MLB Bidding War – Is it Worth it?

Posted: December 21, 2011 in Bunker
Tags: , , ,

Major League Baseball teams engage in an annual bidding war for the new Asian flavor of the month. Every year brings about a new can’t miss Asian superstar that will change the face of baseball. These superstars have one great year, fade away and the teams are stuck paying these average players huge salaries. None of these players have won a cy Young and only one player has won the MVP. Yet they are paid on the same level as some of the best pitchers and hitters in baseball, while producing pedestrian statistics at best. I have nothing against recruiting Asian players from overseas, but to bid on these players as if they are top-tier major league talents. They have time and time again historically failed. With an exception: Ichiro Suzuki. I will argue even the was grossly overpaid given his production.

Let’s take a look at some of the examples of the most publicized players from the Pacific who have come over to the MLB.

Hideo Nomo (arguable the best pitcher ever to come over)

Career ERA – 4.24.
Winning Percentage – 53%
Average Innings – 150
Average Starts – 23

So at best we are talking about a guy who will win you maybe 10 games and whose skills significantly diminished after teams got used to his awkward motion. The Dodgers paid him over $27,000,000 in the 90s for that production. Was it really worth it? In the season in which he made $9 million at the age of 35, Nomo was 4-11 with an ERA over 8.25.

Ichiro Suzuki (best hitter to come over)

Career Batting Average: .326
Hit Total: 2428
HR Total: 95
Stolen Bases: 423

In over 11 season Ichiro has been paid about $130 million dollars. In those 11 years, Ichiro has picked up 2 batting titles, 10 Gold Gloves, won a league MVP, lead the league in hits 7 times and lead the league in steals once. For all this, all the Mariners have to show for it is a disappointing loss to the New York Yankees in the ALCS in 2001 and have not sniffed the playoffs since. Again $130 million on your best player, only to get singles hitter, who, for all his speed is very conservative about stealing bases. For all his speed, couldn’t play center field.

Hideki Irabu (RIP)

Career ERA: 5.15

Enough said. Besides the fact he only had 80 starts over a 6 year short lived career and won less than half his games, he was called a “Fat pussy toad”  by his Boss.

Dice-K Matsuzaka

Career ERA – 4.25

Dice K is the prime example of how a bidding war can go terribly wrong. The Red Sox won the bidding war for Matsuzaka’s rights to a tune of $51 million. He was a sure thing. 7 pitches, including the famed GYROBALL . In his first two years Dice K won 33 games. Since then only 16 games over the next three seasons. $51 million and doesn’t seem like he’s even close to being a starter anymore.
Now we’re onto a new phenomenon! Yu Darvish. And the Rangers have won the sweepstakes on the new can’t miss Japanese player. The posting bid was $51.7 million. It is estimated that the total investment will be a little over 9 figures. $100,000,000!

Am I the only one who thinks that some of these players are just not worth that much money? When will GMs be willing to look passed the hype and look at the history of the productivity. In other sports they have realized that certain fads just don’t translate (the “mobile QB”, who isn’t a pocket passer in the NFL and the 7’4 + Centers who have 0 body weight in the NFL.), somehow baseball GMs haven’t caught on yet.

Here’s to 9 figures to two years of a real ROI. [Return on Investment]

  1. Where is Matsui Mr. Bronx Bomber? Also, having the HR statistic for a leadoff hitter like Ichiro is like putting up 3-pt % for Tim Duncan…kinda useless.

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