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How much is Pujols worth?

1/28/2011

Ryan Howard signed a new deal worth an average of $25M per year yesterday. The biggest impact on a storyline moving forward from this happening is, of course, what this does to Albert Pujols’ worth on the free agent market.

Braves’ manager Bobby Cox was quoted in the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

With the Philadelphia Phillies signing former MVP Ryan Howard to a whopping $125 million extension Monday, Atlanta manager Bobby Cox didn't take long to consider the deal's ripple effect: How much then is Albert Pujols worth?

"Fifty million dollars a year," he said. "At least."

How much is Pujols really worth? Let’s compare Ryan Howard and Albert Pujols’ numbers over the last four full seasons and try to find out.

WAR is a statistic that encompasses the overall value of a player. Since 2006, here are the WAR values of the 2 sluggers:

RYAN HOWARD vs ALBERT PUJOLS

WAR, last four seasons

So according to this statistic, Pujols has been worth 34.3 wins over replacement players the last four years, while Howard has been worth 19.2. Using this school of thought, Pujols is worth 1.7865 times more than Ryan Howard. If Howard is worth $25M per season, that means Pujols is worth… wait for it…

$44.663M per year.

This was just one way to try to compare the two players. Here’s another way to approach this question.

I’ve taken five offensive statistics that are important to power-hitting first basemen: BA, HR, RBI, OBP, and extra-base hits. Keep in mind this is just one man’s way of trying to figure this out, not some kind of definitive basis for what Pujols should make annually in his next contract.

RYAN HOWARD vs ALBERT PUJOLS

Average Season, 2006-09

So, since 2006, Pujols’ batting average is 57 points higher than Howard, and his on-base percentage is 62 points higher. Albert has just 7 more total extra base hits than Ryan over the last 4 full seasons. Meanwhile, Pujols has fewer home runs and far fewer RBI.

Next, I’ll divide Pujols’ totals by Howard’s during this span to get the percent difference in the two amounts. I’ve rounded the number to the thousandth.

ALBERT PUJOLS vs RYAN HOWARD

Quotient of A. Pujols and R. Howard, 2006-09

I take those five numbers and add them together, and get 5.082. Subtract the 5. This leaves you with a positive difference of 0.082, or 8.2 percent. So, if you value all five of these stats equally, Pujols is worth 8.2 percent more offensively over that time span than Howard. Multiply $25M by 1.082, and you get $27.05M.

The reality is that it’s probably somewhere between the two numbers. There are a number of ways to parse the information, so I submit these two for consideration.