Last week we looked at the worst free agent signings of this past season.
Now let’s look at the players that performed above-and-beyond the contracts they signed last winter…
6. Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds — Chapman is an interesting case. The Reds gave the Cuban defector a six-year, $30.3 million deal. However, he wasn’t promoted to the big leagues until September. So now his contract is more like five-years and $30.3 million. But despite struggling with his control in the minors (52 walks in 95.2ip), his 19 strikeouts and 5 walks in 13.1 innings with the Reds showed he could be the real deal. Now we just have to wait to see if he and his 105 mph fastball stay in the bullpen.
5. Marco Scutaro, Boston Red Sox — Considering the last free agent shortstop to sign with Boston (Julio Lugo) was a complete bust, Scutaro had a lot of pressure put on his shoulders when he inked a two-year, $12.5 million contract (plus a mutual option for 2012). Scutaro was productive with the bat, hitting .275 with 11 home runs and a .333 OBP. Where he needs to improve in 2011 is with the glove, as he was a below-average defender this season.
4. Marlon Byrd, Chicago Cubs — Not much went right for the Cubbies this season. The one exception might have been the three-year, $15.0 million contract they gave to Byrd. He hit .293 with 12 home runs and posted a solid .346 OBP. But where he really thrived was defensively where he was among the best outfielders in the National League.
3. Vladimir Guerrero, Texas Rangers — He is 35 and his days of hitting .330 with 35 home runs are over. But the Rangers had enough faith to give him a two-year, $14.5 million deal. And Vlad the Impaler didn’t disappoint hitting .300 with 29 home runs. He also played in 152 games, his most since 2006. And with Guerrero hitting clean-up, he protected Josh Hamilton’s MVP-worthy season for much of the year and helped lead the Rangers to their first World Series.
2. Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals — Many thought the Cardinals overpayed when they gave Matt Holliday an eight-year, $136 million contract. And while there are plenty of years left to prove the naysayers correct, the Cards got their money’s worth in the first year. Holliday hit .312 with 28 home runs and a.390 OBP. And according to Fangraphs.com, the left fielder was worth nearly 7 wins this season or about $27.6 million on the field. That far exceeded his base salary of $17 million.
1. Adrian Beltre, Boston Red Sox — Last winter, the Red Sox made an effort to become a better defensive team. And while Mike Cameron didn’t help, Beltre certainly did. Defensively, Beltre was one of the top two or three third basemen in the American League. And that was just the frosting, as he hit .321, his highest average since his last season with the Dodgers (2004) and added 28 home runs. His 2010 base salary was $9 million (he has an option for 2011), and that paled in comparison to his value on the field. Fangraphs.com calculates that Beltre was worth over 7 wins to the Red Sox or about $28.3 million.
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