Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Dialed In > Discussion
Dialed In
— 

Friday, March 21, 2008

The 2007 National League MVP

I read lots of articles about who should be the MVP.  Albert Pujols, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Howard, Matt Holliday – and Jimmy Rollins won.  What I don’t see is an itemized offense plus defense (OPD) analysis to say “this guy should have won the MVP”.  Naturally, if the OPD is terrifically close between some players, we’ll tweak it toward something like better Win Probability Added (WPA), a tougher defensive position, or a player on my favorite team.  Whatever seems fairest.

Jimmy Rollins won the MVP, and as a Mets fan, I was naturally irritated.  Last year Ryan Howard won the award when Carlos Beltran deserved it, and I wasn’t too keen on a second straight year of a Phil taking a Mets player’s rightful award.  So did a Met player rightfully deserve the 2007 NL MVP?  There are a bunch of articles declaring that David Wright should have won the award.  Perhaps a couple of Mets would steal votes from one another to keep either from winning.

Let’s take a look at what Jimmy Rollins did.  Rollins played a tough defensive position and he hit a bunch of home runs (in a park with little league fences).  He had a good season, posting a 118 OPS+.  Hanley Ramirez, however, flat out smoked Rollins offensively.  It was pretty well covered though that Ramirez is playing shortstop as if he wanted to be a third baseman.  Was Rollins OPD better than Ramirez OPD?  Where would Met shortstop Jose Reyes fall in this race?  Reyes’ September slump was utterly putrid and his collapse led to Rollins MVP as much as Rollins numbers – if the Mets win the division, Rollins probably doesn’t win the MVP.  There is little doubt Rollins bravado getting “backed up” by the Phils slipping past the Mets on the last day of the season provided him an extra kick of votes.

OPD is a combination of XR (extrapolated runs) above average at position and park adjusted for Offense Plus Defensive runs saved above average at position, adjusted for playing time.  Yes, XR isn’t used by anyone else much these days, but it is almost the exact same value as RCAA or whatever your favorite runs formula is.  Really, it doesn’t matter.  In my opinion, VORP is the best construct, but it is a “replacement player” baseline, and that’s just not a practical baseline for defense, and I want the same baseline for the two figures.  The OPD units are runs, so 10 runs is a full win in production difference.

So, OPD is perfect for looking at the MVP race.  It combines players offensive and defensive contributions.  It will certainly give you the people you should be considering – even if you want to season your selection with WPA, or playoff teams, or clutch, or who looks best in his uniform.

Rollins won the MVP – no matter what I say here, that’s not going to change.  But who really deserved it?

Shortstop OPD leaders

First	Last		Team	XRA+	DRS	OPD
Hanley	Ramirez		FLA	53.7	-16.4	37.3
Jose	Reyes		NYM	18.1	14.4	32.4
Jimmy	Rollins		PHI	27.1	-2.1	25.0
Troy	Tulowtzki	COL	5.6	14.8	20.4

Well, it’s pretty clear Rollins wasn’t the best shortstop, so it isn’t likely he was the best player.  He’s 12 runs behind Ramirez.  Maybe Rollins inspirational attitude makes up for that, or at least makes it close enough to vote for him for MVP.  So, as long as other players don’t really push higher than about 40, maybe, maybe Rollins is a decent MVP choice.  It don’t look good though.  Ramirez is clearly the best hitter and Reyes and Tulo are obviously better defenders.

As a methodology note, the accuracy of these run methods isn’t to a tenth of a run.  That’s just how the math works out, and this gives you the reader how far from the next integer a player is.  Players within a handful of runs of one another can be considered about equal.

So, what about last year’s MVP?  Should Ryan Howard have been a repeat MVP?  What about Albert Pujols?  Prince Fielder hit 50 home runs – surely he deserves some consideration.

First base OPD leaders

First	Last		Team	XRA+	DRS	OPD
Albert	Pujols		STL	32.4	12.1	44.6
Prince	Fielder		MIL	38.3	-7.7	30.6
Todd	Helton		COL	17.2	10.4	27.6
Adrian	Gonzalez	SDP	15.4	1.3	16.7
Mark	Teixeira	ATL	16.6	-0.7	15.9
Ryan	Howard		PHI	23.5	-9.1	14.4

Howard missed some time, and as you can see, he struggles with the glove.  Mark Teixeira’s numbers are his NL stats only.  He was that good – he could challenge for the MVP in 2008.  Prince Fielder was the best hitter, but he was dragged down by his weak glove.  Todd Helton and Albert Pujols have been recognized as good fielders their entire careers, and Pujols is easily the best first baseman.  And he outpaces Rollins in OPD by nearly 20 runs.  At this point, Pujols looks to be the MVP.

Does anyone play right field anymore?  There were approximately zero MVP candidates from right field, and when you see who the best was, well, you will be surprised.

Right field OPD leaders

First	Last		Team	XRA+	DRS	OPD
Corey	Hart		MIL	19.2	3.6	22.8
Jeremy	Hermida		FLA	13.4	5.4	18.8
Jayson	Werth		PHI	10.8	3.3	14.1
Brad	Hawpe		COL	15.8	-2.4	13.5
Ken	Griffey		CIN	15.9	-2.5	13.4

That’s a pretty weak lot.  Jayson Werth did that much damage in half a season.  Right Field was not played well in the NL this past year.  Corey Hart, my friends.  Corey Hart.  Jeremy Hermida.  Wow.

Matt Holliday led the Colorado Rockies charge down the stretch and got lots of late season praise for being the MVP.  The best hitting left fielder from 2007 is *still* an unsigned free agent.  That’s smart baseball decision-making.  However, that’s offense, and there is defense to be considered.  There aren’t really other left fielders close to these two guys.

Left Field OPD Leaders

First	Last		Team	XRA+	DRS	OPD
Matt	Holliday	COL	24.6	13.2	37.8
Barry	Bonds		SFG	38.3	-9.2	29.2
Milton	Bradley		SDP	13.6	3.4	17.0
Adam	Dunn		CIN	20.5	-4.9	15.6

Holliday was the most valuable left fielder, but he wasn’t as valuable as Pujols, and about the same as Ramirez.  He was pretty clearly more valuable than Rollins, and he had all the clutchiness one could want.  Barry Bonds was handily the next best left fielder and had a better season than Rollins in OPD, whether he was weak in the outfield or not.

Carlos Beltran had a terrific argument for MVP in 2006, and followed that season up with another outstanding year.  He won a Gold Glove and hit the ball really well.  There’s little doubt his MVP chances were hurt by the Mets slide.

Center Field OPD Leaders

First	Last		Team	XRA+	DRS	OPD
Carlos	Beltran		NYM	33.0	11.1	44.1
Aaron	Rowand		PHI	20.4	5.1	25.5
Josh	Hamilton	CIN	15.7	1.8	17.5
Hunter	Pence		HOU	19.6	-2.2	17.4

It isn’t common when a player is the best hitter *and* the fielder at a position, but that is the type of player Carlos Beltran is.  Yes, Albert Pujols is too.  As you can see, Beltran climbs to the top of the MVP race, in a dead heat with Albert.  Just like 2006.  And neither won the award then either.  They’ll each likely contend in 2008.

There isn’t a catcher in the NL likely to be considered for the MVP as readily as Joe Mauer or Victor Martinez in the AL.  There is a catcher that is much better than his peers, and probably better enough that he should get some MVP consideration.  He’s also the catcher that logs as much playing time as anyone at the position.

Catcher OPD Leaders

First	Last		Team	XRA+	DRS	OPD
Russell	Martin		LAD	31.7	6.2	37.9
Chris	Snyder		ARI	7.3	6.2	13.6
Yadier	Molina		STL	-0.7	10.1	9.4

Russell Martin is as valuable as Ramirez and Holliday.  He’s more valuable than Rollins.  He has set himself apart from the rest of the NL catchers, and evidently done so quietly.  I knew he was good, but I didn’t realize how much of an advantage the Dodgers had with Martin.  Martin, after reviewing six fielding positions, is the third most valuable player.  I don’t think he is generally recognized as a top ten player in the NL.

Most of the articles I saw were that David Wright should have been MVP.  I know that is who I would have selected.  He hit great and he won a Gold Glove – he isn’t the best fielding third baseman, because Pedro Feliz and Scott Rolen were in the league.  Nonetheless he outhits those guys, and with a decent glove, should be considered an MVP candidate for the next, oh, ten years.

Third Base OPD leaders

First	Last		Team	XRA+	DRS	OPD
David	Wright		NYM	52.1	0.9	53.1
Chipper	Jones		ATL	45.1	7.1	52.3
Miguel	Cabrera		FLA	44.2	-18.7	25.4
Aramis	Ramirez		CHC	17.8	1.5	19.3
Ryan	Braun		MIL	30.5	-14.9	15.6

Rub your eyes and look again.  There is Chipper Jones right on Wright’s heels, and both are way out in front of Pujols/Beltran.  Wright is the best hitting third baseman, and his Gold Glove looks a little shaky, but I can tell you, he had much better numbers defensively before the last two weeks of the season.  Miguel Cabrera is a good hitter, but that defense was atrocious.  Ryan Braun was almost as bad, but was spared that embarrassment by not playing the entire season. 

So there you have it – David Wright..what’s that?  What about second basemen?


Second Base OPD leaders

First	Last		Team	XRA+	DRS	OPD
Chase	Utley		PHI	43.1	21.4	64.4
Jeff	Kent		LAD	19.6	-2.3	17.3
Kelly	Johnson		ATL	20.1	-5.0	15.1
Kazuo	Matsui		COL	0.4	13.0	13.4

Goodness.  Chase Utley is the best hitting second baseman by twenty runs and the best fielding second baseman by about eight runs.  He’s the best second baseman by a staggering 47 runs. Utley is better than the next best at his position than all but two other players are above *average* at their given positions.  Utley is just a great player, and nearly everyone is missing it.  He was also a MVP candidate in 2006, but no one knew it then either.  I expect him to be one in 2008.  Utley also outpaced the two third basemen by more than ten runs.

The top ten OPD leaders for 2007

First	Last		Team	XRA+	DRS	OPD
Chase	Utley		PHI	43.1	21.4	64.4
David	Wright		NYM	52.1	0.9	53.1
Chipper	Jones		ATL	45.1	7.1	52.3
Albert	Pujols		STL	32.4	12.1	44.6
Carlos	Beltran		NYM	33.0	11.1	44.1
Russell	Martin		LAD	31.7	6.2	37.9
Matt	Holliday	COL	24.6	13.2	37.8
Hanley	Ramirez		FLA	53.7	-16.4	37.3
Jose	Reyes		NYM	18.1	14.4	32.4
Prince	Fielder		MIL	38.3	-7.7	30.6

The real MVP of the 2007 season was a Phillie – Chase Utley.  Can Utley chase down the MVP in 2008?

Chris Dial Posted: March 21, 2008 at 03:43 AM | 49 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Related News:

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: March 21, 2008 at 04:24 AM (#2716862)
Utley, in all likelihood, gets the MVP if he doesn't get hurt even with all the publicity Rollins got for the guarantee.
   2. Sparkles Peterson Posted: March 21, 2008 at 04:26 AM (#2716863)
So every year are you going to spend a few weeks or months looking until you find two metrics that, when combined, make a Met appear to be better than Pujols?

Anyway, I love Chase Utley and he might well have been the most valuable player in the NL last year, but I'm conflicted about giving him so much extra credit just because 2B is such a weak position. On one hand it makes a lot of sense, and on the other I can't help but feel that the lack of quality at the position is due as much to managerial and front office inefficiency as it is to 2B requiring a unique set of skills.
   3. Eric J. Seidman Posted: March 21, 2008 at 04:27 AM (#2716864)
Chris,

As a Phillies fan I truly felt that if the MVP was to go to a Phillie in 2007, Rollins was the right choice simply because he played all 162 games at a tough position and helped hold the team together during the times they missed - Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Shane Victorino. Also, as much as we can talk about Citizens Bank Park being a hitter's heaven, one look at Jimmy Rollins' home/road splits in 2007 should put that to rest as a deterrent to him.

Overall, awesome article. The REALLY scary thing about Utley's 2007 is that he also missed 30 games due to a stupid John Lannon up and in fastball. At the time of the injury I'd say he was the frontrunner to win the award and his injury ultimately led to Rollins "Pipp-ing" him.
   4. Charter Member of the Jesus Melendez Fanclub Posted: March 21, 2008 at 04:30 AM (#2716866)
Someone wanna make the ###### tables readable?
   5. baudib Posted: March 21, 2008 at 05:33 AM (#2716873)
Chris:
I know you have Rollins as a generally below-average shortstop but some of Tango's work suggests that he's better than he appears in most metrics. Seems that Rollins, among shortstops of recent vintage, has had a significant homefield disadvantage. Just throwing that out there (I doubt it would change the numbers that much anyway).
   6. fret Posted: March 21, 2008 at 07:35 AM (#2716886)
Is this a pure runs-above-average stat? That is, a purely average player at any position will get a score of 0 no matter how many games he plays? If so, that helps explain why players who missed significant time (Utley, Chipper) come out looking good. Surely some adjustment for playing time is in order.
   7. fret Posted: March 21, 2008 at 08:27 AM (#2716888)
Here are WPA totals from Fangraphs, for what it's worth. These are comparable to the XRA+ except that (1) they're not position-adjusted, and (2) they are in wins above average, not runs above average. It's also quite likely that the zero baseline for Fangraphs is set at a different point from the zero baseline Chris is using.

Tangotiger's position adjustments (here) say:

+1.0 C
+0.5 SS/CF
+0.0 2B/3B
-0.5 LF/RF
-1.0 1B
-1.5 DH

That's in wins of course. So if you take the WPA number, add the position adjustment, and then multiply by 10, you get something that should compare pretty well with the XRA+. That's what I call WPA+ in the table below. The last column Diff = WPA+ - XRA+. Kind of like a clutch score, without getting into the debate over what that means.

FirstName   LastName  Team   WPA WPA+   XRADiff
Chase Utley  PHI 3.84   38.4   43.1 
-4.7
David Wright NYM 4.18   41.8   52.1   
-10.3
Chipper  Jones  ATL 4.31   43.1   45.1 
-2.0
Albert   Pujols STL 4.73   37.3   32.4 
+4.9
Carlos   Beltran   NYM 2.03   25.3   33.0 
-7.7
Russell  Martin LAD 2.15   31.5   31.7 
-0.2
Matt  Holliday  COL 5.15   46.5   24.6   
+21.9
Hanley   Ramirez   FLA 2.54   30.4   53.7   
-23.3
Jose  Reyes  NYM 0.55   10.5   18.1 
-7.6
Prince   Fielder   MIL 5.33   43.3   38.3 
+5.0

Todd  Helton COL 4.88   38.8   17.2   
+21.6 


Minimal changes for everyone except Holliday, Hanley, and to a lesser extent the three Mets. Extra credit for Helton, who vaults himself into the picture. If you take WPA as gospel (which I don't), this actually puts Holliday in a tie with Utley. Holliday would take the lead with a playing time adjustment.

Sparkles Peterson makes a great point in #2 about the overall weakness of 2B. Chris, how do your positional adjustments compare with Tango's?
   8. fret Posted: March 21, 2008 at 08:36 AM (#2716890)
Gah, table failure. Let's try that again.

First Last Team WPA WPAXRADiff
Chase Utley PHI 3.84 38.4 43.1 
-4.7
David Wright NYM 4.18 41.8 52.1 
-10.3
Chipper Jones ATL 4.31 43.1 45.1 
-2.0
Albert Pujols STL 4.73 37.3 32.4 
+4.9
Carlos Beltran NYM 2.03 25.3 33.0 
-7.7
Russell Martin LAD 2.15 31.5 31.7 
-0.2
Matt Hollida
.COL 5.15 46.5 24.6 +21.9
Hanley Ramirez FLA 2.54 30.4 53.7 
-23.3
Jose Reyes NYM 0.55 10.5 18.1 
-7.6
Prince Fielder MIL 5.33 43.3 38.3 
+5.0

Todd Helton COL 4.88 38.8 17.2 
+21.6 
   9. fret Posted: March 21, 2008 at 08:37 AM (#2716891)
I give up.
   10. Chris Dial Posted: March 21, 2008 at 12:21 PM (#2716908)
I do apologize for the tables, but just say - I'll get Dan to fix them.
   11. Chris Dial Posted: March 21, 2008 at 12:24 PM (#2716909)
That is, a purely average player at any position will get a score of 0 no matter how many games he plays? If so, that helps explain why players who missed significant time (Utley, Chipper) come out looking good. Surely some adjustment for playing time is in order.

It is runs above average, "in that playing time". It is adjusted to their specific PT. So, in Utley's time at the plate he hit that much more than a 2B. VORP has Utley at about 68 runs, so I think that jibes with my 43 runs AA.

As I say, even giving Rollins some "full time" advantage, that isn't going to be 40 runs. He's just not that valuable. Unfortunately his park helps him too much in the pretty stats.
   12. Chris Dial Posted: March 21, 2008 at 12:25 PM (#2716910)
So every year are you going to spend a few weeks or months looking until you find two metrics that, when combined, make a Met appear to be better than Pujols?

I didn't have to look very hard in 2007. Nobody has Pujols as the MVP.
   13. Padraic Posted: March 21, 2008 at 02:39 PM (#2716984)
Utley is just a great player, and nearly everyone is missing it.

I think almost everyone recognizes he is a great player.

I think, however, that most people would seriously doubt he is the best defensive player of all the players listed above, which is what is claimed by your defensive metric.
   14. Padraic Posted: March 21, 2008 at 02:45 PM (#2716990)
Unfortunately his park helps him too much in the pretty stats.

Unfortunately for whom?

Ramirez is clearly the best hitter and Reyes and Tulo are obviously better defenders.

I'm also curious about the "playing time" adjustment. Is the number cumulative, like VORP? While Rollins obviously got a ton of ABs by hitting leadoff for a team that led the league in scoring, he deserves more than marginal credit for playing all 162 games for a team that won its division by one game.
   15. Cowboy Popup Posted: March 21, 2008 at 03:08 PM (#2717013)
Wright is the best hitting third baseman, and his Gold Glove looks a little shaky, but I can tell you, he had much better numbers defensively before the last two weeks of the season.

How many defensive runs would you guess Wright cost the team during those last two weeks of the season?
   16. JPWF13 Posted: March 21, 2008 at 03:41 PM (#2717046)
This is the way I had it (Runs above replacement using ERP, runs above/below average defensively using ZR/RZR and a WPA adjustment):

Albert Pujols 6.9
Chase Utley 6.7
David Wright 6.7
Chipper Jones 6.7
Matt Holliday 6.1
Todd Helton 5.2
Prince Fielder 5.0
Jimmy Rollins 4.8
Carlos Beltran 4.7
Troy Tulowitzki 4.6
   17. JPWF13 Posted: March 21, 2008 at 03:43 PM (#2717048)
Basically I'm leaning more and more to the idea that a Phillie was the MVP- Utley, the voters simply picked the wrong guy.
   18. zenbitz Posted: March 21, 2008 at 05:43 PM (#2717135)
Russell Martin can suck it.
   19. Scoriano Flitcraft Posted: March 21, 2008 at 07:29 PM (#2717196)
Russell Martin can suck it.


I take it you like his defense? They used to say that about Brooks Robinson. He was teh "Human Vacuum Cleaner."
   20. fret Posted: March 21, 2008 at 08:07 PM (#2717226)
I do apologize for the tables, but just say - I'll get Dan to fix them.

Sure. No problem.

It is runs above average, "in that playing time". It is adjusted to their specific PT. So, in Utley's time at the plate he hit that much more than a 2B.

Okay. Wouldn't it make sense to extend everyone's stats out to 162 games, filling the gap with the average production of a backup at that position? Of course, you are right that Rollins is too far behind for it to help him much, but hey, Wright might catch Utley.

Also, specific question. What are the implied positional adjustments, based on the gap between the average 2B, average SS, etc?
   21. JPWF13 Posted: March 21, 2008 at 08:18 PM (#2717234)
Okay. Wouldn't it make sense to extend everyone's stats out to 162 games, filling the gap with the average production of a backup at that position?


That's what Vorp and Warp are "supposed" to do....
   22. HGM Posted: March 21, 2008 at 09:02 PM (#2717269)
VORP doesn't do that...It's a counting stat.
   23. CrosbyBird Posted: March 21, 2008 at 11:47 PM (#2717373)
I really have a lot of trouble with single-year "runs above positional league average" because it can (and I believe it has here) make players look better or worse than they are based on the concentration of talent. The NL is incredibly weak at 2B, and that's going to give Utley an enormous advantage over any NL 3B, where there happened to be three excellent guys playing the same position, or NL SS.

Do you happen to have numbers compared to ML instead of the NL/AL? If not, I wonder if it wouldn't be better to simply compare offense based on the whole league instead of position and use some sort of positional adjustment based on a 5-year or 10-year factor.
   24. Tom Cervo, backup catcher Posted: March 22, 2008 at 12:23 AM (#2717390)

Do you happen to have numbers compared to ML instead of the NL/AL?


I do. He's compared to NL hitters still (not including pitchers of course) but the adjustment is based off of how NL and AL 2B hit compared to the league average rather than just how NL 2B did. (I don't think it made much of a difference because I had AL 2B -3 per 650 PA and NL 2B -4) He still came out #1 in my WARP (LWTS for offense and ZR for defense).

He's really not getting a huge boost on offense for playing 2B either. I had him at 42 BRAA and 45 BRAP. Combined with his defense it put him 7 wins above an average 2B and 9 over a replacement level, both of which were the best in the majors (just ahead of A-Rod).
   25. Chris Dial Posted: March 22, 2008 at 04:52 AM (#2717467)
I think, however, that most people would seriously doubt he is the best defensive player of all the players listed above, which is what is claimed by your defensive metric.

I'd be surprised if anyone thought Chase *wasn't* the best defensive player listed above. Utley is a terrific defensive player.
   26. Chris Dial Posted: March 22, 2008 at 04:53 AM (#2717468)
I'm also curious about the "playing time" adjustment. Is the number cumulative, like VORP? While Rollins obviously got a ton of ABs by hitting leadoff for a team that led the league in scoring, he deserves more than marginal credit for playing all 162 games for a team that won its division by one game.

I don't think a player should get much "extra credit" ever. Rollins got more chances to excel. He just didn't.
   27. Chris Dial Posted: March 22, 2008 at 04:55 AM (#2717470)
What are the implied positional adjustments, based on the gap between the average 2B, average SS, etc?

Each comparison is contained within the position, so I don't feel the need to make an additional adjustment. Tango likes to figure positions as "hitter", and then add his positional adjustment. I don't think that's the way to go.
   28. Chris Dial Posted: March 22, 2008 at 05:00 AM (#2717473)
I really have a lot of trouble with single-year "runs above positional league average" because it can (and I believe it has here) make players look better or worse than they are based on the concentration of talent. The NL is incredibly weak at 2B, and that's going to give Utley an enormous advantage over any NL 3B, where there happened to be three excellent guys playing the same position, or NL SS.

Well, I look at it like this: each team wins by outperforming every other team at each position. The advantage the Phils have at second base shouldn't be discounted. THat there is a lot of talent at third *does* mean a given team's advantage there isn't as great, and thus the value of that player is lessened - ther eis more avaialable talent at a position, so the value of a good player is less. WHen ther eis less talent at a position, having the best one is of great value. Think of the Mets having Piazza when teh rest of the league did not.
   29. CrosbyBird Posted: March 22, 2008 at 06:09 AM (#2717493)
e's compared to NL hitters still (not including pitchers of course) but the adjustment is based off of how NL and AL 2B hit compared to the league average rather than just how NL 2B did. (I don't think it made much of a difference because I had AL 2B -3 per 650 PA and NL 2B -4)

That seems like a pretty big difference, considering how much Utley contributes to the average himself. If I'm reading the numbers correctly and you subtract Utley from the equation, the NL average drops to -8.5. That's more than half a win of difference, no?

Here's what I did in case I'm doing something ugly with the numbers: [(-4 * 16) - 64]/15

THat there is a lot of talent at third *does* mean a given team's advantage there isn't as great, and thus the value of that player is lessened - ther eis more avaialable talent at a position, so the value of a good player is less.

I suppose that's totally reasonable for MVP discussions, which are (purportedly) about value in a given season.
   30. PreservedFish Posted: March 22, 2008 at 10:10 AM (#2717514)
I'd be surprised if anyone thought Chase *wasn't* the best defensive player listed above.

That's hyperbole, right? I would have nominated Tulowitzki, Beltran, Reyes, Rowand, and Molina ahead of Utley. And maybe Pujols and Texeira and Martin and Holliday. That shouldn't be surprising - I think my list would be very similar to the average baseball fan's, stathead or not.
   31. Chris Dial Posted: March 22, 2008 at 03:27 PM (#2717565)
Utley was the best 2B last year as well. He's an outstanding fielder.
   32. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 22, 2008 at 04:11 PM (#2717582)
And maybe Pujols and Texeira

I think it's very hard to rate a 1B as a top defensive player, when comparing to 2B/SS/3B/CF.

I'd imagine there are a couple of hundred guys in the majors that would put up really outstanding defensive numbers at first, but they play more defensively demanding positions. I guess philosophically I'm siding with Tango's positional adjustments.

It doesn't make any sense to me that moving ARod to 1B all of a sudden makes him a "better" defensive player, when all accumulated baseball wisdom is you don't make that switch until the guy can't handle another position. Likewise, the fact that Pujols couldn't stay in the OF or 3B, or Ortiz can't play even 1B has to be a net negative to them as overall players. If Ortiz would be a -15 1B, you still have to count that -15 against him, even if its hidden by DHing.

I'm pretty sure the average baseball fan doesn't consider any firstbasemen to be among the top 20 defensive players in MLB.
   33. BDC Posted: March 22, 2008 at 04:36 PM (#2717588)
I'm pretty sure the average baseball fan doesn't consider any firstbasemen to be among the top 20 defensive players in MLB

Yes. The exceptions over the years have been great infielders who, because they threw left-handed, were limited to first base: Hal Chase, Joe Judge, Wes Parker, Mike Hegan. When Don Mattingly, Keith Hernandez, and Will Clark were all active, you might have gotten some average-fan arguments for them in the top 20, because they were such good infielders in every respect except the arm they happened to throw with. Todd Helton and Adrian Gonzalez are the closest to that model at the moment. Teixeira and Pujols are very much the RH type who slid down the spectrum from OF and/or 3B. They are good 1B, but nearly every major-league 3B would be better.
   34. Chris Dial Posted: March 22, 2008 at 04:39 PM (#2717590)
They are good 1B, but nearly every major-league 3B would be better.

I think Pujols is an exception to that.
   35. Tom Cervo, backup catcher Posted: March 22, 2008 at 04:43 PM (#2717594)
That seems like a pretty big difference, considering how much Utley contributes to the average himself. If I'm reading the numbers correctly and you subtract Utley from the equation, the NL average drops to -8.5. That's more than half a win of difference, no?


I subtracted him and got -6 for the NL, which of course is a pretty big difference for one player to make.

The fact that he affects the average 2B line that much is a point in favor of him getting the MVP, IMO.
   36. Boots Day Posted: March 22, 2008 at 06:09 PM (#2717620)
The advantage the Phils have at second base shouldn't be discounted.

It's one thing to consider that advantage at SS or C, but further down the defensive spectrum, it just doesn't count as much. The Rockies could move Tulowitzki to second, or the Mets could move Reyes (whoops, they already tried that), and they'd probably be able to handle the position really well, but that kind of switch would have the result of (a) making the Rockies or Mets worse, and (b) dropping Utley's value a bit, according to your system, since those guys hit a lot better than your average second baseman. That doesn't make any sense.

The fact that Tulo and Reyes are more valuable defensive players than Utley helps Utley's MVP ranking, according to your system. Right? Am I missing something?
   37. baconears Posted: March 22, 2008 at 08:42 PM (#2717674)
Chris dial.

No one cares fool. You idiot midgets think people like this site. Well guess what, no one likes any of you, except Kevin. You idiots can eat my poop. You idiots should know that Matt Holliday will win the MVP, or Ryan Howard. The Cy will go to Santana, Webb, or Peavy. If you continue to ban me, I will continue to harass you.
   38. PreservedFish Posted: March 22, 2008 at 08:52 PM (#2717676)
I think it's very hard to rate a 1B as a top defensive player,

If Albert Pujols saves 15 runs above the average 1B, then you have to give him credit for those runs. If Edgar Renteria doesn't save any runs above the average SS, then that's his fielding number for this debate, zero. By scoring the players within their positions for hitting you are already giving credit for the assumed difference in abstract defensive ability. Saying that Pujols' +15 doesn't mean as much as Rollins' +2 is double counting.

Likewise, if a 1B is consistently dominant within his position, I have no problem calling him one of the best defensive players in baseball. And by the way I think it's wrong to assume that Casey Blake or Chipper Jones or another average 3B would instantly be outstanding at first.
   39. Lassus Posted: March 22, 2008 at 09:03 PM (#2717683)
baconears with the comedy post of the year. Of course, it's only March.

Midgets? Kevin?
   40. Gambling Rent Czar Posted: March 22, 2008 at 09:06 PM (#2717686)
Jimmy Rollins won the MVP, and as a Mets fan, I was naturally irritated.

Last year Ryan Howard won the award when Carlos Beltran deserved it, and I wasn’t too keen on a second straight year of a Phil taking a Mets player’s rightful award.

I stopped reading right there
   41. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 22, 2008 at 09:36 PM (#2717700)
If Albert Pujols saves 15 runs above the average 1B, then you have to give him credit for those runs. If Edgar Renteria doesn't save any runs above the average SS, then that's his fielding number for this debate, zero. By scoring the players within their positions for hitting you are already giving credit for the assumed difference in abstract defensive ability. Saying that Pujols' +15 doesn't mean as much as Rollins' +2 is double counting.

I guess I don't buy that scoring hitting against position adjusts properly.

What if CF or SS or 3B just happen to have a high concentration of good hitters? Historically, 1B was not the position of mashers, b/c the best athletes never played there. In the 1950's it was probably easier to be an above average hitter at 1B than CF. Or in the late '90s when you had Jeter/ARod/Garciaparra/Tejada at SS in the AL. Did that make those players less valuable?

Abstractly, it just doesn't make sense. Say 1B and 3B have the same offensive levels, but the defensive difficulty difference is 10 runs. We have Albert Pujols and his indentical twin Juan. Juan plays 3B, Albert plays 1B. They put up identical batting lines. Juan is an average 3B, +0, Albert is +10 at 1B. If we reversed the positions, the results would be Albert +0, Juan +10.

You're saying Albert is better than Juan. But he's not, he's just playing an easier position.
   42. Chris Dial Posted: March 22, 2008 at 10:26 PM (#2717723)
The fact that Tulo and Reyes are more valuable defensive players than Utley helps Utley's MVP ranking, according to your system. Right? Am I missing something?

What you are missing is the real suggestion that they would be graet 2B. I doubt they'd be better at 2B than Utley (Reyes played there).

And what you are missing (and someone else did) is that it doesn't matter what someone "might have done". It matters what they did do. Utley's value to his team was greater than Tulo or Reyes' to their team. Because what Tulo and Reyes couldn't outpace their counterparts - every team got X production from each position. The player that generated the most differential value for his team is Chase Utley.
   43. Chris Dial Posted: March 22, 2008 at 10:27 PM (#2717725)
You're saying Albert is better than Juan. But he's not, he's just playing an easier position.

What I am saying is that Albert provides more value to his team, relative to their opponents; that is he is more valuable.
   44. PreservedFish Posted: March 23, 2008 at 07:51 PM (#2718050)
They put up identical batting lines. Juan is an average 3B, +0, Albert is +10 at 1B. If we reversed the positions, the results would be Albert +0, Juan +10.

You're saying Albert is better than Juan.


That's wrong. Juan would be scored as a better hitter than Albert, according to the system that Dial is using, because he plays a position in which quality bats are more scarce. They would be ranked evenly.
   45. Boots Day Posted: March 23, 2008 at 08:31 PM (#2718061)
What you are missing is the real suggestion that they would be graet 2B. I doubt they'd be better at 2B than Utley (Reyes played there).

I'm not saying they'd be better than Utley. I'm saying if they were even average defensive 2B, which I think they both would be, their offense would bring up the average rankings for NL second basemen enough to knock Utley down a peg. Utley would still be the best 2B in the league, but he wouldn't be so far ahead of the competition as to rank as the best overall player in the league.

Utley's value to his team was greater than Tulo or Reyes' to their team. Because what Tulo and Reyes couldn't outpace their counterparts - every team got X production from each position. The player that generated the most differential value for his team is Chase Utley.

But Chase Utley's goal isn't to generate the most differential value for his team. The Phillies aren't sitting around hoping Utley generates more differential value than anyone else in the league.

Imagine a league with a bunch of great centerfielders: Willie Mays, Duke Snider, Mickey Mantle, Richie Ashburn, Ken Griffey Jr., Tris Speaker, Bernie Williams. Imagine every team has someone to compare with those guys, but for whatever reason, the best rightfielder in this league is Jesse Barfield, followed by Barbaro Garbey, Wilbur Howard, Scott Podsednik, Charlie Moore, etc. Jesse Barfield might deliver the most differential value for his team - but he wouldn't be this league's most valuable player.
   46. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: March 23, 2008 at 09:29 PM (#2718066)
Ithink he would be. Great CFs in your league are a dime a dozen, but a great RF is rare.
   47. salvomania Posted: March 23, 2008 at 11:47 PM (#2718096)
I didn't have to look very hard in 2007. Nobody has Pujols as the MVP.

Joe Sheehan did:

Does this mean that Albert Pujols, who isn’t anywhere near the popular discussion, was the NL MVP in 2007? It’s very hard to build a case against him. He was a Gold Glove-caliber defender in all three systems, and the fifth-best hitter in the league by VORP (third-best by EqA and EqR, fourth in RARP). We’re already adjusting for positional value and park there, which makes it hard to start working up cases for Utley, Rollins, or Wright.

As much as I want to vote for Wright, who was my off-the-cuff choice for NL MVP over the past five weeks, he was outplayed by Pujols, and there aren’t enough soft factors to overcome that. Defense matters, and Pujols was a tremendous defensive player, so good that he leapfrogs the few players in the league who out-hit him. Albert Pujols is my choice for NL MVP.

Albert Pujols
David Wright
Jake Peavy
Matt Holliday
Chase Utley
Jimmy Rollins
Chipper Jones
Miguel Cabrera
Hanley Ramirez
Brandon Webb
   48. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: March 28, 2008 at 04:54 PM (#2722461)
There is Chipper Jones right on Wright’s heels,

Said as if a difference of 0.8 is actually meaningful. Funny stuff.

Not surprised by Wright's defensive number. At all.
   49. bj316 Posted: April 05, 2008 at 07:53 AM (#2731479)
The fundamental flaws against ALL of the arguments against Jimmy Rollins seems to be the fact that the writers of these arguments want to turn the MOST VALUABLE PLAYER award into the PLAYER WITH THE BEST STATISTICS award. And then most can't even agree on which statistics should be included in the determination.

How about this? The Mets blew a gigantic lead down the stretch so let's just throw all of those players out the window first. It would be like presenting an award to the best crew member on the Titanic.

Second, look at J-Roll's stats down the stretch. The Phillies were 7 games back on Aug. 25th. In their final 34 games, Rollins hit .335 with a .960 OPS, 19 extra-base hits and either scored or knocked in over 25% of their runs during the stretch. He was 16 out of 17 in stolen bases. They went 23-11 and he was the difference maker between who went and who stayed home come the post-season.

You could make a good argument for Pujols but I really struggle with giving the award to a team that was sub-.500.

The only other player I would have given serious consideration to was Matt Holliday for similar reasons as Rollins.

Look forward to another sad day for Mets fans when they miss the playoffs again and Utley makes three the magic number in '08.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
LA Podcasting Hombre of Anaheim
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Syndicate

Page rendered in 0.6737 seconds
42 querie(s) executed