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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Haudricourt: Ryan Braun might be left off MVP ballots

I’d question the chain of custody and ballot collection procedure.

More than one national baseball columnist has speculated that voters for the 2012 National League Most Valuable Player award might hold something against the Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun.

The reason? His positive drug test from last October. The one that Braun got overturned on appeal. The one that was supposed to be confidential shy of a guilty verdict by an arbitrator. The one that has nothing to do with the 2012 season, when Braun has passed every drug test administered.

...Voters are going to do what they’re going to do. But if any leave Braun off their 10-man ballot completely there will be some explaining to do because his offensive numbers absolutely make him a leading candidate to claim MVP honors again.

...But how does Posey’s offensive production compare with Braun’s? He has a big lead in batting average - .335 to .315 entering Saturday - but Braun had better numbers in nearly every other category: 40 to 23 in home runs, 107 to 96 in RBI , 332 to 272 in total bases, 98 to 74 in runs scored, .599 to .545 in slugging percentage, .989 to .954 in OPS and 29 to one in stolen bases. Posey had a .409 on-base percentage to .390 for Braun.

On numbers alone, Braun has the edge over Posey. He leads the league in homers, RBI, slugging, total bases and OPS. Accordingly, if Posey gets much stronger support than Braun in the BBWAA balloting, something else likely is in play. That scenario would indicate some voters believe Braun escaped a 50-game suspension to start the season merely through good lawyering. And MLB did him no favors by firing arbitrator Shyam Das in outrage after the verdict.

Repoz Posted: September 22, 2012 at 11:11 PM | 42 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: awards, brewers

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: September 22, 2012 at 11:32 PM (#4243378)
That's fine with me because Braun isn't a very good MVP candidate.

It's the same thing going on in the American League, just less extreme. Braun rakes like hell, but Posey actually has a better OPS+ (171 to 160), and while Braun is actually a very good defensive left fielder (at least +/- thinks so), that's nowhere near the defensive value of a good catcher, such as Buster Posey.

Posey is the MVP. If you want to make a vigorous case for both the defensive value of catchers and the large gap between Yadier Molina's defensive value and Posey's, you could argue for Yadier Molina. Braun is lining up behind those guys at least, and also behind Andrew McCutchen, who also (a) has a higher OPS+ than Braun and (b) plays a much more important defensive position than Braun.
   2. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: September 22, 2012 at 11:40 PM (#4243383)
Actually, Mike Trout is the MVP of the National League, too.
   3. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: September 22, 2012 at 11:44 PM (#4243384)
Actually, Mike Trout is the MVP of the National League, too.


Good point. You know how Ryan Braun's .599 slugging dwarfs Posey's? Well, Mike Trout slugged .592 and OBP'd .471 against National League pitching. Q.E.D.
   4. The kids disappeared, now Der-K has too much candy Posted: September 22, 2012 at 11:50 PM (#4243387)
Braun's a perfectly reasonable candidate.

Posey's positional advantage is mitigated by playing a lot of first (26 games), not all that well - and OPS+ underrates Braun v. Posey (particularly wrt SB, DP). B-ref has Braun as part of a three way tie for the league lead in WAR (6.8 with McCutchen and Molina(!), Posey's next at 6.4) - he also outperforms Posey (setting aside that all this stuff should be used w/ error bars) in situational measures, like WPA-WPA/LI. (Posey looks better in base-out metrics.)

There are loads of reasonable candidates this year.
   5. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 22, 2012 at 11:54 PM (#4243390)
zeth

c'mon. braun is a legit candidate though i freely acknowledge he won't win

why the need to write obviously wrong statements?
   6. akrasian Posted: September 23, 2012 at 01:42 AM (#4243415)
Since Braun didn't deserve it last year but won because of questionable voter reasoning, I won't be fussed if he doesn't win this year due to questionable voter reasoning.
   7. Walt Davis Posted: September 23, 2012 at 02:09 AM (#4243418)
The voters tend to like Cs in MVP voting, at least those not named Mike Piazza. Posey getting to 100 RBI would probably do it. Molina throws a bit of a wild card into that reasoning but with just 69 RBI I'm pretty sure they'll prefer Posey. Also the Cards have to hold on for Molina to have a chance.

As to Braun -- people leaving him off their ballot entirely would be evidence of roid resentment. I'm hoping somebody has the guts to slip Melky a 10th place vote. :-)
   8. Bhaakon Posted: September 23, 2012 at 03:42 AM (#4243432)
As to Braun -- people leaving him off their ballot entirely would be evidence of roid resentment. I'm hoping somebody has the guts to slip Melky a 10th place vote. :-)


No way. I'm not big on voting over 'roids resentment, but suspension resentment is another matter entirely.
   9.     Hey Gurl Posted: September 23, 2012 at 03:53 AM (#4243434)
The 10-man ballot is absurd. I would name my top three and then toss in 7 random names to get everyone all huffy.
   10. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: September 23, 2012 at 08:19 AM (#4243463)
Harveys: If by reasonable you mean he deserves a downballot spot maybe as high as third or fourth, sure. And I guess that IS the point of TFA after all. But does he deserve to actually be listed first on anybody's MVP ballot as it stands right now, I can't see it. Der K makes a plausible counterargument on Braun versus the catchers, but what is he selling that McCutchen isn't selling more of?

Braun's still in a position to make a run at it. If he hits .600 these last few games and the Brewers nab a wild card it could make for a verrrrry interesting MVP vote indeed.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: September 23, 2012 at 08:42 AM (#4243472)
suspension resentment is another matter entirely

Where's your sense of entertinment? There's at least 5 bags of microwave popcorn worth of fun in it.

Alas, he's not even top 10 in WAR so I can't imagine I'll see it.

Wow, there's a 3-way tie for the NL WAR lead -- Braun, Molina, McCutchen. Wright and Posey right there.

And I never thought I'd be saying this but ... those of you who pooh-pooh bWAR's defensive numbers, you, ummm, can't vote for Braun because he's picking up more than a full win on defense alone.

Nitpick: if the baseline for dWAR is league average, shouldn't it be dWAA?
   12. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 23, 2012 at 10:29 AM (#4243522)
zeth

you are just being contrary.

both players are having wonderful seasons but to state that one is definitively better than the other is unfounded

andrew has an edge because braun is regarded as a cheater

i will be glad for andrew should he win

but nobody can make a reasonable case that the best slugging player in the league who is also a fine baserunner and now solid defender was clearly inferior to other players in the league

it's not rational
   13. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 23, 2012 at 11:30 AM (#4243556)
but nobody can make a reasonable case that the best slugging player in the league who is also a fine baserunner and now solid defender was clearly inferior to other players in the league

I think there's a very reasonable case that a Catcher who puts up a similar offensive line to a LF (Posey 158 wRC+, 169 OPS+, 165 wRC+, 159 OPS+) is FAR superior.

Voters seem to have forgotten how hard it is to catch, and hit. It's pretty ironic that they had a much better feel for this positional adjustment back in the old days, when Berra and Campanella were winning all those MVPs.
   14. tshipman Posted: September 23, 2012 at 11:36 AM (#4243563)
Voters seem to have forgotten how hard it is to catch, and hit. It's pretty ironic that they had a much better feel for this positional adjustment back in the old days, when Berra and Campanella were winning all those MVPs.


People on this site seem to forget this as well.

Catching is systematically undervalued in WAR, due to the framework.
   15. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 23, 2012 at 11:38 AM (#4243565)
i am very accepting of posey being mvp. more so than andrew as andrew and braun are basically equivalent
   16. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 23, 2012 at 11:39 AM (#4243568)
Catching is systematically undervalued in WAR, due to the framework.

True. The defensive number misses a lot, and it doesn't capture the fact that a C just can't play 160 Gs.
   17. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 23, 2012 at 11:41 AM (#4243570)
andrew and braun are basically equivalent

I'd agree with that. Unless somebody tells me that McCutchen is actually a fantastic CF who's under-rated by the stats.
I don't really watch NL ball, so, I won't even hazard a guess on Defense, beyond quoting the stats.
   18. tshipman Posted: September 23, 2012 at 11:50 AM (#4243575)
I'd agree with that. Unless somebody tells me that McCutchen is actually a fantastic CF who's under-rated by the stats.
I don't really watch NL ball, so, I won't even hazard a guess on Defense, beyond quoting the stats.


I don't know about fantastic, but I certainly think of him as average to above average. I'm not confident enough in that to challenge his defense rating in WAR.


True. The defensive number misses a lot, and it doesn't capture the fact that a C just can't play 160 Gs.


Luckily, this doesn't matter most years, as most years there aren't catchers who hit as well as Posey. We only seem to get a year like that (Mauer, McCann) every few years. It just annoys me that sometimes on this board, people pretend that this bias doesn't exist.
   19. BDC Posted: September 23, 2012 at 12:07 PM (#4243580)
it doesn't capture the fact that a C just can't play 160 Gs

And even at that, Yogi Berra (the most egregious example) caught 141, 149, and 145 games in his three (154-game) MVP seasons, while finishing between 7th and 9th in the league in WAR each year.

One thing that the 1950s award voters were certainly picking up on was how much better than average Berra and Campanella were. Of the top ten catcher seasons (still by WAR) between 1951 and 1955, Berra and Campanella had nine of them, the only exception being Campanella's 1954 season, when he hit .207 and only caught 111 games. Sherm Lollar in the AL and Del Crandall in the NL were the next-best catchers of the era, well above the rest of their league, while Berra and Campanella were as far above them. The typical decent everyday catcher of the time was somebody like Clint Courtney or Sammy White, who was certainly earning his pay but was nothing to wire Cooperstown about. The voters were responding to the extreme rarity of the two great catchers among their peers.
   20. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 23, 2012 at 12:39 PM (#4243592)
posey has a simple but highly compelling narrative towards winning the mvp. the giants are 33-16 since august 1st and during that time buster has been killing the ball at the plate. the team was up 1 on 8/1 and are now 11 games up and clinched the division.

and the giants are fifth in the league in runs scored which is highly impressive in that ballpark. and posey is the anchorpiece to the offense.

no issue with posey being named nl mvp. it's a story that flow pretty naturally.
   21. salvomania Posted: September 23, 2012 at 12:42 PM (#4243595)
a C just can't play 160 Gs.


Randy Hundley says hi.
   22. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: September 23, 2012 at 12:50 PM (#4243602)
I'd agree with that. Unless somebody tells me that McCutchen is actually a fantastic CF who's under-rated by the stats.


This is interesting--do you believe an elite left fielder provides about the same defensive value as a slightly-below-average defensive center fielder? Do the various WARs suggest that is the case? I'm inclined to think that, like catcher (but less so), there's a lot of value in merely being able to play shortstop or center field semi-competently every day. But I'm open to being proven wrong about that.

Ryan Braun being an elite defensive left fielder is nothing new, says +/-, which has rated his glove highly for three years now.
   23. donlock Posted: September 23, 2012 at 02:36 PM (#4243650)
Ryan Braun Might be Left off MVP ballots

Mila Kunis might be calling me the next time she is in town.
   24. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 23, 2012 at 03:28 PM (#4243682)
This is interesting--do you believe an elite left fielder provides about the same defensive value as a slightly-below-average defensive center fielder?

Yes. Generally an elite LF (e.g. Brett Gardner) will also be at least a good CF.
   25. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 23, 2012 at 03:41 PM (#4243693)
braun has had to work really hard to be a solid outfielder. he could fill in at center for a short spell but no way could he be an every day option.
   26. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: September 23, 2012 at 04:06 PM (#4243706)
I think there's a difference between an elite left fielder who is nonetheless a left fielder (like Ryan Braun) and a decent-to-good center fielder who is playing left because his team has a more entrenched center fielder (like Brett Gardner). Barry Bonds was like that, too, in his younger years, a legit center fielder who played left because his teams had other Gold Glove-caliber center fielders (Andy Van Slyke).

I still remember Braun has having an iron glove rep, but Harveys is right, it's pretty amazing that he's worked himself into at least a plus glove in left.
   27. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 23, 2012 at 04:16 PM (#4243711)
I think there's a difference between an elite left fielder who is nonetheless a left fielder (like Ryan Braun) and a decent-to-good center fielder who is playing left because his team has a more entrenched center fielder (like Brett Gardner). Barry Bonds was like that, too, in his younger years, a legit center fielder who played left because his teams had other Gold Glove-caliber center fielders (Andy Van Slyke).

True, but Braun is more like "good" than "elite". BRef has his rField as +9, +3, +10 the last 3-years, UZR has -9, -5, +5.

So, he's pretty far from "elite", which is more like +20. I'd guess almost every +20 LF can play CF.
   28. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 23, 2012 at 04:32 PM (#4243718)
braun is a very driven guy. once the team told him he was the left fielder he spent a lot of time working on the defense which is why when he fields the ball he always follows correct process in throwing it back to the infield on even the most routine play.

i know braun is perceived as a jerk but he hustles constantly and works on his game. as a fan of the team it's hard to not like your best player showing such devotion to his craft
   29. cardsfanboy Posted: September 23, 2012 at 05:00 PM (#4243733)
i know braun is perceived as a jerk but he hustles constantly and works on his game.


Really? I think of guys like Chris Carpenter as a 'driven jerk'... I didn't think that people looked at Braun as anything other than a relatively nondescript superstar.
   30. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 23, 2012 at 05:17 PM (#4243760)
i will the cubs fans at bbtf explain

ha, ha
   31. cardsfanboy Posted: September 23, 2012 at 05:30 PM (#4243770)
Elite players on a teams primary competitor is going to have a good chance of being perceived by fans of their opposition in a negative light. I can't think of any actions Braun has taken that could be taken as 'jerky' except by extension (team celebrations that upset people without a sense of humor type of stuff)

   32. The kids disappeared, now Der-K has too much candy Posted: September 23, 2012 at 05:48 PM (#4243778)
[not sure who my NL MVP pick is - likely Posey]

Catchers can't play as many games as left fielders - true. Nor can relievers (in a more extreme example) pitch as much as starters.
Why do some of the people who freely penalize for the latter willing to make excuses in the case of the former?
   33. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 23, 2012 at 06:01 PM (#4243788)
Catchers can't play as many games as left fielders - true. Nor can relievers (in a more extreme example) pitch as much as starters.
Why do some of the people who freely penalize for the latter willing to make excuses in the case of the former?


Because if a relief pitcher is good enough, they make him a starter. Pitching is pitching.

Catcher is a crucial role. You don't willingly move an excellent C off the position, and the defensive skills (especially game calling) don't readily transfer to other positions.
   34. JJ1986 Posted: September 23, 2012 at 06:08 PM (#4243793)
Catchers can't play as many games as left fielders - true. Nor can relievers (in a more extreme example) pitch as much as starters.
Why do some of the people who freely penalize for the latter willing to make excuses in the case of the former?


I wouldn't give a catcher bonus for playing time, but it's my feel that a linear difference between average and replacement undervalues players at the harder defensive positions.
   35. base ball chick Posted: September 23, 2012 at 06:18 PM (#4243800)
confirm that braun is definitely a plus glove man in left and unlike almost ever other outfielder there is, throws to the right base and doesn't miss the cutoff man. and he has a strong arm too.

he is a VERY good baserunner and a VERY good basestealer

he's leading the NL in OPS (>500 PA)

there is zero excuse for leaving him OFF a 10 person ballot except for personal reasons - the "not a ryan guy" type excuse

i have never seen ANY evidence that braun is a jerk and although i don't watch him as much as harvey, he sure doesn't act like a jerk in any game i've watched. not a Hot Dog, the other players like him. he's no AJ pierogi
   36. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 23, 2012 at 06:46 PM (#4243808)
other players don't seem to mind braun because he's no c8ckier than any other really good player
   37. The kids disappeared, now Der-K has too much candy Posted: September 23, 2012 at 07:06 PM (#4243815)
34 - I agree on the lack of PT bonus.
I'm inclined to think that a non-linear replacement level is advised, I actually think it's "bowed" - lower at the ends of the defensive spectrum and higher in the middle. Part of that is a set of exemplary corner spot bats raising the average, part of it is leakage of options to other spots/foreign ball.
   38. The kids disappeared, now Der-K has too much candy Posted: September 23, 2012 at 07:14 PM (#4243822)
Replacement level behind the plate is quite low as it is.
There is the potential issue of the game calling learning curve to deal with - replacement level options are more likely to be inexperienced / at deficit here. Countervailing that, I suspect, is a tendency for the position to be "stickier" than most - where players keep their roles for longer than their play warrants for various reasons ... this would cause us, absent further investigation, to overestimate their replacement level.
   39. Don Malcolm Posted: September 23, 2012 at 09:03 PM (#4243862)
Right now the NL MVP race is a tossed salad between McCutcheon, Braun and Posey. As Harv said, some voters may be swayed by Posey's sensational second half and the fact that it's a virtual certainty that only Buster's team is going to go to the post-season. While no one wants that factor to come into play for MVP awards, the fact is that they do and it might tip the balance in Posey's direction.

Anyone who leaves Braun off their ballot because of last year's drug test should be stripped off his/her voting privileges forever.
   40. The kids disappeared, now Der-K has too much candy Posted: September 23, 2012 at 09:18 PM (#4243868)
I'm okay w/ team success as a factor (ducks), just not as a very big one.
   41. cardsfanboy Posted: September 24, 2012 at 10:23 AM (#4244042)
Right now the NL MVP race is a tossed salad between McCutcheon, Braun and Posey.


Is Molina not in the conversation?
   42. JJ1986 Posted: September 24, 2012 at 10:34 AM (#4244051)
I actually think it's "bowed" - lower at the ends of the defensive spectrum and higher in the middle


So what would this mean in practice? C, SS and 1B Replacement is too high, 2B, 3B and CF is too low and RF and LF is about right.

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