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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Rosenthal: MVP award deserves robust debate

O Yallof little faith…if you sit in the MLB Network studio long enough, something bad is bound to rub off!

There is more than one way to look at this. I can argue for Mauer. I can argue for others. Taking a contrary position does not make me just another unenlightened member of the MSM (translation: mainstream media). But it will subject me to a certain level of scorn for rejecting SGT (translation: sabermetric groupthink).

Don’t get me wrong. Sabermetricians have significantly broadened our understanding of baseball — and by “our,” I mean fans, media and club personnel, virtually everyone in the game. Advanced statistics reveal not only tendencies, but also greater truths. Smart teams effectively combine sabermetric principles with scouting orthodoxy. Very few, if any, disregard the numbers entirely.

Here’s the problem: Sabermetricians were ignored for so long, they had to shout to be heard. Now they are getting heard — properly heard in the highest levels of baseball media and front offices. But some continue to shout, dismissing those who disagree as ignorant dolts.

Last I checked, it’s a free country. Last I checked, the MVP is a subjective choice. Yes, voters from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America occasionally screw up. But the beauty of the award, as outlined by the instructions given to voters, is “there is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means.” Which, of course, drives sabermetricians nuts.

The award is not for highest VORP. It is not for most win shares, most runs created, most wins above replacement player. It is for something that no one can quite define, and — goodness gracious! — voters sometimes apply different interpretations from year to year.

Repoz Posted: September 17, 2009 at 10:54 AM | 64 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: announcers, awards, media, sabermetrics, television

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   1. TomH Posted: September 17, 2009 at 11:27 AM (#3324460)
Definite kernels of truth in here; as long as Rosenthal would admit that 'SGT' gets more than a "certain level of scorn" from the MSM simply for pointing out tidbits like player X makes lots of outs and outs are bad, or a shortstop who hits as well as a first baseman is more valuable, or walks are undervalued by most MVP voters, or a player who does many thigns well is undervalued compared to one who gets kudos for one skill, or RBI should be judged by RBI opportunities, etc.; the MSM likes robust debate as long as SGT pointing out MSM group think isn't heard too loudly.

When the MSM picks Tex as MVP (which they WILL, if Tex leads in RBI and the Twins miss the playoffs, lock it up), expect some howling, Mr. Rosenthal. Justified howling, that the MSM turned a deaf ear to the big handwriting on the wall. Mene mene tekel RBI*



*RBI leaders on winners have been weighed and been found wanting
   2. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: September 17, 2009 at 11:49 AM (#3324473)
I'd give the award to the girl with the biggest tits.
   3. buddaley Posted: September 17, 2009 at 11:55 AM (#3324476)
I agree with Rosenthal that it would be nice to have a civil discussion about MVP choices among other issues. But I have two quarrels with his article.

First is that it is no way to introduce such a viewpoint by ratcheting up the anger from the start, which is what he does when he refers to SGT. Not only is there no such thing, but anyone with even an elementary understanding of sabermetrics knows that the exact opposite is true. Not only is there not such a thing as sabermetric dogma, another phrase Rosenthal uses, but the concept of dogma is alien to the very premise of sabermetrics which is that all views are open to skeptical questioning. Any site devoted to sabermetric thinking demonstrate the vitality of discussion and disagreement not just over answers but over what constitutes appropriate evidence and reasoning behind those answers.

Second, Rosenthal may be partly right that some of the vitriol in sabermetric posts is a legacy from the time advanced analysis was ignored or routinely mocked, but again he ratchets up the heat by focusing on what is increasingly an aberration, not the norm. We should be past the time when commentators refer to the extremes on either side of what is less and less a divide. Sure some sabermetric-oriented posters remain snarky and nasty, but mainstream sabermetric writing is quite the contrary. At the end Rosenthal seems to try to balance the attack by referring to "overworked hacks in newsrooms" as well as basement geeks, but the stereotypes remain in place for him even while they are irrelevant to the discussion and only increase the incivility. Just as sabermetricians need no longer harp on the anti-statistical nonsense of Bissinger, Conlin, Plaschke et al even though they remain loud voices, we need to realize they are increasingly marginalized as are the true believers who pollute discussion from the other side.
   4. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: September 17, 2009 at 12:03 PM (#3324481)
The rules also state that the MVP does not have to come from a playoff team, but the writers act as though it almost is a rule.
   5. sunnyday2 Posted: September 17, 2009 at 12:07 PM (#3324485)
it’s a free country.


So you don't believe it's a free country, then, SGT-nation?
   6. Repoz Posted: September 17, 2009 at 12:15 PM (#3324488)
The rules also state that the MVP does not have to come from a playoff team, but the writers act as though it almost is a rule.

Just as the MLB Network clowns are treating the Cy Young award.
   7. pkb33 Posted: September 17, 2009 at 12:33 PM (#3324492)
NTM voters who make up their own rule that pitchers can't receive MVP votes...
   8. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 17, 2009 at 12:43 PM (#3324501)
What's odd about the article is if you take out the geek-bashing and the "overworked hack" stuff it's actually a pretty good piece. He acknowledges that Mauer is the guy but makes valid points about both his overall playing time and the amount of time he spent at DH then highlights several players that are worthy for one reason or another.
   9. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: September 17, 2009 at 12:56 PM (#3324515)
Last I checked, the MVP is a subjective choice. Yes, voters from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America occasionally screw up. But the beauty of the award, as outlined by the instructions given to voters, is “there is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means.” Which, of course, drives sabermetricians nuts.

And the other beauty of the award is that it produces lots of heated arguments, none of which would be possible if you essentially allowed a computer to pick the MVP. To use an old cliche, it's the journey and not the arrival that matters. I'd vote for Mauer in a blink, but if by some remote chance he doesn't get it, SO WHAT? I'm not his mother.
   10. Curse of the Graffanino (dfan) Posted: September 17, 2009 at 02:08 PM (#3324614)
TEACH THE CONTROVERSY
   11. Curse of the Graffanino (dfan) Posted: September 17, 2009 at 02:10 PM (#3324618)
By the way, whenever someone uses the "Last I checked" rhetorical device, it makes me want to punch them in the face.
   12. James Kannengieser Posted: September 17, 2009 at 02:11 PM (#3324620)
Rosenthal should check out any number of comments sections on saber-friendly blogs before using "SGT" again.
   13. The Essex Snead Posted: September 17, 2009 at 02:13 PM (#3324627)
Last I checked, it’s a free country.

Any editor that lets this phrase make it into publication should be shot in the throat with a knife. Or severely reprimanded. With a knife.
   14. The Essex Snead Posted: September 17, 2009 at 02:14 PM (#3324630)
Whoops -- didn't see that [11] already voiced displeasure w/ that line. Would you like fries w/ that Coke?
   15. James Kannengieser Posted: September 17, 2009 at 02:14 PM (#3324631)
"By the way, whenever someone uses the "Last I checked" rhetorical device, it makes me want to punch them in the face."

Especially when the next words are "it's a free country."

Edit: Whoops, #13 ditto. (also, use of "ditto" is a subtle tribute to Patrick Swayze)
   16. The Essex Snead Posted: September 17, 2009 at 02:17 PM (#3324635)
The "best" thing is, I can hear Robothal reading this aloud in his MLB-on-Fox voice, which makes it sound even more insufferable and smug.
   17. SoSH U at work Posted: September 17, 2009 at 02:22 PM (#3324641)
When the MSM picks Tex as MVP (which they WILL, if Tex leads in RBI and the Twins miss the playoffs, lock it up), expect some howling, Mr. Rosenthal.


I will continue to repeat this each time this such a guarantee is made: Mauer will win, probably comfortably.
   18. Charles S. will not yield to this monkey court Posted: September 17, 2009 at 02:23 PM (#3324644)
SO WHAT? I'm not his mother

This is a phrase I need to work into more conversations.
   19. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 17, 2009 at 02:25 PM (#3324649)
Not only is there no such thing, but anyone with even an elementary understanding of sabermetrics knows that the exact opposite is true. Not only is there not such a thing as sabermetric dogma, another phrase Rosenthal uses, but the concept of dogma is alien to the very premise of sabermetrics which is that all views are open to skeptical questioning.
The fact that sabermetrics ideally is an open-ended study hardly means that people who agree with various sabermetric tenets haven't ever taken them as dogma in practice.
   20. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: September 17, 2009 at 02:27 PM (#3324652)
I'd give the award to the girl with the biggest tits.


Big Papi for MVP!
   21. Crashburn Alley Posted: September 17, 2009 at 02:27 PM (#3324653)
   22. Dr. Vaux Posted: September 17, 2009 at 02:33 PM (#3324663)
Not only is there not such a thing as sabermetric dogma, another phrase Rosenthal uses, but the concept of dogma is alien to the very premise of sabermetrics which is that all views are open to skeptical questioning. Any site devoted to sabermetric thinking demonstrate the vitality of discussion and disagreement not just over answers but over what constitutes appropriate evidence and reasoning behind those answers.


Never been to Fangraphs?
   23. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 17, 2009 at 02:40 PM (#3324674)
I'm not his mother.

Sez you.
   24. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: September 17, 2009 at 02:44 PM (#3324686)
I'm not his mother.

Sez you.


Though I could have been his father....BUT THAT DOG BEAT ME OVER THE FENCE!!! (/Hall of Cliched 60's comebacks)
   25. esseff Posted: September 17, 2009 at 02:47 PM (#3324688)
Big Papi for MVP!


Brant Colamarino is going to syphon off a few votes.
   26. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 17, 2009 at 02:54 PM (#3324693)
Big Papi for MVP!

Brant Colamarino is going to syphon off a few votes.


Finally, the moment Jeremy Brown has been waiting for!
   27. The Essex Snead Posted: September 17, 2009 at 02:55 PM (#3324696)
Big Papi for MVP!

Bengie Molina weeps into his cleavage.
   28. Swoboda is freedom Posted: September 17, 2009 at 03:13 PM (#3324715)
I'd give the award to the girl with the biggest tits.

As he wrote, "there is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means.” so that is as good a choice as any.

Congrats Morgana.
   29. buddaley Posted: September 17, 2009 at 03:17 PM (#3324719)
#19:
Absolutely true. There are zealots and narrow minded converts in every movement, people who oversimplify the arguments and who think they have received the final word they must now promulgate to the world while harassing heretics who disagree. And with the internet their voices are more insistent and loud. But that is not the point of sabermetrics, and for commentators to use the deviants as the norm is using a straw man argument.

#22
Yes, I visit it regularly. It is a terrific site which demonstrates my point. I am sure the hidebound traditionalists find it uncongenial and the thin-skinned will consider it rather aggressive, but it is a site dedicated to quantitative analysis. If it ignores or seems to overlook the role of non-quantitative factors in its analyses, that is because it is focused elsewhere, not because it denies their existence in baseball. Sometimes the commentary borders on snide; it is a style that many do not like. But I have not found it to be nasty unless in response to nastiness, and the comments section is almost always lively and interesting as posters discuss issues using information and reason.
   30. buddaley Posted: September 17, 2009 at 03:23 PM (#3324725)
Crashburn Alley, I should have read your link before posting my own comments. I think you have nailed the point.
   31. CFBF Is A Golden Spider Duck Posted: September 17, 2009 at 03:43 PM (#3324759)
I feel like Rosenthal writes this sort of column every year: I respect and admire many aspects of statistical analysis. It has revolutionized the game. But you all are way too mean and I'm going to spend a few hundred words explaining why and exploring the possibility that your preferred player shouldn't be the winner of a given award. And, come award time, I'm almost certainly going to vote for that guy anyway.
   32. TomH Posted: September 17, 2009 at 03:44 PM (#3324762)
#17 - SoSH, I'll owe you big time if I'm wrong. Because I've done a lot of research / history on this, and the trends all say Mauer gest dissed. But I would LOVE to be wrong - because that would imply that the BBWAA is getting smarter.
   33. Dizzypaco Posted: September 17, 2009 at 03:45 PM (#3324763)
It has always seemed obvious to me that there are general principles, and some specific opinions that virtually every sabermatrician agrees with. I don't know if you call it dogma or what, but there is not nearly as much debate in the sabermetric community about some issues as people make it seem. Often, the debate is about the details, not the general principle itself. The fact that you might find one or two out of a hundred or a thousand that disagree does not make Rosenthal's point inaccurate.

For example, take the following beliefs:
1. A player who clearly has the best statistics in a league should win the MVP, regardless of whether his team is competitive. The competitiveness of a team should be considered only when the statistics are close (if at all). Joe Mauer deserves the MVP this year for this reason.
2. The Cy Young should go to the best pitcher, in terms of the amount of runs he saves his team (compared with average/Replacement/etc.) Wins and losses should not be a big factor. Relievers generally should not win this award (or the MVP).
3. Defensive statistics have come a long way, and should be used in determining the overall value of a player. (There are differences of opinion regarding which statistic and how accurate, but it is clear that defensive statistics as a whole have tremendous value). Derek Jeter is overrated in large part because his defensive statistics show he's not a good defensive shortstop.
4. RBI's for hitters and wins and losses for pitchers should generally not be used in determining the value of a player, in large part because they are context specific, depending largely on the performance of their teammates. Justin Morneau is overrated for this reason, and definitely should not have won the MVPs. Jack Morris was overrated for this reason.
5. Jim Rice should not be in the Hall of Fame, regardless of what observers at the time thought of his performance, when you factor in the context, and his overall performance. Bert Blyleven should be in due to the number of runs he saved over his career.

I'd guess 99% of sabermatricians take these beliefs as gospel - not that I blame them. I generally share these beliefs. However, while you might quibble on one or two of these points, it seems obvious that there are a set of beliefs that underly most of our discussions, and in which there is almost no disagreement.
   34. RJ in TO Posted: September 17, 2009 at 03:52 PM (#3324778)
I'd give the award to the girl with the biggest tits.

Big Papi for MVP!


How quickly we forget that a certain Yankee was gifted the nickname of #####-tits by his teammates.
   35. SoSH U at work Posted: September 17, 2009 at 04:02 PM (#3324797)
#17 - SoSH, I'll owe you big time if I'm wrong. Because I've done a lot of research / history on this, and the trends all say Mauer gest dissed. But I would LOVE to be wrong - because that would imply that the BBWAA is getting smarter.


What did your study say about last year's NL race? Did it show the guy who led the league in homers and RBIs for a playoff team losing comfortably to the guy with the vastly better year?
   36. JJ1986 Posted: September 17, 2009 at 04:04 PM (#3324801)
I don't agree with the reliever thing. Well, I might generally, but I don't see any reason to treat them as different. Determine which pitcher added the most value, regardless of his role.
   37. The Keith Law Blog Blah Blah (battlekow) Posted: September 17, 2009 at 04:07 PM (#3324805)
What did your study say about last year's NL race? Did it show the guy who led the league in homers and RBIs for a playoff team losing comfortably to the guy with the vastly better year?

Pujols had to utterly obliterate Howard and Braun to finish ahead of them. The playoff team thing may not guarantee victory, but it certainly boosts vote totals.
   38. JPWF13 Posted: September 17, 2009 at 04:19 PM (#3324826)
What did your study say about last year's NL race? Did it show the guy who led the league in homers and RBIs for a playoff team losing comfortably to the guy with the vastly better year?

Pujols had to utterly obliterate Howard and Braun to finish ahead of them.


BAsically

Pujols: .357/.462/.653
Howard:.251/.339/.543
Braun: .285/.335/.553

And Pujols was better, by far, defensively.
And yet Howard received 12 1st place votes, and finished 2nd 369-308

Jeter is a hell of a lot closer to Mauer than Howard was to Pujols
Plus he has that lifetime achievement buzz going, and the sense among some writers that gee maybe we should have given it to him a few years ago or in 1999...
   39. The Buddy Biancalana Hit Counter Posted: September 17, 2009 at 04:19 PM (#3324827)
I don't agree with the reliever thing. Well, I might generally, but I don't see any reason to treat them as different. Determine which pitcher added the most value, regardless of his role.


And then vote for LaMarr Hoyt.
   40. SoSH U at work Posted: September 17, 2009 at 04:22 PM (#3324831)
Pujols had to utterly obliterate Howard and Braun to finish ahead of them. The playoff team thing may not guarantee victory, but it certainly boosts vote totals.


I wouldn't argue with that. I don't even have a major problem with it.

But virtually everything being said about why Mauer won't win it this year was being said a year ago about why Howard would finish ahead of Pujols. Those predictions were well of the mark, and will be again this year in the AL. I don't find how an entirely different generation of AL MVP voters selected the winners in 1979 to be as compelling as what I see as the general consensus (if belated) that Joe Mauer is easily the best player in the American League this year. That will be the deciding factor.

And I said the same thing a year ago regarding Albert.
   41. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 17, 2009 at 04:22 PM (#3324832)
Jeter is a hell of a lot closer to Mauer than Howard was to Pujols

But Tom is saying that Tex wins, not Jeter. The Captain would be a pretty unconventional MVP pick. (Tex is also closer to Mauer than Howard was to Pujols, of course.)
   42. cardsfanboy Posted: September 17, 2009 at 04:39 PM (#3324866)
I liked the article, and think that if the MSM would put the effort that Rosenthal did in this debate, the saber crowd wouldn't be up in arms as they are. The problem is not a reasonable debate, but the lack of any reasoned arguments for the other people that doesn't involve the absurd stuff like Rbi's, tied Lou Gehrigs yankee all time hit record, team record, etc.

I can perfectly understand the playing time argument, and think people that get upset about the argument because their sensibilities say that Mauer has overcome the playing time are going overboard. I wouldn't use it in this case, but I understand and accept that argument.

Really something Rosenthal should understand, if every writer who had a vote went to the trouble that he did to outline their reasoning, and it involved actual tangible proof and logic, we might collectively disagree, but at least understand their point of view. As it stands the writers seem to ignore the written rules of the ballot, make simplistic analysis, then give it to the guy with the most rbis on a playoff bound team, no reasoning, arguing team value instead of league value etc.
   43. JPWF13 Posted: September 17, 2009 at 04:44 PM (#3324877)
But virtually everything being said about why Mauer won't win it this year was being said a year ago about why Howard would finish ahead of Pujols. Those predictions were well of the mark,


I remember that most of those pooh poohing Howard's chances were predicting something along the lines of a blow out- which didn't happen.
   44. SoSH U at work Posted: September 17, 2009 at 04:46 PM (#3324881)
As it stands the writers seem to ignore the written rules of the ballot, make simplistic analysis, then give it to the guy with the most rbis on a playoff bound team, no reasoning, arguing team value instead of league value etc.


Not sure why painting the MSM with a broad brush is OK but making generalizations about statheads is so wrong.

As illustrated above, the voters did the exact opposite less than 12 months ago, yet we continue to focus on what we think they will do instead of, you know, what they just did. If the stathead side of things doesn't want to be steretyped by MSM members, perhaps it could refrain from lumping all MSM participants into one big stew of blissful ignorance.
   45. SoSH U at work Posted: September 17, 2009 at 04:49 PM (#3324883)
I remember that most of those pooh poohing Howard's chances were predicting something along the lines of a blow out- which didn't happen.


So we weren't right enough? I'd say those of us saying Pujols would win did considerably better in the forecasting department than those who were certain Howard would.

And as far as I'm concerned, 369-308 isn't terribly close.
   46. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 17, 2009 at 04:53 PM (#3324896)
Not sure why painting the MSM with a broad brush is OK but making generalizations about statheads is so wrong.

Predicting an MVP vote deals with the behavior of a group, so it makes sense to look at the entire group as a single mass.

As illustrated above, the voters did the exact opposite less than 12 months ago, yet we continue to focus on what we think they will do instead of, you know, what they just did.

Different group of voters. Stop generalizing! :)
   47. cardsfanboy Posted: September 17, 2009 at 04:55 PM (#3324900)
1. A player who clearly has the best statistics in a league should win the MVP, regardless of whether his team is competitive. The competitiveness of a team should be considered only when the statistics are close (if at all). Joe Mauer deserves the MVP this year for this reason.

I don't think that is really accurate, it's been mostly about arguing that a player doesn't have to be on a playoff bound team that has really had most people up in arms, the collective eliminating of 2/3rds of the viable options before even looking at players is what has many up in arms. The rules of the ballot is being ignored when writers start eliminating candidates this way.


2. The Cy Young should go to the best pitcher, in terms of the amount of runs he saves his team (compared with average/Replacement/etc.) Wins and losses should not be a big factor. Relievers generally should not win this award (or the MVP).

agreed with the fist part, of course people argue the definition of best pitcher(I think era/ra is more than enough to start and finish 3/4th of the conversation) and any person who argues that relivers should not win this award are again violating the ballot rules, it might be hard for relievers to win, but they shouldn't be thrown out of the debate based upon only them being relievers(I understand innings pitched usually eliminate relievers anyway, but that is different)
and again the ballot for the mvp says pitchers are eligible, so ignoring either relievers or pitchers on the mvp ballot is a violation of the rules. (me personally I actually think relievers have a stronger case for the mvp than cy young but it's a weird thing with me)

3. Defensive statistics have come a long way, and should be used in determining the overall value of a player. (There are differences of opinion regarding which statistic and how accurate, but it is clear that defensive statistics as a whole have tremendous value). Derek Jeter is overrated in large part because his defensive statistics show he's not a good defensive shortstop.

yes and no, there is still a tendency to read too much into in seasonal defensive statistic that needs to be tempered a little bit, and Jeter is overrated regardless of his defensive statistics because you have to be a blind man to see he isn't that good of a fielder. The numbers have nothing to do with it, I still remember seeing him for the first time and thinking "he's not a good shortstop is he"(of course my standard is Ozzie Smith though--I said the same thing about Rey Ordonez after his third year---only Jack Wilson and Vizquel ever impressed me enough year to year for me to think they were good)


4. RBI's for hitters and wins and losses for pitchers should generally not be used in determining the value of a player, in large part because they are context specific, depending largely on the performance of their teammates. Justin Morneau is overrated for this reason, and definitely should not have won the MVPs. Jack Morris was overrated for this reason.

agreed and disagree, the problem with rbis is that they don't have a rate component to compare them too(at least not a popular one) so you don't really know what you are getting out of the guy, although on these boards I've seen good arguments for Morneau winning an mvp. Morris is overrated not because of his wins, but because of the title "most wins in a decade" and people acting as if it has hof validity.

5. Jim Rice should not be in the Hall of Fame, regardless of what observers at the time thought of his performance, when you factor in the context, and his overall performance. Bert Blyleven should be in due to the number of runs he saved over his career.

the problem is that most observers at the time didn't think he was hof worthy, it's why it took 15 elections for him to make it. The narrative changed on him to get him into the hof. He wasn't considered a future hof when he played, and yet here he is in the hof. He was considered a great feared slugger for about 5 seasons, outside of that he was just a good player.
   48. SoSH U at work Posted: September 17, 2009 at 04:56 PM (#3324902)
Predicting an MVP vote deals with the behavior of a group, so it makes sense to look at the entire group as a single mass.


While triggered by CFB's comment, it was really more directed at the idea that we routinely do the same to the MSM that we decry happening to us.

Different group of voters. Stop generalizing! :)


Well played.
   49. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 17, 2009 at 05:02 PM (#3324915)
While triggered by CFB's comment, it was really more directed at the idea that we routinely do the same to the MSM that we decry happening to us.

And it's a fair criticism - just one that doesn't necessarily apply to MVP predictions.
   50. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 17, 2009 at 05:03 PM (#3324918)
He wasn't considered a future hof when he played, and yet here he is in the hof.


To nitpick I don't think this is true. I think if you look back to 1978-1986 you would find that he was considered a future HoF. I think in those cases a reasonable decline phase rather than going from 3rd in the MVP balloting to done as a useful contributor in 12 months was being assumed.
   51. SoSH U at work Posted: September 17, 2009 at 05:03 PM (#3324920)
the problem is that most observers at the time didn't think he was hof worthy, it's why it took 15 elections for him to make it. The narrative changed on him to get him into the hof.


This simply isn't true (or at least, it's nothing meaningful). Jim Rice's pattern, as Dag would demonstrate, was not unusual for a Hall of Famer. He started with 30 percent of the vote, a similar number occupied by fellow undeservings Sutter (29) and Goose (33). Building from that low number into eventual induction was not unique to Rice, and will indeed be the kind of path that Raines, Blyleven and McGwire (though his case is different, obviously) need to take to get there.

Rice's starting point and path was not uncommon for a borderline Hall of Fame selection.
   52. JPWF13 Posted: September 17, 2009 at 05:18 PM (#3324942)
He wasn't considered a future hof when he played, and yet here he is in the hof. He was considered a great feared slugger for about 5 seasons, outside of that he was just a good player.


He was definitely seen by many as a future Hall of Famer during his prime, then he declined and that luster faded by the time he retired. Hell, some years near the end he was seen by many who watched him regularly as a below average player...

Dale Murphy was seen as a future HOFer before his cliff dive.
Fernando Valenzuela was seen as a likely future HOFer up until about 87/88
So was Don Mattingly
So was Dwight Gooden, sure those assessments were pre-mature

But there is agood # of players seen as Future HOFers at age 30, but 5-10 years later are forgotten about (as HOF candidates)

In 1979 if you asked the typical Mediot, who under 30 was going to the HOF, Rice would have been the first names mentioned.
Ask in 1989 if Rice was a HOFer, a lot who would have said yes 10 years earlier would say no, or borderline
   53. cardsfanboy Posted: September 17, 2009 at 05:20 PM (#3324946)
not saying it wasn't unusual for borderline hofers, but that he wasn't a guy that after he retired people were saying "future hofer jim rice"(outside of Boston that is) The comment I remarked about was a general stat community comment that as a stat community we think he is not a hof in contradiction to what was thought of at the time, my point is that it wasn't generally assumed that Rice was a hofer at the time (for the record I've got baseball books from 1979-1980 and the word fear is actually used to describe Rice--and Stargell, and Parker, and a couple of others)

While triggered by CFB's comment, it was really more directed at the idea that we routinely do the same to the MSM that we decry happening to us.
my comment was about how the voters tend to do stuff, and yes it's a genearlity(and yes I agree with you that Mauer is going to win the MVP---just like I agreed last year that Pujols was going to win) meant to be a smart ass comment on the way they vote. If every voter would write an article like Rosenthal did here, and put their arguments into terms that don't violate the written rules on the ballot, the stat community may be upset with the result, but they will still accept that it is a subjective award. (any writer who's article features the words team record, playoff bound, lou gehrig, yankee leader or some variation, should have their voting privileges revoked)
   54. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: September 17, 2009 at 05:47 PM (#3324996)
I have some quibble with some of these.

1. A player who clearly has the best statistics in a league should win the MVP, regardless of whether his team is competitive. The competitiveness of a team should be considered only when the statistics are close (if at all). Joe Mauer deserves the MVP this year for this reason.

The thing is, there's some uncertainty with baseball stats; even the advance hitting ones. Colin Wyers touched on this recently at THT.

2. The Cy Young should go to the best pitcher, in terms of the amount of runs he saves his team (compared with average/Replacement/etc.) Wins and losses should not be a big factor. Relievers generally should not win this award (or the MVP).

Mainly agree, but it's still tough to separate pitching and defense. And a bad outing can mess with a pitchers ERA. Imagine it can do the same for component or fielding independent stats. That's why I like to glance at BPros SNWL stats as well.

I have little truck with the rest, although I feel conflicted by Jim Rice. But, it's part of being a fan. Unless your Spock-like, you're not always gonna be rational.
   55. buddaley Posted: September 17, 2009 at 06:00 PM (#3325010)
Dizzypaco, I disagree. I think it is true that certain conclusions become generally accepted in sabermetric circles, but that is due to the arguments supporting them, not to them having become dogma. As such, they remain open to debate and counter-arguments. I have read sabermetric posters who supported Rice's candidacy, for example.

There is no doubt that some views have acquired the status of "givens". For example, the notion that RBIs are a poor way to evaluate a player's contributions or that ERA independent of other factors is an inadequate tool for evaluating pitchers. And there are plenty of similar ones. But even they are open to argument if the analyst uses data and reason.

If there is a dogma, it is that in any discussion, data and reason trump bald assertion and traditional faith. Even that premise is not absolute as sabermetricians are increasingly respectful of traditional views that appear valid and often seek to find data that provides further support for them.

As for the broad areas of agreement you mention, they are just that, broad areas. As examples of basic agreement, besides the fact that they are not quite as universal as you suggest and certainly not immune from counter-views, they really do not suggest any sort of group think. Consider such questions as the existence of a skill called clutch hitting. While it has usually been pooh-poohed, there are continuous efforts to find it, and Bill James has suggested it might exist. I think there will also be some reevaluation about the effects of base-stealing as new factors are considered.

To me, the fundamental difference between sabermetric and traditional thinking is that latter relies on received knowledge for its views while the former tests everything and arrives at tentative conclusions that are themselves subject to inquiry. If something becomes generally accepted to sabermetricians, it is because the available data and logic to that point make it credible, but always with the understanding that new data or thinking may modify or even overthrow the notion. Traditional thinking resists new ideas; progressive analysis encourages and welcomes them. The fact that individuals do not always act so open minded does not alter that essential feature of sabermetrics.
   56. Srul Itza Posted: September 17, 2009 at 07:38 PM (#3325172)
Mene mene tekel RBI*



*RBI leaders on winners have been weighed and been found wanting


Shouldn't that be RBI, RBI, tekel upharsin?
   57. jwb Posted: September 18, 2009 at 12:25 AM (#3325420)
Predicting an MVP vote deals with the behavior of a group, so it makes sense to look at the entire group as a single mass.
Predicting a BBWAA vote is difficult because the actual voters are anonymous in most cases. We have no choice but to consider the group as a single mass. We see articles by MSM writers advocating one candidate or another, we can look and see if the writer is an active BBWAA member, but we rarely know if the writer has a vote in a particular election or even if their employer prevents the writer from voting. One thing we can sure of: If Cliff Lee gets a first for the AL Cy Young, it will have been from Keith Law.
   58. jwb Posted: September 18, 2009 at 01:02 AM (#3325471)
Last I checked, it’s a free country.
By the way, this is not a free country. There are rules and there are thousands of them. You are not free not to pay taxes. If you don't, it is possible that your freedom will be curtailed. Ask Jerry Koosman. You are not free to steal from a pension fund. If you do, it is possible your freedom will be curtailed. Ask Denny McLain. You are not free to have sex with an underage boy. If you do, it is possible your freedom will be curtailed. Ask Danny Thomas. Ok, he hung himself before he went to trial so you can't ask him. Ask Dustin Pedroia's brother, then.
   59. Denny Lemaster Cylinder Posted: September 18, 2009 at 01:15 AM (#3325486)
Shouldn't that be RBI, RBI, tekel upharsin?

You make a good point, Srul. Let's see:

רבי רבי טקל ופרסן׃

Yeah, I could imagine one or two members of the MSM feeling some chest pain when reading these words. For various reasons.
   60. DL from MN Posted: September 18, 2009 at 04:30 PM (#3325892)
> Last I checked, the MVP is a subjective choice.

Everybody's an authority, in a free land.
   61. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 18, 2009 at 04:48 PM (#3325914)
I had a comment, but it was removed by the sabermetric gestapo!!!!
   62. Honkie Kong Posted: September 18, 2009 at 05:25 PM (#3325956)
I had a comment, but it was removed by the sabermetric gestapo!!!!

You , my friend, now just violated the first rule. Prepare for Room 101
   63. Ron Johnson Posted: September 18, 2009 at 05:45 PM (#3325992)
The thing is, there's some uncertainty with baseball stats; even the advance hitting ones.


Sure. But they're at the level that you need to point to the specific issue that applies to the player (or players) in question. It's not good enough to say the offensive metrics aren't perfect.

There is the secondary issue of the standard error of the metrics. Any players within 5 runs (or equivalent) should be seen as indistinguishable in value.
   64. Alex_Lewis Posted: September 18, 2009 at 06:15 PM (#3326034)
That Colin Wyers article made me feel pretty stupid.

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