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Friday, September 22, 2017

Ozzie and the MVP | Articles | Bill James Online

Dave Fleming on the 1987 MVP race.

Jim Furtado Posted: September 22, 2017 at 06:39 AM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals, history, mvp, ozzie smith

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   1. Lest we forget Posted: September 22, 2017 at 07:41 AM (#5536586)
"No one has noticed Simmons"

"no one is appreciating the brilliant season that Andrelton Simmons is having"

"no one in baseball is talking about him like that"

Aren't they?

From MLB.com in August: "Andrelton Simmons is having the best season of his career, a season so good that he's very much in the discussion for the American League MVP Award."

From Yahoo Sports about two weeks ago: "In Trout’s absence, another player on the Angels has stepped up and inserted himself in the American League MVP conversation."

From SI.com in August, ranking AL MVP candidates: "5. Andrelton Simmons, Los Angeles Angels"

So let's drop the hyperbole.
   2. BDC Posted: September 22, 2017 at 08:13 AM (#5536596)
Yeah, the likelihood that a pretty good 2B batting .340 will win MVP over the pretty great SS batting .280 is no scandal.

Insofar as TFA considers Altuve, it seems to fall back on the notion that the Astros have been so good that they didn't need Altuve as much as the Angels needed Simmons to be mediocre. That's never been a compelling argument.

As to Simmons finishing high on ballots, he clearly should, and should be greatly appreciated.
   3. Harmon "Thread Killer" Microbrew Posted: September 22, 2017 at 12:03 PM (#5536775)
From the article, RE: Ozzie Smith's fame:

Go and look at Ozzie Smith’s career batting line. He was, in his early years, a weak hitter. He didn’t have a batting average higher than .258 until he was in his thirties. He started slow, at least as a hitter, and worked to get to passable. He had a good on-base percentage in his later years, but it wasn’t generally elite. He wasn’t Brett Butler. His two real areas of skill were 1) defense, and 2) baserunning.

How many guys with those skills sets get super famous in baseball? Anyone? Can you think of any player who was treated as a superstar who was like Ozzie Smith? He’s Mark Belanger, if Belanger had a really sharp PR behind him.


Ozzie's prime coincided with my teenage baseball fanaticism. My thoughts on why he is so known:

- his defensive "wizardry" during a period when games and highlights were growing in accessibility to bigger audiences
- distinctive name and memorable nickname
- charismatic -- always smiling, high-energy, backflips
- team success -- playoff and World Series exposure
- big moments - unlikely playoff walkoff HR off, barehand "greatest defensive play of all time", etc.
   4. Hotel Coral Esix Snead (tmutchell) Posted: September 22, 2017 at 12:58 PM (#5536843)
For most the BBWAA’s history, the Triple Crown winner didn’t win the MVP.


This simply is not true. Before Cabrera, there had been nine batting triple crown winners, and five of those won the MVP. 5 of 9 is more than half, which is most. The exceptions were:

Chuck Klein in 1933: .368/28/120 for a 7th place, 60-92 Phillies team that finished 31 games out. Also, Foxx led the Junior Circuit the same year with 20 more homers, so maybe his accomplishment wasn't viewed as such a big deal at the time? Mostly though I suspect nobody much cared because the Phils sucked so hard.

Lou Gehrig in 1934: .363/49/166 for a 2nd place, 94-60 team that finished 7 games behind Detroit in the AL. Somehow Gehrig finished 5th(!) in the voting, behind Cochrane, Charlie Gehringer, Lefty Gomez (26 wins) and Schoolboy Rowe, who won 24 games. Hank Greenberg (.339/26/139) was 6th and someone named Marv Owen, the Tigers' third baseman, finished 9th despite compiling only a modestly successful campaign (3.3 WAR). In those days being a good player on the team that won the league apparently went a long way in the MVP voting.

Ted Williams in 1942 and 1947: The Splinter finished second both years, lost to a Yankee Hall of Famer both times (Joes Gordon and DiMaggio) who played for the team that won the AL comfortably. 1947 is the closest MVP finish in history, 202-201 points. Both years the Red Sox finished a distant 2nd to the Yankees (9 and 12 games back, respectively). Plus Williams was kind of a d!ck to the writers, from what I hear, so what did he expect?

Jimmie Foxx did win the MVP in 1933, as the author mentions, despite playing for an A's team that finished 19.5 games out, in 3rd place. The Senators won the AL that year, with a lot of good players, including Joe Cronin and Heinie Manush, who split the other four 1st place votes between them, which I guess and allowed Foxx to win.

Joe Medwick won it in 1937, just barely over Gabby Hartnett of the 2nd place, 93-win Cubs, even though the Cardinals finished 32(!) games out, in 4th place that season. Hartnett got 3 first place votes to Ducky's 2, so I guess the writers really liked catchers who could hit in the 1930's.

So while it was not a foregone conclusion for Cabrera to win the MVP in 2012 over Trout, no triple crown winner on a 1st place team had ever not won the MVP.

Ditto for pitching triple crowns, before the advent of the Cy Young award:

Lefty Grove in 1931, on the 1st place Giants
Bucky Walters in 1939, on the 1st place Reds
Hal Newhouser in 1945, on the 1st place Tigers

Other than Lefty Gomez in 1937, no triple crown winner on a 1st place team had failed to win the MVP award until Koufax finished 2nd in 1965 and '66. By then, the writers were starting to see the MVP award as a hitter's award. (Only 5 pitchers won an MVP between 1956 and 1980, when the BBWAA suddenly became enamored of relief pitchers.)

I agree with his general point about our blind spots and our need to be humble as we mock previous generations for their incompetence in light of information they never had. But at the same time, he's discounting the effect winning has on the voters' opinions, and always has.



   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 22, 2017 at 01:06 PM (#5536850)
Yeah, the likelihood that a pretty good 2B batting .340 will win MVP over the pretty great SS batting .280 is no scandal.

Altuve should crush Simmons in the voting. I'm sure that his 50 batting runs are real, and that 165 OPS+ reflects real offensive performance.

I highly doubt Simmons +32 rField is real. It could easily be half that. Ozzie Smith had >=32 rField once in his career. His next highest is 21.

I also easily put Judge, Trout, and Jose Ramirez over Simmons.
   6. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 22, 2017 at 01:21 PM (#5536869)
He’s Mark Belanger, if Belanger had a really sharp PR behind him.


And if Mark Belanger was a great baserunner, instead of a decent one. And if Belanger had worked up to decent offensively for a shortstop, rather than stuck at dreadful. And played a lot longer. But yeah, like peas in a pod, those two.
   7. Tim D Posted: September 22, 2017 at 01:28 PM (#5536878)
I'm convinced Trammell would be in the Hall if he had won the MVP in 1987.
   8. Srul Itza Posted: September 22, 2017 at 01:41 PM (#5536893)
He’s Mark Belanger, if Belanger had a really sharp PR behind him


As poor as he was a hitter, he was a clearly superior hitter and baserunner to Belanger.

Career OWar -- 47.8 vs. 14.6.

EDIT: And What SOSH said



   9. Rally Posted: September 22, 2017 at 01:43 PM (#5536897)
I'm convinced Trammell would be in the Hall if he had won the MVP in 1987.


There isn't much else that separates him from Barry Larkin.
   10. Morty Causa Posted: September 22, 2017 at 01:48 PM (#5536902)
How many guys with those skills sets get super famous in baseball? Anyone? Can you think of any player who was treated as a superstar who was like Ozzie Smith? He’s Mark Belanger, if Belanger had a really sharp PR behind him.

Aparicio is Smith's precursor and prototype probably.

If Belanger had been merely the hitter Smith was, he'd a had a HOF career, and I think his defensive WAR would have surpassed Ozzie (last I looked at the dWAR, anyway).
   11. RJ in TO Posted: September 22, 2017 at 01:50 PM (#5536906)
Lou Gehrig in 1934: .363/49/166 for a 2nd place, 94-60 team that finished 7 games behind Detroit in the AL. Somehow Gehrig finished 5th(!) in the voting, behind Cochrane, Charlie Gehringer, Lefty Gomez (26 wins) and Schoolboy Rowe, who won 24 games. Hank Greenberg (.339/26/139) was 6th and someone named Marv Owen, the Tigers' third baseman, finished 9th despite compiling only a modestly successful campaign (3.3 WAR). In those days being a good player on the team that won the league apparently went a long way in the MVP voting.

In this case, it should be noted that the winner Cochrane was also the new manager for the Tigers, and the team jumped from 75 to 101 wins in his first season at their helm. That's a lot of non-statistical stuff for Gehrig to overcome.
   12. Hotel Coral Esix Snead (tmutchell) Posted: September 22, 2017 at 02:07 PM (#5536924)
In this case, it should be noted that the winner Cochrane was also the new manager for the Tigers, and the team jumped from 75 to 101 wins in his first season at their helm. That's a lot of non-statistical stuff for Gehrig to overcome.


Thanks! I had not even considered the managerial thing, or that someone might (should, really) get bonus points for that. I was in elementary school the last time there was a player manager in MLB.
   13. stevegamer Posted: September 23, 2017 at 04:30 AM (#5537254)
I read the article, and I am now sad that I gave the author a click.

I was ready for the factual incorrectness pointed out in #4. But I didn't realize that this was actually a quote from the article:

He’s Mark Belanger, if Belanger had a really sharp PR behind him


The author claims to have begun following baseball in 1987, and is comparing Ozzie to Belanger, and being surprised about why Ozzie was a star. There are comparable somewhat with the glove, but not with the bat, on the bases, nor as a showman. For someone who complains about people having contempt for those who are ignorant or who have less information, he is sort of showing that he needs more information.

The "Templeton with better PR" analogy is mostly true, except it's much better PR, Templeton was a self-imposed PR nightmare.
   14. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: September 23, 2017 at 09:27 AM (#5537275)
Aparicio is Smith's precursor and prototype probably.


And before Aparicio, Rabbit Maranville.
   15. djordan Posted: September 25, 2017 at 11:31 AM (#5538154)
Altive's 4R Score (Rbat + RBase + RDP + RField) is 59 vs Simmons 39. Next.
   16. Booey Posted: September 25, 2017 at 12:04 PM (#5538228)
I'm convinced Trammell would be in the Hall if he had won the MVP in 1987.

There isn't much else that separates him from Barry Larkin.


I agree that they're basically the same player (in fact, noticing this near the end of Larkin's career is actually what convinced me that Trammell was a HOFer), but I can see some reasons other than the MVP why voters might have seen Larkin as superior:

Steals - Larkin leads 379-236

Average - .295 to .285, Larkin (this is mostly an era thing, but I doubt a lot of voters bothered making the adjustment)

And probably most importantly, recognition (even ignoring the MVP):

All Star Games - 12-6, Larkin

Silver Sluggers - 9-3, Larkin.

Peaking at the same time and in the same league as Ripken and Yount, Trammell was overshadowed more by his competition. Larkin peaked when Ozzie was on the downside of his career and before (and in a different league) than ARod/Jeter/Nomar, so he mostly had the market for great NL shortstops all to himself.

Also:

Looks - Larkin >>>> Trammell ;-)
   17. Rally Posted: September 25, 2017 at 01:38 PM (#5538413)
Average - .295 to .285, Larkin (this is mostly an era thing, but I doubt a lot of voters bothered making the adjustment)


It's hard for me to see that making too much of a difference. Even without an era adjustment, .285 is pretty good, and .295 is not .300. I think if Larkin had a career .300 average that would be a major factor, but this seems minor. Their career hit totals are very close to each other. I could be completely out of touch with how much HOF voters care about small differences in batting average.

The stolen base total is a significant difference, as are the AS and SS awards, even if they are due to the league/position competition.

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