behind Buster Olney’s Productive Outs-mobile.

  23. Jerry on December 23rd, 2004 8:17 pm

    The one thing about RBI is that it tells you how much a player has contributed to driving in runs. And the Drew/Sexson comparison is also useful here. Rate stats are nice to look at how a player is progressing, and to project how they might play in the future. RBI are highly dependent on who is hitting in front of a player, and, to a lesser extent, who is hitting behind him.

    However, you will notice that Drew has very impressive rate statistics, but less impressive cumulative stats (HRs, RBI, ect). Thus, the numbers that Dave posted above, in arguing that Drew has been good for more than one season based on rate stats, hides the fact that he was usually missing about 1/4 to 1/3 of the season in each of those years. As an extreme contrast, Miguel Tejada, who didn’t have as impressive rate stats, drove in 150 runs. He was the center of the Orioles offense and had an incredible year that would be undervalued by looking just at his OPS.

    I don’t want to say that RBI are the best stat out there. They clearly aren’t. But it is silly to say that ‘stat X is useless, stop using it’. Why limit yourself to one stat? With RBI, if a guy drives in 125 runs, he is doing something right. The reason why stat sheets have so many stats is because each tells you something. OPS is probably the best for getting a good idea of a hitters overall ability, but even that can be misleading (see Miguel Tejada).

  24. Jerry on December 23rd, 2004 8:33 pm


    One more thing. You are entitled to think whatever you want to think. However, your post is really just opinions, like how you ‘think’ that Pedro was a better signing than Sexson. Its just your opinion, and it is really beyond the realm of debate. However, the argument that Sexson is more like Branyan than the better first basemen out there is easily refutable. Branyan can’t even get a starting job. He is a perfect example of a AAAA organizational player.

    Regarding Jeff’s comments, using career OPS is really misleading, especially when comparing Sexson and Thome. Thome has played a lot of years, including most of his prime years of production. That will naturally drive up his career stats. When you include a guy’s 26-34 seasons, it will make his numbers from earlier in his career have a lesser effect on career numbers. With Sexson, you are missing 5 of his best years (at least, I hope he will have some of his best seasons between 29-34). Perhaps not his peak seaons, but better than his first 1-2 years in the league.

    It is more informative to look at his last few years. This, again, is an example of how you have to understand the context of stats and not just the figures. Beltre also illustrates this: his career stats are going to look bad, and will lead you to undervalue his ability to help a team unless you know more about him.

  25. topher on December 24th, 2004 1:40 am


    Did you mean my comments about career OPS? If so, I completely agree that it can be misleading (as I think I said). I just didn’t have time this morning for a more in-depth analysis. Anyway, the comment was regarding Helton being overrated for most all of his career.