Adam Russell and a Staggering Financial Stat

I look in a lot of different places to find article ideas, and sometimes, when I write quite a bit (like I have lately) I find myself struggling to come up with topics. Writing about the Padres, I only have so much to work with, after all.

So, this morning, I was browsing the WAR stats for the Padres over at Fangraphs. I noticed that David Eckstein and Adrian Gonzalez crossed the 1 WAR line with their strong performances yesterday, but I’d already mentioned their value recently, so there was no point in writing another post on it. I then looked at pitchers and saw nobody had crossed 1 WAR. Wade LeBlanc and Clayton Richard (0.8) are closest.

So, none of that was helpful (but now you know, haha).

Before I went on to look for something else, a thought popped into my head: How much WAR does Adam Russell’s 4 1/3 hitless innings accumulate? It would be interesting to see how a great performance over a very small stretch would translate to WAR.

Russell’s WAR, it turns out, is 0.1. Not interesting.

What is interesting is that those 4 1/3 innings make Russell “worth” approximately $400,000 this season.


(If you’re reading this article on the Chicken Friars homepage, click “Continue Reading” for the rest of the entry).

Look, I’m as flabbergasted by the ridiculous salaries in sports as the next guy. But I think in a sense, we’ve all seen so many 5 year, $80 million contracts that we’re just numb to what that means. Even with A-Rod’s contract and other huge ones, we go “Yep, figures.”

But, man, 4 1/3 hitless innings of relief (with 5 K and 1 BB) is worth $400,000 dollars? That’s what this means?

What’s really significant about this in terms of baseball (rather than shock value) is that it really highlights the discrepancy between open-market pay and team-control pay, particularly pre-arbitration. Adam Russell earns basically the minimum salary–around $400,000.

He’s thrown just 4 1/3 innings, and he’s already deserved a full year’s paycheck.

The amount of extra value teams get out of team-controlled players is staggering. Wade LeBlanc, for example, has already been worth $3.4 million–a cool $3 million over his actual pay. And it’s mid-May. LeBlanc could turn into a pumpkin and still provide a couple extra million to the Padres.

Even more staggering? Kyle Blanks has already been worth the $400,000 he makes.

I can keep going at this. Lance Zawadzki is already worth $300,000 after going 2-for-11 with a double in six games.

…At that, I’m going to guess my point is made. These numbers really underscore how dramatic a profit teams make on players in their first couple of years. It’s why those guys are a bigtime commodity the Padres and other budget-conscious teams should look to get more of.

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Tags: Adam Russell Kyle Blanks Lance Zawadzki San Diego Padres Wade LeBlanc

  • john thompson

    Wrong…when a player is optioned back to the minors, his salary drops to a fraction of the major league minimum. If you factor in the need to maintain multiple residences and the emotional/financial/fatigue elements of going up and down the WAR # (as adjusted to correct your misinformation), becomes less significant.

    • Nathaniel Stoltz

      No, it only makes the difference more staggering.

      Russell’s performance is already “worth” 400,000 in market value, yet he only got paid a fraction of that, is now back in the minors, and has to deal with said fatigue. He’s not even going to get that 400,000 this year.

      This also doesn’t apply to people like LeBlanc, who’s going to be paid several million less than he’s worth, and almost certainly stay up in the bigs this year.