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Thursday, August 04, 2011

Schoenfield: Time to start figuring out the MVP races

When the baseball writers hand out their annual league MVP awards, what is the trophy supposed to symbolize? It’s called the Most Valuable Player, but does that mean most valuable to his team, sort of an ambiguous definition used mostly to suggest players on non-playoff teams have no value? Or does it mean the best player in the league, regardless of where that player’s team finishes in the standings?

Now, to me, it’s not that complicated of a debate: Doesn’t “best” imply most valuable to your team? If you’re giving extra credit to a guy on a playoff team, aren’t you potentially rewarding the quality of his teammates? While it’s clear to me, it’s not clear to everyone; this debate rages on every season.

Shouldn’t send too many Primates into frothy MVP rages.

jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: August 04, 2011 at 11:35 AM | 101 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: awards

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   1. Famous Original Joe C Posted: August 04, 2011 at 02:46 PM (#3892586)
Too soon!

(But, Bautista or Pedroia in the AL, Kemp, McCutchen or Braun in the NL. For now.)
   2. rconn23 Posted: August 04, 2011 at 03:00 PM (#3892601)
Bautista, Gonzalez, Granderson in the AL, and quite frankly no one is close to Bautista.
   3. Dale Sams Posted: August 04, 2011 at 03:10 PM (#3892615)
*Is* 2B a premium position? Is't it fourth? After C,SS,CF,...2B

Fourth doesn't seem premium to me. And even elite D at 2B can't overtake the immense offensive lead Joey has. If Bautista were on a playoff team, the award would already be in his living room.
   4. plink Posted: August 04, 2011 at 03:17 PM (#3892629)
Pedroia is quite close. Excellent defense and 15% more PA make up for Bautista's better production.
   5. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 04, 2011 at 04:14 PM (#3892678)
At the end of the 2011 regular season, I take all the information about what just happened, and I ask myself: if I knew in March of 2011 what I know on October 1st, 2011, who would be the first player in each league I would've picked to help my team win games? That, to me, is the Most Valuable Player.

If the season ended today, in the AL, you'd have to select Bautista. His offensive production is simply too huge to ignore. However, Pedroia still has time to catch up to Bautista, because he is gaining ground on Bautista with his defense and offense. Consider this: Bautista is 1st in the league right now in WAR, with 6.8 - but 6.4 of that comes from offense. Pedroia is 2nd in WAR, at 6.2 - but only 4.9 of that comes from offense. Unless Bautista goes off on another HR binge this season, Pedroia may well catch Bautista.

If they end up at about the same place, BTW, I'd go with Pedroia, because he plays a more difficult position, and is harder to replace. Again, if they ended up with the same WAR, and you could go back to March and draft your team for the 2011 season alone, wouldn't you pick Pedroia? I mean, you would lose less value going from, say, Bautista to Ellsbury, than you would going from, say, Pedroia to about any other second baseman in baseball, right?
   6. Greg K Posted: August 04, 2011 at 04:34 PM (#3892691)
Bautista, Gonzalez, Granderson in the AL, and quite frankly no one is close to Bautista.

The gap isn't what it used to be. Bautista had a cold (for him) July.
   7. Greg K Posted: August 04, 2011 at 04:38 PM (#3892696)
One thing I'll put in for Bautista is positional flexibility. He's moved from RF to 3B as needed by the team to work out their ever-changing lineup. He could very well be on the move back to RF when they bring up Lawrie.

I don't know how that effects an assessment of his value to the Jays (or if it does at all), but I think it's worth noting.
   8. Greg K Posted: August 04, 2011 at 04:42 PM (#3892700)
If they end up at about the same place, BTW, I'd go with Pedroia, because he plays a more difficult position, and is harder to replace. Again, if they ended up with the same WAR, and you could go back to March and draft your team for the 2011 season alone, wouldn't you pick Pedroia? I mean, you would lose less value going from, say, Bautista to Ellsbury, than you would going from, say, Pedroia to about any other second baseman in baseball, right?

Isn't that double counting the positional adjustment in WAR?

The difference between Pedroia and Zobrist is 1.5
The difference between Bautista and Ellsbury is 1.5

Further down the OF and 2B lists you have Yunel Escobar (he could fill in at 2B) and Alex Gordon at roughly the same distance from the two leaders.
   9. SoSH U at work Posted: August 04, 2011 at 04:55 PM (#3892709)
If they end up at about the same place, BTW, I'd go with Pedroia, because he plays a more difficult position


If they end up at about the same place, I'd go with Bautista, because I'd be a lot more confident that his WAR is a more accurate representation of his performance.

It's obviously too early, but I have a feeling that after a few years of getting it right, this is one the BBWAA is going to err on and go with Gonzalez.
   10. Randy Jones Posted: August 04, 2011 at 05:00 PM (#3892714)
If they end up at about the same place, I'd go with Bautista, because I'd be a lot more confident that his WAR is a more accurate representation of his performance.


Agreed
   11. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: August 04, 2011 at 05:40 PM (#3892754)
If they end up at about the same place, I'd go with Bautista, because I'd be a lot more confident that his WAR is a more accurate representation of his performance.

Why?
   12. Skloot Insurance Posted: August 04, 2011 at 05:45 PM (#3892759)
I'm not ready to live in world where Dustin Pedroia has two MVP trophies. Won't someone think of the annoying video game commercials?!?

However, Pedroia ranks higher in B-Ref WAR since 2008 than I would've guessed among (current) AL players. Mauer (23.2), Adrian Gonzalez (21.1), Youkilis (21.0), Longoia (20.6), then Pedroia (20.1), followed closely by Teixeira (20.0) and Miguel Cabrera (18.9).
   13. Dale Sams Posted: August 04, 2011 at 05:47 PM (#3892761)
I was unaware Bautista's second half OBP was higher than his slugging. I schill for Joey unabashedly because I hate the mainstream media 'groupthink' on Ellsbury-Pedroia-AGon...but he better pick it up.
   14. Greg K Posted: August 04, 2011 at 05:48 PM (#3892762)
Why?

I think the assumption being we are more certain about oWAR than dWAR.

If a guy has 6.0 WAR and 4.5 of that is because he's a +20 2B
Or if a guy has 2.0 WAR, but is a -40 in LF

In either case I'd be tempted to reel those back a little bit, in a way I wouldn't if he had a ridiculous offensive component.
   15. Randy Jones Posted: August 04, 2011 at 05:48 PM (#3892763)
Why?


Defensive WAR values are far, far, far more questionable than offensive WAR values.
   16. SoSH U at work Posted: August 04, 2011 at 05:51 PM (#3892768)
Why?


I'm skeptical about the overall accuracy of the defensive metrics, whereas I'm pretty confident the offensive components pretty accurately reflect the player's contributions.

Of course, my hypothetical MVP vote wouldn't be WAR-based only. Just that when it comes to that particular stat, I believe teh defensive component must be taken with more salt grains than the offensive side.

Edit: Cokes to Greg and Randy.

However, Pedroia ranks higher in B-Ref WAR since 2008 than I would've guessed among (current) AL players. Mauer (23.2), Adrian Gonzalez (21.1), Youkilis (21.0), Longoia (20.6), then Pedroia (20.1), followed closely by Teixeira (20.0) and Miguel Cabrera (18.9).


If he hadn't gotten hurt last year, he probably trails only Mauer.
   17. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: August 04, 2011 at 05:51 PM (#3892769)
Defensive WAR values are far, far, far more questionable than offensive WAR values.

Both players have the same amount of each, though.

Perhaps Bautista should really be at -2 dWAR.
   18. Randy Jones Posted: August 04, 2011 at 05:54 PM (#3892771)
I didn't check the values myself, but post #5 said:

Consider this: Bautista is 1st in the league right now in WAR, with 6.8 - but 6.4 of that comes from offense. Pedroia is 2nd in WAR, at 6.2 - but only 4.9 of that comes from offense.
   19. chris p Posted: August 04, 2011 at 06:22 PM (#3892799)
*Is* 2B a premium position? Is't it fourth? After C,SS,CF,...2B

iirc, it's a distant 3rd after shortstop. 3b and cf are similar. however, cf is sort of a special case, b/c there seems to be more space for a truly elite player to save a ton of runs.
   20. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: August 04, 2011 at 06:56 PM (#3892827)
I didn't check the values myself, but post #5 said:


Right, but that doesn't mean there's only .4 points worth of mistake room in Bautista's score. He could deserve a -2 dWAR, instead of a +.4. Just like Pedroia could deserve either 0 dWAR or 4 dWAR. If half of the components of the stat are questionable, the stat is questionable for everyone, not just people who score high on the questionable part.
   21. SoSH U at work Posted: August 04, 2011 at 07:06 PM (#3892835)
Right, but that doesn't mean there's only .4 points worth of mistake room in Bautista's score. He could deserve a -2 dWAR, instead of a +.4. Just like Pedroia could deserve either 0 dWAR or 4 dWAR. If half of the components of the stat are questionable, the stat is questionable for everyone, not just people who score high on the questionable part.


Isn't that where regression comes in? The less certainty you have about a stat (or component), the more you would have to regress it.
   22. cardsfanboy Posted: August 04, 2011 at 07:13 PM (#3892839)
Right, but that doesn't mean there's only .4 points worth of mistake room in Bautista's score. He could deserve a -2 dWAR, instead of a +.4. Just like Pedroia could deserve either 0 dWAR or 4 dWAR. If half of the components of the stat are questionable, the stat is questionable for everyone, not just people who score high on the questionable part.


And how does that invalidate the original comment by Sosh where he said if they end up about the same he would go for Bautista.

I mean most of us are about 90-95% comfortable with offensive numbers, while with defensive numbers it's probably around 30-80% comfortable. If one guy has 6.5 points with the numbers we are comfortable with and the other has 5.0 then how much value do you place with the numbers that we are uncomfortable with? Especially if all it does is make them close to each other?
   23. PreservedFish Posted: August 04, 2011 at 07:16 PM (#3892843)
Just like Pedroia could deserve either 0 dWAR or 4 dWAR. If half of the components of the stat are questionable, the stat is questionable for everyone, not just people who score high on the questionable part.


Not sure about that.
   24. Random Transaction Generator Posted: August 04, 2011 at 07:19 PM (#3892847)
The gap isn't what it used to be. Bautista had a cold (for him) July.

I had to check.

I assume you meant June (.835), not July (1.083).

.835 OPS for June, for a sOPS+ (split OPS+) of 138.

That's crazy good for a "slump".

(Though, he's .770 OPS since the all-star break, so that's maybe what you meant.)
   25. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: August 04, 2011 at 07:26 PM (#3892855)
The gap isn't what it used to be. Bautista had a cold (for him) July.

I had to check.

.835 OPS for June, for a sOPS+ (split OPS+) of 138.

That's crazy good for a "slump".


Well, Pedroia had a 1.010 OPS in June and a 1.188 OPS (sOPS+ 186/226). That helped the gap close a bit too.
   26. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: August 04, 2011 at 07:33 PM (#3892860)
I mean most of us are about 90-95% comfortable with offensive numbers, while with defensive numbers it's probably around 30-80% comfortable. If one guy has 6.5 points with the numbers we are comfortable with and the other has 5.0 then how much value do you place with the numbers that we are uncomfortable with? Especially if all it does is make them close to each other?

But we all agree that there IS some correct defensive number, right? And that Pedroia's is likely better than Bautista's? So we can't really just ignore the defense entirely.
   27. Randy Jones Posted: August 04, 2011 at 07:41 PM (#3892869)
But we all agree that there IS some correct defensive number, right? And that Pedroia's is likely better than Bautista's? So we can't really just ignore the defense entirely.


And no one suggested that. What we did say was that if their total is about the same and Bautista has significantly more offensive value then we would support him. If their offensive numbers were closer, or if Pedroia had a large overall lead, then it would be a different story.
   28. Dale Sams Posted: August 04, 2011 at 07:43 PM (#3892874)
FWIW, Bautista just made an amazing play to preserve the tie in a crazy TB-TOR game going on right now.
   29. Srul Itza Posted: August 04, 2011 at 07:46 PM (#3892876)
No one is saying ignore the defense entirely.

Just that if the numbers are otherwise close, and we are more certain about the offensive numbers than the defensive numbers, the edge would go to Bautista.

IOW, assuming the numbers hold up as they are now, we can be very certain of the offensive gap between the players, but not nearly as certain about the defensive gap. So we would chose to give greater weight to the numbers we are more certain about.

Yes, it is possible that the defensive numbers are right on. It is possible that they understate Pedroia's defensive superiority. That is a function of the greater "error bars" surrounding defensive numbers. They simply cannot be trusted as much, so you give them less credence.

But you don't ignore them entirely. If the offensive gap between the players is not as great, then the assumption that defense makes up the difference becomes stronger.
   30. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: August 04, 2011 at 07:58 PM (#3892893)
Yes, it is possible that the defensive numbers are right on. It is possible that they understate Pedroia's defensive superiority. That is a function of the greater "error bars" surrounding defensive numbers. They simply cannot be trusted as much, so you give them less credence.

But if you have 2 players with WARs that are approximately equal, and dWARs that are different, why wouldn't the error bars be the same width? They've played (just about) the same number of defensive innings.
   31. Greg K Posted: August 04, 2011 at 08:04 PM (#3892897)
(Though, he's .770 OPS since the all-star break, so that's maybe what you meant.)

Yeah, I should have done my homework. I really should have said "the past little while".
   32. Greg K Posted: August 04, 2011 at 08:08 PM (#3892903)
But if you have 2 players with WARs that are approximately equal, and dWARs that are different, why wouldn't the error bars be the same width? They've played (just about) the same number of defensive innings.

I'm probably the wrong guy to make this point since I know next to nothing about statistics (as will soon become evident)

But isn't this what regressing means?
The further you are from 0, or the average, the more likely there is noise in the numbers.

A guy batting .350 or .160 for a month is more likely having a fluke month than a guy batting .260. It's possible he's not...but more likely he is. A very good or very bad defensive component is more likely to be inaccurate than a relatively average one. But then again it might not be.
   33. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: August 04, 2011 at 08:10 PM (#3892904)
A very good or very bad defensive component is more likely to be inaccurate than a relatively average one. But then again it might not be.

That's true IF the statistic itself is correctly calibrated. If it's a seriously flawed stat, then no, there's no reason to believe that.
   34. Greg K Posted: August 04, 2011 at 08:12 PM (#3892908)
That's true IF the statistic itself is correctly calibrated. If it's a seriously flawed stat, then no, there's no reason to believe that.

If it's a seriously flawed stat then even more reason not to trust it.

Or maybe I'm missing your point.
   35. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: August 04, 2011 at 08:25 PM (#3892915)
If it's a seriously flawed stat then even more reason not to trust it.

Regardless of whether we have a way of measuring it, there is some number of wins that every player adds on defense. That number of wins seems like it should be between costing their team 2 or 3 games and winning 2 or 3 games for their team. Somewhere around that number.

Pedroia is almost certainly, just eyeballing it, better defensively than Bautista. I don't think a lot of people will seriously argue that point.

So while we don't trust the stat, and we assume there are large error bars on that stat, you can't just look at Bautista's offensive contributions and say that because they are higher than Pedroia's, he's almost surely got an overall better trueWAR, where trueWAR is defined as the actual, non-statistical but actual god-given-truth number of wins he really provided. You've ignored defense, there.

There are error bars on both players defensive performances, but those error bars are about the same size on both players.
   36. Srul Itza Posted: August 04, 2011 at 08:33 PM (#3892926)

But if you have 2 players with WARs that are approximately equal, and dWARs that are different, why wouldn't the error bars be the same width? They've played (just about) the same number of defensive innings.


It is obvious why, and I think you know why, and at this point you are just trolling.
   37. PreservedFish Posted: August 04, 2011 at 08:35 PM (#3892932)
How bout you just smooth out dWAR. Pedrioa's on pace for 2.0 dWAR, but he usually gets 0.8 or so, so let's give him some credit for a career year and call it 1.2dWAR. Done. Do the same for Bautista.
   38. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: August 04, 2011 at 08:37 PM (#3892933)
It is obvious why, and I think you know why, and at this point you are just trolling.

I completely don't, and I'm not, but I'll stop the discussion.
   39. Greg K Posted: August 04, 2011 at 08:38 PM (#3892934)
There are error bars on both players defensive performances, but those error bars are about the same size on both players.

But if the stat telling you where the error bars deviate from is flawed then how do you know?

The issue is certainty. No one's ignoring defence, just that if two guys are tied (or relatively close, I don't think WAR is meant to be taken literally to the decimal place) the uncertainty surrounding defensive numbers is a good place to think about a tie-breaker. We're talking about fine distinctions between two very near equal players. If one of the players has a lot of his value tied up in an element we're uncertain of (or is heavily penalized by that same element), it makes sense to me to err on the side of what we are more certain of.

Think of it this way. In 2008 Brad Hawpe hit .283/.381/.498 (in Coors mind you) had -1.7 WAR, mostly because he was -41 runs on defence. This year Alex Rios is -1.8 WAR, because of slightly below average defence and he's batting .207/.252/.294.

Are you pretty confident that 2008 Hawpe and 2011 Rios (to this point) are of similar value?
   40. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: August 04, 2011 at 08:54 PM (#3892946)
I've never seen the two guys play. I wouldn't feel qualified to say anything about either guy.

I guess I would say no, although "to this point" is misleading, because we're only 2/3 of the way through the season. Rios will likely end up losing another 1 WAR, and finishing near -2.7
   41. Greg K Posted: August 04, 2011 at 09:01 PM (#3892953)
I guess I would say no, although "to this point" is misleading, because we're only 2/3 of the way through the season. Rios will likely end up losing another 1 WAR, and finishing near -2.7

Yeah that was a problem with the example...too lazy to find a full-season terrible year that was equivalent!

I think you also raise a good point in that the defensive component of WAR should probably be augmented by actually seeing the guy play, comparing it to other defensive metrics, comparing it to the player's previous results...all things that no one really suggests doing with oWAR.

As an aside, imagine if Dunn and Rios had met even (what I think are) reasonable expectations, maybe being 1.5-2.0 WAR players this year. They'd be right there with the Tigers.
   42. Paul D(uda) Posted: August 04, 2011 at 09:11 PM (#3892959)
Bautista is hitting 62 HR this year. Trust me, that guy wins the MVP
   43. SteveF Posted: August 04, 2011 at 09:13 PM (#3892961)
I think we are less inclined to allow for large variations in defensive performance from year to year than offensive performance. Obviously a part of that is the uncertainty of defensive numbers and the almost reflexive impulse to regress to the mean. The other part of it is unjustified intellectual bias, an assumption that defense doesn't slump like offense can slump, or that it's somehow less likely a guy can have a career defensive year in the same way we've seen guys have stand out offensive career years.
   44. bfan Posted: August 04, 2011 at 09:17 PM (#3892965)
If he stays near the top of the league in AVG. and is the leading RBI guy for the 3rd big-time team in the AL, prepare to say hello to MVP candidate Michael Young.
   45. SteveF Posted: August 04, 2011 at 09:35 PM (#3892971)
There's always been a Texas media bias. See the 1999 MVP award!
   46. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: August 04, 2011 at 09:36 PM (#3892973)
How bout you just smooth out dWAR. Pedrioa's on pace for 2.0 dWAR, but he usually gets 0.8 or so, so let's give him some credit for a career year and call it 1.2dWAR. Done. Do the same for Bautista.

Uhm, Pedroia had 1.1 dWAR in 75 GAMES last year.


If one of the players has a lot of his value tied up in an element we're uncertain of

But the issue is, they don't have different amouts of value tied up in their defense, not as long as they are both getting similar amounts of PA's and innings in the field. If 33% of a position players value is on the defensive end of the ball, then 33% of his value is derived from defense. It doesn't matter if you are average or 20 runs below or above it. The amount of value tied up in defense is the same.
You can obviously make an argument that positions that see more opportunities have a higher amount of value tied up in their defense, but that's not the argument anybody is making.

It's mostly a matter of perception, since offensive #s are being compared to replacement level, and defene to average. This makes it seem like his defense is a comparitively less important part of the equation.But this is like saying that a defensive wiz who is average with the bat doesn't have a lot of value tied up in his bat. But the ability to be average on offensive is of course a huge part of what allows him to be a valuable player.
   47. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: August 04, 2011 at 09:37 PM (#3892974)
Pedroia's defense is pretty impressive to the eyeball this year. He made a very nice play on a bunt last night after Wake fell down trying to field it. Fielded it running towards home and was able to get enough on a very angled throw (he was in front the mound) to beat the runner.
   48. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: August 04, 2011 at 09:48 PM (#3892979)
I think you also raise a good point in that the defensive component of WAR should probably be augmented by actually seeing the guy play, comparing it to other defensive metrics, comparing it to the player's previous results...all things that no one really suggests doing with oWAR.


But this should be done for ALL players, regardless of where they fall on the scale.
   49. PreservedFish Posted: August 04, 2011 at 10:22 PM (#3892998)
Uhm, Pedroia had 1.1 dWAR in 75 GAMES last year.


My mistake.
   50. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: August 04, 2011 at 10:33 PM (#3893001)
Bautista is hitting 62 HR this year. Trust me, that guy wins the MVP
I'll take that bet. (The 62 HRs part.)
   51. Srul Itza Posted: August 04, 2011 at 10:48 PM (#3893009)
But the issue is, they don't have different amouts of value tied up in their defense, not as long as they are both getting similar amounts of PA's and innings in the field.


Different positions see different numbers of chances.
   52. cardsfanboy Posted: August 04, 2011 at 10:50 PM (#3893010)
It's mostly a matter of perception, since offensive #s are being compared to replacement level, and defene to average. This makes it seem like his defense is a comparitively less important part of the equation.But this is like saying that a defensive wiz who is average with the bat doesn't have a lot of value tied up in his bat. But the ability to be average on offensive is of course a huge part of what allows him to be a valuable player.


It's not a matter of perception, it's a matter of cofidence in the numbers. Most people are very confident on the reliability of offensive numbers, they are less so on defensive numbers. On top of that as mentioned, Bautista's defensive flexibility adds value that a defensive system wouldn't really be able to cover properly.But it's not about perception, but comfort in defensive numbers. When you look at other defensive systems they are going to give a lot more variance in the numbers than you will get with other offensive systems.
   53. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: August 04, 2011 at 11:35 PM (#3893035)
Pedroia is quite close. Excellent defense and 15% more PA make up for Bautista's better production.

This is barely relevant, but some of the PA difference comes from Pedroia playing for the best offense in the league; his percentage of team PA is about 12% higher than Bautista's, not 15%.
   54. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 05, 2011 at 02:14 AM (#3893175)
I sort of started this conversation about the confidence level we can have in offensive stats vs. defensive stats when I described Pedroia's impressive WAR. However, my point about a "tie" going to Pedroia because he is a second baseman is rather non-statistical in nature.

Regardless of what you think of various defensive metrics, I think we can all agree that Pedroia is between an above-average and excellent defensive player at a position that falls on the left-center part of the defensive spectrum. The fact that he is tied with the second-highest offensive WAR in the league AND is tied for the 4th-highest defensive WAR, to me, makes him unique. In being unique, he is more valuable than a player who is, well, not unique. If Bautista and Pedroia both end up with similar amounts of total value this year, who would rather have had with your first draft pick in the AL this year? It's Pedroia, right?

I can find a number of outfielders who will give me excellent performance, but how many 2nd basemen can do what Pedroia is doing? Somebody above mentioned Zobrist, and he's a great player, but he's started 30 games in the outfield this year, and is not nearly the defensive player Pedroia is. (I will say, though, that Zobrist does bring something unique to the table - his versatility is awesome.)

At any rate, let's see if Bautista is even ahead of Pedroia at the end of the year. The gap is closing very quickly...
   55. Darren Posted: August 05, 2011 at 02:49 AM (#3893196)
Looking at their histories, I'd say Bautista's positive dWAR looks a lot flukier than Pedroia's +15 or so (which is consistent with his 2010 totals, his UZR, and his DRS). If you're going to regress, give these guys a a weighted average going back 3 years. I suspect, from eyeballing it, you'd get Pedroia right around +15 for the season and Bautista at -3 or -4. Regressing that toward the mean, you'd still probably get Pedroia around +11 and Bautista at -2.

If it ends up tied or very close, I agree with the notion above that some credit should be given to Bautista for being able to play 3B or RF, which doesn't show up in the WAR figures.
   56. Paul D(uda) Posted: August 05, 2011 at 03:57 AM (#3893208)
I'll take that bet. (The 62 HRs part.)

He's streaky, and he's got his timing back. Look out MLB.
   57. Walt Davis Posted: August 05, 2011 at 09:03 AM (#3893240)
He's streaky, and he's got his timing back. Look out MLB.

You realize that would require 30 HR in 52 games ...
   58. SteveF Posted: August 05, 2011 at 09:29 AM (#3893242)
He only actually needs to hit 29 more home runs. 61 Canadian home runs is about 62 US home runs.
   59. Mom makes botox doctors furious Posted: August 05, 2011 at 10:27 AM (#3893245)
"The other part of it is unjustified intellectual bias, an assumption that defense doesn't slump like offense can slump, or that it's somehow less likely a guy can have a career defensive year in the same way we've seen guys have stand out offensive career years"

I like the way you worded this.
   60. Paul D(uda) Posted: August 05, 2011 at 12:01 PM (#3893258)
You realize that would require 30 HR in 52 games ...

Dude. He's Jose Bautista.
   61. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: August 05, 2011 at 12:11 PM (#3893260)
But the issue is, they don't have different amouts of value tied up in their defense, not as long as they are both getting similar amounts of PA's and innings in the field.

Different positions see different numbers of chances.


Well geez. If you had bothered reading to the end of the paragraph, you would have noticed I pointed that out. But again, nobody was making that argument.


It's not a matter of perception, it's a matter of cofidence in the numbers. Most people are very confident on the reliability of offensive numbers, they are less so on defensive numbers.

But the point is Bautista's defensive numbers are just as big a part of his total value, as Pedroia's defense is of his. Yes it's possible that Pedroia si 5 or 10 runs worse on defense, but the exact same is true for Bautista.
   62. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: August 05, 2011 at 01:39 PM (#3893295)
Thanks, FPH. You're saying exactly what I was trying to say.
   63. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: August 05, 2011 at 02:19 PM (#3893310)
At any rate, let's see if Bautista is even ahead of Pedroia at the end of the year. The gap is closing very quickly...

1/3 of the year is left
Rk Player WAR/pos
1 Jose Bautista 6.8
2 Dustin Pedroia 6.2
3 Jacoby Ellsbury 5.3
4 Adrian Gonzalez 5.2
5 Ben Zobrist 4.7
6 Kevin Youkilis 4.3
7 Alex Gordon 4.2
8 Miguel Cabrera 4.2
9 Yunel Escobar 3.9
10 Adrian Beltre 3.8
11 Asdrubal Cabrera 3.7
12 Brett Gardner 3.6
13 Alex Avila 3.5
14 Erick Aybar 3.5
15 Curtis Granderson 3.5
16 Denard Span 3.2
17 Alex Rodriguez 3.2
18 Jhonny Peralta 3.2
19 Nick Swisher 3.2
20 Michael Cuddyer 3.1
21 Ian Kinsler 3.1

Sure Pedroia is on a tear NOW, that doesn't mean that he won't put up 0.5 WAR the rest of the way, nor that Zobrist puts up a 3.0 and blows by him, not likely? Of course its; unlikely- every specific outcome is - individually- unlikely

By virtue of his current lead in WAR , Bautista is merely the least unlikely to end up the year leading in WAR- given how close Pedroia is, I'd guess that Pedroia has a 30-40% chance of catching and passing him. There is also a non-zero chance that someone else from the "field" will catch and pass him as well.

Also for what it's worth, so far Fenway has been acting like it's pre-humidor Coors, 10.5r/g in Fenway, 8.7 on the road - if that keeps up Fenway's PF will be 110 or so rather than the 105 BBREF is using now and at the end of the year when BBREF updates PFs Pedroia (and all Sox hitters) may lose some oWAR (happened to Cano last year, lost nearly a whole win when PFs were updated)
   64. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 05, 2011 at 02:20 PM (#3893312)
By the way, as this is an article about the MVP race in both leagues, a quick question:

I don't watch a lot of Cardinals games, but it looks like Lance Berkman is having quite a year. Is he playing as well as his numbers suggest?
   65. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: August 05, 2011 at 02:22 PM (#3893316)
But the point is Bautista's defensive numbers are just as big a part of his total value, as Pedroia's defense is of his. Yes it's possible that Pedroia si 5 or 10 runs worse on defense, but the exact same is true for Bautista.


Sure, it's possible. In fact, I don't really have any reason to believe these particular numbers are off.

My point, and the point of others here, is that since we have less confidence that the defensive numbers are an accurate representation of the contributions of all players, we're going to regress them some (and in my case, as with Greg above, it's most definitely a general regression rather than one that has any kind of strong statistical foundation). OTOH, since we have confidence that the oWAR portion is an accurate representation of a player's hitting contributions, we don't feel any need to regress. And once you've regressed, the guy who gets a larger part of his WAR total from his defensive contributions will suffer, even while recognizing that each player's defensive numbers are an equal part of value.

Having said that, Darren in 55 makes an excellent point about the weighted 3-year average.
   66. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: August 05, 2011 at 02:29 PM (#3893318)
we're going to regress them some (and in my case, as with Greg above, it's most definitely a general regression rather than one that has any kind of strong statistical foundation).

Regress them to what? You don't know what the middle is! It's allegedly 0, but if you don't have confidence in the statistic, you can't say that it really truly is. So you don't know what to regress to.
   67. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: August 05, 2011 at 02:39 PM (#3893329)
Darren, I started to write a post that very closely mirrored your 55 ... agree totally.
   68. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: August 05, 2011 at 03:11 PM (#3893354)
But the point is Bautista's defensive numbers are just as big a part of his total value

No, the point is precisely that the defensive numbers are not as big a part of his total value. Because (1.3/6.2) > (0.4/6.8), right? People are saying that they'd support Bautista because more of his value comes from the part of his performance that they have more certainty about. YMMV, of course, but hopefully not because you misunderstand what they're saying.
   69. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: August 05, 2011 at 03:12 PM (#3893355)
No, the point is precisely that the defensive numbers are not as big a part of his total value. Because (1.3/6.2) > (0.4/6.8), right?

Very, very, very, VERY wrong. Wrong in so many ways that I don't know how to describe it.
   70. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: August 05, 2011 at 03:18 PM (#3893362)
Too bad you don't know how to explain it, because your approach is the one that seems quite counter-intuitve and counter-factual to me.

Also, pretty hard to argue that your comment was judgement-free, so I guess you're going to have to change your handle. ;)
   71. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: August 05, 2011 at 03:20 PM (#3893364)
Ok, a player who sucks on defense has just as much of his overall value determined by his defense as a player who is great on defense. His value may be LESSENED by his bad defense, but it still plays a major part in his value.

Both players, indeed virtually all players, have the same amount of their "value" determined by their defense as their offense. If Barry Bonds had played second base as well as Dustin Pedroia, he'd have been much more valuable. So he lost value because of his defense.
   72. ray james Posted: August 05, 2011 at 03:23 PM (#3893369)
IOW, assuming the numbers hold up as they are now, we can be very certain of the offensive gap between the players, but not nearly as certain about the defensive gap. So we would chose to give greater weight to the numbers we are more certain about.


This is a spurious argument. By diminishing the value of defensive numbers that are assumed to have less certainty than the offensive numbers, the equipoise that must be maintained between the two is destroyed.

For instance, let's for the sake of argument say that 70% of a position players' value is offense and 30% is defense. Using the argument quoted, one would then arbitrarily adjust that to make it 80/20 or 90/10, hence the more reliable numbers are weighted above and the defensive numbers below what they should be. That's flawed math, flawed statistical methodology. After all, it's equally plausible Pedroia's defense is being underestimated.

If a given value has less certainty than another, you don't distort their importance by re-weighting them, you just live with the uncertainty, or try to account for it in other ways. Accounting subjectively, as some have suggested here, is a much better way of handling things than doing something that is statistically wrong.

Getting back to the question at hand, BB-ref has Bautista at 6.8 and Pedroia at 6.2. Fangraphs has them at 7.0 and 6.7, respectively. That's close enough to make Pedroia a credible MVP winner. I also think, since voters give a lot of weight to team performance when selecting the MVP, you could argue Pedroia is the favorite to win right now, even if he doesn't gain any additional ground.

Finally, is it even certain Pedroia is the most valuable on his own team? Ellsbury, Beckett and Gonzalez seem to be giving him a pretty vigorous run for his money.
   73. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: August 05, 2011 at 03:23 PM (#3893370)
Exactly, Ray James. Thanks. Thank you for expressing it very clearly and well.
   74. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: August 05, 2011 at 03:30 PM (#3893375)
That's still counter-factual, because Barry Bonds did not, in fact, ever play second base. Of course, he'd have been more valuable if he had, because he hit like an all-time great corner OF and we'd now be comparing him to 2Bmen. The value he lost because of his defensive position is already factored into his oWAR.

So it seems to me that you are double counting the positional adjustments when you start playing those games. If you'd rather compare both players to the same offensive replacement level, be my guest.
   75. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: August 05, 2011 at 03:34 PM (#3893376)
The value he lost because of his defensive position is already factored into his oWAR

What?

I simply don't understand this.
   76. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: August 05, 2011 at 03:37 PM (#3893380)
the equipoise that must be maintained between the two is destroyed

Why must equipoise be maintained between the two? At the team level, sure (but even there, pitching is half of the defensive game). Defensive opportunities are not equal across positions. Offensive opportunities roughly are. It seems to me that all that was being argued is that since Pedroia has more defensive opportunities, and we have more uncertainty about how much value he actually produced in those opportunities, we therefore have more uncertainty about his total value. What's so wrong about that?

Getting back to the question at hand, BB-ref has Bautista at 6.8 and Pedroia at 6.2. Fangraphs has them at 7.0 and 6.7, respectively. That's close enough to make Pedroia a credible MVP winner.

Can't disagree with that part.
   77. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: August 05, 2011 at 03:40 PM (#3893382)
I simply don't understand this.

oWAR -- Offensive Wins Above Replacement for position players
The same statistic as Wins Above Replacement for Position Players (WAR), but with the defensive value excluded.
Contains the factor for batting stats, a positional adjustment, and the replacement player adjustment.
Factors developed by Sean Smith of BaseballProjection.com
   78. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: August 05, 2011 at 03:48 PM (#3893391)
That's...that's stunning. I cannot believe that. I'm aghast.

I admit that this changes my argument considerably (although not entirely) but also, holy ####. That's so stupid it hurts.
   79. ray james Posted: August 05, 2011 at 04:06 PM (#3893400)
It seems to me that all that was being argued is that since Pedroia has more defensive opportunities, and we have more uncertainty about how much value he actually produced in those opportunities, we therefore have more uncertainty about his total value. What's so wrong about that?


Didn't you just quote about positional adjustments being accounted for by oWAR? Are positional adjustments not accounted for defensively as well? I believe they are (having trouble finding the definition).

I'm fine with you having more uncertainty about defensive statistics than offensive statistics. I'm just not fine with penalizing defensive-oriented players by arbitrarily re-weighting to favor offense because of that uncertainty.

Uncertainty about a value doesn't increase or decrease its inherent weight. That might be unsatisfying for someone looking for a definitive answer but that's just the way it is.
   80. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: August 05, 2011 at 04:43 PM (#3893403)
Are positional adjustments not accounted for defensively as well?

dWAR -- Defensive Wins Above Replacement for position players
A defensive measure of wins above replacement, but given only the defensive stats of the player. For this calculation, we use a replacement level on defense is the league average.
Based on the total zone rating developed by Sean Smith of BaseballProjection.com


Not so clear. Guess we'll have to ask AROM.

I'm fine with you having more uncertainty about defensive statistics than offensive statistics. I'm just not fine with penalizing defensive-oriented players by arbitrarily re-weighting to favor offense because of that uncertainty.

I'm not penalizing anybody. I was just trying to re-state what I saw the argument as being about, because I really didn't get all the fuss. Personally, I don't care about MVP awards nearly enough to go to this much trouble to decide who I'd vote for if I had a vote.

Uncertainty about a value doesn't increase or decrease its inherent weight.

I don't disagree with that either. But I also don't have all that big a problem with someone more or less saying that "given things I have very high certainty about and things I have much lower certainty about, I'll base my decision on the things I have high certainty about."
   81. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: August 05, 2011 at 05:15 PM (#3893414)
The value he lost because of his defensive position is already factored into his oWAR

What?

I simply don't understand this.


I was about to say something but it seems you may have already faced the error of your ways...
   82. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: August 05, 2011 at 05:18 PM (#3893416)
I just...it's mindblowing. And stupid. And I have no words.
   83. Best Dressed Chicken in Town Posted: August 05, 2011 at 05:44 PM (#3893442)
AROM has nothing to do with the oWAR/dWAR split. That's a B-R decision. The reason Sean Forman did it is so if people have problems with Total Zone defensive numbers, they can easily plug in UZR or DRS or their own opinion. From that standpoint, it makes sense. Calling it oWAR and dWAR does not. Position played is absolutely part of defensive value. But this has been expressed to Sean and he has made his decision.
   84. Sean Forman Posted: August 05, 2011 at 05:47 PM (#3893447)

Also for what it's worth, so far Fenway has been acting like it's pre-humidor Coors, 10.5r/g in Fenway, 8.7 on the road - if that keeps up Fenway's PF will be 110 or so rather than the 105 BBREF is using now and at the end of the year when BBREF updates PFs Pedroia (and all Sox hitters) may lose some oWAR (happened to Cano last year, lost nearly a whole win when PFs were updated)


The park factors are prorated in season. As we are 2/3rds of the way through the season. I'm using 1 x 2010 + 1/3 X 2009 + 2/3 x 2011 divided by 2.
   85. Sean Forman Posted: August 05, 2011 at 05:51 PM (#3893450)
AROM has nothing to do with the oWAR/dWAR split. That's a B-R decision. The reason Sean Forman did it is so if people have problems with Total Zone defensive numbers, they can easily plug in UZR or DRS or their own opinion. From that standpoint, it makes sense. Calling it oWAR and dWAR does not. Position played is absolutely part of defensive value. But this has been expressed to Sean and he has made his decision.


As I said in my blog post on it. The main reason is to provide a WAR number with no fielding component, so people who distrust TZR can get a number with all of the less controversial WAR values.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/8219

This is the post where I launched it and explained my reasoning.

See comment #10 for my reasoning behind calling it oWAR and dWAR.
   86. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: August 05, 2011 at 05:54 PM (#3893452)
oWAR assumes that every player is an average defender and therefore the stat utilizes the player's contributions from baserunning and batting, the positional adjustment (to account for the difference in batting stats at each position)

If every player is an "average defender" then there's no need to adjust for position. Right? I really just don't get this.
   87. Sean Forman Posted: August 05, 2011 at 05:55 PM (#3893453)
#10 from the thread I linked above.

Kds,

I would disagree. Smith's value on defense is how much better he plays defense than the player the Cardinals could find to replace him. In this case an average defensive shortstop (lots of those in AAA).

On offense, James is right that he doesn't bat shortstop, but there is a definite effect on the Cardinals' offense that Smith bats shortstop.

Think about Kevin Youkilis.

Is the Red Sox offense overall better with
1) a replacement player at first and Youkilis playing third, or with
2) a replacement player at third and Youkilis playing first base?

The two replacement players (in theory) should have the same overall value to the team, but the Sox score more runs in situation 1 (assuming Youk bats the same in each case) than in situation 2. Youk playing third adds runs to the Red Sox offense.

Albert Pujols playing shortstop adds a lot of offensive value to the Cardinals office, you replace Skip Shumaker's offense with a new first baseman's, but Albert will likely give back those runs by being a well below average defender (though in his case, he might have been able be a better than -20 fielder).


If you look at it from the perspective of the team's offense, Pedroia being farther down the defensive spectrum adds to the Red Sox offense.
   88. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: August 05, 2011 at 05:58 PM (#3893454)
AROM has nothing to do with the oWAR/dWAR split.

I didn't mean to ask him about the split. Just to ask him about any finer points of how Total Zone is claculated.
   89. Rusty Priske Posted: August 05, 2011 at 05:58 PM (#3893455)
I woudl be happy if Buatista won, that's for sure, but if I had a vote it woudl go to Miguel Cabrera. (And Ryan Braun. Roy Halladay and Jared Weaver for CY)

But the season isn't over.
   90. Sean Forman Posted: August 05, 2011 at 06:00 PM (#3893457)
If every player is an "average defender" then there's no need to adjust for position. Right? I really just don't get this.


Average relative to their position played. As you know there are dramatic differences between the quality of the hitters at various positions. This is what Rpos is measuring.
   91. Sean Forman Posted: August 05, 2011 at 06:02 PM (#3893460)
oWAR is essentially VORP. VORP measures batting performance while factoring in position and replacement level.
   92. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: August 05, 2011 at 06:05 PM (#3893463)
Sean: But imagine if instead of replacement players, you just swapped Big Papi and Jason Varitek positionally. The Sox offense doesn't get worse or better, and neither of the two player's offensive contributions to the Red Sox lineup changes. But one will have his oWAR go up, and one will go down. That's wrong. Nothing about their offensive value compared to a replacement changed.
   93. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: August 05, 2011 at 06:07 PM (#3893464)
I guess it's a definitional, misleading-name thing. I'm ok with that. But wow. VERY misleadingly named. It would have saved me most of this thread if I had know that o(ffensive)WAR meant no such thing.
   94. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: August 05, 2011 at 06:11 PM (#3893468)
If every player is an "average defender" then there's no need to adjust for position. Right? I really just don't get this.

Doesn't that just mean that oWAR ignores the quality of defense, but not defensive position?

If you want to compare offensive value without adjusting for position, just subtract Rpos from oRAR.
   95. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: August 05, 2011 at 06:14 PM (#3893470)
VERY misleadingly named. It would have saved me most of this thread if I had know that o(ffensive)WAR meant no such thing.

I don't know about VERY misleading, but yeah, I suppose oWARP would be better.
   96. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: August 05, 2011 at 06:16 PM (#3893473)
I suppose oWARP would be better.

No, it's Positional WAR.
   97. Sean Forman Posted: August 05, 2011 at 06:16 PM (#3893474)
Sean: But imagine if instead of replacement players, you just swapped Big Papi and Jason Varitek positionally.


And unlike my example, this wouldn't happen. What name would you like better?
   98. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: August 05, 2011 at 06:20 PM (#3893478)
Ok, let's try Jeter and ARod. They swap. Neither gets better or worse, but their oWAR gets all screwy.
   99. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: August 05, 2011 at 06:20 PM (#3893479)
imagine if instead of replacement players, you just swapped Big Papi and Jason Varitek positionally

I'm imagining so many passed balls that the Red Sox never got to bat, which I think would hurt their offense.
   100. Best Dressed Chicken in Town Posted: August 05, 2011 at 06:53 PM (#3893499)
Then Ortiz would really complain about his lack of RBI.
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