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Putting Strasburg’s Contract In Context

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There’s been a lot said and written about Stephen Strasburg’s seven-year, $175 million extension, and much of it is very good. I recommend Fangraphs, Nats Baseball and SB Nation as goodreads, but I want to add something extra here, which is a quick look at the Strasburg deal relative to the top 10 pitcher contracts ever.

Note: The innings pitched and ERA+ and FIP columns here are averages of the four seasons leading up to the deal in question. So, for Strasburg that’s 2012-15.

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Four thoughts/takeaways that jump out:

1. Accounting for inflation, Strasburg’s $25 million/year isn’t much for this group. Consider Sabathia, who got $23 million/year starting in 2009. That season, only nine teams had $100 million-plus payrolls. In 2016, that number has more than doubled to 21.

2. Strasburg’s much-chronicled injury concerns show up here in the form of 28% fewer innings than the others. Of course, this was an extraordinarily healthy group leading up to their deals. Verlander, Sabathia and Tanaka haven’t held up.

3. Strasburg is slightly younger (28) than the average (29).

4. Stras’ ERA+ (which adjusts for ballpark effects) is slightly worse than the rest of the group (122 vs. 135). His FIP (fielding independent pitching), however, is slightly better (2.96 vs. 3.08). Overall, he’s right in line, effectiveness-wise.

Bottom line: Of course injuries are a concern, but that’s why Washington was able to get him at this price. It’s a reasonable deal, and putting it next to other big-time pitcher contracts confirms that. Scherzer’s is a little troubling, though.

D.C. sports fan and digital media guy that's been doing this since 2004. Once threw a football further than Chris Cooley.

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