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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ingraham: Why I left Justin Verlander off my MVP ballot

In Graham Land…things can get very lonely.

image

Obviously, I’m in the minority in this year’s MVP voting. I expected to be. I’m sure many wonder why I didn’t at least have Verlander somewhere on my ballot — second, third, fourth — if not first. My answer to that is this: If Verlander was going to be on my ballot at all, he was going to be first.

But once I decided I didn’t think it was fair to compare pitchers with position players for this award, meaning I wasn’t going to give Verlander a first-place vote, it would have been hypocritical of me to have him anywhere else on my ballot.

He was either going to be first on my ballot or not on it at all.

Repoz Posted: November 22, 2011 at 06:33 PM | 33 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: awards, sabermetrics, tigers

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   1. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: November 22, 2011 at 06:49 PM (#3999575)
You'd think that people who can write a correctly structured sentence would be able to think, but ...
   2. JJ1986 Posted: November 22, 2011 at 06:52 PM (#3999580)
But once I decided I didn’t think it was fair to compare pitchers with position players for this award


Why not vote for 10 pitchers then?
   3. Sam M. Posted: November 22, 2011 at 06:55 PM (#3999584)
But once I decided I didn’t think it was fair to compare pitchers with position players for this award, meaning I wasn’t going to give Verlander a first-place vote, it would have been hypocritical of me to have him anywhere else on my ballot.


You mean: once you decided that you were fundamentally incapable of operating under the rules and applying the criteria that govern the voting for the MVP award, you felt free to take that lawlessness to its logical, and completely arbitrary, extreme.

Thanks for playing, but please -- next time, do the honorable thing and don't play at all. Decline the ballot if you are not going to fairly consider the "value" of all players who are eligible for the award. We can have all the rip-snorting debates we want about how best to define "valuable," but if you render a whole category of players completely ineligible, you aren't even engaging in the exercise. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Stay out of the game.
   4. SoSH U at work Posted: November 22, 2011 at 07:02 PM (#3999596)
Yes, he should be ineligible to vote (at least on MVP, RoY and, I suppose, CPoY).
   5. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: November 22, 2011 at 07:07 PM (#3999602)
I'm a gulch!
   6. TomH Posted: November 22, 2011 at 07:23 PM (#3999618)
There is more logic to his approach than other voters I've seen. To wit:

"I won't vote for a player whose team was not in contention as the MVP"; but yet the voter will put a Kemp 2nd. Hey, if your system says only pennant races have value, guys like Kemp should be off the ballot altogether.

He's wrong on pitchers, but he is consistent.
   7. Danny Posted: November 22, 2011 at 07:24 PM (#3999620)
This was my reasoning:

The short version is I don't believe pitchers should be eligible for the MVP Award.

My not voting for Verlander had nothing to do with evaluating what Verlander accomplished this season.

Yeah, that should be an automatic disqualification.

The rest of his article is contradictory foolishness. He says that Verlander would be first on his ballot if he included pitchers, but he also says a SP can't be the most valuable because they don't appear in 79% of the team's games. So, why would you have had him first? What thought process led him to believe Verlander had to be first or absent? Why not fifth or absent?

I love the last line, too:
My ballot is my way of saying it's unfair to both groups to have to compare pitchers and position players for this particular award.

Yeah, it would unfair to pitchers to put them on ballots for awards they're explicitly eligible to win. It's much fairer to Verlander and other pitchers to simply exclude them.
   8. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: November 22, 2011 at 07:25 PM (#3999621)
He's wrong on pitchers, but he is consistent.

Is this worthy of credit, though?
   9. Chris Fluit Posted: November 22, 2011 at 07:30 PM (#3999625)
"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
   10. William Satterwhite Posted: November 22, 2011 at 07:55 PM (#3999663)
The interesting thing about this argument is that it seems to say that Verlander's job in the 21 percent of the games he appears in is exactly the same as every other position player. It ignores the fact that in that 21 percent of the games in which Verlander does participate, his job requires he do a lot more work than the other players (that doesn't sound right or fair to say but I can't think of another way to put it) in that he has to be an active participant in every play made when his team is not batting. I'm sure that over the course of a season, the actual physical work done by Verlander comes out to much more than just 21 percent.
   11. plim Posted: November 22, 2011 at 08:01 PM (#3999669)
I still don't understand how the BBWAA can continue to allow these clowns to vote when they are the ones breaking the BBWAA rules in the first place.
   12. mex4173 Posted: November 22, 2011 at 08:03 PM (#3999673)
If you're going to use your vote as a protest, at least make a stink about the protest!
   13. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 22, 2011 at 08:06 PM (#3999677)
By this rationale, shouldn't closers be ineligible for the Cy Young?
   14. SoSH U at work Posted: November 22, 2011 at 08:08 PM (#3999682)
By this rationale, shouldn't closers be ineligible for the Cy Young?


I don't know about "by this rationale," but it's a pretty good rule of thumb.
   15. billyshears Posted: November 22, 2011 at 08:27 PM (#3999701)
Awards are silly and have probably always been silly, but advanced metrics make them even more silly. Informed observers usually have a pretty clear idea as to who was the best hitter and the best pitcher in each league. To the extent there is a debate, it usually revolves around a discussion of which unified theory of baseball superiority is superior. Uninformed observers sometimes don't know these things and therefore like to argue about things that don't matter in reaching an uninformed conclusion. I get that there are specified criteria for the MVP award, but so long as it's not called the Most WAR Award, I can't get to worked up over jury nullification of dead letter baseball awards law. I mean, if pitchers get an award all to themselves, it's only fair that hitters do to.
   16. mex4173 Posted: November 22, 2011 at 08:31 PM (#3999705)
I mean, if pitchers get an award all to themselves, it's only fair that hitters do to.
It's called the Hank Aaron award.
   17. SoSH U at work Posted: November 22, 2011 at 08:39 PM (#3999715)
I get that there are specified criteria for the MVP award, but so long as it's not called the Most WAR Award, I can't get to worked up over jury nullification of dead letter baseball awards law. I mean, if pitchers get an award all to themselves, it's only fair that hitters do to.


All else equal or close to being equal, I'm perfectly fine with giving the MVP to a position player and leaving the Cy for the best pitcher. If the pitcher is historically great, or at least stands well above the position player field, then I don't mind the pitcher getting it. Sort of the way it was prior to this long dry spell before Verlander. I think I'd operate under the theory that pitchers are eligible, but they've really got to stand out.
   18. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: November 22, 2011 at 08:45 PM (#3999718)
I'm fine with using some "soft" criteria. Penalize pitchers a bit or credit a guy for being in a pennant race or whatever, that's all good. But to just throw up your hands and say "oh screw it, I can't figure this out so I'm leaving him off my ballot" strikes me as lazy and insulting to baseball fans.
   19. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: November 22, 2011 at 08:48 PM (#3999720)
I mean, if pitchers get an award all to themselves, it's only fair that hitters do to.
It's called the Hank Aaron award.


another elegant theory cut down by an ugly fact
   20. kthejoker Posted: November 22, 2011 at 09:01 PM (#3999725)
Pretty easy to show pitchers do a lot more in their 30-some-odd games than most people think:

Ryan Braun had 629 Plate appearances and 268 defensive chances to help the Brewers in 2011.

Justin Verlander faced 969 batters and had 50 defensive chances (and 4 hitless at-bats) to help the Tigers in 2011.

Justin Verlander had more raw opportunities to help his team than Ryan Braun did. Pretty hard to say (before you even measure his performance) that he contributed less to the team than an everyday starter.

EDIT: Or more succinctly: we are giving an awful lot of credit to Ryan Braun to sit on the bench for 8 out of every 9 of his team's PAs and then go out on the field and only have the ball hit to him twice a game if he's lucky.
   21. Derb Posted: November 22, 2011 at 09:15 PM (#3999735)
You also have to factor in the bullpen factor. Leyland was able to use his bullpen a little more recklessly on the days before Verlander threw, because he knew that he could get at least 6 or 7 innings out of him. Most of the time, Verlander threw 8 strong, leaving the bullpen completely rested for the day after Verlander pitched.

I hate giving Brad Penny credit, but he summed it up best just before the All-Star break when he said that he had the easiest job in baseball. Since he knew he was following Verlander, he knew that he had a full bullpen behind him.

A truly dominant starting pitcher effects his team for far more days than just the ones he pitches in.
   22. billyshears Posted: November 22, 2011 at 09:25 PM (#3999748)
It's called the Hank Aaron award.


Yeah, but nobody cares about that award.
   23. Derb Posted: November 22, 2011 at 09:27 PM (#3999751)
It's called the Hank Aaron award.



Yeah, but nobody cares about that award.


Just because nobody cares about it doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.
   24. SoSH U at work Posted: November 22, 2011 at 09:29 PM (#3999756)
Justin Verlander faced 969 batters and had 50 defensive chances.


Aren't you doing a lot of double-counting there?

I don't know if a straight comparision of PA faced vs. PAs accumulated is accurate. Pitchers rely heavily on their defense for help, while the batter has no similar assistance from his teammates. It leads me to believe that, ultimately, the responsibilities of an ace starter and a top of the order hitter are probably pretty similar.
   25. mex4173 Posted: November 22, 2011 at 09:45 PM (#3999775)
Yeah, but nobody cares about that award.


If only some association had the means to grant exposure to the award.
   26. OMJ, urban D machine Posted: November 22, 2011 at 10:30 PM (#3999812)
Pitchers rely heavily on their defense for help, while the batter has no similar assistance from his teammates



Well, other than when they get a hit and someone is already on base, or they are on base and someone gets a hit to drive them in.
   27. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: November 22, 2011 at 10:59 PM (#3999829)
Aren't you doing a lot of double-counting there?

I don't know if a straight comparision of PA faced vs. PAs accumulated is accurate. Pitchers rely heavily on their defense for help, while the batter has no similar assistance from his teammates. It leads me to believe that, ultimately, the responsibilities of an ace starter and a top of the order hitter are probably pretty similar.


Yep. Assume that Verlander had X% impact on the plays where a fielder other than himself has a defensive chance and 100% impact on all other plays (Ks, BBs, HRs, balls hit to himself). Assume that Braun has 1-X% impact on all plays where he has a defensive chance and 100% impact on his plate appearances.

In that case, the breakeven point is X=60%. If a pitcher has more than 60% impact (however you want to define that) on balls that are hit in play, then Verlander and Braun impacted the same number of plays. >60% means Verlander had a greater impact, <60% means Braun did.

Please note, "impact" isn't defined here in the sense of DIPS "what impact do pitchers have on balls in play"? The act of inducing a ball-in-play is, in itself, something the pitcher should get some credit for when we're thinking about whether they are involved in a play.
   28. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: November 22, 2011 at 11:23 PM (#3999838)
Well, other than when they get a hit and someone is already on base, or they are on base and someone gets a hit to drive them in.


Neither of those is reflected in his plate appearances, which is what kthejoker was counting.
   29. Jittery McFrog Posted: November 22, 2011 at 11:34 PM (#3999847)
Assume that Braun has 1-X% impact on all plays where he has a defensive chance and 100% impact on his plate appearances.


Technically I think it should be a bit less than 1-X, since defensive plays often involve multiple non-pitcher defenders.
   30. Hugh Jorgan Posted: November 22, 2011 at 11:44 PM (#3999853)
I just don't get these types of arguments. To break it down. The award is called the Most Valuable Player award. The word value is the inherent basis of measurement for the award. Now if you don't think Verlander provided as much VALUE to his team as Ellsbury or Bautista then I can understand that. Or you perceived that his league wide measured VALUE wasn't as much as the other candidates, then I am willing to listen to your arguments.

However, to leave him off your ballot tells me you don't think he's provided any VALUE at all or his value was so low he didn't merit any consideration; and that makes no sense at all. Putting aside the so called advanced metrics, a guy who leads the league in so many traditional pitching categories cannot be dismissed out of hand as someone who has provided so little value that he can't be considered.

Sure, you don't think a pitcher should ever win MVP, I can see that; though I don't agree with it. But to leave off one of the best players in the league this year off your ballot as you don't think he provided enough or any value at all to be considered for the award is nothing short of outright stupidity.
   31. billyshears Posted: November 23, 2011 at 12:41 AM (#3999869)
Just because nobody cares about it doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.


That's actually not true.
   32. The District Attorney Posted: November 23, 2011 at 01:18 AM (#3999885)
There are two very different arguments here.

The rules of the award ALLOW you to feel that a starting pitcher can never (realistically) be one of the 10 most valuable players in the league.

The rules of the award DO NOT ALLOW you to feel that a starting pitcher is one of the 10 most valuable players in the league, and yet not vote for him.

Now, you might respond to that with: "Jeez, so we're stuck here. Everyone who thinks pitchers should be ineligible will just keep saying, for each pitcher who comes up, that they simply didn't think that guy was one of the 10 most valuable players that year."

And it'd normally seem like that'd be right. But there's always the off chance that someone might be dumb enough to actually write something like:
Of Verlander was going to be on my ballot at all, he was going to be first.

But once I decided I didn’t think it was fair to compare pitchers with position players for this award, meaning I wasn’t going to give Verlander a first-place vote, it would have been hypocritical of me to have him anywhere else on my ballot.

He was either going to be first on my ballot or not on it at all.
And then you would know.
   33. God Posted: November 23, 2011 at 09:53 AM (#4000012)
Just because nobody cares about it doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

This was the runner-up for the Pirates' 2012 slogan.

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