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Marcus Hayes Outrageously Wrong on Utley Contract

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It is hard for someone who should know better to be so wrong about something so obvious, but Marcus Hayes claims Chase Utley was overpaid by the Phillies for the last four years of his current contract. Mr. Hayes is utterly, completely wrong.

I'm coming to get you, Marcus Hayes.
I'm coming to get you, Marcus Hayes.
Christian Petersen

Go read this article by Marcus Hayes, or better yet, just read this:

When the Phillies signed Chase Utley to a 7-year, $85 million deal in January 2007, it seemed a value-laden deal for three seasons. It cost the Phils only about $25 million for the best-hitting second baseman in the National League. It is costing them more than $60 million over the past four seasons, including this one, to watch Utley erode before their eyes - an erosion that, given Utley's style of play, was not unforeseeable. Now, Utley has contributed, but for no more than half of his paychecks' worth. Call him a $30 million loss.

I'll just accept that the last 4 years cost $60 million bucks rather than amortizing the contract over its lifetime, and I will throw out the fact that the Philllies paid only $25 million for Utley's 2007, 2008, and 2009 seasons when he accumulated 7.5, 8.0, and 8.0 fWAR, respectively. Given that the baseball world accepted roughly $5.0 million as the value of each win above replacement (WAR), then Utley provided nearly $120 million dollars of value to the Phillies for his first three contract years, to which Hayes assigns $25 million dollars (per Hayes, the last four years -- including this one -- cost $60 million, so the first three years cost $25 million).

So, let's throw out the first 3 years when Utley earned 150% of the value of the WHOLE CONTRACT. Just ignore that little part, and cherry pick the last four years when he has been hurt and we'll apply Hayes' premises to the whole analysis. I'll let him evaluate the contract just on the years Utley was hurt and not the contract as a whole. I am giving him all his starting points and accepting them, even though I think they are grossly unfair. And his statement is still wrong.

Why is he wrong?

Look at the fWAR again.

fWAR for Utley:

2010: 5.1

2011: 3.8

2012: 3.2

2013 (YTD): 1.7 - tied for 9th place among the most-valuable players at second base in MLB, even with the injury time.

As we are in 2013, WAR is now valued at more than $5 million per year, but let's stick with the old number to give Mr. Hayes the benefit of the doubt. Utley has generated 13.8 fWAR in the last 4 years of his contract. Those are the years to which Mr. Hayes has assigned $60 million dollars of value, rather than prorating the contract. The value of those 13.8 wins above replacement on the market is nearly $70 million dollars, and Utley still has half a season left to add to it. He has outperformed the last four years, cherry-picked by Hayes, even after the injuries. Even this year, he has been the most valuable position player on the Phillies this year, ahead of Domonic Brown.

Hayes concluded that the Phillies wasted $30 million dollars on the last four years of the contract. He is completely wrong. To the contrary, the Phillies are ahead $10 million and counting. Hayes obviously did not look at the numbers. If he did, and he still came to the conclusion that he did, I don't really know what to write without being needlessly unpleasant.

In summary, if Utley were to have his arms and legs amputated right now, and never play another inning, he has provided 23.5 fWAR in the first three years of the contract and 13.8 in the last four years for a total of 47.3 WAR over 7 seasons. The total value of that is widely accepted in MLB front offices as roughly $235 million dollars on the free agent market. The Phillies paid $85 million dollars for that value. Was it better the first 3 years? You bet. Is it still a good deal now? Yes.

Ryan Howard's contract is a travesty. Chase Utley's overall was one of the best bargains in the history of Phillies baseball. Even over the last four years, plagued with injuries, it has been a good deal since Utley has outperformed based on the money he is getting.

So, Marcus Hayes is wrong. Let's enjoy Chase Utley while we can. Haters gonna hate, I guess.