I've been meaning to post this since getting the Hardball Times Annual. Dave Studenmund writes an article on Net Win Shares Value.
Calculate the anticipated performance of a player based on his salary and classification (free agent, arbitration eligible, pre-arbitration). Compare that to the actual performance and multiply the difference by the amount paid per Win Share Above Bench for all players. Example: David Ortiz made 6.9M in 06, and was classified as a free agent. Free agents made 1.45M per WSAB they produced, so Ortiz's anticipated WSAB was 4.5. He actually produced 20 WSAB. Multiply the difference (15.5) by the amount paid per WSAB last year ($832k) and you get Ortiz's Net Win Share Value (WS$): 12.9M.
(Note: for 1 WSAB a player produced, teams paid: $17,907 for pre arbitration players, $788,155 for arbitration eligible, and $1,452,474 for free agents, for an average of $832,195)
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So you get a dollar figure of how much value a player produced for their club. Miguel Cabrera was the biggest value last year. His salary was 472k and his WS$ was 17.12M. As you can imagine a lot of pre-arbitration players top the list (Mauer, Wright, Howard), but value can be found among free agents. Carlos Beltran, despite a salary of 13.5M produced WS$14.49. Frank Thomas cost 500k as a free agent and produced WS$11.83. Travis Hafner was the top arbitration eligible player with a salary of 2.5M and a WS$12M.
Players can produce negative WS$. Mark Mulder had a salary of $7.75M and a WS$ of -9.9M, meaning the Cardinals would have had to spend that much on average to make up for the crappy performance Mulder gave them.
Gradually getting to my point, you can add up a team's players and get the Net Win Share Value of a team, showing which teams got the most bang for their buck. I'm going to try to make this understandable without copying the whole chart from the book.
The team with the highest NWSV was Minnesota at $61,844. Florida was second at $59,432. The last place team was the Cubs at -$23,853 followed by the Yankees at -$9,259.
The Reds finished a respectable 11th with $27,065, but you can further break it down by player type: $7,495 from pre-arbitration players, $19,476 from arbitration eligible players, and $95 from free agents.
That 95 dollar figure from free agents isn't bad. Many teams ended up with negative values from their free agents. What is really bad is the $7,495 from pre-arb players. They only teams to do worse in this respect were the White Sox ($5,680), Baltimore ($3,725), the Cubs ($982) and Tampa Bay ((-935).
So to summarize the findings, the Reds got very little value from young cheap players in '06, finishing among the worst in the league in that regard. As a small market team this is a concern.
If this sounds like, "The Reds won't win unless they do better in some obscure, abstract stat" then I sympathize. To bring it into the real world it's about playing the Jeff Conines and Rheal Cormiers rather than players who make the minimum and could surprise.