What is Manny Worth to Dodgers?

Analyzing the Dodgers with and without Manny in 2009
By Paul Bessire, WhatIfSports.com
March 4th, 2009

Manny Ramirez, Scott Boras and Los Angeles Dodgers finally agreed on a deal, this time for $45 million over two seasons, which includes a deferred money, yet not as much as last week's offer. While most in America daydream about what they could do with $45 million, especially in "these times," we are more concerned with what Manny actually means to LA.

Based on our analysis, which includes a projection for Manny's 2009 statistics and 10,000 simulations of the actual 2009 MLB season with and without Ramirez on the Dodgers - in this instance he either plays for LA or he does not play at all - we calculate that having Manny Ramirez in the middle of the Dodgers' lineup gains the team 5.4 wins.

More important than that is which wins he adds. Our projection sees the otherwise very young, yet talented Dodgers increase their expected win total from 84 wins (84.4 - 77.6 average record) to 90 wins (89.8 - 72.2) when Manny Ramirez plays a full season for the team instead of some combination of Juan Pierre, Jason Repko and Delwyn Young. In doing so, the odds of LA making the National League playoffs out of a generally weak NL West rise from 30.5% to 42.3%. If Manny were out of the picture, the Arizona Diamondbacks would be the favorites to win the West over the Dodgers by a somewhat sizeable 10.6% margin (37.7% to 27.1%). Inserting Ramirez into the equation for LA makes the Dodgers the new NL West frontrunner, winning the division 38.2% of the time to Arizona's 32.2%.

As for Manny's performance, there may not be a more difficult veteran player to project in baseball. While there is no reason to expect that the 36-year-old Ramirez will hit .396 with a 1.232 OPS like he did in 53 games for the Dodgers last season, he can seemingly flip a switch when he wants to play well. Whether he will want to play well after securing a this deal or not, we have to assume that Ramirez has been playing below his potential for the last few seasons with the Red Sox and, at the very least, should perform up to the his ballpark-adjusted numbers for the last three seasons without regressing due to age. Manny's resulting output of that analysis and the 10,000 regular season simulations is a batting average of .301, an on-base percentage of .403 and a slugging percentage of .559, with 30 HR over 575 plate-appearances. In a solid lineup with good gap-hitters and all-around athletes like Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Rafael Furcal and Russell Martin, Manny's combination of power and patience is extremely valuable.

Of course, if he can keep the switch on and drastically out-perform those numbers, the Dodgers' win total could go up significantly. If he shuts it down and looks more like the Manny Ramirez of 2007, the lineup will suffer and LA may not be much better - especially if he finds a way to be worse defensively in the Dodgers' cavernous outfield.

Is Manny Ramirez worth $45 million over two seasons? Well, to the Dodgers, he appears to be worth about five or six extra wins in 2009 and could single-handedly increase the team's chances of making the playoffs by an impressive 11.8%. We will let Manny, the Dodgers and the Dodgers' fans figure out exactly what that means, but it's very clear that Los Angeles Dodgers are a much bigger player in the NL with him than without.

Paul Bessire is the Senior Quantitative Analyst and Content Manager for WhatIfSports.com. With any comments, questions or topic suggestions, Paul can be reached at BtB@whatifsports.com. Thanks!

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