Tuesday, April 10, 2012
With new deals, Kinsler outpaces Phillips
By Justin Havens, ESPN Stats & Info
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
Two of the premier second basemen in baseball have signed contract extensions over the last 24 hours. Late Monday, the Texas Rangers and Ian Kinsler agreed to a multiyear extension. Then, Tuesday afternoon, the long-rumored extension between the Cincinnati Reds and Brandon Phillips came to fruition.
Despite signing similar contract extensions, Ian Kinsler has out produced Brandon Phillips in every season since 2007 by Wins Above Replacement.
Given that both play the same position, are of similar ages and signed deals of both similar value and similar length, a comparison seems natural.
Kinsler’s contract is a five-year, $75 million deal with a sixth-year option. Phillips’ is a six-year, $72.5 million deal. However, both teams functionally have their second basemen under control for at least six years, given that Kinsler’s extension does not kick in until 2013, whereas Phillips’ begins this season.
Even though the two players will be compensated in similar fashion over the next five or six seasons, the quality of their play leading up to the extensions has been of much different quality. While Kinsler may get overshadowed on a star-studded team and Phillips may garner attention for his Twitter and fielding antics, Kinsler is the far superior player.
Kinsler has out produced Phillips in every season since 2007 by WAR. In fact, Kinsler (23.2 WAR) outranks the likes of Robinson Cano (22.6 WAR) and Dan Uggla (13.4 WAR) in terms of production since 2007.
Very few second basemen retain this sort of high-level value deep into their 30’s. Kinsler will be locked up for both his age-34 and 35 seasons (as well as 36 if the option is picked up), while Phillips will be under contract in his age 34-to-36 seasons, also. The number of second basemen since 1900 who have contributed seasons of 3+ WAR at age-34 or older is exclusive and limited to some of the greatest players to play the position in MLB history.
Among second basemen, only Eddie Collins (1921-26), Jeff Kent (2002-07), Charlie Gehringer (1937-40), Lou Whitaker (1991-93) and Joe Morgan (1980-83) have at least three straight seasons of 3+ WAR since 1900. No one else has done it more than twice (Willie Randolph and Eddie Stanky have done it twice). A 3-WAR season already assumes some skill degradation for Kinsler and would actually constitute an improvement for Phillips over the last few seasons. Yet they will be paid as if 3+ WAR is almost assumed.