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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

N.Y. Sun: Marchman: Quentin, Morneau Alone Fit Criteria for AL MVP

Taking a break from ripping through his bopless Whittall Anglo-Persians collection…Bill Madden reads and applauds.

By this point in a season, nothing is easier to predict than a race for the Most Valuable Player award, which goes not to the best player but to the best player who fulfills a variety of arbitrary criteria. Once you admit that the award is what it actually is, rather than what you think it should be, everything falls right into line.

To see how this works, just look at the American League this year. It looks at first to be a race, since no one in the league is having such a great season that they’ll win by acclamation, and you can make a case for nearly a dozen players. The only ones in real contention, though, are Chicago’s Carlos Quentin, who ranks fourth in the league in OPS, and Minnesota’s Justin Morneau, a former MVP and touted RBI man, with Texas’s Josh Hamilton and Los Angeles’s Francisco Rodriguez just barely in there. No one else has a prayer.

...All of this leaves us with Morneau and Quentin, who rank second and third in the league in RBI and play corner positions indifferently for two teams locked in a tight playoff race. There are better hitters; there are better hitters at more difficult positions; there are better hitters at more difficult positions for teams in pennant races. There are, in other words, better players. What any of that has to do with the actual MVP award — which might as well be engraved with the name of whichever one of these two plays for the team that ends up winning the American League Central — is a mystery.

Repoz Posted: August 13, 2008 at 10:56 AM | 136 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Famous Original Joe C Posted: August 13, 2008 at 11:56 AM (#2900887)
I think someone posted this question already, but would Morneau be the worst player to win two MVPs? He's a nice player and all, but...
   2. Marc Sully's not booin'. He's Youkin'. Posted: August 13, 2008 at 12:02 PM (#2900890)
Yooooouuuuuuuk.
   3. AJMcCringleberry Posted: August 13, 2008 at 12:07 PM (#2900893)
would Morneau be the worst player to win two MVPs?

He's clearly worse than Maris and Gonzalez, the only other candidates.
   4. Shooty is obsessed with the latest hoodie Posted: August 13, 2008 at 12:18 PM (#2900900)
Brad Ziegler. I will brook no argument on the matter.
   5. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 13, 2008 at 12:25 PM (#2900902)
Clearly he's inferior to Maris, both in career value (because Morneau has played only 4 full seasons, including this one, so far), and in quality of MVP seasons, but he's not that far behind Maris if you evaluate his career immediately after his 2 MVP seasons.
   6. Chris Dial Posted: August 13, 2008 at 12:31 PM (#2900908)
I haven't looked but that would surprise me. Morneau is a pretty good ballplayer.
   7. sunnyday2 Posted: August 13, 2008 at 12:33 PM (#2900910)
Worse than Juan Gone? Well, pick your weapon.

OPS+--advantage Juan Gone 145 and 149 to 140 and 140. Similarly OPS--Juan 643 and 630 vs. Morneau's 559 and 576*

EQA--advantage Morneau 112 and 123* to 97 and 115. That 97 sure sticks out and not in a good way.

Win Shares--advantage Morneau 27 and 25 already* vs. 21 and 25.

WARP--advantage Morneau at 8.6 and a projected 9.1* vs. Juan's 4.9 and 6.8.

The asterisks* mean so far this year, but if he wins the MVP it will be because he at least maintains his current pace. Overall, I'd say, no, Juan Gone's 2 MVP years are not better than Morneau '06 and '08 so far. Juan's '96 is such a terrible year for an MVP that it outweighs everything else.
   8. Eraser-X is emphatically dominating teh site!!! Posted: August 13, 2008 at 12:42 PM (#2900915)
there are better hitters at more difficult positions;


Who are we talking about here? I just see A-Rod and that's it.
   9. GGC for Sale Posted: August 13, 2008 at 01:21 PM (#2900935)
If this won't banish me to sabermetric hell, I don't know what will. But I am probably one of the few here who didn't think that Morneau was a terrible choice last time he won. Not all plate appearances have the same degree of importance. The same can be said for games as well. He played well down the stretch when the games were more crucial.

CoolStandings shows day by day playoff probabilities for this year, but not for previous years, so I don't know what Morneau's Pennant Probability Added was in '06. Not that their numbers are the last word. But I think that his season was more valuable than a cursory glance at his stat line would indicate.
   10. BDC Posted: August 13, 2008 at 01:30 PM (#2900941)
To paraphrase Turk Farrell, you have to be a pretty damn good ballplayer to be the worst ballplayer to win two MVP Awards.

The best hitters in the league, by rate stats, are MB and AROD, and they both have missed quite a bit of playing time so far this season. Morneau, Quentin, Youk, and Hamilton are in the next tier of hitters, all with around the same OPS+. I don't know that you could do much better than choosing one from that group. Sizemore is a terrific player, but he's hitting .267 this year, and hence not high on the rate-stat leaderboards. Kinsler, maybe? I am not sure how to factor in his glove, which most observers say is terrible.
   11. Dan Szymborski Posted: August 13, 2008 at 01:51 PM (#2900960)
If this won't banish me to sabermetric hell, I don't know what will. But I am probably one of the few here who didn't think that Morneau was a terrible choice last time he won. Not all plate appearances have the same degree of importance. The same can be said for games as well. He played well down the stretch when the games were more crucial.

I'm not against game leverage (though the guidelines for the MVP voters defines value as the sum of a player's offensive and defensive contribution, IIRC), however, I don't buy it if it's not applied consistently by voters.

And that's what the voters do. They don't in fact decide that certain games are more important and evaluate players on that fact, they use game importance as a simple justification to vote for players they want to and ignore it when they want to vote for other players.

1998 is a good example of why I hate when the voters act like this. Many of the voters voted for Sosa stating that Sosa was absolutely crucial to the Cubs making the playoffs and that McGwire's contribution was essentially meaningless because they could've gone home just as easily in October without him.

Then, those people turned around and put McGwire #2.

As goofy as it sounds, as I said at the time, I would have had a lot more respect for the Sosa voters at the time if their ballot had contained all Chicago Cubs - every single National League player that was the difference between playoffs and sitting at home that year played for the Chicago Cubs.
   12. Chris Dial Posted: August 13, 2008 at 01:54 PM (#2900966)
But I am probably one of the few here who didn't think that Morneau was a terrible choice last time he won. Not all plate appearances have the same degree of importance. The same can be said for games as well. He played well down the stretch when the games were more crucial.
I didn't think he was so much "terrible", but that he wasn't the best choice on his team. that's really missing the boat, IMO.
   13. Xander Posted: August 13, 2008 at 01:54 PM (#2900967)
I'd give it to Markakis before I gave it to Morneau. Well I'd give it to a lot of people before I gave it to Morneau, but people are sleeping on Markakis.
   14. WillYoung Posted: August 13, 2008 at 01:59 PM (#2900973)
Here's the problem with Morneau for MVP: Mauer has been more valuable. Of course, this problem didn't stop him from winning in 2006...
   15. JPWF13 Posted: August 13, 2008 at 02:04 PM (#2900979)
But I think that his season was more valuable than a cursory glance at his stat line would indicate.


It was, enough so that instead of being the 12th most valuable player in the AL that year he was around 8th...
   16. DKDC Posted: August 13, 2008 at 02:06 PM (#2900981)
people are sleeping on Markakis.


I'm a big Markakis fan, but he has the 4th highest VORP on a last place team.

He's not a very good candidate sabermetrically, and since so much of his value is tied up in OBP, he's an even more unlikely candidate in real life.
   17. 1k5v3L Posted: August 13, 2008 at 02:12 PM (#2900990)
Oh yeah? And Eric Byrnes is the MVP of the 60 DL. Top that, Quentin boy
   18. Shooty is obsessed with the latest hoodie Posted: August 13, 2008 at 02:13 PM (#2900991)
I'm a big Markakis fan, but he has the 4th highest VORP on a last place team.

Just taking a guess before I look it up...Roberts, Huff and Mora? Is that possible? Millar?
   19. Xander Posted: August 13, 2008 at 02:14 PM (#2900994)
I think it's Huff, Roberts and Guthrie.
   20. DKDC Posted: August 13, 2008 at 02:18 PM (#2900998)
Actually, my math stinks and it's just Roberts and Huff.

Guthrie trails Markakis by 0.9 VORP.
   21. Dan The Mediocre is one of "the rest" Posted: August 13, 2008 at 02:19 PM (#2900999)
The best hitters in the league, by rate stats, are MB and AROD, and they both have missed quite a bit of playing time so far this season.


ARod also has the highest VORP of any player, so it's not as if he hasn't made up for that missed playing time.
   22. NJ in NY (Now with Baby!) Posted: August 13, 2008 at 02:19 PM (#2901001)
Here's the problem with Morneau for MVP: Mauer has been more valuable. Of course, this problem didn't stop him from winning in 2006...

His case would be helped if his organization actually realized what they have on their hands and promoted his case a bit harder.
   23. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 13, 2008 at 02:21 PM (#2901004)
1998 is a good example of why I hate when the voters act like this. Many of the voters voted for Sosa stating that Sosa was absolutely crucial to the Cubs making the playoffs and that McGwire's contribution was essentially meaningless because they could've gone home just as easily in October without him.

Then, those people turned around and put McGwire #2.


Like the writer who voted Sabathia RoY in 2001 on the basis that Ichiro wasn't a true rookie, and then voted Ichiro #2.


As goofy as it sounds, as I said at the time, I would have had a lot more respect for the Sosa voters at the time if their ballot had contained all Chicago Cubs - every single National League player that was the difference between playoffs and sitting at home that year played for the Chicago Cubs.


Heh. Good one.
   24. NJ in NY (Now with Baby!) Posted: August 13, 2008 at 02:25 PM (#2901009)

ARod also has the highest VORP of any player, so it's not as if he hasn't made up for that missed playing time.


This is what sucks about A-Rod not being the Clutch God he was last year. Last night he hit the game winning homer, if he can have more clutch moments or just generally hit the #### out of the ball for the next month and a half and carry the Yankees to the Wild Card...it's his award, but there's a lot of suck for him to overcome.
   25. aberg Posted: August 13, 2008 at 02:59 PM (#2901057)
Morneau in 2006 was a pretty absurd choice. There were so many other good options that it was unconscionable for him to be voted ahead of Jeter, Mauer, or Santana at the very least.

This year has been quite different. There is no pitcher putting up ungodly stats (at least none who will pitch more than 75 innings). The best middle infielder in the league might not even be an above average player since he is such a sieve on defense. The best player in the league missed a huge chunk of time while injured and his team might not be in the post-season. And watching about 80 Twins games has made it remarkably clear that Morneau is more valuable to the team than Mauer. I love Mauer in a barely platonic way, but the lineup absolutely revolves around Morneau. In key situations, Mauer tries to draw walks so Morneau can be the hitter. He leads the team in VORP and he is the only reliable power bat in the lineup. He has also improved his defense a great deal since 2006 to the point that it is a strength. I have been avoiding saying it out loud, but if the Twins make the playoffs and Morneau remains productive, I think he has to be the MVP.
   26. SoSH U at work Posted: August 13, 2008 at 03:03 PM (#2901061)
I have been avoiding saying it out loud, but if the Twins make the playoffs and Morneau remains productive, I think he has to be the MVP.


Well, damn, now you've gone and jinxed it.
   27. Boots Day Posted: August 13, 2008 at 03:08 PM (#2901070)
So Dan, your position is that you'd respect it more if the voters make reaching the playoffs the only criterion for MVP, rather than making it one among many criteria.

I wouldn't weight it very heavily myself, but I certainly understand why people would make it a factor. Making it the only factor would be totally dumb, though.
   28. NJ in NY (Now with Baby!) Posted: August 13, 2008 at 03:11 PM (#2901075)
There is no pitcher putting up ungodly stats (at least none who will pitch more than 75 innings).

Cliff Lee has a 178 ERA+

The best player in the league missed a huge chunk of time while injured and his team might not be in the post-season.

And is still at the top of the league on some value based metrics, so he does get demerits for unclutchiness.

And watching about 80 Twins games has made it remarkably clear that Morneau is more valuable to the team than Mauer. I love Mauer in a barely platonic way, but the lineup absolutely revolves around Morneau. In key situations, Mauer tries to draw walks so Morneau can be the hitter.

I think this is silly. Mauer draws walks because he doesn't swing at crap. He's not up there thinking "Oh gosh, key situation, let me try to get it Morneau."
   29. aberg Posted: August 13, 2008 at 03:12 PM (#2901077)
Well, damn, now you've gone and jinxed it.


Not that I'm afraid of jinxing it, but that I'm embarrassed that it's happening again. If someone from your favorite team wins the MVP, you want it to be a point of pride, not a travesty.
   30. SkyKing162 Posted: August 13, 2008 at 03:12 PM (#2901078)
Grady Sizemore
   31. aberg Posted: August 13, 2008 at 03:13 PM (#2901080)
He's not up there thinking "Oh gosh, key situation, let me try to get it Morneau."


In sincerely think he is. The radio and TV broadcasters would likely agree.
   32. Fancy Pants with a clinging marmoset on his Handle Posted: August 13, 2008 at 03:18 PM (#2901090)
The radio and TV broadcasters would likely agree.


And when have they ever been wrong about anything...
   33. JMPH Posted: August 13, 2008 at 03:21 PM (#2901095)
He's not up there thinking "Oh gosh, key situation, let me try to get it Morneau."

I think he is too. Mauer is a very selective hitter, but I'd say he looks more selective in those key situations where a blast from Morneau would be key. He understands that a walk, if he can get it, is a very valuable play with Morneau coming up.
   34. JMPH Posted: August 13, 2008 at 03:23 PM (#2901099)
And when have they ever been wrong about anything...

We're not talking about the virtues of VORP or the wisdom of diving head-first here, we're talking about the mindset of a player when he comes to bat. The announcers talk to and interact with the players on a regular basis. I'd say they've got a good idea of what goes on here.
   35. Fancy Pants with a clinging marmoset on his Handle Posted: August 13, 2008 at 03:47 PM (#2901143)
We're not talking about the virtues of VORP or the wisdom of diving head-first here, we're talking about the mindset of a player when he comes to bat. The announcers talk to and interact with the players on a regular basis. I'd say they've got a good idea of what goes on here.

Yes, I am sure they are very good at putting their thoughts into a players mouth, most media types are...

Unfortunately, your entire premise just doesn't hold up. Despite Mauer's BB-ophilia, and Morneau's uber-cllutchiness, Mauer still somehow leads Morneau in WPA/LI...

Yes Morneau is a slightly better hitter than Mauer because of his power. But Morneau is a 1B and Mauer is a friggin elite catcher, which makes up for the difference and then some.
   36. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: August 13, 2008 at 04:03 PM (#2901172)
#28 beat me to the punch, but why isn't Lee a serious contender? 16-2, 162 IP, 128-22 K-BB ratio, 2.45 ERA, 178 ERA+. Those are some ridiculous numbers. He's leading the league in wins, winning %, ERA, ERA+, and is fourth in IP. He's got, what, 8-9 starts left? If he finishes at, say, 22-4 in ~210-220 IP while leading the league in ERA I think he'll be in the mix.
   37. JMPH Posted: August 13, 2008 at 04:07 PM (#2901175)
Yes, I am sure they are very good at putting their thoughts into a players mouth, most media types are...

I don't mind cynicism toward sports announcers, but this is a little over the top. You don't think announcers are capable of accurately relaying a message that a player said off the air?

Unfortunately, your entire premise just doesn't hold up. Despite Mauer's BB-ophilia, and Morneau's uber-cllutchiness, Mauer still somehow leads Morneau in WPA/LI...

I said Mauer recognizes the extra value in walks when Morneau is coming up behind him in a tight game and it seems to show in his approach in these situations. He's a selective, productive hitter who seems to be more selective in these situations, but he remains productive. You throw one down the middle, he's not going to take it, thinking, "no, I have to draw a walk so Morneau can knock me in." He's going to try to turn it into a line drive, like any smart hitter would.

I expected someone to throw pitch-by-pitch data at me, or walk rates, or pitches per at-bat in those situations, but citing Morneau's performance to argue against the idea that Mauer is more selective in tight games with Morneau coming up is an interesting choice.
   38. Cooperstown Schtick Posted: August 13, 2008 at 04:16 PM (#2901190)
why isn't Lee a serious contender?

Because he is a pitcher on a team that isn't going to the playoffs. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, but Lee doesn't have a snowball's chance of winning the MVP.
   39. BDC Posted: August 13, 2008 at 04:18 PM (#2901194)
Even if Cliff Lee gets into the discussion, he shares Sizemore's problem with the actual voters: Indians stink. I doubt he will get more than a smattering of MVP votes. Yea, a mere smattering.

Edit: One Coke for Coop, please :)
   40. Cowboy Popup Posted: August 13, 2008 at 04:18 PM (#2901196)
#28 beat me to the punch, but why isn't Lee a serious contender?

The same reason Sizemore isn't.

Edit: Ah, Cooperstown and Bob beat me to it.
   41. Posada Posse Posted: August 13, 2008 at 04:20 PM (#2901200)
For whatever it's worth, THT's version of win shares has Morneau leading the AL in win shares with 25 (tied with Kinsler, all as of August 6) and also leading the league in batting win shares. This last one is a little puzzling to me but I imagine that it's because Morneau is hitting .376 with RISP.
   42. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: August 13, 2008 at 04:41 PM (#2901228)
I don't think Lee will win, but voters love numbers like 22-4 or 23-5. If he finishes with a won-loss record like that he'll be in the top 3.
   43. Fancy Pants with a clinging marmoset on his Handle Posted: August 13, 2008 at 04:44 PM (#2901231)
I don't mind cynicism toward sports announcers, but this is a little over the top. You don't think announcers are capable of accurately relaying a message that a player said off the air?

I think they're capable, I just don't necessarily think it's in their best interest. However, that isn't even the point I was making. I was arguing that they are adept at getting athletes to say what they want to hear.

So, Mr Mauer. You walked today in the eigth, and Justin drove you in as the go ahead run. Were you confident he'd get the job done?

What's he gonna awnser to that? - Morneau's a bum, if they'd thrown me the same types of cookies I would have crushed one myself... of course he isn't.

I expected someone to throw pitch-by-pitch data at me, or walk rates, or pitches per at-bat in those situations, but citing Morneau's performance to argue against the idea that Mauer is more selective in tight games with Morneau coming up is an interesting choice.

Again, not what I was arguing. I was arguing that Morneau's production in tight ballgames is not more valueable to the team than Mauer's, which seemed to be the crux of the Morneau for MVP movement.
   44. Boots Day Posted: August 13, 2008 at 04:45 PM (#2901232)
Mike Hampton went 22-4 in 1999, and finished 21st in the MVP voting.
   45. bads85 Posted: August 13, 2008 at 04:46 PM (#2901236)
Last night he hit the game winning homer, if he can have more clutch moments


The announcers said that was A-Rod's first go ahead RBI from the seventh inning on for the entire year. I found that hard to believe.
   46. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: August 13, 2008 at 04:50 PM (#2901245)
Pretty good for a fairly sucky pitcher.
   47. bads85 Posted: August 13, 2008 at 04:53 PM (#2901250)
Even if Cliff Lee gets into the discussion, he shares Sizemore's problem with the actual voters: Indians stink.


The crafty Eric Wedge has the AL Central right where he wants them.
   48. JMPH Posted: August 13, 2008 at 04:54 PM (#2901253)
Again, not what I was arguing. I was arguing that Morneau's production in tight ballgames is not more valueable to the team than Mauer's, which seemed to be the crux of the Morneau for MVP movement.

Then you're responding to the wrong posts, because I haven't said anything about that. All I've said was that Mauer is more selective with the game on the line and a slugger coming up behind him.
   49. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: August 13, 2008 at 04:58 PM (#2901260)
Mike Hampton went 22-4 in 1999, and finished 21st in the MVP voting.

Fair enough. We'll see...
   50. Steve Threadair Posted: August 13, 2008 at 04:59 PM (#2901262)
Isn't it possible that on a team like this year's Twins, where the other hitters seem a bit weak, a guy with Morneau's combination of OBP and power would be more valuable than Mauer?
   51. JMPH Posted: August 13, 2008 at 05:06 PM (#2901271)
Isn't it possible that on a team like this year's Twins, where the other hitters seem a bit weak, a guy with Morneau's combination of OBP and power would be more valuable than Mauer?

In the sense that Mauer's high OBP production isn't very useful without Morneau to knock him in?
   52. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 13, 2008 at 05:08 PM (#2901277)
If this won't banish me to sabermetric hell, I don't know what will. But I am probably one of the few here who didn't think that Morneau was a terrible choice last time he won. Not all plate appearances have the same degree of importance. The same can be said for games as well. He played well down the stretch when the games were more crucial.
I'm still stuck on trying to understand how games down the stretch are "more crucial." Do they weight them differently in the standings?
   53. Chris Dial Posted: August 13, 2008 at 05:13 PM (#2901282)
I'm still stuck on trying to understand how games down the stretch are "more crucial." Do they weight them differently in the standings?
Going 4-12 in April still leaves you 5 months to improve. Going 4-12 in September leaves you at your worst. This is n't the first time you've heard that. It's "Pennant Probability".
   54. JMPH Posted: August 13, 2008 at 05:14 PM (#2901284)
I'm still stuck on trying to understand how games down the stretch are "more crucial." Do they weight them differently in the standings?

Is a plate appearance in the ninth inning more crucial than a plate appearance in the first inning? It's the same argument that comes up in WPA discussions. The homerun in the ninth of a tie game is more crucial than a homerun in the first inning of a tie game according to WPA. It's the same kind of thing.
   55. Mike Emeigh Posted: August 13, 2008 at 05:14 PM (#2901285)
The announcers said that was A-Rod's first go ahead RBI from the seventh inning on for the entire year. I found that hard to believe.


Absolutely true, though.

-- MWE
   56. Fancy Pants with a clinging marmoset on his Handle Posted: August 13, 2008 at 05:16 PM (#2901286)
Then you're responding to the wrong posts, because I haven't said anything about that. All I've said was that Mauer is more selective with the game on the line and a slugger coming up behind him.


No, you agreed with the original statement which was:

I love Mauer in a barely platonic way, but the lineup absolutely revolves around Morneau. In key situations, Mauer tries to draw walks so Morneau can be the hitter... if the Twins make the playoffs and Morneau remains productive, I think he has to be the MVP.


A not small part (actally it's really the main part) of the statement is the sentiment that Morneau is more valueable than Mauer, mainly because Mauer walks in key situations and Morneau rips it. If you only agree with parts of this statement, then it is up to you to clarify which ones. You can't just say "I think he is too.", and expect me to magically infer that you actually don't think Morneau is more valueable than Mauer...
   57. Steve Threadair Posted: August 13, 2008 at 05:19 PM (#2901294)
In the sense that Mauer's high OBP production isn't very useful without Morneau to knock him in?

Yes. If you had a team with ONE great hitter and 8 very lousy ones, The OBP/no power guy would be close to useless. I know I'm stretching here, but I can't help but feel that on the Red Sox, for instance, Mauer would probably be as valuable as Morneau or more, but on the Twins, I feel Morneau (this year) is more valuable.

EDIT: Well, my Red Sox example doesn't really work this year... let's say a fantasy world Red Sox where the bottom of the lineup doesn't suck
   58. Fancy Pants with a clinging marmoset on his Handle Posted: August 13, 2008 at 05:21 PM (#2901296)
I'm still stuck on trying to understand how games down the stretch are "more crucial." Do they weight them differently in the standings?

For what it's worth, I understand the reasoning, and I still don't like it. For example, how did the Tigers not loose the division in their first 12 games this year...
   59. JMPH Posted: August 13, 2008 at 05:21 PM (#2901298)
You can't just say "I think he is too.", and expect me to magically infer that you actually don't think Morneau is more valueable than Mauer...

I think I can reasonably expect you not to put words in my mouth. I quoted one sentence about Mauer, and said I disagree, since the statement seemed very false compared to what I've seen from Mauer this year. That's all.
   60. Fancy Pants with a clinging marmoset on his Handle Posted: August 13, 2008 at 05:24 PM (#2901301)
I think I can reasonably expect you not to put words in my mouth.


So in other words, I should just get it over with and start a broadcasting career...

FWIW, you may consider my tirade not directed towars yourself but against the instigator of the Morneau for MVP campaign...
   61. JMPH Posted: August 13, 2008 at 05:24 PM (#2901302)
Yes. If you had a team with ONE great hitter and 8 very lousy ones, The OBP/no power guy would be close to useless. I know I'm stretching here, but I can't help but feel that on the Red Sox, for instance, Mauer would probably be as valuable as Morneau or more, but on the Twins, I feel Morneau (this year) is more valuable.

I can see that. That'd be one of the more acceptable arguments for Morneau, I think.
   62. Steve Threadair Posted: August 13, 2008 at 05:31 PM (#2901318)
I can see that. That'd be one of the more acceptable arguments for Morneau, I think.

Funny because since I wrote that, I'm more or less waiting to be ripped apart! But I can't help feeling this way regarding Mauer and Morneau (this year). At least as far as their hitting is concerned.
   63. Toolsy McClutch Posted: August 13, 2008 at 05:33 PM (#2901324)
I'm a WPA whore: Hamilton is the WPA leader, Morneau is third. Quentin is fourth.

Manny! is second.
   64. JMPH Posted: August 13, 2008 at 05:37 PM (#2901332)
I'm a WPA whore: Hamilton is the WPA leader, Morneau is third. Quentin is fourth.

Oh, now you're in for it.
   65. Toolsy McClutch Posted: August 13, 2008 at 05:39 PM (#2901337)
What? We never talk WPA here!

I'm pushing Manny! as the official BTF name for the dreadlocked one.
   66. JMPH Posted: August 13, 2008 at 05:40 PM (#2901339)
Funny because since I wrote that, I'm more or less waiting to be ripped apart! But I can't help feeling this way regarding Mauer and Morneau (this year). At least as far as their hitting is concerned.

And I think that's an important qualification to make. As long as we're determining which of the two is more valuable offensively, I'd accept (or at least tolerate) your argument. It's a whole different picture when defense is taken into account.
   67. Boots Day Posted: August 13, 2008 at 05:40 PM (#2901341)
Is a plate appearance in the ninth inning more crucial than a plate appearance in the first inning?

That depends on whether it's 4-3 in the ninth inning, or 13-2 in the ninth inning.
   68. Forsch 10 From Navarone (Dayn) Posted: August 13, 2008 at 05:45 PM (#2901353)
Going 4-12 in April still leaves you 5 months to improve. Going 4-12 in September leaves you at your worst.

And? Seriously, I've never understood this (well, I understand it coming from mainstream types, but that's a different matter). The games in April count exactly the same as the games in September. I believe it's essential to look at clutch indicators when determining the MVP, but the "down the stretch" thing strikes me as nonsense.
   69. JMPH Posted: August 13, 2008 at 05:49 PM (#2901362)
I believe it's essential to look at clutch indicators when determining the MVP, but the "down the stretch" thing strikes me as nonsense.

Say a player is in a certain clutch situation in a game on Opening Day. Say he encounters exactly the same situation again in September with his team half a game down in the standings, playing the first place team. Is one of these situations more clutch?
   70. Forsch 10 From Navarone (Dayn) Posted: August 13, 2008 at 05:58 PM (#2901389)
Say a player is in a certain clutch situation in a game on Opening Day. Say he encounters exactly the same situation again in September with his team half a game down in the standings, playing the first place team. Is one of these situations more clutch?

No. Half-game down in the standings? Then what happened on opening day is vitally important. If you want to argue that games against primary competitors are more important, then that I'm open to. But games against primary competitors in May are every bit as important as games against primary competitors in September.
   71. Chris Dial Posted: August 13, 2008 at 06:02 PM (#2901407)
And?
And the next sentences in the post you snipped from.
   72. GGC for Sale Posted: August 13, 2008 at 06:03 PM (#2901411)
   73. JMPH Posted: August 13, 2008 at 06:05 PM (#2901422)
No. Half-game down in the standings? Then what happened on opening day is vitally important. If you want to argue that games against primary competitors are more important, then that I'm open to. But games against primary competitors in May are every bit as important as games against primary competitors in September.

I think you're confusing value and clutch. A game-winning homerun in September to take the division lead is much more clutch than a game-winning homerun on Opening Day. I agree completely that the two games are equally important, but in terms of clutch, there's a big difference.
   74. PJ Martinez Posted: August 13, 2008 at 06:13 PM (#2901445)
Logically, games in September are not more important than games in April. Psychologically, though, the experience of playing in them might be different.

Another aspect of this: even logically, games can be less important-- if you're out of the pennant race, which no team is, technically speaking, in April. Except for the Royals, obviously.
   75. WillYoung Posted: August 13, 2008 at 06:21 PM (#2901466)
Delmon Young for MVP!
   76. JMPH Posted: August 13, 2008 at 06:22 PM (#2901469)
Delmon Young for MVP!

I think he read this comment before his last at-bat:

Isn't it possible that on a team like this year's Twins, where the other hitters seem a bit weak, a guy with Morneau's combination of OBP and power would be more valuable than Mauer?
   77. tjm1 Posted: August 13, 2008 at 06:24 PM (#2901475)
I love Mauer in a barely platonic way, but the lineup absolutely revolves around Morneau. In key situations, Mauer tries to draw walks so Morneau can be the hitter... if the Twins make the playoffs and Morneau remains productive, I think he has to be the MVP.


Joe Mauer is a catcher. Not only that, but he's actually pretty good defensively. While the argument that the Twins' lineup revolves around Morneau is probably correct, I don't think it's sufficient. If you're a first baseman and you're not the best hitter on your team, you better have a glove like Keith Hernandez, or the best hitter on your team had better be the Dh if you want to be considered even for team MVP. I'm not completely sold on Mauer over Morneau, or on eliminating a half dozen other players from the discussion, but I think it's important to consider not just offensive impact, but defensive skill and position.
   78. Steve Threadair Posted: August 13, 2008 at 06:28 PM (#2901484)
Delmon Young for MVP!

Let's say assistant MVP. Because it's basically his suckiness that made Morneau so valuable to the Twins!
   79. tjm1 Posted: August 13, 2008 at 06:33 PM (#2901495)
By the way, some of this argument reminds me a bit of the 1995 MVP race. Mo Vaughn won. Albert Belle probably had the best season, but he was eliminated from the discussion ostensibly because the Indians ran away with their division race so early on that the view point was that they would have won easily without him. Also the reporters hated him. Tim Salmon had a great year. Most interesting to me, though, is the comparison between Vaughn and John Valentin that year. Vaughn hit .300/39/126/.388/.575 for a 144 OPS+. Valentin hit .299/27/102/.399/.533 for a 138 OPS+. Valentin, like Mauer, was the second best hitter on his team, the guy who got on base a lot and scored the runs, but not the guy who really had the huge number of big hits. He also played a key defensive position at an above average, but not quite Gold Glove level. Vaughn played first base, not terribly, but not particularly well. Vaughn won the MVP, Valentin finished 9th in the voting, even finishing behind Jay Buhner who hadn't even had as good a year as Valentin as a hitter, much less as an overall player.
   80. Mike Emeigh Posted: August 13, 2008 at 06:41 PM (#2901512)
The games in April count exactly the same as the games in September.


In an absolute sense, yes. In a relative sense, no - because you have less time to recover from a loss in September than you do from a loss in April. And that's the nub of the problem.

Statistical analysts look at "absolute worth" when consdering value. Award voters - and most baseball fans - look at "relative worth" when considering value. Both are valid definitions for the term, and neither is more right than the other. And we have these arguments largely because one side is trying to impose its own definition of "value" on the other.

-- MWE
   81. Best Dressed Chicken in Town Posted: August 13, 2008 at 06:50 PM (#2901533)
If you had a team with ONE great hitter and 8 very lousy ones, The OBP/no power guy would be close to useless. I know I'm stretching here, but I can't help but feel that on the Red Sox, for instance, Mauer would probably be as valuable as Morneau or more, but on the Twins, I feel Morneau (this year) is more valuable.

I don't think you're stretching at all. I haven't studied the teams to see if this specific example is logical or not, but context matters.

some of this argument reminds me a bit of the 1995 MVP race. Mo Vaughn won. Albert Belle probably had the best season, but he was eliminated from the discussion ostensibly because the Indians ran away with their division race so early on that the view point was that they would have won easily without him.

I thought that at the time, and I still sort of believe it. Early in the season, I seem to recall the Indians players being discussed as MVP candidates were Baerga and Lofton. Belle wasn't overwhelming in the first half but then hit about 35 homers in the last 2 months, when Cleveland already had a 40-game lead. Great season, but to me that doesn't make him the obvious MVP, regardless the size of his lead in OPS+. I'm not going to get into the old arguments of how that punishes a player for the abilities of his teammates. I do not believe someone on a last place team is ineligible to win, I do not believe only players on teams in close races should be contenders. But this is a team game and context matters.

you have less time to recover from a loss in September than you do from a loss in April.

Exactly.
   82. Boots Day Posted: August 13, 2008 at 06:53 PM (#2901544)
I would express it thusly: You know how important the games are in September, whereas you don't quite know how important they are in April.

I would also point out that whether or not you play well in April has a huge impact on the importance of the games in September.
   83. BDC Posted: August 13, 2008 at 07:02 PM (#2901580)
whether or not you play well in April has a huge impact on the importance of the games in September

At the All-Star Break, one of the DFW papers had a story that started: "With the third-best record in the American League since April 24th, you'd think the Rangers would be right in the thick of the playoff chase, but somehow they're not."
   84. Steve Threadair Posted: August 13, 2008 at 07:05 PM (#2901587)
Regarding the 1995 MVP race, it's kind of cool to notice Manny already being Manny amongst the likes of Belle, Vaughn, Boggs and Ripken. Also had no idea whatsoever that Mo Vaughn had stolen 11 bases in a season.
   85. JoeD has the Imperial March Stuck in His Head Posted: August 13, 2008 at 07:52 PM (#2901678)
Morneau in 2006 was a pretty absurd choice. There were so many other good options that it was unconscionable for him to be voted ahead of Jeter, Mauer, or Santana at the very least.


I didn't even have Morneau on my 10-player BTF ballot in 2006.
   86. SkyKing162 Posted: August 13, 2008 at 08:21 PM (#2901728)
Catchers are about two wins more valuable than first basemen, given position-average fielding. Is Morneau two wins better than Mauer? No. Not even if you use custom linear weights based on the Twins low-OBP environment.

People realize Morneau is "only" slugging .502, right? Mauer's at .444. Not a big power difference.
   87. Booey Posted: August 13, 2008 at 10:55 PM (#2901885)
I hope Morneau goes on a tear the rest of the season and finishes with far and away the best numbers in the league - and then LOSES the award to someone ridiculous like Torii Hunter or K-Rod.

Karma's a bi-otch.
   88. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: August 13, 2008 at 11:10 PM (#2901902)
It's pretty amazing to me that Manny has never won an MVP. His teams have almost always been in playoff contention and he puts up the huge counting stats that everyone likes.
   89. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 14, 2008 at 12:05 AM (#2902044)
Is a plate appearance in the ninth inning more crucial than a plate appearance in the first inning?
No, obviously.
It's the same argument that comes up in WPA discussions. The homerun in the ninth of a tie game is more crucial than a homerun in the first inning of a tie game according to WPA. It's the same kind of thing.
Sure, and WPA is wrongly conceived, for that reason. It's why it can't be used for any serious purpose. It's storytelling, not analysis. There's nothing wrong with storytelling, but it doesn't determine value.
   90. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 14, 2008 at 12:11 AM (#2902066)
The games in April count exactly the same as the games in September.

In an absolute sense, yes. In a relative sense, no - because you have less time to recover from a loss in September than you do from a loss in April. And that's the nub of the problem.
I don't understand your modifiers there. 'Relative' to what?
Statistical analysts look at "absolute worth" when consdering value. Award voters - and most baseball fans - look at "relative worth" when considering value. Both are valid definitions for the term, and neither is more right than the other. And we have these arguments largely because one side is trying to impose its own definition of "value" on the other./
Perhaps I'm going to prove your point with this comment, but I forge ahead nonetheless: I disagree. Both are not valid definitions for the term. Award voters are measuring something other than value when they consider these sorts of things.
   91. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 14, 2008 at 12:15 AM (#2902075)
you have less time to recover from a loss in September than you do from a loss in April.

Exactly.
I won't dispute that people think this way, but it's of course wrong. You have the same amount of time: 161 other games. The fact that some happened before the game is irrelevant; the order they happen in doesn't matter for the purpose of winning a pennant. We perceive the games in order, but for the purposes of gaining a division title, you just add them up without regard for order.
   92. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 14, 2008 at 12:28 AM (#2902115)
I've figured it out. David Nieporent always was, is, and always shall be, and does not perceive the passage of time like us ordinary mortals. He is a 5-dimensional being who flits in and out of our 4 dimensions as he sees fit, objectively surveying our procession through "time" which we see as fated to always be arrow-like, in one direction.

But seriously, if you're a player, you view games late in the season as more crucial than games early in the season, if you're actually in contention, because with each game that goes by the range of possible outcomes for the season becomes more and more clear, and you can more readily perceive the effect of one game on your overall record. It's like procrastination. There's a reason why "Games in April count just as much as games in September, guys!" is one of the cliched managerial diatribes. Managers do have to keep reminding people of that.

Of course, most players don't change their approach depending on the leverage of the situation anyway, even though they may feel like they're bearing up more in a crucial situation.
   93. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 14, 2008 at 12:37 AM (#2902147)
In an absolute sense, yes. In a relative sense, no - because you have less time to recover from a loss in September than you do from a loss in April. And that's the nub of the problem.

Actually, once the game is lost, it's lost for good. There's no way to "recover" it, regardless of whether it happened in April or September.

The same thing goes for a ninth inning at-bat versus a first-inning at-bat. They're both more important in a close game than in a blowout, but neither is inherently more important than the other within a single game.

The concept of leverage derives from a manager's ability to choose which players to use in certain situations. Ninth-inning situations don't have more leverage than first-inning ones, but ninth innings in close games have more leverage than ninth innings in blowouts. A "fireman" type can have high leverage because he is brought into more close games, while a mop-up guy can have low leverage because he is brought into more blowouts.

These concepts are pretty meaningless when discussing everyday players who play the whole game. Their performance may be relatively more valuable if their successes tended to come in close games rather than blowouts, but that's about it.

That concept doesn't really have a parallel within the context of a season. If the division was close, then you can consider an individual player's contribution more "valuable" towards winning the division. At the same time, if his team ran away with the division, it may have given the manager the opportunity to rest players and set his rotation in advance of the playoffs.

But every game counts equally in the standings at the end of the season. If the division ended up being close, then the games in May were really important, even if voters didn't perceive it that way at the time.
   94. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 14, 2008 at 12:44 AM (#2902156)
But seriously, if you're a player, you view games late in the season as more crucial than games early in the season, if you're actually in contention, because with each game that goes by the range of possible outcomes for the season becomes more and more clear, and you can more readily perceive the effect of one game on your overall record.

Which would make the player who plays well throughout the course of the season, rather than choosing only to turn it on at the end, even more valuable, because he can take advantage of everyone else's lapses in focus and effort.

Still, I dispute whether this is actually how players or voters think. Sure, it sometimes happens that way, but look at the two guys who won the MVP last year. Rollins' two best months were April and July. A-Rod's two best months were April and June (although he had a hell of a September too). Those guys played as though April mattered. And at least in the case of Rollins, it did.
   95. jwb Posted: August 14, 2008 at 01:19 AM (#2902236)
Jamie Carroll was robbed.
   96. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 14, 2008 at 01:45 AM (#2902322)
Still, I dispute whether this is actually how players or voters thin
As with virtually all issues related to award voting, it's how they think... when they want to. You name the criterion, and the writers will apply it when they need to do so in order to fit the decision they've already made. If they want to give the award to the guy who happened to be best in April, they'll claim that he's responsible for the team getting off to a good start -- or they'll ignore the timing issue entirely. If they don't want to give the award to that guy, they'll claim he did his best work early in the season, rather than late in the season when it counts.



I've figured it out. David Nieporent always was, is, and always shall be, and does not perceive the passage of time like us ordinary mortals. He is a 5-dimensional being who flits in and out of our 4 dimensions as he sees fit, objectively surveying our procession through "time" which we see as fated to always be arrow-like, in one direction.
I knew you were going to have said that.
   97. Shock Posted: August 14, 2008 at 01:50 AM (#2902328)
The thing that people seem to miss is that clutch situations need to be set up, and something like WPA doesn't give enough credit to players who MADE IT a clutch situation for the batter.

Picture:

Yankees down 6-0. A-Rod hits a "meaningless" two-run bomb in the 5th, and then another "meaningless" solo shot in the 8th to make it 6-3. In the 9th Jeter hits a clutch 3-run shot to tie the game. All fine and dandy, and Jeter will get all the WPA points and love, but without A-Rod's homers, Jeter would have never even been in position to tie the game.

That's what bothers me about the whole "clutch" thing. Clutch PA's do not just happen spontaneously, they are set up by previous events that made the score close and the situation critical.

And it's the same thing with wins/losses in the season. The only reason the games "down the stretch" are so crucial, is because the team set it up that way; by not winning as many games in the first 3/4 of the season. Had the team started the season 120-0, then the situations "down the stretch" wouldn't be critical at all. It seems silly to act like these games are worth more just because the team was mediocre up until then.
   98. aberg Posted: August 14, 2008 at 01:50 AM (#2902331)
David- I know you're not seeking to be persuaded in this argument, but I tend to agree with Mike and the others who argued that later season games have a different value. Every day of the season, each team has a certain probability of making the post-season. When no team has played a game, no team has a mathematical advantage over any other one- obviously the Red Sox were more likely to make the post-season than the Pirates before this season started, but for other reasons. A team like the Twins or Rays did not likely expect to be playing from first place in August or September this April, which likely changes individual players' mindsets entering games. Since they remain competitive now, the players must at least feel that they are playing in a higher leverage situation. If all of the players share that feeling, then it changes the state of the game and it is a tangible reality.
   99. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 14, 2008 at 02:11 AM (#2902379)
Andrew, you got one thing very wrong in your post: I am seeking to be persuaded. I always welcome an argument that convinces me that a different point of view is the correct one. Don't confuse the fact that I'm <strike>pretty</strike>very sure I'm right with the notion that I don't want to learn otherwise.

As to the substance of your argument, I don't disagree that people feel differently depending on the order in which events happen. But what does that mean in terms of the crucialness of the games?
   100. aberg Posted: August 14, 2008 at 02:23 AM (#2902393)
I don't disagree that people feel differently depending on the order in which events happen. But what does that mean in terms of the crucialness of the games?


To me, that feeling is an important part of what constitutes leverage. Perhaps you are right that the games are not mathematically more important, which I'm not certain I believe, but if Grady Sizemore hits 380/525 against pitchers who are playing out the string, or faces an inferior reliever because the better pitcher is being saved for an upcoming series against a better team, then his performance is less impressive than a similar one by Justin Morneau or Joe Mauer. Even if the literal conditions are no different, I'm more impressed by a player succeeding when failure would mean missing the playoffs than a player who succeeds with nothing on the line.
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