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Elias Ranking the St. Louis Cardinals roster

Relative value of players is very active hot stove topic on pretty much any message board you might check, especially this time of year.

Though the Elias Rankings are primarily used to determine compensation for free agents, they can also offer an interesting comparison point for all players, free agent or not. The rankings are the official system agreed-to by both ownership and the players’ union.

The secret formulas combine the most recent two years of selected statistics, including batting average, home runs and RBI for hitters and innings-pitched, ERA, saves and strikeouts for pitchers. Players are lumped into one of five positional groupings – first basemen/outfielders/designated hitters, catchers, second basemen/shortstops/third basemen, starting pitchers and relievers.

Type A players are among the top 20 percent of all players in their league in their positional grouping. A team that loses a Type A free agent after offering that player arbitration receives a draft pick from the signing club plus a compensatory pick.

Type B players are among 21 percent to 40 percent in their grouping. A club that loses a Type B free agent to another team after offering arbitration receives a sandwich pick between rounds of the next June’s draft.

The final 60 percent of the players are denoted below as “NC” for no compensation.

How to read the table: For example, Skip Schumaker scored 69.394. I don’t know why he remains with the first basemen and outfielders a year after moving to second base, but that is where he is. Among those first basemen and outfielders, Skip’s score places him 27th. Because the top 20 percent works out to 26 players, Schumaker just missed being a Type A and instead is the highest-ranked Type B. Along with Ryan Ludwick, he is eligible for the arbitration process to set his 2010 salary if he cannot come to terms with the Cardinals first.

NL 2008-2009 Pos group Grp rank Score Type Rank w/in type Status
Albert Pujols 1B/OF 1 97.037 A 1
Matt Holliday 1B/OF 2 95.96 A 2 FA
Ryan Ludwick 1B/OF 11 83.838 A 11 arb
Skip Schumaker 1B/OF 27 69.394 B 1 arb
Rick Ankiel 1B/OF 66 52.727 NC 16 FA
Colby Rasmus 1B/OF 89t 34.747 NC 49t
Yadier Molina C 6 76.122 A 6
Jason LaRue C 32 24.082 NC 18 FA*
Mark DeRosa 2B/SS/3B 19 70.33 B 2 FA
Troy Glaus 2B/SS/3B 23t 67.033 B 6t FA
Brendan Ryan 2B/SS/3B 39 56 NC 5
Khalil Greene 2B/SS/3B 57t 39.429 NC 23t FA
Joe Thurston 2B/SS/3B 81 13.462 NC 47 FA#
Adam Wainwright SP 3 93.492 A 3
Kyle Lohse SP 27 70 B 6
Joel Pineiro SP 28 67.302 B 7 FA
Chris Carpenter SP 31 65.873 B 10
Todd Wellemeyer SP 47 56.349 NC 5 FA
John Smoltz SP 83 25.476 NC 41 FA
Mitchell Boggs SP 91t 20.397 NC 49t
Trever Miller RP 24t 74.628 A 24t
Ryan Franklin RP 27 73.455 A 27
Dennys Reyes RP 35 67.277 B 4
Kyle McClellan RP 36 66.419 B 5
Jason Motte RP 77 51.588 NC 15
Blake Hawksworth RP 85 46.167 NC 23
Brad Thompson RP 89 45.481 NC 27 rlsd

* re-signed with St. Louis
# minor league free agent

Other ranking factoids:

  • Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday really are the big two.
  • Ludwick stands 11th among all NL first basemen and outfielders.
  • Despite an injury plagued 2009 for Kyle Lohse and the standout year for Joel Pineiro, the former is still ranked higher.
  • Because Chris Carpenter missed almost one entire season of the two, Pineiro ranks ahead of him.
  • At least according to the formula, Trever Miller ranks ahead of Ryan Franklin.

There is some interest in revisiting the Elias Rankings for the next collective bargaining agreement between the players union and ownership, but for at least two more years, these will remain the rules of the road.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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