About 2 months ago, I attempted to evaluate the value provided to the team by the players during the '08 season. I concluded that Pujols and Ludwick (to no one's surprise) were the 2 most valuable players on the team b/c they provided the most production beyond what they were paid by the team. Now, there was a reasonable discussion about my using THT's numbers rather than some other numbers (and thank you fangraphs for now making these numbers much easier to find) but each of them was worth at least $15 M above and beyond their respective salaries.
It's doubtful that Ludwick will be quite so valuable this year. For one thing, he'll be paid a couple million dollars more due to his arbitration-eligibility but it's also likely that his production in '09 won't be quite as good as it was in '08. Pujols, of course, will be tremendously valuable as long as he stays on the field -- particularly since he's signed to a ridiculously low $16 M in '09. As long as he remains on the field, he'll be worth probably twice what he's paid.
I wanted to open up today's post to discuss who you think will be the most valuable Cardinal in 2009. I'm defining "valuable" here not as "best" b/c we simply know that answer and that would create a very boring thread. "Valuable", as I'm defining it here, means production above and beyond what they'll be paid. Sure, Albert will be the team's best player (God help us if he isn't) but he'll also be our most expensive player. While it's tempting for me to go w/ Albert anyway (fangraphs has him worth more than $40 M, while being paid just $15 or so last season), I'm going to go w/ Adam Wainwright this year.
The wagonmaker stands to make just $2.6 M in 2009 and I think he'll be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 wins -- maybe 4.5. That would put his production worth roughly $20 M so his value to the team would be in the vicinity of $17.5 M. Albert may still be worth more but selecting him is too boring.
Honorable mention goes to Chris Perez, who'll earn the minimum and could be worth roughly 3 wins or so. That'd put him at a value to the team of just less than $15 M. So I'm going w/ Wainwright to rebound and have an excellent season while providing tremendous value to the team. Who's your favorite?
BTW, Happy new year to all!