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Jim Thome’s Marginal Value October 5, 2010

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Economics.
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I’ve alluded to the similarity between Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome quite a bit. They both played in Cleveland for a few years before moving on to other teams. They’re each in the DH phase of their careers. Thome is about two years older than Ramirez, but otherwise they’ve had relatively similar production. That’s why it was so odd for the White Sox to let Thome go a few years back only to pick an injured, probably going-downhill Manny for about a quarter of the season when Ramirez is making about $18 million and Thome’s maximum salary was about $15.7 million. There’s an argument that Manny still has more productive years left than Thome, of course. (I happen to think that argument is wrong, but that’s just me.)

Just for fun, let’s take a look at their production since Manny’s trade.

In the last 24 games he played, Ramirez had 88 plate appearances, a respectable .420 OBP, and a Jeteresque .261 batting average. His win probability added was -.273, for those of you who are into that sort of thing. Meanwhile, over the same number of games, the flagging, decrepit Thome had only 79 plate appearances, with a paltry .333 batting average, and only a .494 OBP.

Thome’s salary this year for the Twins was $1.5 million.

I think the winner here is clear.