Pujols' Value, an Illustration
In my last post, I said that Albert Pujols was worth 41 million dollars per season. That is an extraordinary figure, and I don't expect people to accept that without some question. As the free agent season heats up, the biggest contracts are rumored to be the ones Mark Teixiera and C.C. Sabathia will sign, and they will likely be for more than 20 million per season. Johan Santana last year signed for an average value of 23 million per season, with Alex Rodriguez breaking his own record with a 10 year, 275 million deal that will pay him more than 30 million for the 2009-2011 seasons.
So how could Pujols be worth so much more than these other superstars?
If you think Pujols not worth that much, there are many arguments you can make. How can a guy playing a baseball game for half a year be worth so much more than Doctors, let alone teachers or firefighters? Question the amount spent on baseball from a societal viewpoint and I won't disagree with you. Point out that ballplayers are the end recipients of taxpayer subsidized stadiums and you'll have a good point - The owners get the extra ticket money and spend less on construction costs, but they eventually tend to spend all that cash to bring in better players.
But given that the public is willing to spend the amounts of money that they do on baseball as an entertainment, there is no question in my mind that Albert's share, were he not under contract, should be somewhere close to 41 milllion.
What else could you do with 41 million? Why, you could buy yourself a superstar 1st baseman like Mark Teixiera, spending 23 million, and a superstar centerfielder, like Torii Hunter. Arte Moreno bought half that package last year and I think he'd like to keep the other half this offseason.
The guy who spent all the 41 million on Albert would have to settle for replacement level in center field. Replacement level might look something like the awful season Jeff Francoeur put up for the Braves.
Add them up, and your production is almost identical:
Player Tandem AB hits 2b 3b hr bb BA OBP SLG
Mark & Torii 1125 330 78 2 54 147 0.293 0.375 0.510
Albert & Jeff 1123 330 77 3 48 143 0.294 0.374 0.496
Albert Pujols is worth that much money because having him on your team is as good as having two normal superstars.