This bit of research was prompted by fellow blogger Antone, over at AllHipHopSports.com, in an article that (correctly) shows that Matt Kemp got absolutely jobbed out of a spot in the allstar game, first with less valuable OF Carlos Beltran being elected over him, then Victorino as well, and finally Charlie Manuel using his managerial decision to choose one of his own (decidedly unworthy) players--Jason Werth.
Looking at the total value list on fangraphs, for which the derivations are explained in depth in the Fangraphs glossary, I wondered how the Yankees have done. For all the resources wielded by the Evil Empire and those Beaneaters over in Boston, just one player makes a showing on the top 10 list--and it's not who you think. No, not Mark Teixeira or Alex Rodriguez, not Johnny Damon (having his best season yet) either.
It's Derek Jeter, clocking in at $15.6 million in value so far this year, good for 8th on the list. Read that again....in half of this season, Derek Jeter has been worth $15.6 million in production to the Yankees. Now, just by being a shortstop, Jeter gets a boost--3.4 win shares. In comparison, Albert Pujols (unsurprisingly leading the major leagues in value) takes a bath in win shares, losing 6.6 just for being a first baseman. Jeter's value is almost entirely locked up in his offensive abilities--he has 18.4 offensive win shares this year, in comparison to 0.2 defensive win shares. But just by being average defensively, Jeter is adding more defensive value than he has in the past. Between 2005 and 2008, Jeter was worth -36.9 win shares (though last year he was surprisingly average as well, only losing 0.5 win shares defensively).
Jeter's contract is often raised as an example of the excesses of Yankee financial might. People justify his massive contract through his leadership, his conduct, his intangibles. But this year, Jeter is doing it on his own, on pace to be a downright bargain (and this is completely separate from the money the team makes on Jeter memorabilia, or the tickets sold to fans who come to the games to see him). Now, he's probably not going to end the year worth $30 million to the team, mostly because his defense is likely to tick downward, and his slash line against lefties isn't going to remain .460/.535/.667 . But unless he falls off a cliff, the Yankees captain will be well worth his contract this year on pure performance, and that's going to make it extremely difficult for the Yankees come contract time with Jeter, who will be able to both raise his image as Yankee icon, and his performance as Yankee player, when making his demands.
Derek Jeter $15.6 million
Mark Teixeira $11.2 million
Robinson Cano $9.8 million
Alex Rodriguez $9.3 million
Jorge Posada $9.2 million
Brett Gardner $9.2 million (wow!)
Johnny Damon $7.7 million
Nick Swisher $6.6 million
Hideki Matsui $5.3 million
Melky Cabrera $4.3 million (note how low he is relative to Gardner...)
Ramiro Pena $1.3 million
Jose Molina $1.2 million
Francisco Cervelli $0.1 million
Cody Ransom -$2.0 million
Angel Berroa -$2.3 million
Your humble author is one who has been open about his desire to see Derek Jeter move from shortstop to a more suitable position--maybe center field, maybe 2B in a swap with Robinson Cano. Today, I am fairly happy to sit back and marvel at the player that Jeter is. How lucky we are to have had him for so long. This is going to make Brian Cashman's life very hard when decisions on what to do about Cap'n Jetes come around a few short years from now.
A look at the pitching through a similar lens to follow later.