Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thoughts on the American League MVP Voting


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I could ramble on ad nauseum about today's results, but I just wanted to land a few quick thoughts on how the American League MVP voting went down.

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.

Image courtesy of I'm Bringing Blogging Back

6 comments:

  1. Cano beating out Bautista irks me.

    Not sure if you've seen this article, Ian, but check it out. If you have, my apologies, but I think it's a great piece:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/substituting-drs-for-uzr-in-war/

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  2. Nav, great find - I'll post a link to it in the body of the post. Interesting to note that Bautista would take the cake in the AL with those adjustments.

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  3. Rob Neyer has some interesting thoughts on it too. Looks like to me that Evan Longoria fans should be the most disappointed. And Cano -- what the hell?

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  4. Stephen, thanks for the comment and the link as well. I had no idea that B-R's WAR used TZR as opposed to UZR. That's definitely a big game-changer.

    He also mentions WPA, something I completely forgot about. I would much rather voters look at stats like that than the arbitrary "did the candidate play for a contending team?".

    I'm also surprised Beltre didn't place a little higher. I know Konerko hit 39 home runs, but Beltre hit just as well (maybe even a little better) and his defense was phenomenal.

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  5. Josh Hamilton is a writers favourite tale of dealing with adversity and beating the odds. It's pretty much what all baseball movies are about so it should be no surprise that folks were all over this story and that he won. Excuse the cynical sounding nature of this comment but it's just the truth. I would say JoBau had a bigger impact on his team overall-offensively, defensively and the intangibles as well...

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  6. Mattt, I'd give the nod to Hamilton too. And as much as I love Bautista, Hamilton was the better player this year (playoff/non-playoff team withstanding).

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