On my drive in to campus yesterday morning, I listened as Erik Kuselias broke down the Adrian Gonzalez trade on ESPN Radio. During the discussion, he mentioned that he thought the Red Sox’s acquisition of Gonzalez was akin to the Yankees getting Mark Teixeira. He kind of threw that thought out in passing, but brought it up again a few minutes later when he had Buster Olney on the phone. He asked Olney what he thought about the Gonzalez and Teixeira comparison, and Olney basically agree that the two were essentially the same player, and the results of comparing them would be a toss-up. Both are left-handed*, power-hitting, Gold Glove-winning first basemen. Gonzalez has been in the league for seven years, Teixeira for eight. Both formerly played for mediocre teams (Gonzalez in Florida, Texas San Diego and Teixeira in Texas, Atlanta and Ahaheim), and both turned solid seasons into huge contracts.
*Teixeira is technically a switch-hitter, but he’s definitely stronger from the left side.
But the similarities stop there. After looking at their numbers, it’s pretty clear that a) Gonzalez and Teixeira are very different players, and b) one is far more valuable than the other. Check it out:
The first thing that stuck out to me was how much more Gonzalez spreads the ball around. His spray chart for the past two years is pretty evenly distributed on all hits, whereas Teixeira’s is heavily weighted toward right field, especially with regard to home runs. Gonzalez also has higher BABIP numbers (2009-2010 average of .300, versus .275 for Teixeria).
The 10-game rolling average of game-by-game WPA shows that Gonzalez has positive spikes that are both more frequent and more substantial than Teixeira’s. Gonzalez’s negative dips may be more frequent, but they last for shorter periods than Teixeira’s do. Plus, Gonzalez’s average WPA hovers right around .0244, about 37 percent higher than Teixeira’s average of .0153. And Teixeira’s WAR totals for the past two seasons are about 25 percent less than Gonzalez’s totals.
It looks like Boston might be giving up a lot, dealing one of their top young pitching prospects to get Gonzalez, but in a straight-up numbers battle, the Red Sox now clearly they have the edge over the Yankees at first base.
NOTE: I’m pretty new to all of this Sabermetrics stuff. I spent a reasonable number of hours reading info at FanGraphs.com and Baseball-Reference.com, but I’m definitely not an expert. If you’d like to correct me (read: call me out) on any mistakes I made, feel free.