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Friday, August 05, 2011

FanGraphs: Cameron: The AL MVP Debate

Why would anybody come here if they had a little pony?

Are you a traditionalist? Adrian Gonzalez is hitting .356, leads the league in RBIs, and plays for a first place team. He’s the classic model of what a league MVP has traditionally been. If you like RBIs and team win totals, you don’t have to look far to find your obvious candidate.

Did you grow up reading Bill James? Then you’re probably in the “best player should win” camp, and you prefer to reward a guy for what he did and not what his teammates helped him do. Jose Bautista is probably your guy, since he’s having one of the great offensive seasons in baseball history, and is far and away the best hitter in baseball this year.

Do you have a strong preference for positional scarcity? Your pool is a little more crowded since there are a lot of up-the-middle guys having strong seasons this year. Dustin Pedroia could be your candidate – depending on your feelings about defensive metrics – but Jacoby Ellsbury, Curtis Granderson, and Asdrubal Cabrera could also work their way into the mix depending on just what kind of offense/defense ratio you prefer to look at.

...So, despite the fact that the crowd is superficially crowded, there are still really only two guys who look like they may gain a lot of traction when the final votes come down – Gonzalez and Bautista. And really, that means we’re headed for the same argument we have every year; best player or most RBIs on a winning team guy. You’ll hear arguments about all kinds of other variables, but in the end, those are basically the two camps.

Repoz Posted: August 05, 2011 at 02:59 PM | 35 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: awards, blue jays, projections, red sox, sabermetrics

Reader Comments and Retorts

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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. Paul D(uda) Posted: August 05, 2011 at 03:22 PM (#3893367)
"debate"
   2. Dale Sams Posted: August 05, 2011 at 03:40 PM (#3893381)
A most RBI's on a winning team guy has won once in the AL since 2004. Alex Rodriguez in 2007, when he was the best player in the league.
   3. Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields) Posted: August 05, 2011 at 05:14 PM (#3893411)
Justin Morneau in 2006. Big Papi had more ribbies, but the Sox didn't make the playoffs.
   4. andrewberg Posted: August 05, 2011 at 05:25 PM (#3893422)
most RBI's on a winning team guy


Look out, the Jays are 56-55 and called up Lawrie today. Not in the postseason race, but it would be hard to say that Bautista's stats are meaningless since they may end up with the best record outside of the playoff teams.
   5. Justin T is going to crush some tacos Thursday Posted: August 05, 2011 at 05:36 PM (#3893432)
I think Lawrie spotted the field too large of a lead to compete for the RBI crown this year.
   6. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 05, 2011 at 05:38 PM (#3893436)
I'm think the Blue Jays are a decent team stuck in a division with two of the three best teams in baseball, plus a good Tampa Bay team...but 85 wins is not what most people think of when you say a "winning team". It's 90-plus wins, a playoff spot, etc.

I also acknowledge the Blue Jays, if in the AL Central, would win 90 games and make the playoffs...it doesn't seem fair to be a Blue Jays fan lately...
   7. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: August 05, 2011 at 05:42 PM (#3893441)
but it would be hard to say that Bautista's stats are meaningless since they may end up with the best record outside of the playoff teams.
"They could have missed the playoffs without him."
   8. RJ in TO Posted: August 05, 2011 at 05:44 PM (#3893443)
I also acknowledge the Blue Jays, if in the AL Central, would win 90 games and make the playoffs...it doesn't seem fair to be a Blue Jays fan lately...

On the plus side, at least we get to watch Jose Bautista on a regular basis.
   9. RJ in TO Posted: August 05, 2011 at 05:45 PM (#3893444)
"They could have missed the playoffs without him."

I see you've read the FanGraphs comments already.
   10. JJ1986 Posted: August 05, 2011 at 06:01 PM (#3893458)
Why is it MVP prognostication season now? There are two months left to be played and little written or discussed at this time is going to be relevant still when the season is over.
   11. 'Spos stares out the window, waits for spring Posted: August 05, 2011 at 06:10 PM (#3893467)
...it doesn't seem fair to be a Blue Jays fan lately...


The games are still worth watching & the gap between the Halladay & Bautista eras was negligible. Save your pity for Astros fans.
   12. Rusty Priske Posted: August 05, 2011 at 06:15 PM (#3893472)
82 wins is a "winning team"
   13. Srul Itza Posted: August 05, 2011 at 06:16 PM (#3893475)
Why is it MVP prognostication season now?


Because if you wait until the end, you can only write one or two columns about it. If you start now, you can probably find an excuse to get 5 or 6 columns out of it.
   14. JJ1986 Posted: August 05, 2011 at 06:28 PM (#3893484)
And when did Fangraphs start hiding comments that got too many "thumbs downs"? That's a really ugly idea.
   15. Dandy Little Glove Man Posted: August 05, 2011 at 06:33 PM (#3893488)
"They could have missed the playoffs without him."

Exactly. This is the only argument necessary to disqualify Bautista. In my mind, awarding the MVP to a player on a non-playoff team is the height of absurdity. What difference did that player make? Similarly, since the Red Sox and Yankees each possess an 8-game lead over the Angels for the Wild Card, one must disqualify each member of those teams from MVP contention. They could have made the playoffs without him.

If the season ended today, the AL MVP simply must play for the Rangers (1 up) or Tigers (3 up). The best player available is Verlander, but awarding the MVP to a pitcher is indecorous and offends the sensibilities except in the most extreme circumstances. A pitcher's proper award is the Cy Young. The next best player available is Miguel Cabrera, but the Tigers may be a playoff team right now if he were merely replaced with an average first baseman. That is far from ideal. It seems that Adrian Beltre, the Ranger with the highest WAR, is the most appropriate pick. Although 5 members of his former team appear to be having at least a slightly better season, surely Beltre has been the more valuable player given his team's current position. Replace him with even an average player and the Rangers would plummet right out of the playoffs. Beltre is clearly the most worthy MVP candidate.
   16. Dan Posted: August 05, 2011 at 06:51 PM (#3893497)
And when did Fangraphs start hiding comments that got too many "thumbs downs"? That's a really ugly idea.


I can't say that I regularly peruse the comments there, but the few times I have seen them it's mostly an echo chamber, which I'm sure is exacerbated by them now being able to thumbs down any non-echo chamber posts
   17. cardsfanboy Posted: August 05, 2011 at 06:54 PM (#3893501)
Exactly. This is the only argument necessary to disqualify Bautista. In my mind, awarding the MVP to a player on a non-playoff team is the height of absurdity. What difference did that player make? Similarly, since the Red Sox and Yankees each possess an 8-game lead over the Angels for the Wild Card, one must disqualify each member of those teams from MVP contention. They could have made the playoffs without him.

If the season ended today, the AL MVP simply must play for the Rangers (1 up) or Tigers (3 up). The best player available is Verlander, but awarding the MVP to a pitcher is indecorous and offends the sensibilities except in the most extreme circumstances. A pitcher's proper award is the Cy Young. The next best player available is Miguel Cabrera, but the Tigers may be a playoff team right now if he were merely replaced with an average first baseman. That is far from ideal. It seems that Adrian Beltre, the Ranger with the highest WAR, is the most appropriate pick. Although 5 members of his former team appear to be having at least a slightly better season, surely Beltre has been the more valuable player given his team's current position. Replace him with even an average player and the Rangers would plummet right out of the playoffs. Beltre is clearly the most worthy MVP candidate.




I'm hoping that the entire comment was some absurdist performance art, because not even sports writers would say something as ridiculous.

In my mind, awarding the MVP to a player on a non-playoff team is the height of absurdity.


No, the height of absurdity is giving out an individual award to a player because of his teammates. (well to be honest, the height of absurdity in baseball terms(recent) was putting Jim Rice in the hof or voting for Jack Morris) but in regards to MVP debate the height of absurdity is awarding an individual award based upon team actions (in the Cy Young debate the height of absurdity is voting for a Cy Young award based upon a theoretical model like fip)
   18. Famous Original Joe C Posted: August 05, 2011 at 07:00 PM (#3893508)
No, the height of absurdity is giving out an individual award to a player because of his teammates.

cfb, I think he agrees with you - his post seemed to be in jest.
   19. Blubaldo Jimenez (OMJ) Posted: August 05, 2011 at 07:01 PM (#3893509)
Exactly. This is the only argument necessary to disqualify Bautista. In my mind, awarding the MVP to a player on a non-playoff team is the height of absurdity. What difference did that player make? Similarly, since the Red Sox and Yankees each possess an 8-game lead over the Angels for the Wild Card, one must disqualify each member of those teams from MVP contention. They could have made the playoffs without him.



So to you MVP means best player on the crappiest team to make the playoffs?

.....
Wow, just wow.
   20. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 05, 2011 at 07:05 PM (#3893512)
15 is really rather obviously a joke.
   21. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: August 05, 2011 at 07:07 PM (#3893514)
I'm hoping that the entire comment was some absurdist performance art...

Au contraire, it's actually pretty good performance art.

So to you MVP means best player on the crappiest team to make the playoffs?

Scoff as you will, but this argument has in fact been put forth by people who actually voted in years past.
   22. Paul D(uda) Posted: August 05, 2011 at 07:10 PM (#3893520)
.it doesn't seem fair to be a Blue Jays fan lately

I disagree. You get to watch Jose Bautista. There's not greater joy in fandom.

You also get to watch Romero, Morrow, Cecil, Escobar, Rasmus, Thames, Arrencibia and even Encarnacion. The only bad part is watching anyone in their bullpen not named Casey Jannsen.
   23. RJ in TO Posted: August 05, 2011 at 07:19 PM (#3893531)
The only bad part is watching anyone in their bullpen not named Casey Jannsen.

Unfortunately, this part is absolutely horrible.
   24. Dandy Little Glove Man Posted: August 05, 2011 at 07:25 PM (#3893533)
cfb, I think he agrees with you - his post seemed to be in jest

100%. Sorry for misleading anyone into thinking otherwise. I'll slowly back away from the thread now. This MVP discussion is more intense than I realized.
   25. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: August 05, 2011 at 07:45 PM (#3893547)
#15 -

So, by that reasoning, you're saying Craig Counsell is actually the best player of the last 15 years?

http://www.onionsportsnetwork.com/articles/turns-out-craig-counsell-was-actually-best-basebal,6581/
   26. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: August 05, 2011 at 07:48 PM (#3893551)
100%. Sorry for misleading anyone into thinking otherwise. I'll slowly back away from the thread now. This MVP discussion is more intense than I realized.
I was hoping you were going to keep it going for another few paragraphs and end up landing on someone like Felix Pie.

Also, a propos of nothing, while clicking around on bbref I noticed that the A's team offense at the moment has a lower OPS+ (86) than Marco Scutaro (89).
   27. Famous Original Joe C Posted: August 05, 2011 at 07:59 PM (#3893559)
Also, a propos of nothing, while clicking around on bbref I noticed that the A's team offense at the moment has a lower OPS+ (86) than Marco Scutaro (89).

The Mariners have a lower OPS+ (79) than Juan Pierre (80). .228/.291/.335 - I had no idea it had gotten THAT bad again.
   28. Matthew E Posted: August 05, 2011 at 08:06 PM (#3893563)
...it doesn't seem fair to be a Blue Jays fan lately...


Strictly speaking, it's not, but.

I'm on record as being pessimistic about whether the Jays will ever win anything of consequence again. But let's say for the sake of argument that I'm not. Anthopoulos is doing all the right things in putting this roster together. If it works, and the Jays do start a stretch of a few years in which they can win 95 or so games, beat the Red Sox and Yankees and Rays and have some postseason success...

... well, that'll be a lot more satisfying than if they sneaked into an AL Central title with 87 wins. A lot more.

I don't think it'll ever happen. I hope I'm wrong. It would be remarkably tasty to witness the Jays crushing their enemies, driving their enemies before them, and hearing the lamentation of their women.

But right now the Jays are just another snake cult.
   29. Mom makes botox doctors furious Posted: August 05, 2011 at 08:23 PM (#3893568)
"since he’s having one of the great offensive seasons in baseball history"

is that really the going opinion among the Children of Bill James crowd???
   30. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: August 05, 2011 at 08:38 PM (#3893579)
Isn't everyone really a child of Bill James now? I mean, they show OBP and talk about CS% on TV broadcasts.
   31. Mom makes botox doctors furious Posted: August 05, 2011 at 08:52 PM (#3893587)
well, my son's name is William, so maybe there's something to that...
   32. shoewizard Posted: August 05, 2011 at 10:08 PM (#3893639)
"since he’s having one of the great offensive seasons in baseball history"



is that really the going opinion among the Children of Bill James crowd???


I Hadn't thought about it like that. Bautista's 202 OPS+ currently ranks as the 42nd best all time among batting title qualified players since 1901

Link

thats a great season if he maintains it, but sounds like Cameron may be jumping the gun here a little. My guess is he falls under 200 before the end of the season...(Which is why I showed 190 as the floor here)
   33. Greg K Posted: August 05, 2011 at 10:39 PM (#3893648)
The games are still worth watching & the gap between the Halladay & Bautista eras was negligible. Save your pity for Astros fans.

Hey speak for yourself, I thrive on pity!
   34. Ron J Posted: August 06, 2011 at 12:28 AM (#3893824)
In my mind, awarding the MVP to a player on a non-playoff team is the height of absurdity.


Correct. True greatness implies pitching in on the talent acquisition front.
   35. Walt Davis Posted: August 06, 2011 at 08:06 AM (#3894122)
Bautista's 202 OPS+ currently ranks as the 42nd best all time

Yes, but if you take out the GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY! Bonds, McGwire and Sosa, it's #6 of the expansion era behind Bagwell and Thomas (both in the shortened 94 season), McCovey, Mantle and Brett. So if he keeps it up, that will be quite impressive to the punters -- the best "clean" full-season OPS+ in 30 years.

Note two of Bonds' seasons were before the steroid clock officially starts but I say we burn all his records at the stake.

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