The New Orleans Pelicans got a steal in signing Anthony Davis for $145 million—the same amount the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pay Mike Trout even though Davis provides six times as much value.
In the Big Ten, Valueaddsports.com shows that the top point guard (Monte Morris, Iowa St.) is worth 4 points a game more than the top quarterback (Connor Cook, MSU) or defender (Joey Bosa, OSU).
Basketball bias? No, just simple math.
Here are the 20 most valuable players in both baseball and basketball, with their team, age, and the number of extra wins they were worth this year based on ESPN’s Value Added Basketball and Baseball Reference for the last full season. Davis is worth 23.7 more wins a season in an 82 game season, while Trout is worth 7.9 more wins in a 162-game season, or one-sixth Davis’ impact per game:
|Rnk||Player, Team, Age||Extra Wins||Player, Team, Age||Extra Wins|
|1||James Harden, HOU, 25||24.1||Clayton Kershaw, LAD, 27||8.0|
|2||Anthony Davis, NOP, 21||23.7||Mike Trout, LAA, 23||7.9|
|3||Stephen Curry, GSW, 27||22.2||Josh Donaldson, OAK, 29||7.4|
|4||Chris Paul, LAC, 30||21.4||Corey Kluber, CLE, 29||7.3|
|5||Russell Westbrook, OKC, 26||20.8||Adrian Beltre, TEX, 26||7.0|
|6||LeBron James, CLE, 30||19.2||Michael Brantley, CLE, 28||7.0|
|7||Pau Gasol, CHI, 34||15||Cole Hamels, PHI, 31||6.9|
|8||Marc Gasol, MEM, 30||14.9||Jonathan Lucroy, MIL, 29||6.8|
|9||DeAndre Jordan, LAC, 26||14.7||Felix Hernandez, SEA, 29||6.7|
|10||DeMarcus Cousins, SAC||14.7||Alex Gordon, KCR, 31||6.6|
|11||Kyrie Irving, CLE, 23||14.4||Chris Sale, CHW, 26||6.6|
|12||Damian Lillard, POR, 24||14.3||Giancarlo Stanton, MIA, 25||6.5|
|13||LaMarcus Aldridge, POR, 29||14.2||Anthony Rendon, WSN, 25||6.4|
|14||Nikola Vucevic, ORL, 24||13.9||Jason Heyward, ATL, 25||6.4|
|15||Andre Drummond, DET, 21||13.6||Andrew McCutchen, PIT, 28||6.4|
|16||Jimmy Butler, CHI, 25||13.5||Robinson Cano, SEA, 32||6.4|
|17||Blake Griffin, LAC, 26||13.3||Johnny Cueto, CIN, 29||6.4|
|18||Brook Lopez, BKN, 27||12.7||Adam Wainwright, STL, 33||6.4|
|19||Gordon Hayward, UTAH, 25||12.7||Jose Bautista, TOR, 32||6.0|
|20||Klay Thompson, GS, 25||12.6||Jose Altuve, HOU, 25||6.0|
Both Trout and Davis calculate as the second most valuable player in their sport and they are both by far the youngest player among the 10 most valuable. So, they both deserve the $145 million (Davis just signed that amount for five years, while Trout signed last year for $144.5 million over six years).
Injuries (Kevin Durant missed most of the season, LeBron James missed a stretch) and observation would yield some adjustments, but Davis and Trout are by far the best long-term players based on their age.
But as one of nine batters who also makes an out 7% of the time an opponent comes up, Trout cannot come near to the value Davis has as a guy making the big offensive and defensive play well over 20% of the time as one of five basketball players.
Take Mike Trout off the Angels last year, and they go 90-72 instead of 98-64. They still win the AL West. Take Anthony Davis off the Pelicans and they finish 21-62 instead of 45-37. They miss the playoffs by 24 games rather than making the playoffs as they did. Based on observation, I believe the Pelicans actually win a few more games than that without Davis, but there is no question which has the greater impact on his team.
DEFENSE. Davis steals the ball 2% of opponents trips, blocks their shot 4% of their trips, and grabs the defensive rebounds 11% of their trips. Even if we pretended Davis never denied an opponent the ball or altered a shot (he may be the best front-line player at both), he gets a block, steal, or rebound 17% of opponents trips down the court—well over twice the great job Trout does of recording an out 7% of the times an opponent comes to the plate.
OFFENSE. As great a batter as Trout is, he comes up once every nine times through the line-up while Davis touches the ball 59 times a game (see NBAStats.com), and when the Pelicans need a score they give him the ball as the best offensive player on the court more than twice as much as Trout can bat in a nine man line-up.
You just can’t have nearly the impact as one of nine baseball players as you can as one of five players on a basketball court playing both offense and defense.
The gap between basketball and key football positions is not as wide. A quarterback such as Cook or a dominant defensive end such as Bosa are worth an estimated seven points a game to Michigan State and Ohio State, respectively, at Value Add Football. However, Iowa State point guard Morris is worth about 11 points a game based on the much more scientific Value Add basketball (see all 4000+ players for the coming season here).