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Revisiting An Old Topic

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From the ESPN staff, so you know it's top notch:

(Headline: Worst Contracts In MLB History)

Alex Rodriguez, 2001: 10 years, $252 million. A-Rod, of course, was magnificent with the Rangers, crushing 156 home runs and knocking in 395 runs in his three seasons. The Rangers also lost 89, 90 and 91 games those three years, in part because Rodriguez's monster contract hamstrung the team's payroll.

Since signing that contract, Alex Rodriguez has hit .304/.399/.589 as a great defensive shortstop and, later, as an ~average defensive third baseman. Using some Fangraphs numbers and our own calculations for 2001:

Year A-Rod WAR MLB avg. $/win (m) $ Deserved (m)
2001 10.0 2.4 24.0
2002 9.9 2.6 25.7
2003 9.1 2.8 25.5
2004 6.9 3.1 21.4
2005 9.5 3.4 32.3
2006 5.0 3.7 18.5
2007 9.3 4.1 38.1
2008 6.3 4.5 28.4

According to WAR (which I know isn't perfect, but stay with me), Alex Rodriguez's worst season since signing that monster contract was equal in value to Alfonso Soriano's career best. And in every other season, A-Rod was considerably better than that.

Alex Rodriguez signed a $252m/10 year contract with the Texas Rangers as a 26 year old shortstop with good defense an unbelievable bat, and for seven years he more than earned that deal before opting out to sign something even bigger (which he then earned in 2008). The Rangers didn't lose because they had the best player in baseball signed to a reasonable contract. They lost because they wasted the rest of their payroll on the likes of Rusty Greer, Juan Gonzalez, Chan Ho Park, Carl Everett, John Rocker, Dave Burba, Todd Van Poppel, Dan Miceli, and Gabe Kapler (as well as countless others).

It's a shame how much crap gets thrown the Rangers' way for signing A-Rod to that contract. Truth be told, signing A-Rod was one of the only things they ever did right.