Graph of the Intermittent Time Period

The Phillies have led the National League in average batter age for three consecutive years, according to Baseball Reference. They finished with the second-oldest offense in 2009 and the third-oldest in 2008 as well. It’s no secret that the Phillies’ roster is comprised mostly of past-their-prime players, which has led to predictable unreliability due to injuries and declining performance.

It is difficult to grasp just how much the Phillies have invested in older players, though, so I’ve gathered some data to illustrate this better. Using available salary data from Cot’s Contracts, I put the combined salaries into age buckets. First, the raw data:

* Age refers to a player’s age as of June 20, 2013, which is the cut-off date used by Baseball Reference. Because their 2013 salaries are not yet known, pre-arbitration players (such as Ben Revere, Domonic Brown and John Mayberry) are not included.

Player 2013 Salary Age
Roy Halladay $20,000,000 36
Michael Young $16,000,000 36
Cliff Lee $25,000,000 34
Chase Utley $15,285,714 34
Jimmy Rollins $11,000,000 34
Mike Adams $5,000,000 34
Carlos Ruiz $5,000,000 34
Ryan Howard $20,000,000 33
Jonathan Papelbon $13,000,000 32
Laynce Nix $1,350,000 32
Kevin Frandsen $850,000 31
Cole Hamels $20,500,000 29
Kyle Kendrick $4,500,000 28
John Lannan $2,500,000 28
Antonio Bastardo $1,400,000 27
Delmon Young $750,000 27

And the salaries combined into individual age groups:

Age 2013 Salary % of Total
<= 26 $0 0%
27 $2,150,000 1%
28 $7,000,000 4%
29 $20,500,000 13%
30 $0 0%
31 $850,000 1%
32 $14,350,000 9%
33 $20,000,000 12%
34 $61,285,714 38%
35 $0 0%
36 $36,000,000 22%
>= 37 $0 0%

Let’s make it simpler. The same data put into concise age buckets:

Age 2013 Salary % of Total
<= 26 $0 0%
27-31 $30,500,000 19%
32-36 $131,635,714 81%
>= 37 $0 0%

The Phillies are not paying anyone younger than 27 years old more than $750,000. Over four-fifths of their total payroll, at present, is going to players 32 years old or older.

Leave a Reply

*

25 comments

  1. Common Sense

    January 28, 2013 08:41 AM

    If you think that this team will not have injury problems, you are a retard.

  2. Jesse

    January 28, 2013 08:55 AM

    @Common Sense,
    Only 81% retard. RAJ at least knows enough to not go full retard.

    @Bill,
    Great stuff as always. With the numbers’ curation. And adding and multiplying them as appropriate. Though I’d’ve made my age buckets smaller – 60% to players 34 and up can be arguably more alarming than 81% to players 32 and up, for instance.
    My favorite part of how old Chase Utley gets is getting reminded that (despite what they think) Utley’s still younger than Mac and Dennis and then thinking about how long that show has been on the air.

  3. Jordan

    January 28, 2013 09:30 AM

    Are the Phillies paying all of the $16 million owed to Michael Young this year…or is Texas pickup up some of it? $16 million for Michael Young is a joke. I did a triple-take when I read that number…it’s simply outrageous.

  4. Matt

    January 28, 2013 10:15 AM

    I had the same questions about Michael Young – not that it changes the point of the post in the slightest – but I didn’t think we were on the hook for all of that.

  5. Pencilfish

    January 28, 2013 10:22 AM

    According to Cot’s contracts, Texas is paying $10M out of the $16M owed to Michael Young. Also, it would have been best to either estimate the salaries for pre-arbitration players or wait until the actual numbers are known. At present, the figures and graphs paint an exaggerated picture.

    Since you don’t describe your bucketing rationale, your conclusion is somewhat biased by your bucketing choice.

  6. Jesse

    January 28, 2013 10:30 AM

    While Texas’s paying 5/8ths of Young’s contract is true, in this context it’s also irrelevant.

    That basically means they just wrote the Phillies a check for $10M. Same as when a player is traded for “cash considerations” money is actually an asset that is allowed to be exchanged between MLB clubs.

    Which means that in terms of the Phillies’ payroll Michael Young is still on the books for $16M. So yes, baseball-wise, it’s like we have him for $6M, but financially-wise (in terms of luxury tax computation, or analysis like this of how much of the Phils’ payroll is X) he is still $16M.

  7. Bill Baer

    January 28, 2013 10:57 AM

    @ Pencilfish

    Waiting for pre-arb players wouldn’t have made a difference. Such players would make under $750,000 as mentioned above, which is half of one percent of the Phillies’ total payroll.

    The bucketing rationale was to keep each category symmetric. e.g. the < = and >= bookending and a range of five in between.

  8. Pencilfish

    January 28, 2013 10:57 AM

    It is also interesting to see how this graph will change in 2014, since so many of the names listed are signed for 2013 or have options that may not be picked up, so at least you can also say RAJ is a quick study.

  9. beisbol

    January 28, 2013 11:00 AM

    They’re older. Is that the point? Well done, then. Of course, they have just two players older than 34, and none older than 36. Of the two who are 36, one’s a HOFer with a legendary work ethic, and the other is one year removed from being a pretty good player. Further, well over 50% of the money the Phillies have invested in older players (34+) comes off the books after 2013. So just how crippling is this bind they’re in?

    The entire season comes down to what sort of pitcher Roy Halladay is. If he is 95% of the Halladay we have come to expect, this is a playoff team (with a poor Halladay, the team posted the second-best NL record after the all-star break). If he’s the Halladay of last season, the chain reaction set off by his abundant shorter starts of lesser quality will severely hamper any chances at the postseason.

  10. LTG

    January 28, 2013 11:16 AM

    Why not bucket the players according to either a) aging curves or b)likelihood of injury?

    a) would place pre-peak, peak, and post-peak ages in separate buckets.

    b) would place just divide players into two buckets based on the age at which the likelihood of injury increases significantly.

    I bet the buckets would not change much if you use either of these rationales.

  11. LTG

    January 28, 2013 11:24 AM

    Also, it seems to me the M. Young contract should only count as $6M. That is the net cost to the Phils. And that is the luxury tax hit of the contract if M. Young stays on the roster until the end of the season. Not that this changes the results all that much.

  12. Pencilfish

    January 28, 2013 11:30 AM

    Bill,

    Ok, but 0.5% isn’t right, because you listed 16 players above. There are 9 more players in the 25-man roster. Most of them will be young (De Fratus, Aumont, Brown, Ruf, etc) pre-arbitration players. If we project each one of them to make $500k, that’s $4.5M altogether, which is more like ~3%.

    The bucketing raises an issue because you said the Phillies have a lot of past-prime players, but you didn’t define the buckets accordingly (ie, pre-prime, prime, near-prime, past-prime, etc). I think if you defined the buckets and made them smaller, it would help make your data and graphs more informative.

  13. Phillie697

    January 28, 2013 11:30 AM

    I’m sure Bill made absolutely no commentary in this post, and just posted numbers the way they have (i.e., 5 year intervals, the boundaries around what is generally accepted as pre-peak, peak, and post-peak periods) for a reason. Those of you who choose to not see the problem will never see it no matter how many numbers are placed in front of you.

    As for people coming off the books… Here is what the salary looks like after the season ends and those salaries you speak of come off the books… Oh wait, crap, there is no need to actually make a list, because at the moment 2013 contract ends, the Phillies would be paying… ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of their salary on players 30 years old or older, with the only one under 33 being Cole Hamels. So Bill’s graph will change from 81% to… 78%. Mhmm… Progress, love it! At this rate, we might end up winning the WS again by the next century.

    And before you even point out the flaw that I haven’t taken into account of the money that comes off the books and haven’t been spent, may I remind you that RAJ has never, in his tenure as GM, signed any FA under the age of 30 except… That’s right, Douchbag Young. Yes, that’s mostly due to the fact that you almost never get to sign good players under 30 in FA, but that only underscores the point that under RAJ, this team will NEVER get younger.

  14. Kevin

    January 28, 2013 01:03 PM

    If you are a long time Phillie follower like me, you can look back over the years and see that almost every Phillie was unproductive/on the way out by age 33, save for Hall-of-Famers or Bob Boone/Larry Bowa who retired with close to the most games played at their position.

    Father time is undefeated. It might make sense to gamble on a few thirty-somethings, but to have a core of those guys and all your money tied up in them is just irresponsible.

  15. Pencilfish

    January 28, 2013 01:05 PM

    Phillie697,

    The average age of the 25-man roster was 30.9 in 2012, and it dropped to 29.6 before the DY signing. Clearly the Phillies are getting younger under RAJ’s watch. Perhaps, you meant to say younger and MORE TALENTED?!

    With all the young BP arms, Ruf, Brown, Revere, Galviz, etc, it’s illogical to suggest the Phillies will be spending 100% of their budget on “older” players.

  16. Lefty33

    January 28, 2013 01:45 PM

    “So yes, baseball-wise, it’s like we have him for $6M, but financially-wise (in terms of luxury tax computation, or analysis like this of how much of the Phils’ payroll is X) he is still $16M.”

    In terms of luxury tax computation Young will not count for $16 million against the Phillies tab or else they would never had made the move.

    He’ll count for six (with Texas on the hook against their tab for the remaining ten) and that is the number that the author should have used because that’s the only number that matters.

  17. Phillie697

    January 28, 2013 03:21 PM

    @Pencilfish,

    Like Bill said, most of those players, if not all, are so small in salary compared to the amount of money spent on old players, that they could be deemed rounding error and nobody would serious argue it, well, maybe other than you perhaps. And nice job trying to redirect the conversation to purely age as opposed to staying on point about the money we spent on players with respect to age. They call that misdirection in debate circles.

    And there is a reason for that; we haven’t had to have any reason to spend money on younger players because we haven’t developed any good ones. For comparison’s sake, Tampa Bay will spend 71.2% of its meager $56.3M projected 2013 payroll on players 31 or under, and none of the money tied to players 32 or older are long-term deals like the ones to Howard, Papelbon, and Lee. Could that be the reasons why they have been and will continue to be good, that even tho they spend drastically less money than the Phillies, most of it are on younger players? Hmm…

  18. Phillie697

    January 28, 2013 03:49 PM

    @Pencilfish,

    BTW, just out of curiosity, what is the Phillies’ projected average age on opening day now that Yuniesky Betancourt and Chad Durbin are part of this team? Still think we got younger?

  19. pedro3131

    January 28, 2013 06:46 PM

    That’s not what he was arguing. The point is by omitting younger players it skews your data set. It’s not going to magically make us a younger baseball team, but if you’re making an argument about age, and then only looking at data that supports your argument and discarding data that would weaken your argument it points to a systemic error in your analysis.

  20. Phillie697

    January 28, 2013 07:07 PM

    @pedro,

    The reason the data is omitted is because I’m lazy, and it’s not worth the effort. If you can’t even agree that our “young” players make miniscule amount of money, why are we even discussing this at all?

  21. pedro3131

    January 28, 2013 07:31 PM

    Oh I’m not really arguing persay, just clarifying. It depends on how you want to analyze the data. Do you want to look at just salary figures, or do you want to look at roster spots? Looking at just salary figures is an approach, but when on the aggregate older players make more money then younger players no matter the skill level, it kind of skews the picture a bit. There’s a million ways to package and analyze data and depending on how you do that can influence your conclusions. For me, I’d like to include those omitted players when I think about things, as I tend to favor large and obtrusive data sets

  22. Phillie697

    January 28, 2013 07:43 PM

    @pedro3131,

    I think the bigger point is that we’re spending 3+ times amount of money and bought a team half as good as the Rays, the primary reason being that we have half of it tied to old farts. I mean, is there any argument about that?

  23. Bill Baer

    January 28, 2013 09:24 PM

    @ pedro3131

    That’s not what he was arguing. The point is by omitting younger players it skews your data set. It’s not going to magically make us a younger baseball team, but if you’re making an argument about age, and then only looking at data that supports your argument and discarding data that would weaken your argument it points to a systemic error in your analysis.

    I didn’t exclude pre-arb salary data for that reason; it was omitted because it isn’t available. Unless you know of another place where such information can be found — Cot’s is usually the first (and only) place to find that stuff, especially this early in the year.

  24. pedro3131

    January 28, 2013 11:30 PM

    And I apologize if my post came of as accusing you of intentionally skewing data. However, when you’re talking about 2/3 of the starting outfield I think it’s worth at least making some sort of projection.

  25. Bill Baer

    January 28, 2013 11:33 PM

    No offense taken. The % of the OF is irrelevant though. In fact, if anything, it makes my point about salary/age stand out even more — the Phillies are paying older guys way too much money to occupy unimportant positions.

Next ArticleRuben Amaro: Frozen in Time