September 13, 2004
Can Ichiro win the MVP? Should he?
The American League Most Valuable Player
With the National League being dominated like a Danny Almonte infected Little League, most of the award attention has fallen to that Japanese George Sisler, racing forward to capture a new record. With that chase comes recognition, and with recognition comes awards.
Is Ichiro a deserving candidate for the American League MVP? Fortunately, his team is atrocious, or he’d be a runaway. Is it irony if the one thing that usually gives undeserving players the award is the one thing that keeps an undeserving player from winning it? What is that magical thing? His teammates.
But there I made a judgement – Ichiro is undeserving. Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. And if he isn’t, who is?
I wrote about quantitating a player’s complete (offense and defense) contribution in 2001 in an effort to determine if a really poor hitter was worth his glove. Generally, they aren’t. But I did find that there are players that are/were (Pokey Reese in particular).
There’s even a link to MGL’s early work (2001) in the comments from Vinay Kumar.
While my methodology isn’t as granular as MGL’s, I think we’ll end up with very similar results.
This Complete Player Index (CPI) table is comprised of the top three players at each position, and any player with more than 10 runs above average.
Player Tm P RS+ XR+ CPI
rowand,aaron CHA CF 10 25 35
chavez,eric OAK 3B 15 19 33
guillen,carlos DET SS -1 33 31
ramirez,manny BOS LF -8 43 31
rodriguez,alex NYY 3B 12 19 31
guerrero,vladim ANA RF -2 32 30
suzuki,ichiro SEA RF -7 34 27
mora,melvin BAL 3B -8 33 25
damon,johnny BOS CF 6 19 25
rodriguez,ivan DET C -1 25 25
tejada,miguel BAL SS 2 22 24
varitek,jason BOS C -3 27 23
sheffield,gary NYY RF -11 34 23
kotsay,mark OAK CF 9 14 23
bellhorn,mark BOS 2B 6 15 21
martinez,victor CLE C 0 19 19
teixeira,mark TEX 1B 2 17 19
huff,aubrey TB 3B 8 10 17
kennedy,adam ANA 2B 9 5 15
belliard,ronnie CLE 2B 3 11 14
delgado,carlos TOR 1B 3 11 14
lopez,javy BAL C -3 17 13
posada,jorge NYY C -3 15 11
roberts,brian BAL 2B 4 7 11
lee,carlos CHA LF -1 11 10
jeter,derek NYY SS 5 6 10
hatteberg,scott OAK 1B 0 9 9
ford,lew MIN LF 4 5 9
RS is runs saved above average; XR is Extrapolated Runs above average
“+” indicates the RS are adjusted for a full season’s worth of chances and the player’s innings played and that the XR are adjusted to reflect what an average player would produce after making the same number of outs the player has made. And the XR are park-adjusted – thanks to Studes for the Park Factors.
If you see two numbers that don’t appear to add up (like Melvin Mora), that’s because I don’t round numbers. There are decimal places that make it look that way.
Roughly, the error in the metrics is a handful of runs. Players within a few runs are just about equal.
There are some aspects to this that are questionable. Catcher defense is largely comprised of errors, passed balls, stolen bases and caught stealings. It’s not spectacular, but it better-than-ballpark’s their value.
I also don’t have an effective way to absorb runners held from advancing by outfielders. I researched this through old STATS Scoreboard books (BTW, Jim Callis of Baseball America used to write these short research points) these are of the small effect variety. Holding runners isn’t much: just about the best right field arm in this regard is Bobby Abreu (over several seasons). He holds about 20 runners out of hundred more than the worst player. Twenty extra bases is about 6 runs. Centerfield has about a 5-run range and left field has a 4-run range. That’s from the best to the worst, so ignoring that, around the average, isn’t very much.
Then there is Manny Ramirez’ defense. It’s actually worse than what is in the table in the analysis. I really don’t know how to treat the Green Monster. Manny actually scores about a –23 RS+ defensively. His defensive performance has been fudged (regressed?) toward average, because it is hard to believe he is that bad, and my historical work with the data lets me know a lot of the low rating is the wall.
What does all this mean?
I think you can all read the chart – Ichiro is having a very good season, but he isn’t the MVP. He’s certainly a top 10 player and having a hot month, so he may move up a slot or two. Breaking Sisler’s record will enhance his chances - and he has a good shot at doing it.
There’s Alex Rodriguez within striking distance of the MVP. He’s not being recognized by anyone for his play, but he’s been just about as good as any American League position player this season.
Who is the MVP?
If the season were to end today – which it won’t – and you went solely by this (which you shouldn’t), then it is Aaron Rowand of the Chicago White Sox.
There are 20 more games, and so I think the AL MVP is Eric Chavez.
Posted: September 14, 2004 at 04:25 AM | 56 comment(s)
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