Stanton, deGrom Are The Most Valuable Players In Baseball For The 2018 Season


While Jacob deGrom may have been the best player during the 2018 MLB regular season, Giancarlo Stanton is the most valuable according to the Block Six Analytics (B6A) Revenue Above Replacement (RAR) model.

RAR examines how an individual player’s on-field and off-field performance contribute to a team’s top-line revenue growth. The model is team specific meaning that each player will have a different impact on each team from both an on-field and off-field perspective. This includes revenue generated based on a team’s ownership stake in a regional sports network (RSN).

The top most valuable players this regular season were:

  1. Giancarlo Stanton - $117.9 million

  2. Shohei Ohtani - $102.0 million

  3. Jose Altuve - $88.0 million

  4. Clayton Kershaw - $80.5 million

  5. Mike Trout - $74.1 million

On-field performance examines the impact of winning on a team’s ability to make money and how a player contributes to winning. To start, we found a statistically significant relationship between a team’s ability to win and teams ability to generate revenue.

We then created a new metric to value on-field performance called “B6A Wins.” For baseball, B6A Wins builds on commonly used baseball advanced analytics to create our own proprietary performance model. This includes creating our own form of:

  • ABwRC+ (batting)

  • xFIP (pitching)

  • wBsR (baserunning)

  • UZR (defense)

We found that these four factors accounted for a majority of the variance in a team’s ability to win. We then mapped these factors onto 1370+ players that contributed to teams for the 2018 season to determine the number of B6A Wins. The top five on-field performing players and the revenue they generated from their on-field performance were:

  1. Jacob deGrom – 9.5 B6A Wins, $51.5 million

  2. Mike Trout – 7.4 B6A Wins, $38.3 million

  3. Mookie Betts – 7.1 B6A Wins, $41.9 million

  4. Max Scherzer – 7.0 B6A Wins, $41.9 million

  5. Andrelton Simmons – 6.7 B6A Wins - $34.8 million

deGrom was particularly valuable to the New York Mets because he had one of the best performances of a pitcher in recent MLB history for a team that struggled on-field this year. His B6A Wins and value would differ if he were on a team that performed better or worse during the year than the Mets.

However, Trout shows that winning is not equally valuable to every MLB team. Trout is outperforming his current contract with the Angels with his on-field performance alone (he makes $33.25 million in total cash this year).  However, the Angels are less dependent on winning than most MLB teams to generate revenue. This means Trout’s on-field performance is less valuable to the Angels then it would be for a team more dependent on winning to generate revenue.

Off-field performance examines the impact of a player’s star power on a team’s revenue growth. Similar to on-field performance, we found a statistically significant relationship between off-field factors and a team’s revenue growth. The factors that accounted for a majority of variance were:

  • Jersey sales

  • Social media conversation

  • Earned media conversation

We applied these factors to each MLB player. Similar to the on-field analysis, each player is valued based on his current team. The top five off-field performing players and the revenue they generated from their off-field performance were:

  1. Giancarlo Stanton - $107.3 million

  2. Jose Altuve - $81.1 million

  3. Shohei Ohtani – $80.8 million

  4. Clayton Kershaw - $71.8 million

  5. Aaron Judge - $45.6 million

The key insight is that fans, media, and sponsors want to engage with star players even when there are dips in on-field performance or a player is injured in a season. While each of the players in the top five had a positive impact on their team this year, none was the team’s best on-field player.  

The RAR model is built not only to evaluate the2018 season but to project performance for every year for every team through the 2023 season for all current MLB players. We developed separate regression models for on-field and off-field performance based on a player’s age to predict future performance including projecting B6A Wins into the future. While both on-field and off-field factors had statistically significant impact, off-field factors are more consistent season-over-season than on-field factors.

There is no question that teams should be looking at on-field performance when evaluating a player. However, that is not a player’s entire contribution to a team’s revenue growth. To fully determine a player’s economic value, on-field and off-field factors must be considered.