Evidenced by Shin-Soo Choo's big contract, players who can get on base and score runs are valued as much as power hitters in modern baseball.
As was reported earlier today by Bob Nightengale of USA Today, free-agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo has agreed to sign a seven-year, $130 million deal with the Texas Rangers. There's no doubt that Choo's value comes from his ability to get on base, so the big contract for a player without gaudy power numbers is unusual.
Based on the Moneyball philosophy, Choo is theoretically worth the money, but isn't the entire point of the Moneyball philosophy that you don't have to spend a lot of cash to get underrated production? A deeper look into Choo's 2013 numbers can shed some light on whether or not he deserves the mega contract that he received.
Choo's 2013 Stats (via Baseball Reference):
.285/.423/.885 with 21 home runs and 54 RBIs, 107 runs and 20 steals.
Certainly the fact that Choo does everything pretty well contributed to the fact that he got such a big deal. Basically, you're not going to see a guy get almost $20 million annually for hitting 21 home runs. By the same coin, a player isn't going to get a big contract for hitting .285 or stealing 20 bases.
However, when you group Choo's slightly above-average power with his ability to get on base, steal bases and score runs, he's worth the money that he got.
The real question is whether or not Choo can perform through his entire contract. He will be 38 by the end of his deal and his legs are going to be starting to go by then. Obviously, that takes away a major part of his value. Clearly, though, as shown by huge contracts given to 30-somethings such as Albert Pujols and Robinson Cano, teams are willing to pay more later to win now.
In the end, a player is worth as much as he can command on the open market and Choo majorly cashed in today. This contract for a player whose bread and butter is getting on base and scoring runs is a testament to the changing nature of team-building philosophy.
Perhaps due in part to the popularization of Moneyball economics, guys who can get on base and score runs are now valued equally with guys who can hit 50 home runs a season.