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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Murray Chass on Baseball: M.V.P. WAR ERUPTS OVER WAR

I NEVER GAVE A #### ABOUT MY HOF VOTE WHEN I WASN’T ALLOWED TO VOTE…BUT NOW I DO, MR. IDELSON.

The Trout supporters would vote for him because he had the top WAR rating among all players. That thinking only reinforces my view that to satisfy stats zealots a list of statistics should be used to determine award winners and Hall of Famers. No voters would be needed.

First in WAR, first for m.v.p. Establish statistical criteria for the Hall of Fame and induct the players who clear the statistical hurdles. The reason the stats zealots would like this system is it would eliminate members of the Baseball Writers Association as voters.

That’s right, the stats zealots are envious of the baseball writers because they get to vote for these things and the zealots don’t. That is not to say that new-age statistics haven’t started creeping into the award decisions of some of the BBWAA voters, presumably the younger, less experienced ones.

...To me, the beauty of the BBWAA’s m.v.p. voting is it challenges voters to study and think about the contributions players made to the success of their teams. It raises interesting questions, too.

Should Trout, for example, be penalized in m.v.p. consideration because the Angels weren’t good enough to take advantage of what he did for them? In Prince Fielder, did Cabrera have more help in helping the Tigers win than Trout had from any of his teammates?

What fans and new-age nerds should understand, if they don’t already, is most valuable players is not the same as player of the year. Player of the year is much simpler to decide, and – who knows? – maybe Trout is the player of the year. But he is not the most valuable player, no matter what WAR says. WAR, you see, does not have a vote in this election.

Repoz Posted: October 28, 2012 at 07:58 AM | 27 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: awards, hof, sabermetrics

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   1. Los Angeles El Hombre de Anaheim Posted: October 28, 2012 at 09:40 AM (#4285780)
WAR, you see, does not have a vote in this election.
Than what is it good for? Absolutely nothing! Say it again!
   2. Random Transaction Generator Posted: October 28, 2012 at 09:45 AM (#4285781)
Should Trout, for example, be penalized in m.v.p. consideration because the Angels weren’t good enough to take advantage of what he did for them? In Prince Fielder, did Cabrera have more help in helping the Tigers win than Trout had from any of his teammates?


My favourite part about the upcoming MVP sh!tstorm will be listening to traditional writers use the excuse "Cabrera helped Detroit get into the playoffs, Trout's team didn't get there", while forgetting that the Angels won more games than the Tigers.
   3. GuyMcGuffin Posted: October 28, 2012 at 09:56 AM (#4285784)
My favourite part about the upcoming MVP sh!tstorm will be listening to traditional writers use the excuse "Cabrera helped Detroit get into the playoffs, Trout's team didn't get there", while forgetting that the Angels won more games than the Tigers.


Another fun narrative that will get thrown into the mix is how Miguel Cabrera was so great down the stretch and helped his team win games in September and make the playoffs. Discounting the obvious that September wins don't have any additional value, the Angels (18-11) actually had a better record than the Tigers (19-13) in September/October. The Tigers making the playoffs was really much more about the White Sox (13-18) crashing than it was about Miguel Cabrera putting the team on his back, but that will largely be ignored because it doesn't feed the narrative.
   4. TR_Sullivan Posted: October 28, 2012 at 10:10 AM (#4285791)
MLB.Com had a story on Carlton Fisk when he was arrested for DUI. It is easy to find through Google. Mark Grace was arrested on Aug. 23. MLB.Com had a story posted on Aug. 24.
   5. BDC Posted: October 28, 2012 at 10:12 AM (#4285792)
Peter Blake, as quoted by Chass in TFA:

I’ve had just about enough of this sabermetric correctness pervading the debate about who should win the AL MVP. Miguel Cabrera won MLB’s first Triple Crown in 45 years, but support for his candidacy has been called ‘Luddite,’ ‘a backlash against progress,’ ‘irresponsible’ and a ‘mistake.’ New-breed statheads seem to think it’s simply irrational that anyone other than Mike Trout could be most valuable


Which is possible, but my impression of the 4,500 or so Cabrera/Trout threads here is that people have pretty much unanimously agreed that Cabrera had a great year, the kind of year that often wins people MVPs. I've see it opined here that the Triple Crown is not very meaningful and that only dolts are interested in RBIs anyway, but by any possible batting metric, Cabrera rates really, really, really good, so nobody's much disputing his credentials, and that he has an entirely rational MVP case. (In fact, what doubts are expressed seem to take the form of skepticism over the defensive component of Trout's WAR.)

I'm not sure where this "sabermetric correctness" is on display. And as noted here ad infinitum, the BBWAA itself pretty much invented the idea of choosing a speedy glove man over a slugger as MVP – in fact the first year they ever voted, 1931, they chose Frankie Frisch over Klein, Bottomley, Hafey, Terry, and a number of other better hitters.
   6. jwb Posted: October 28, 2012 at 10:20 AM (#4285800)
Those of us who use common sense, not common statistics, say the winner should be the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera.
I've been watching baseball on TV since 1967. AVG/HR/RBI have always been displayed. Cabrera was unequivocally the best at common batting statistics. Should we use use common batting statistics to determine the MVP?
   7. Super Creepy Derek Lowe (GGC) Posted: October 28, 2012 at 10:58 AM (#4285819)
Chass is the crazy uncle type, but I think that there is enough uncertainty in batting runs to make this a close race. I'm mainly self taught regarding statistics and probability, but I took a quick look at the Red Sox in 2011 and divided their season into 18 game increments and compared the estimated batting runs for each of the nine mini-seasons:

AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO HBP SB CS Avg OBA Slg OPS BR
600 76 142 26 3 17 75 81 128 9 9 6 0.237 0.336 0.452 0.788 77.98 
-1.98
647 76 178 45 2 15 72 56 139 1 14 4 0.275 0.334 0.516 0.850 87.72 
-11.72
624 104 177 35 4 27 98 61 102 10 19 4 0.284 0.357 0.588 0.945 102.53 1.47
662 139 204 53 6 25 137 74 117 9 8 4 0.308 0.385 0.647 1.032 124.16 14.84
603 87 170 36 6 23 82 73 112 6 8 3 0.282 0.365 0.584 0.949 101.04 
-14.04
677 113 200 37 2 26 107 65 138 4 18 5 0.295 0.361 0.567 0.928 108.41 4.59
601 75 156 26 5 20 72 53 114 3 12 6 0.260 0.323 0.504 0.827 78.53 
-3.53
647 107 189 56 1 26 107 56 143 5 7 4 0.292 0.353 0.631 0.984 109.17 
-2.17
649 98 184 38 6 24 92 59 115 3 7 6 0.284 0.346 0.576 0.922 100.5 
-2.5

BR 
.47H .38D .55T .93HR .33(HB) - ABF*(AB H


These represent roughly the number of plate appearances a full-time player might have. I used .1 for ABF as Tango recommended to come up with absolute runs. As you can see, one of the estimates was off by close to fifteen runs. This is based on only nine examples. If that's batting runs, which have been dissected for years, what are fielding runs like? IIRC, AROM said that base-running runs had the least amount of error, but I really don't know
   8. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: October 28, 2012 at 11:21 AM (#4285836)
For the umpteenth time, you don't need any advanced stats to see that (a) both Cabrera and Trout had incredible seasons offensively, (b) Trout is an outstanding baserunner who stole a ton of bases and was rarely caught, while Cabrera is mediocre, (c) Trout is an outstanding CF, while Cabrera is an ok 3B, and (d) both teams were above average and won about the same number of games, but the Tigers made the playoffs because their division is weaker. WAR is a strawman.
   9. Super Creepy Derek Lowe (GGC) Posted: October 28, 2012 at 11:57 AM (#4285868)
Sorry about that Yeaarrgghhhh, I don't come around here much like I used to and this is the first (and probably last) time I am commenting on the subject. I am not going to go back and read all of those threads, I don't have the time.

Honestly, I don't know where half of you guys find the time. I used to be able to BTF at work, but they filtered it out. Even if they didn't, more work has been assigned to me and I wouldn't be able to find the time to comment at work anyways. I am sure that I am not alone in this situation. I've been fortunate to keep my job during this recession, but They keep asking for more and more. Too, I got married and I am trying to keep my wife from being a BTF widow.
   10. Jim Furtado Posted: October 28, 2012 at 12:05 PM (#4285877)
I still enjoy reading Maury. In the days before the Internet he was a must read. Now, of course, I read him because of the comedic rifts.
   11. BDC Posted: October 28, 2012 at 12:11 PM (#4285882)
I think I'm just a multitasker. I find it fun to keep the BBTF window open. I do more work nowadays too, but it's like, grade a paper and then instead of however I used to procrastinate, I go over here and keep sharpening the saw. One habit of a highly ineffective person.

And along those lines, a digressive factoid: the NL WAR leader in 1931 was none of the above I mentioned in #5, but Watty Clark, a pitcher who went 14-10 for fourth-place Brooklyn. Clark led the league in justone category (HR/9), which probably wasn't printed in the papers much in 1931, and didn't even make many leaderboards (he was 9th in ERA). And yet he was named on at least one MVP ballot. I imagine some proto-saber type with hand-ruled spreadsheet and slide rule saying, dude, this guy suppresses the #### out of the home run, he's on my ballot. People in 1931 weren't any smarter or dumber or more or less innovative than we are today.
   12. Super Creepy Derek Lowe (GGC) Posted: October 28, 2012 at 12:27 PM (#4285897)
Maury or Murray, Jim?

EDIT: Oddly enough, both focused on the business end of baseball.
   13. JE (Jason) Posted: October 28, 2012 at 12:34 PM (#4285902)
As noted previously, guys like Chass keep touting the "V" in MVP while neglecting the "P." Cabrera may have been the more valuable hitter, but Trout was the more valuable player.
   14. akrasian Posted: October 28, 2012 at 12:35 PM (#4285903)
Another fun narrative that will get thrown into the mix is how Miguel Cabrera was so great down the stretch and helped his team win games in September and make the playoffs. Discounting the obvious that September wins don't have any additional value, the Angels (18-11) actually had a better record than the Tigers (19-13) in September/October. The Tigers making the playoffs was really much more about the White Sox (13-18) crashing than it was about Miguel Cabrera putting the team on his back, but that will largely be ignored because it doesn't feed the narrative.

You miss the point. Cabrera was clutch enough to have his performance in the AL Central, where his performance would have value, rather than the AL West, where his performance would have been wasted. Savvy voters realize that, and give it the proper weight.
   15. JJ1986 Posted: October 28, 2012 at 12:52 PM (#4285919)
This must be trolling. "Don't use stats to determine the MVP, use the Triple Crown."
   16. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: October 28, 2012 at 01:11 PM (#4285941)
Sorry about that Yeaarrgghhhh, I don't come around here much like I used to and this is the first (and probably last) time I am commenting on the subject. I am not going to go back and read all of those threads, I don't have the time.

Sorry -- that was a response to Chass, not you.
   17. DanG Posted: October 28, 2012 at 01:29 PM (#4285954)
Hard to find similar offensive seasons to Trout's. Probably the closest is Rickey's MVP season in 1990, when he beat out a player who had a triple crown line of 51-132-.277.

Player             OPSRbat HR   BA  PA   R RBI Year Age  Tm Lg   H SB
Mike Trout          171   54 30 .326 639 129  83 2012  20 LAA AL 182 49
Hanley Ramirez      143   40 33 .301 693 125  67 2008  24 FLA NL 177 35
Bobby Abreu         143   38 25 .316 680 103  79 2000  26 PHI NL 182 28
Rickey Henderson    189   62 28 .325 594 119  61 1990  31 OAK AL 159 65
Rickey Henderson    157   48 24 .314 654 146  72 1985  26 NYY AL 172 80
Mickey Mantle       188   64 42 .304 654 127  97 1958  26 NYY AL 158 18 

   18. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 28, 2012 at 01:31 PM (#4285959)
You miss the point. Cabrera was clutch enough to have his performance in the AL Central, where his performance would have value, rather than the AL West, where his performance would have been wasted. Savvy voters realize that, and give it the proper weight.

Indeed. Instead of letting Detroit move into the AL East or West, either of which would have given them a fourth-place finish, Cabrera (and Fielder, and Valverde, and Young...) exerted a sufficient gravitational pull to keep both team and city anchored in place, thus ensuring a playoff berth.
   19. Super Creepy Derek Lowe (GGC) Posted: October 28, 2012 at 01:42 PM (#4285977)
Sorry -- that was a response to Chass, not you.

No problem. I thought it might have been a situation where regulars were tired of lurkers rehashing something that has been discussed over and over; like the time I went to Comics Curmudgeon and mentioned that Aldo Kelrast looked like Captain Kangaroo.
   20. Walt Davis Posted: October 28, 2012 at 04:20 PM (#4286098)
My favourite part about the upcoming MVP sh!tstorm will be listening to traditional writers use the excuse "Cabrera helped Detroit get into the playoffs, Trout's team didn't get there", while forgetting that the Angels won more games than the Tigers.

My favorite narrative is already on display -- you can't use statistics to determine the MVP, Cabrera deserves the MVP because he won the first Triple Crown in 45 years.
   21. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 28, 2012 at 04:45 PM (#4286116)
people have pretty much unanimously agreed that Cabrera had a great year, the kind of year that often wins people MVPs


Superficially, maybe. The problem is Miggy was the best hitter in the league, but commonly accepted estimates of his base running and defensive value make his season something that is typically ends up being in the 5th to tenth most valuable player range each season.

His season wasn't extraordinary at all in value, but it was from a historic standpoint. Beating everyone in the league in the 3 highest regarded hitting categories is so difficult I'm actually surprised its happened as often as it rarely has.
   22. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: October 28, 2012 at 05:16 PM (#4286136)
You miss the point. Cabrera was clutch enough to have his performance in the AL Central, where his performance would have value, rather than the AL West, where his performance would have been wasted. Savvy voters realize that, and give it the proper weight.
Clutchiness on a level even Jack Morris never thought of. He pitched to the score, Cabrera hit to the division.
   23. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: October 28, 2012 at 05:24 PM (#4286144)
MLB.Com had a story on Carlton Fisk when he was arrested for DUI. It is easy to find through Google. Mark Grace was arrested on Aug. 23. MLB.Com had a story posted on Aug. 24.
I think we all know where you lost Murray.
   24. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 28, 2012 at 05:59 PM (#4286173)
That’s right, the stats zealots are envious of the baseball writers because they get to vote for these things and the zealots don’t.

Yep.
   25. Super Creepy Derek Lowe (GGC) Posted: October 28, 2012 at 06:41 PM (#4286201)
Huh? When did I say that SugarBear? I don't care if I get a vote. In fact, I wouldn't want to vote for awards or the HOF. I'm not even sure if I'm gonna vote on November 4th. The way I see it, no matter what you do, you're gonna disappoint 40% of the people.
   26. Super Creepy Derek Lowe (GGC) Posted: October 28, 2012 at 07:45 PM (#4286242)
See, I may not come around here that often anymore, but I come around enough to see that you, SBB, lump us all into one big jantelovening group. Just like Joe Kehoskie assumes we are all liberals. I ####### resent that. I dare you to find a post where I said a discouraging word about Jack Morris. I thing he was better than Dave Steib. Steib's career was too short. I'm also not sure that replacement level should be the benchmark people should use when evaluating awards candidates or Hall of Famers. I'd like to see the ball in play more often, like it was when I was a child and I even miss those concrete ashtray Astroturfed stadia. So don't you dare lump us all together.
   27. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: October 28, 2012 at 07:53 PM (#4286248)
Oh I was wondering when that barrel full of fish would arrive again...

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