Thoughts on the American League MVP Voting
Tuesday, November 23, 2010 | by Ian Hunter
I'm a little disappointed that Jose Bautista finished in 4th place, but not all that surprised it happened. Earlier today, I declared if Jose Bautista finished outside the Top 5, I was going to grow a Bautista Beard in protest. Luckily for all of us, that won't happen.
It was a breath of fresh air to see the shift in voting these past few years, what with voters electing Zack Greinke, Tim Lincecum and Felix Hernandez as Cy Young winners. Since less weight has been placed on traditional stats such as win/loss record, why not do the same for batting average for positional players?
Yes, I am suggesting this to help benefit my favourite player's chances of winning MVP, but still ... in my mind, a statistic like on base percentage or even on base plus slugging is a much more valuable tool to guague a player's worth.
Even if we use an all encompassing statistic like WAR, Jose Bautista ties for third with Evan Longoria and Robinson Cano. WAR at least takes into account a player's fielding and batting statistics, rather than just batting.
I think some folks tend to take the term "Most Valuable Player" too literally as well. Baseball is a game of numbers, not intangibles ... so why would we suddenly start measuring who the most valuable player in the league is with things like "grit" and "hustle".
It's the same as putting weight on a player's contributions to help their team make the playoffs. Despite the huge emphasis on individual achievement, one single player does not have the power to properl their team into the post-season. It takes an entire roster of 25 guys and a coaching staff to build a winner.
If we truly need to get over the mental hurdle created by the "Most Valuable Player" title, then simply rename it the "Best Player in the League Award". Hey, it isn't sexy ... but at least then you're calling a spade a spade.
**Update**: Navin from Sports and the City led me to this great article on FanGraphs which takes into account WAR adjustments if they used DRS (defensive runs saved) rather than UZR (ultimate zone rating).
Turns out Jose Bautista's adjusted WAR balloons to around 8.1 WAR with these adjustments, which would put him ahead of Josh Hamilton at 7.9 WAR. Just some interesting food for thought.
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