If you're anything like us, you're still trying to wrap your head around the "Andrelton Simmons trade." It's a very odd trade, that fits both teams wants, but not necessarily needs.
Analyst have been breaking down trades for years, but it's always hard to project how the trade will go or even out when prospects are involved, particularly, high-ceiling prospects.
In the case for the Atlanta Braves, stocking up on pitching prospects has already been done. Bill Shanks of Scout.com, noted that in 1985-86, building a pitching-rich team may not seem desirable at first, but the results were fantastic for Atlanta.
How will it fair for the Angels though? They just gained what is easily the best defensive shortstop since Ozzie Smith in Simmons, and have him for five years at a reasonably cheap price from a money stand point.
Of course, the Angels parted ways with it's longest tenured active player in Erick Aybar. The shortstop was a large part of their late 2000's success. He's also one of four players to hit .250 or better, with an on-base percentage of .300 or better and 500 or more plate appearances in every season since 2009.
Most know about how promising the future is for Newcomb, and the floor for Ellis is pretty high as well, but how can you project what they'll need to do, or not do, in order to make this an evened out trade? Simmons has to hold his end of the bargain as well.
Without digging too deep into analytics, our friends over at FanGraphs.com have given us some perspective on what could be a fair way to project the trade at this moment.
Andrelton Simmons' defense speaks for itself, but when you put it into numbers, you can get a small idea of what to expect. He leads Major League Baseball in defensive runs saved (DRS) since entering the league in 2012 at 113 DRS.
To give a brief explanation of this breakdown, we're going to take Simmons' defensive runs saved since 2012, and compare it to the league's pitchers' runs average per nine (RA/9), and show what Newcomb and Ellis must have combined (with a comparison) to make this a fair trade off.
Since 2012, 174,030 combined innings have been played (pitched) and 82,061 runs have been scored (allowed). To get the sum of RA/9, you must divide nine by the innings pitched (9 / 174,030 = 0.0000517152) and multiply it by the runs scored (0.0000517152 x 82061 = 4.2438). That leaves you with an runs average per nine at 4.2438 for pitchers from 2012 to 2015.
Doing math, fun right? Here's where it gets even more fun. Take away, or minus, the defensive runs saved by Simmons. I won't bore you with more algebra, but the result comes to 4.2379. Yes, it's nearly exact. So where does this come into play?
You must now do even more tricky algebra. Add in the defensive runs saved from the entire projected Angels lineup for 2015 and divide it by the Angels total in innings pitched. For times sake, we'll just fill in the top three projected defensive players for the Angels in Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun, and Albert Pujols.
Just so you can see the math, here is where the Angels stack without the defensive runs saved from the four players; ((9/5,514.6666 IP = 0.0016320116) x 2,741 RS = 4.47). When you subtract the defensive runs saved, the RA/9 drops from 4.47 to 4.24.
Why all this math, you ask? Well, you can now compare it with Newcomb and Ellis. If they can drop their pitcher's run average per nine by 0.23 points in a four year span, this trade can begin to show it's true value. If they can't, the Angels may have sparked that many less runs, and that many more wins. Same works the opposite if Ellis and Newcomb combine for more than 0.23 runs dropped per nine.
Confusing? A little, but sensible.
With wins above replacement (WAR) as an inconsistent statistic, along with RBI and others, it's hard to judge how this basis will go in a comparison to Erick Aybar and Andrelton Simmons.
We'll begin by looking at put outs recorded at the plate. Yes, that means strikeouts. Now it's not fair to judge by exact numbers because Erick Aybar has 424 more plate appearances than Simmons has had in the past four years. That's where you begin to break it down into strikeout percentage (K%).
Since 2012, Erick Aybar has struck out 255 times in 2,423 plate appearances, and Andrelton Simmons has gone down by "way of the K" 184 times in 1,999 plate appearances. That gives Aybar a K% of 10.5%, which is the 11th lowest in MLB since 2012, not bad. However, Simmons has a K% of 9.2% over the same span, over a percentage point better, with only three qualified batters (1,000 PA) with a lower percentage.
Limiting outs at the plate is drastic, especially in today's game where strikeouts are so prevelant. That one percent could mean the difference between the final out of the game at the plate, or the exact opposite.
Baseball-Reference.com gives player projections based on analytical statistics. It only goes for the following year, and here is how Erick Aybar and Andrelton Simmons contrast for the following season according to Baseball-Reference.
- Erick Aybar : 68 R, 145 H, 28 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 52 RBI, 12 SB, .269/.307/.365
- Andrelton Simmons : 56 R, 130 H, 21 2B, 3 3B, 9 HR, 48 RBI, 5 SB, .257/.307/.364
Projections can be tricky, but according to the number one outlet for sports writers, Aybar and Simmons should have nearly identical numbers for the upcoming 2016 campaign. When you add Simmons' DRS of 113 and compare it to Aybar's -10 DRS, you can start to see more value heading in the Angels direction.
This can now be taken towards free agency where the second and third best players in DRS are free agents, Jason Heyward (89) and Alex Gordon (74). In strikeout percentage, only one player had a lower K% than Simmons, and that was free agent, Daniel Murphy (7.1%).
All three players can fill needed holes for the Angels in the the corner outfield and at second base. However, they have all been given qualifying offers, which costs a first round pick for the team that signs them.
That could put a damper on the team's farm system, missing out on a first round pick the following year, especially, when you trade your top two prospects in the organization (see: Angels, Los Angeles of Anaheim).
It goes without saying - but we'll say it anyways - this trade will take years to see the actual value lean one way or the other or stay neutral as an even trade. If it brings a World Series to the Angels in the next five years, the value could go up. If the Braves win a World Series in the next decade, hey, it gets trickier. Regardless, each team found something new in value, and can now move on with what they have instead of what they do not have.
Taylor Blake Ward is a Senior Publisher for Scout.com, and can be found on Twitter, @TaylorBlakeWard.