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Sunday, September 24, 2017

The case for Jose Altuve as the American League MVP, and a look at the rest of the contenders

Nick Cafardo embraces WAR.

WAR numbers can also vary based on the formulas used to calculate them. Defensive metrics are also getting more refined and accurate. And there are these things called your eyes. If you’ve followed a player all season you understand his value regardless of what the numbers say. Usually the numbers back up the eyes and the instincts.

Jim Furtado Posted: September 24, 2017 at 02:34 PM | 102 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Walt Davis Posted: September 24, 2017 at 04:16 PM (#5537748)
Regarding the last sentence of the excerpt, the issue is that if you're following Jose Altuve all season (unlikely but not impossible for Cafardo), you usually aren't following the other candidates, much less the entire league. You can only compare your eyeball impression of one player with another player you follow regularly. Unless of course by "follow" we mean check the box score, etc.
   2. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 24, 2017 at 08:08 PM (#5537811)
Altuve should still be the MVP front runner, but Judge's recent surge may have made a race of it again.
   3. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: September 24, 2017 at 08:20 PM (#5537814)
Judge leads the AL in HR, SLG, BB, OBP, and runs. And he doesn't look like he should be baking cookies in a hollow tree. The choice is obvious.
   4. Dillon Gee Escape Plan Posted: September 24, 2017 at 08:52 PM (#5537824)
Judge leads the AL in HR, SLG, BB, OBP, and runs. And he doesn't look like he should be baking cookies in a hollow tree. The choice is obvious.


Altuve: 7.2 WAR (Fangraphs), 8.2 (BB-Ref)
Judge: 7.0 WAR (Fangraphs), 7.1 (BB-Ref)

"obvious"
   5. dlf Posted: September 24, 2017 at 09:20 PM (#5537829)
While Judge leads in SLG and OBA, Altuve leads in OPS+ and (at least the rWAR version; I haven't looked at fWAR) in offensive WAR. What has changed with the park formerly known as Ten Run or with the other parks in the league to have the park factor in the low 90s now?
   6. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: September 24, 2017 at 10:07 PM (#5537838)
The big difference between Altuve and Judge for me is August; Judge had a .680 OPS that month. Altuve’s worst month is his .843 in September. He’s never had a time where he hurt his team.
   7. Walt Davis Posted: September 24, 2017 at 10:07 PM (#5537839)
What has changed with the park formerly known as Ten Run or with the other parks in the league to have the park factor in the low 90s now?

A good question but, by park factors, its time as a big offensive park was just 2000-2003. By 2004, it started playing as a roughly average park through 2015. In 2016, for whatever reason, there was a massive drop (single-year PF for 2016 was 89/90). 2017 is not much better. Whatever the reason, there's no magic in PFs, it's just runs scored at home and runs scored on the road.

For those that don't know, the multi-year PF for year T (which is used in bWAR, etc.) is an average of years T-1, T and T+1. So we don't yet know where 2017's PF will settle, currently just an average of T-1 and T I believe ... if MM Park is an offensive boon in 2018, Altuve could drop in OPS+ for 2017.

b-r gives a table for Astros' PFs over time. Because of the moving average, when changes occur can be harder to detect. For example, from 2002 to 2003, the PF goes down 3 points. However, the single-year PF was down only 1 point from the year before. The "drop" in 2003 is due to a big drop in 2004 to a 99 single-year PF. But it continued to play at about the same level. Similarly in 2015, it continued to play like an average park and it's the 2016 change that creates the "drop" in the multi-year PF for 2015.

Moving averages are a very common way to deal with time-series data and probably does usually help. But it can occasionally lead to odd results for individual cases (team or player).
   8. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: September 24, 2017 at 10:37 PM (#5537843)
Just to throw another hat into the ring (mainly because of the Fangraphs figure)...

Sale: 8.2 WAR (Fangraphs), 6.2 WAR (BB-Ref)
   9. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: September 24, 2017 at 10:37 PM (#5537844)
Amazing player; god-awful product spokesman.
   10. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 24, 2017 at 10:45 PM (#5537845)
While Judge leads in SLG and OBA, Altuve leads in OPS+ . . .

Well, narrowly. Before today's games Altuve led 165 to 161. Judge had a pretty good day, so it's even tighter unless Altuve does as well. Judge could be ahead by the end of the season. And, we should all remember that Judge would already have tied McGwire's Rookie HR Record if he wasn't robbed of a HR in April, when replay failed miserably.
   11. Cooper Nielson Posted: September 24, 2017 at 11:23 PM (#5537855)
Sale: 8.2 WAR (Fangraphs), 6.2 WAR (BB-Ref)

This is barely related but it's something I just noticed and wanted to bring up:

Gio Gonzalez: 6.9 bWAR
Max Scherzer: 6.6 bWAR

First of all, I know that WAR does not claim to be precise and the difference here is within the margin of error, so that's probably the explanation. But I was just wondering how Gonzalez tops Scherzer when they pitch for the same team (so, approximately the same park/defense factors for both -- BABIP is .238 for Scherzer, .240 for Gio) and:

Scherzer has more innings, many more strikeouts, and has given up significantly fewer hits and walks.
Scherzer has a lower ERA, WHIP, and AVG/OBP/SLG against, and of course a much higher K/BB ratio.
Scherzer has given up only one more HR and 2 more runs (because he's given up 3 more unearned runs) in 5.2 more IP.

Basically, they're very close in everything except strikeouts, hits allowed, and walks allowed, where Scherzer has a clear advantage. But those are important, aren't they? Don't they factor in to bWAR? Scherzer has a big lead in fWAR, incidentally.

I noticed also that Sale is comfortably ahead of Kluber in fWAR but Kluber is comfortably ahead of Sale in bWAR. But that's easier to understand because they're on different teams and each have distinct clear advantages (Kluber in runs allowed, Sale in innings and strikeouts). In the case of Scherzer vs. Gio, I don't see any clear advantages for Gio, only for Scherzer.
   12. dlf Posted: September 24, 2017 at 11:34 PM (#5537857)
First of all, I know that WAR does not claim to be precise and the difference here is within the margin of error, so that's probably the explanation. But I was just wondering how Gonzalez tops Scherzer when they pitch for the same team (so, approximately the same park/defense factors for both -- BABIP is .238 for Scherzer, .240 for Gio) and:

Scherzer has more innings, many more strikeouts, and has given up significantly fewer hits and walks.
Scherzer has a lower ERA, WHIP, and AVG/OBP/SLG against, and of course a much higher K/BB ratio.
Scherzer has given up only one more HR and 2 more runs (because he's given up 3 more unearned runs) in 5.2 more IP.

Basically, they're very close in everything except strikeouts, hits allowed, and walks allowed, where Scherzer has a clear advantage. But those are important, aren't they? Don't they factor in to bWAR? Scherzer has a big lead in fWAR, incidentally.


bWAR for pitchers is based heavily on IP and R/G with the DIPS stuff not factored in. Gio has allowed fewer unearned runs. Gonzalez 60/191.2, Scherzer 61/191.1, or basically within a margin of error before factoring in where and how often they pitched in road contests. The big lead in fWAR is because that ignores runs and looks instead, almost exclusively, at the K/BB/HR/IP lines.
   13. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: September 24, 2017 at 11:34 PM (#5537858)
11 - That difference in unearned runs has to be the difference. The two guys have been pretty similar in terms of run prevention so if you focus on that (which I think is what bWAR does) is the difference. As I understand it FanGraphs WAR uses FIP I believe (actually I think they use xFIP) and they have it as;

Scherzer - 5.9
Gonzalez - 3.2

I think from a “what has happened” standpoint bWAR makes more sense but from a predictive standpoint fWAR is probably a lot better.

EDIT: Coke etc...
   14. PreservedFish Posted: September 24, 2017 at 11:57 PM (#5537866)
Fangraphs has a useful box at the bottom of every pitcher player page named "Value." It lays out the differences in performance nicely.

A big difference between the two is LOB-Wins, that is, wins from performance with men on base (which is arguably mostly luck).

Gio is +1.3 LOB-wins, and Scherzer is -1.0. Baseball Reference gives full or mostly full credit for this performance, Fangraphs gives zero credit. Another thing to note. Also, it makes it clear that Gio has benefited from strong defense more than Scherzer has - although they have allowed the same BABIP, Gio allows more balls in play than does Scherzer.
   15. Bote Man Posted: September 25, 2017 at 12:14 AM (#5537875)
But I was just wondering how Gonzalez tops Scherzer when they pitch for the same team

Clearly, Gio sacrificed a chicken, Max did not. QED.

Gio, to the naked eye, has pitched much more effectively most of this season than in seasons past, but has fallen off a bit in has last few outings. I think it was early this year (Winter, Spring Training?) he was working with a counselor to clear his head out. It seems to have paid off, as in the past if he gave up a home run or a defender flubbed a play he would melt down on the mound and that was it for him that day. There were even a few Nats fans who were not entirely joking about "Gio for C.Y." this year, but maybe not so much recently.

Max gives up his requisite home run, usually in the first couple innings, then turns into a strikeout machine as the game wears on. He doesn't allow as many balls in play as Gio, as pointed out above, so depending on which bench or AAA call-up guy was backing up Gio any given day would determine the outcome of that game in many cases. Remember, they had a number of significant DL stints from Trea Turner, Jayson Werth (meh on defense anyway), Michael A. Taylor, and Bryce Harper.

But, back to the topic at hand, I see no reason why a Keebler elf shouldn't win the MVP if he's deserving. But I have no strong opinions on these awards anyway.
   16. Cooper Nielson Posted: September 25, 2017 at 12:36 AM (#5537880)
Oh, I just realized another possible reason -- the stats I was looking at were from ESPN, and they're updated through Sunday's game (a 6-inning, 1-run Scherzer win). That's why I mentioned he has more innings than Gio.

However, it looks like ESPN's WAR number (which comes from BB-Ref) has not been updated to reflect Scherzer's last start. They will probably update it tomorrow, and I suspect Scherzer will move slightly ahead in WAR.

And that makes sense if bREF is mostly IP and R/G based -- after tonight's start, Scherzer has more more innings (by about 3%) and nearly identical R/9IP -- 2.82 for Gio and 2.83 for Scherzer.
   17. Ivo Shandor Posted: September 25, 2017 at 01:38 AM (#5537896)
b-r gives a table for Astros' PFs over time. Because of the moving average, when changes occur can be harder to detect. For example, from 2002 to 2003, the PF goes down 3 points. However, the single-year PF was down only 1 point from the year before. The "drop" in 2003 is due to a big drop in 2004 to a 99 single-year PF. But it continued to play at about the same level. Similarly in 2015, it continued to play like an average park and it's the 2016 change that creates the "drop" in the multi-year PF for 2015.

Before 2016, the Astros installed new, brighter lighting that led to many complaints from batters that it made it too difficult to see the ball. This is almost certainly the reason for the big dropoff in park factor between 2015 and 2016.

   18. Bote Man Posted: September 25, 2017 at 03:19 AM (#5537899)
Does that mean that batters could see the ball perfectly if they turned the lights off?
   19. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: September 25, 2017 at 07:22 AM (#5537909)

Altuve: 7.2 WAR (Fangraphs), 8.2 (BB-Ref)
Judge: 7.0 WAR (Fangraphs), 7.1 (BB-Ref)

"obvious"


Back to your mom's basement, Poindexter.
   20. Cooper Nielson Posted: September 25, 2017 at 12:28 PM (#5538281)
However, it looks like ESPN's WAR number (which comes from BB-Ref) has not been updated to reflect Scherzer's last start. They will probably update it tomorrow, and I suspect Scherzer will move slightly ahead in WAR.

Yes indeed, now it's Scherzer 6.9, Gio 6.8.
Is it odd that Gio's WAR went down by 0.1 despite not throwing a pitch (it was 6.9 yesterday)? Or is that normal due to ongoing adjustments in league/team averages?
   21. Lest we forget Posted: September 25, 2017 at 12:39 PM (#5538308)
By season's end, OPS, OBP and SA will likely have a new leader, Mike Trout.
   22. villageidiom Posted: September 25, 2017 at 01:14 PM (#5538372)
But, back to the topic at hand, I see no reason why a Keebler elf shouldn't win the MVP if he's deserving. But I have no strong opinions on these awards anyway.
Fudge Stripes™ over pinstripes.
   23. Blastin Posted: September 25, 2017 at 01:56 PM (#5538445)
Judge just tied McGwire's record at 49.

You know, considering he was icing his shoulder in August, the man might have just been.... injured.
   24. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 25, 2017 at 02:00 PM (#5538454)

You know, considering he was icing his shoulder in August, the man might have just been.... injured.


Very plausible, but then you have to ask WTF the Yankees kept running him out there.
   25. Blastin Posted: September 25, 2017 at 02:03 PM (#5538455)
Very plausible, but then you have to ask WTF the Yankees kept running him out there.


I don't know. But it seems he recovered after only getting a few days off (late august?). It's just... why not do that sooner, since if banged up it clearly wasn't serious.
   26. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 25, 2017 at 02:07 PM (#5538464)
Judge attributes his revival to better plate discipline. Sometimes the simplest explanations are the best.
   27. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: September 25, 2017 at 02:08 PM (#5538466)
Judge just tied McGwire's record at 49.

And we know McGwire was taking steroids, therefore....
   28. Ithaca2323 Posted: September 25, 2017 at 02:12 PM (#5538469)
Depending on the WAR gap, I could see Judge pulling it out if he winds up with something like 54/55 home runs, especially since it can counteract the "he faded down the stretch" narrative.
   29. rconn23 Posted: September 25, 2017 at 02:21 PM (#5538485)
Looks like Judge will break the record. I was hoping that HR that was wrongly called a triple wouldn't come back to bite him.
   30. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 25, 2017 at 02:21 PM (#5538486)
Judge just tied McGwire's record at 49.

Judge getting 50 HRs, or more, might tip a few MVP votes, too. Big, round, impressive number. It might come down to whether some voters think that the Astros would have won their Division even without Altuve, but Judge made the difference in the Yankees making the playoffs. Part of the perennial debate over what "valuable" means in the MVP context.
   31. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 25, 2017 at 02:39 PM (#5538506)
Judge getting 50 HRs, or more, might tip a few MVP votes, too. Big, round, impressive number. It might come down to whether some voters think that the Astros would have won their Division even without Altuve, but Judge made the difference in the Yankees making the playoffs. Part of the perennial debate over what "valuable" means in the MVP context.

Looking like a battle of the traditional stats. The guys are really close on WAR, so do the writers prefer .350 Avg., 200 H, and 30 SB or 50 HR, 125 R and 110 RBI.
   32. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: September 25, 2017 at 02:46 PM (#5538512)
It might come down to whether some voters think that the Astros would have won their Division even without Altuve, but Judge made the difference in the Yankees making the playoffs.


The Yankees lead the second WC runner up by 9 games. Judge was not a 9 game difference maker.
   33. Blastin Posted: September 25, 2017 at 02:47 PM (#5538513)
prefer .350 Avg., 200 H, and 30 SB or 50 HR, 125 R and 110 RBI.


Taking out the particular players and teams... I don't even know what I prefer, since all else is pretty much equal.

The first one is probably more thrilling, but the latter is more... impressive? I dunno. It's going to be close.
   34. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: September 25, 2017 at 02:47 PM (#5538514)
Judge just tied McGwire's record at 49.

And we know McGwire was taking steroids, therefore....


Agreed, just give Judge the record now and put this unseemly era of baseball behind us.
   35. Nose army. Beef diaper? (CoB) Posted: September 25, 2017 at 02:53 PM (#5538523)
Actually, McGwire set the record in 1987 ... it was the ball that was on steroids.
   36. BDC Posted: September 25, 2017 at 02:55 PM (#5538526)
do the writers prefer .350 Avg., 200 H, and 30 SB or 50 HR, 125 R and 110 RBI.

Though I think the writers have long (though maybe not invariably) used a form of oWAR (or VORP?) in thinking about this – otherwise Joe Morgan, Cal Ripken, Ryne Sandberg, Barry Larkin, and several catchers might never have won MVPs. I think Altuve's position and defense (he's a little reminiscent of Morgan … well, he's just plain little) will win out, though Judge is certainly making a late drive for contention.
   37. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 25, 2017 at 02:56 PM (#5538528)
All I know is that I'm very glad that Judge has put paid to the idea that the league "figured him out".

I think he'll always be prone to long slumps, just because of his size. But I'm far more confident today vs. in late August, that Judge's true talent is at a 140 wRC+ or better.
   38. Blastin Posted: September 25, 2017 at 03:11 PM (#5538554)
Judge was not a 9 game difference maker.


I mean, he's probably 6 or 7 games better than Frazier this season...
   39. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 25, 2017 at 03:44 PM (#5538591)
Well, Judge has now hit 50 HRs, and could end up ahead of Altuve on Fangraphs WAR, too. Could be a very close vote, but my guess is that Judge would narrowly win the MVP if he leads in WAR, even if there is split between Fangraphs and BB-Ref.
   40. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 25, 2017 at 03:45 PM (#5538592)

I mean, he's probably 6 or 7 games better than Frazier this season...


Not to mention that without Judge's performance in the first half, the Yankees aren't good enough to go out and get Robertson, Frazier, Kahnle, and Gray.
   41. Ziggy: The Platonic Form of Russell Branyan Posted: September 25, 2017 at 03:51 PM (#5538600)
I'll put it here since there's no place else to put it. I just noticed that Trout leads the league in intentional walks. This makes me sad because (1) he hits in front of Pujols, and (2) it's only a partial season. In even a partial season pitchers have been so eager to pitch to Albert Pujols that they are going to walk Trout more than anyone else.

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
   42. Blastin Posted: September 25, 2017 at 03:54 PM (#5538607)
Not to mention that without Judge's performance in the first half, the Yankees aren't good enough to go out and get Robertson, Frazier, Kahnle, and Gray.


Right. A trade season that has brought them something like 4-5 WAR.
   43. TDF, FCL Posted: September 25, 2017 at 03:56 PM (#5538613)
Could be a very close vote, but my guess is that Judge would narrowly win the MVP if he leads in WAR, even if there is split between Fangraphs and BB-Ref.
There is zero evidence that enough voters use WAR as the determining factor in MVP voting.
   44. Rally Posted: September 25, 2017 at 03:56 PM (#5538615)
Though I think the writers have long (though maybe not invariably) used a form of oWAR (or VORP?) in thinking about this – otherwise Joe Morgan, Cal Ripken, Ryne Sandberg, Barry Larkin, and several catchers might never have won MVPs.


Seems kind of like the MVP voters of the past were better about giving the awards to players at premium positions.

Looking at Joe Morgan, did he get an oWAR sort of boost, or just have the best batting stats?

In 1975 Morgan hit 327/466/508, 17 homers, 94 RBI, 67 steals. He was the best hitter by OPS, but by triple crown power numbers Greg Luzinski (300/34/120) and Dave Parker (308/25/101) might have looked better. Morgan won easily, Bull and Whale finished second and third, without any first place votes. The only non-Morgan first place votes went to Pete Rose*, who finished 5th.

In 1976 he hit 320/444/576, 27 homers, 111 RBI, and stole 60 bases. Those certainly look like the best hitting stats to me, but writers in 1976 may not have known what his OPS was, or even OBP and SLG, and they may not have cared.

George Foster finished second, and took home 5 first place votes (the only first place that did not go to Morgan). Foster didn't have an OPS within 100 points of Joe, but he did hit 2 more homers and knock in 10 more runs (thanks to Joe being on base and in scoring position ahead of him). That's just enough stupid that I imagine if Foster had, say, hit 40 homers and knocked in 130, he might have taken the award even if Joe had a slight lead in OPS and a big edge in baserunning and defensive position. Mike Schmidt finished third, he had 38 homers but a .260 average and fewer RBI than little Joe.

The following year of course Foster hit 52 homers and won the MVP award. Morgan's numbers were down. All things considered their WARs were about the same, but at least Foster in 1977 had clearly a better hitting season.

*Weird Pete Rose stat for 1975 - he had zero stolen bases all year, only one attempt. Pete Rose wasn't exactly Vince Coleman, but he wasn't slow and ran aggressively his whole career. There are no signs in the stat line to suggest that Pete might have been slowed down by leg injuries that year. He led the league in doubles (47) and runs (112). He played every game, and led off in all of them. He hit into 13 DPs - a typical figure for him. Rose would steal 9 bags the next year, and double digits the next 4, including a career high 20 in 1979 when he was 38. He even stole 8 when he was 44, and another 3 (in 3 attempts) at age 45! So I'm a little confused as to why Pete didn't steal any bases in 1975. Maybe someone bet that he would.

   45. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 25, 2017 at 03:59 PM (#5538621)
Seems kind of like the MVP voters of the past were better about giving the awards to players at premium positions.

They dedfinitely understood the scarecity of offense at C, back when Yogi and Campanella were winning all those MVPs.

   46. Ziggy: The Platonic Form of Russell Branyan Posted: September 25, 2017 at 04:04 PM (#5538623)
He even stole 8 when he was 44, and another 3 (in 3 attempts) at age 45!


I don't know the specifics of Rose's case, but this usually means he was at the back end of a double steal.
   47. Rally Posted: September 25, 2017 at 04:11 PM (#5538626)
Catchers to win MVP

1926 Bob O'Farrell (I had no idea who he was until just now)
1928 Mickey Cochrane
1935 Gabby Hartnett
1938 Ernie Lombardi
1951, 53, 55 Roy Campanella
1951, 54, 55 Yogi Berra
1970, 72 Johnny Bench
1976 Thurman Munson
1999 Ivan Rodriguez
2009 Joe Mauer
2012 Buster Posey
   48. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 25, 2017 at 04:11 PM (#5538627)
MLB Nework says Judge now leads Altuve on Fangraphs WAR.
   49. Rally Posted: September 25, 2017 at 04:12 PM (#5538628)
I don't know the specifics of Rose's case, but this usually means he was at the back end of a double steal.


He was teammates with Eric Davis at the time, so certainly makes sense.
   50. Rally Posted: September 25, 2017 at 04:18 PM (#5538635)
6/20/86

Rose singles with 2 nobody on, steals 2b, advances to third on error.

7/12

Rose singles, 1 out, none on, 8th inning of a 1 run game. Steals 2B, scores on a Buddy Bell single

8/6

Top of 13th, Rose bats for pitcher with 2 out, none on, walks. Steals 2B. He's stranded, Reds lose in the 14th.

Not your normal behavior for a 45 year old.

   51. jmurph Posted: September 25, 2017 at 04:20 PM (#5538636)
Not your normal behavior for a 45 year old.

This statement was probably true at most ages for ol Pete.
   52. Rally Posted: September 25, 2017 at 04:30 PM (#5538646)
Rickey only had 3 steals at age 44, playing 30 games. Rose had 11 after age 44, only player with more is Julio Franco with 16.

Looking at steals from age 40+, Rickey is #1, followed by Lopes. Rose is #6, behind Wagner, Vizquel, and Ichiro.
   53. Booey Posted: September 25, 2017 at 04:39 PM (#5538650)
Man, 50+ homers as a rookie! That's crazy impressive. I always thought McGwire's 49 was an incredibly underrated and possibly unbreakable record considering that no one else before or since had even challenged it. He shattered the previous mark by 11, and in 30 years since no one had come closer than 12 (Pujols in 2001) until this season (interestingly, Bellinger has now also surpassed the old record of 38).

I'd still probably give the MVP to Altuve, but I'd be fine with either result. A week ago Jose was running away with it.
   54. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: September 25, 2017 at 04:39 PM (#5538651)
MLB Nework says Judge now leads Altuve on Fangraphs WAR


Yeah but if you need someone to get you a backstage tour of the Fudge Shoppe you can't vote for Judge.
   55. Booey Posted: September 25, 2017 at 04:43 PM (#5538655)
Agreed, just give Judge the record now and put this unseemly era of baseball behind us.


Yes, cuz the single season rookie record* is the one that everyone b!tches about and mentally asterisks...


* A record that pre-dates the supposed steroid era and was held by a then presumably clean player (I think McGwire said he started in 1989. Canseco said 1988. Either way...)
   56. Ithaca2323 Posted: September 25, 2017 at 04:46 PM (#5538658)
There is zero evidence that enough voters use WAR as the determining factor in MVP voting.


Which would hurt Judge if he was Carlos Gomez in 2013 and his entire claim was going to be based on WAR.

But Judge might have plenty of traditionalists in his corner who are in love with the stats he leads/may lead the league in. (HRs, BB, and Rs are locks, and slugging is up for grabs.) He might only need one or two voters to care about WAR to shift this thing.
   57. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 25, 2017 at 04:51 PM (#5538662)

Altuve: 7.2 WAR (Fangraphs), 8.2 (BB-Ref)
Judge: 7.0 WAR (Fangraphs), 7.1 (BB-Ref)


Anyone know why BRef is so much higher on Altuve? It looks to be 5 batting runs and 5 fielding.

The fielding I get, since they're different sources, but I thought they both used linear weights for batting?

   58. TDF, FCL Posted: September 25, 2017 at 05:20 PM (#5538683)
But Judge might have plenty of traditionalists in his corner who are in love with the stats he leads/may lead the league in. (HRs, BB, and Rs are locks, and slugging is up for grabs.)
Other than HRs, is there any evidence traditionalists care about any of those stats?

Look, don't get me wrong - I'm not arguing about what should happen, but the writers show a number of biases in MVP/CYA/HOF voting. And Altuve is (1) hitting .350 (2) on a team that is running away with its division and may win 100 games (Houston's been in 1st since April 14, and before that was never lower than 2nd). He's never slumped like Judge did in August.

History suggests that voters will look at the stats and say "Here's a guy who plays "GG level" defense (he's won one, so he must be a good defender) and hits about as well as Judge even though he's 4 ft tall - and he plays for a great team!"
   59. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 25, 2017 at 05:35 PM (#5538689)
Other than HRs, is there any evidence traditionalists care about any of those stats?

RBI have been known to get some attention. Runs should too. Don't think we can be all that confident about how the voters will come down this year. On-base %, slugging, OPS & OPS+ have all made some mainstream inroads the last 10-15 years, even if WAR isn't totally accepted as an absolute marker for different types of players. Not sure we've had anything like Judge - Altuve in recent years to give us a track record.

Will all the 1st place votes go to Judge or Altuve? Home town voters might be able to find a reason for Trout or Ramirez, but that type of vote seems less frequent these days. Pitchers don't seem to come into play unless their is a shortage of legitimate MVP-caliber hitters, although who knows when there might be a voter with a contrary view.
   60. DavidFoss Posted: September 25, 2017 at 05:51 PM (#5538701)
I was looking at Altuve's adjusted numbers. Actually higher OPS+ and more batting runs that judge (at least before today?) Minute Maid is now the most pitcher-friendly park in the AL? (PF=90) When did that happen? Did they switch to a humidor? The weather? Or just a single year blip that will smooth out once more data is added?

Congrats to Judge for setting the rookie HR record. That said, it is fun to point out that Rudy York *still* holds the "first 162 games" record with 55. He has the RBI record, too, with 163. Not to take anything away from Judge, just fun to give a shout out to Rudy York.
   61. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 25, 2017 at 06:10 PM (#5538708)
I'd give the MVP to Altuve by a hair, simply because his more advantageously positioned defensive skills,** but either of them would be a perfectly legit choice.

** Though if Didi weren't around, I could almost imagine Judge becoming a gigantic version of Cal Ripken. It's not as if he's not agile, or doesn't have the arm.
   62. Greg Pope Posted: September 25, 2017 at 06:24 PM (#5538723)
Don't think we can be all that confident about how the voters will come down this year.

It's also important to remember that MVP voting is done by 30 people, and it changes every year. This isn't the HOF with over 600 members and a slowly changing electorate. That many voters will behave in a fairly predictable pattern. When it's only 30 I'm not sure you can make a whole lot of judgment. Did King Felix only win the Cy with his 13 wins because that particular year there were more new age voters?
   63. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 25, 2017 at 07:17 PM (#5538758)
I was looking at Altuve's adjusted numbers. Actually higher OPS+ and more batting runs that judge (at least before today?) Minute Maid is now the most pitcher-friendly park in the AL? (PF=90) When did that happen? Did they switch to a humidor? The weather? Or just a single year blip that will smooth out once more data is added?

This is a big problem with WAR, IMHO. Volatile park factors shouldn't really come into play when evaluating players.

   64. Cooper Nielson Posted: September 26, 2017 at 05:16 AM (#5538907)
There is zero evidence that enough voters use WAR as the determining factor in MVP voting.

I don't know about zero. I would submit Mike Trout 2016 as evidence that WAR is now being strongly considered.

Trout finished 5th in the league in AVG, 26th in home runs, and 14th in RBI for a fourth place team, yet he won the MVP fairly easily over a guy who topped him in all the Triple Crown categories AND won a Gold Glove (backed up by outstanding defensive numbers) for a first-place team.

Without WAR to look at, Trout's only obvious advantage over Mookie Betts was his walks (leading directly to an advantage in OBP and OPS).
   65. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: September 26, 2017 at 08:30 AM (#5538919)
This is a big problem with WAR, IMHO. Volatile park factors shouldn't really come into play when evaluating players.

Park factors are an important part of a player's value. You can either try and account for them, or stick your head in the sand.

Should we just assume that 2002 Coors Field plays the same way as PETCO, just because we can't be 100% sure whether it's 25 or 30 percentage points more hitter friendly?

Park effects are important when evaluating players. You can't just wish that step away because you aren't 100% confident in the valuations. The question of whether or not accounting for park factors makes your evaluation of players better is unequivocally 'yes'. Even if that valuation is not perfect, it is silly to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
   66. PreservedFish Posted: September 26, 2017 at 08:39 AM (#5538922)
#65, give your opponent a little credit please. I think it's pretty clear that snapper just wants park factors to be regressed or otherwise adjusted to make them less "volatile."
   67. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: September 26, 2017 at 08:45 AM (#5538924)
IOW making them less accurate because it will make you feel better. Not because it will get better results.
   68. PreservedFish Posted: September 26, 2017 at 08:59 AM (#5538934)
Regression is a thing for a reason.
   69. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 26, 2017 at 09:03 AM (#5538937)
#65, give your opponent a little credit please. I think it's pretty clear that snapper just wants park factors to be regressed or otherwise adjusted to make them less "volatile."

Exactly. I'd like to use a 5-year average, or something like that.

I'd also like a split for RHB/LHB, RHP/LHP. We don't get an accurate evaluation of Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig by pretending Yankees Stadium was neutral in 1937. It was a huge hitters' park for Gehrig and a huge pitchers' park for DiMaggio. They shouldn't get the same park adjustment.
   70. Ithaca2323 Posted: September 26, 2017 at 09:25 AM (#5538949)
Other than HRs, is there any evidence traditionalists care about any of those stats?


I mean, in the sense of "Will they vote for the guy who leads the league in slugging solely because he leads the league in slugging?" No. But no one voted for Mark Trumbo just because he led the league in HR. That doesn't mean voters don't care about it.

I think there are some traditionalists who make up their minds first and search for a justification later, and things like leading the league in some category is an example of that. It's no different than people using postseason dominance to vote for Jack Morris for the Hall of Fame. They're not giving that treatment to David Cone, because that really isn't the issue. They're using it to justify a vote
   71. dlf Posted: September 26, 2017 at 09:46 AM (#5538972)
Assuming #17 above is correct, using any longer than a two year period to look at Houston's park effects for any purpose would be a mistake. It has played as a significant pitchers park since that purported change. (I'm not doubting the poster, just that I hadn't seen that reported elsewhere.)

Regarding using multi-year park factors, I take a different approach depending on whether I'm trying to determine player ability, that is looking forward, or player value, a backward looking matter. A park may play out of character for any reason or no reason at all, but the runs scored there have real value based on how the park played during the single championship season, not a smoothed curve of multi-seasons.

I'd also like a split for RHB/LHB, RHP/LHP. We don't get an accurate evaluation of Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig by pretending Yankees Stadium was neutral in 1937. It was a huge hitters' park for Gehrig and a huge pitchers' park for DiMaggio. They shouldn't get the same park adjustment.


Again, it depends on the purpose of the review. Fewer real world wins resulted from Joe D's play because he was ill-suited to the park than resulted from Lou who was well suited to it. If I'm trading for a player for tomorrow, I'd need to know how the park affected him rather than how it affects the league as a whole, but if I'm voting for an MVP, I want to know how many wins resulted from the player's performance and, if he was uniquely hurt by the park, too bad.
   72. PreservedFish Posted: September 26, 2017 at 09:57 AM (#5538991)
Assuming #17 above is correct, using any longer than a two year period to look at Houston's park effects for any purpose would be a mistake.


The park has played as neutral for about 15 years, which was a surprise to me. I feel like you could dive into the last two years to see if there's anything to it. For one thing, day/night splits.

A park may play out of character for any reason or no reason at all, but the runs scored there have real value based on how the park played during the single championship season, not a smoothed curve of multi-seasons.


I feel like this misses the point. In a fluke year like that the park isn't actually playing out of character - the performances are just randomly bunched in a way that create a park factor that is unrelated to the reality of the park. Nobody deserves credit for that, no matter what your value/ability purpose is.
   73. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 26, 2017 at 10:01 AM (#5538994)
but if I'm voting for an MVP, I want to know how many wins resulted from the player's performance and, if he was uniquely hurt by the park, too bad.

I don't. I want to know who was the best player.
   74. Tom Nawrocki Posted: September 26, 2017 at 10:02 AM (#5538997)
I mean, in the sense of "Will they vote for the guy who leads the league in slugging solely because he leads the league in slugging?"


To tie the two thoughts in this thread together, in road games, tiny second baseman Jose Altuve is slugging more than 100 points higher than giant Aaron Judge.
   75. Hysterical & Useless Posted: September 26, 2017 at 10:13 AM (#5539006)
the performances are just randomly bunched in a way that create a park factor that is unrelated to the reality of the park.


Changes in weather--heat, humidity, wind speed and direction--will affect how a park plays as well. I don't think we can assume that such weather patterns are consistent from year-to-year.

If a team moves it's fences in or out, scoring will be affected, park factors will be adjusted accordingly, and players will be thereby "credited" or "debited." The same should apply if changing weather patterns affect offensive levels.

Not saying that this is the case for the specific park/year discussed, just that it is a potential factor in year-to-year fluctuations.
   76. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: September 26, 2017 at 10:17 AM (#5539013)
Minute Maid is now the most pitcher-friendly park in the AL? (PF=90) When did that happen?


The ball doesn't travel as far under water.

   77. dlf Posted: September 26, 2017 at 10:19 AM (#5539014)
I don't. I want to know who was the best player.


Then, for the next ten years, just vote for Trout.

I feel like this misses the point.


Oh, I do that frequently. If you believe my wife, I do that all the time.

But even assuming you are correct - there is an unusual bunching of runs at home or on the road in a short time period, here going on two years - there are still real wins and losses from that usual bunching. (Related, I like the concept of WinShares more than WAR because it starts from actual real world wins and works backwards to attribute those to the performers rather than starting from actual performance and try to suss out the results. The actual implementation of WS, at least until the completion of WinShares / LossShares, is a work in progress, but the concept of the starting point is what I'm referring to.)
   78. PreservedFish Posted: September 26, 2017 at 10:21 AM (#5539018)
But even assuming you are correct - there is an unusual bunching of runs at home or on the road in a short time period, here going on two years - there are still real wins and losses from that usual bunching.


If you are so concerned what really happens on the field, then why do you want to adjust at all? Dante Bichette's 128 RBIs really happened too. You're trying to have it both ways here, adjust but remain faithful to the actual results. It doesn't work that way, and the idea that a single-season park factor has some sort of authenticity for single-season results is fallacious.

Suppose that God told you that Minute Maid Park inflates run-scoring by 5% compared to average. But by some fluke, the Astros and their opponents actually scored 5% more runs on the road this year. A single season park-factor is going to give the Astros players a ton of credit that you know they do not deserve, and which has no relation whatsoever to the "real value" of the runs scored.
   79. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: September 26, 2017 at 10:22 AM (#5539019)
I'd also like a split for RHB/LHB, RHP/LHP. We don't get an accurate evaluation of Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig by pretending Yankees Stadium was neutral in 1937. It was a huge hitters' park for Gehrig and a huge pitchers' park for DiMaggio. They shouldn't get the same park adjustment.


That may be useful for trying to nail down how intrinsicly talented a player is. But if Gehrig's handedness created real extra value, that is not something he should be penalized for, and vice versa WRT DiMaggio.
   80. DavidFoss Posted: September 26, 2017 at 10:23 AM (#5539020)
The park has played as neutral for about 15 years, which was a surprise to me.

Me too. I still have memories of "TenRun" Field but that was a while ago now. Astros & opponents are sure hitting much better on the road this year. Thanks to #17 for the heads up on the new lights. These hitting contexts can be quirky. Parks are almost like concert halls, you can do all sorts of planning but you don't know exactly how it will play until it opens.

I'm OK with a three year average. If you make the window too big, then you smooth away all the information.
   81. TDF, FCL Posted: September 26, 2017 at 10:24 AM (#5539023)
I don't know about zero. I would submit Mike Trout 2016 as evidence that WAR is now being strongly considered.

Trout finished 5th in the league in AVG, 26th in home runs, and 14th in RBI for a fourth place team, yet he won the MVP fairly easily over a guy who topped him in all the Triple Crown categories AND won a Gold Glove (backed up by outstanding defensive numbers) for a first-place team.

Without WAR to look at, Trout's only obvious advantage over Mookie Betts was his walks (leading directly to an advantage in OBP and OPS).
Granted, but (1) the differences between Trout and Betts were pretty minor (.315/29/100, 30 SB for Trout vs. .318/31/116, 26 SB for Betts) and (2) as someone else noted, voters do seem to appreciate positional differences. Finally, 'the vote was kind of close also - Betts received 9 first place votes.
I think there are some traditionalists who make up their minds first and search for a justification later, and things like leading the league in some category is an example of that
This may have also played a part in some votes for Trout - the fact that he's been called "the best player in baseball" each of the previous 4 years yet only won 1 MVP (remember, no one outside of Detroit argued that Cabrera was a better player when he beat out Trout in '12 and '13).
   82. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 26, 2017 at 10:32 AM (#5539033)
Then, for the next ten years, just vote for Trout.


Unless he misses 50 games, he's pobably the MVP most years.
   83. Booey Posted: September 26, 2017 at 10:45 AM (#5539055)
Without WAR to look at, Trout's only obvious advantage over Mookie Betts was his walks (leading directly to an advantage in OBP and OPS).


Yes, but that was no small thing. I think OBP has finally become mainstream, and when all their other numbers were really close (like #81 pointed out), a difference of almost 80 pts of OBP is hard to ignore.

IMO, Trout's win last year probably points more towards OBP being taken seriously than it does with WAR (especially cuz the WAR difference between them wasn't gigantic like it was with Trout/Cabrera in 2012).

   84. Rally Posted: September 26, 2017 at 10:51 AM (#5539066)
If you are so concerned what really happens on the field, then why do you want to adjust at all? Dante Bichette's 128 RBIs really happened too.


Sure, they happened, but those runs were less valuable in the context of Coors field than 128 runs would have been in Sand Diego or LA.

Comparing DiMaggio and Gehrig - the park may have affected each differently, but 150 runs created by DiMaggio would have been exactly equal to 150 by Gehrig in terms of Yankee wins.
   85. dlf Posted: September 26, 2017 at 10:55 AM (#5539073)
If you are so concerned what really happens on the field, then why do you want to adjust at all? Dante Bichette's 128 RBIs really happened too. You're trying to have it both ways here, adjust but remain faithful to the actual results. It doesn't work that way, and the idea that a single-season park factor has some sort of authenticity for single-season results is fallacious.


I'm not sure I understand what you are suggesting. I do believe that ribbies should be considered in voting for an MVP. For that matter, I do believe that usual splits in leveraged situations (close games, runners on base, etc.) should be considered and a WPA-like stat has merit in looking at the MVP voting. If runs scored in a park are down completely due to a fluke, the fewer runs scored there none-the-less have more value. Smoothing out that fluke takes real wins or losses off the stats for some, in my opinion unreachable, platonic ideal of the neutral park.

Again, this is to be distinguished, for me, from attempts to determine who will be the best going forward and is only looking retroactively.
   86. Cooper Nielson Posted: September 26, 2017 at 11:33 PM (#5539782)
Yes, but that was no small thing. I think OBP has finally become mainstream, and when all their other numbers were really close (like #81 pointed out), a difference of almost 80 pts of OBP is hard to ignore.

IMO, Trout's win last year probably points more towards OBP being taken seriously than it does with WAR (especially cuz the WAR difference between them wasn't gigantic like it was with Trout/Cabrera in 2012).


This sounds reasonable, but does the evidence support it? For example, Joey Votto has led the NL in OBP in 4 of the past 6 years and in those years he finished 6th, 14th, 6th, and 7th in the MVP voting. He's going to lead the league again by about 40 points this year, but I can't see him finishing any higher than third in the MVP voting -- and that might be optimistic. (Though he could still lead the league in WAR, so his MVP finish might be an argument for/against WAR too.)

2016 NL winner Kris Bryant was first in WAR, 9th in OBP. Josh Donaldson in 2015 was 2nd in WAR, 9th in OBP. Trout in 2014 was 1st in WAR, 7th in OBP.

It seems to me that some voters are jumping from "most RBI for a playoff team" and "overwhelming triple crown numbers" arguments directly to WAR, without necessarily stopping in between.
   87. Rally Posted: September 27, 2017 at 09:20 AM (#5539906)
Trout's first MVP season was a case of leading the league in RBI for a playoff team. Last years was about WAR - I don't have a better explanation. Not that I would assume the WAR leader gets it from here on out, but in that case awareness of the stat had to have helped him.

For example, Joey Votto has led the NL in OBP in 4 of the past 6 years and in those years he finished 6th, 14th, 6th, and 7th in the MVP voting. He's going to lead the league again by about 40 points this year, but I can't see him finishing any higher than third in the MVP voting -- and that might be optimistic.


If Votto combined that OBP with speed to steal 30 bases and occasionally jumped over the center field wall to rob a homerun, I think he'd have more than 1 MVP award.
   88. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 27, 2017 at 09:28 AM (#5539912)
Not that I would assume the WAR leader gets it from here on out,

I would hope not. There's way too much uncertainty (different methodologies, different defensive metrics and volatile defensive metrics, which park factors you use, etc.) to take WAR as gospel.

There's just no way to say definitively that a 7.5 WAR player was better than a 7.0 WAR player. You have to dig much deeper.
   89. Ithaca2323 Posted: September 27, 2017 at 10:20 AM (#5539940)
For example, Joey Votto has led the NL in OBP in 4 of the past 6 years and in those years he finished 6th, 14th, 6th, and 7th in the MVP voting. He's going to lead the league again by about 40 points this year, but I can't see him finishing any higher than third in the MVP voting -- and that might be optimistic.


These aren't straight lines from "Voters love X" to "The guy who leads the league in X is the MVP".

I mean, in 2013, Votto had a .305 average, 24 HR and 73 RBI while playing a non-premium defensive position for a team that missed the playoffs. That he finished 6th is a testament to the value voters saw in his OBP, IMO

   90. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 27, 2017 at 10:23 AM (#5539942)
There's just no way to say definitively that a 7.5 WAR player was better than a 7.0 WAR player. You have to dig much deeper.

True, but even if there were voters willing to go mostly by WAR, does it actually provide the answer this season?. Judge leads in Fangraphs WAR 7.7 to 7.4, while Altuve leads in BB-Ref WAR 8.2 to 7.7. Add them together and Altuve has a razor-thin edge, 15.6 to 15.4, and that margin could disappear in the remaining games. No matter how you look at it, I think you're left with two candidates that are very close, and a 1st place vote for either would be justified.
   91. Ithaca2323 Posted: September 27, 2017 at 10:26 AM (#5539946)
There's just no way to say definitively that a 7.5 WAR player was better than a 7.0 WAR player. You have to dig much deeper.


This is true, but it's also true that very few people who use WAR are this dogmatic about it. I mean, in 2015 Donaldson beat out Trout despite Trout having a 9.4-8.8 WAR edge. Likewise, Arrieta beat Grienke despite Grienke's 9.3 to 8.7 edge.

Most of the people I see using WAR to definitively state one player is better than the other are doing it when the gap is massive, like we saw with Trout's 10.8 to Cabrera's 7.2
   92. Rally Posted: September 27, 2017 at 10:38 AM (#5539955)
I use it to see who belongs in the MVP conversation. At this point Judge and Altuve belong in the conversation. Trout would be there too, except for the missed time. Simmons is third by bbref position player WAR. He's about 1 win behind the leader, and in some circumstances I could see a player 1 win back as part of the conversation, but in this case I just can't see Simmons at the top spot.

I think Altuve's case has rested. The Astros have wrapped up their division a long time ago and are just keeping themselves ready for the playoffs. He's had a great year and would be a worthy MVP.

The Judge however has not issued a final ruling. The Yankees still have a slight shot at the division. If Judge goes crazy the final weekend and the Yankees overtake Boston, then I'd probably vote Judge.

That gets complicated a bit by the fact that Houston would have to participate in a Boston collapse, and Altuve could be a big part of that.

Shorter answer: Both are worthy MVP candidates right now. Ask me next week.
   93. TDF, FCL Posted: September 27, 2017 at 10:50 AM (#5539966)
Shorter answer: Both are worthy MVP candidates right now.
Yes they are. In the end, though, I think the HR and hype (think how often you see Judge in the highlights vs. Altuve) drown out everything else.
   94. Booey Posted: September 27, 2017 at 11:16 AM (#5539995)
This sounds reasonable, but does the evidence support it? For example, Joey Votto has led the NL in OBP in 4 of the past 6 years and in those years he finished 6th, 14th, 6th, and 7th in the MVP voting. He's going to lead the league again by about 40 points this year, but I can't see him finishing any higher than third in the MVP voting -- and that might be optimistic. (Though he could still lead the league in WAR, so his MVP finish might be an argument for/against WAR too.)


That's interesting, cuz I think of Votto as a good example to show that voters DO care about OBP. Like #89 said, his 2013 triple crown numbers were nothing special (.305-24-73) and his team missed the playoffs, and he finished 6th anyway. In 2015 and 2016 he had less than 30 homers and less than 100 rbi for a Reds team that completely sucked ass and he still finished 3rd and 7th. I'd guess that OBP was the primary reason voters noticed him.

2016 NL winner Kris Bryant was first in WAR, 9th in OBP.


Bryant won cuz he had the best numbers for a team that ran away with their division. .292 avg, 39 homers (just 2 short of the league leaders), league leading 121 runs, over 100 rbi at a semi premium defensive position. I doubt most voters even knew he led the league in WAR. You certainly didn't need it to see him as the obvious MVP.

Josh Donaldson in 2015 was 2nd in WAR, 9th in OBP.


How is Donaldson winning an argument FOR WAR when his WAR was lower than the 2nd place guy? Donaldson won because he led the league in ribbies (and runs and TB) while putting up overall great numbers (.297 avg, 41 HR) at a premium position for a playoff team. It was exactly the type of season that would have won him MVP in the 80's and 90's too, before WAR even existed.

Trout in 2014 was 1st in WAR, 7th in OBP.


And first in rbi. For a playoff team.

I never said OBP is the ONLY criteria that matters, just that I think it holds more weight than WAR does. Voters still love their traditional stats too. Altuve and Judge will be the top 2 in MVP voting not because they have the highest WAR, but because they're winning the batting and HR titles respectively and are putting up all around great numbers for playoff teams. You don't even need WAR to know that they've been the best. Ask some casual fans who aren't familiar with advanced stats and I'll bet Judge or Altuve still get their hypothetical vote (ditto with Bryant last year, Donaldson in 2015, etc).
   95. DavidFoss Posted: September 27, 2017 at 12:29 PM (#5540102)
How is Donaldson winning an argument FOR WAR when his WAR was lower than the 2nd place guy?

For me, WAR helped Donaldson a couple of years before. If you didn't live in Oakland, his 2013 season sort of came out of nowhere. He didn't even make the ASG. But a gawdy WAR number immediately injected him into the debate. He came in 4th (which was probably about right) but didn't need a campaign to get there. He didn't need nightly highlights on ESPN or a big HR on the game of the week. I mean, there would be enough "best guys you aren't talking about" articles to make people aware about guys like Donaldson or Zobrist or Jose Ramirez or Tommy Pham but the WAR leaderboard is much more efficient.
   96. TDF, FCL Posted: September 27, 2017 at 12:30 PM (#5540103)
That's interesting, cuz I think of Votto as a good example to show that voters DO care about OBP. Like #89 said, his 2013 triple crown numbers were nothing special (.305-24-73) and his team missed the playoffs, and he finished 6th anyway.
Eh, 6th is probably about right for Votto that year no matter how you slice it, although 6th place isn't worth getting worked up about one way or the other.. The guys below him didn't hit as well in the traditional sense (Bruce, for instance had 30 HR and 109 RBI, but only hit .262). Maybe Jason Werth? .318/25/82, but he only played 129 games.
In 2015 and 2016 he had less than 30 homers and less than 100 rbi for a Reds team that completely sucked ass and he still finished 3rd and 7th.
In '15, Arenado had the power numbers but not the BA; in '16 he got much more support than he deserved, but again 7th place shows his support wasn't great.
   97. Booey Posted: September 27, 2017 at 12:54 PM (#5540139)
For me, WAR helped Donaldson a couple of years before. If you didn't live in Oakland, his 2013 season sort of came out of nowhere. He didn't even make the ASG. But a gawdy WAR number immediately injected him into the debate. He came in 4th (which was probably about right) but didn't need a campaign to get there.

Eh, maybe WAR helped, but at the time I saw that more as "Hey, this team won 96 games! Someone has to get those votes", and Donaldson looked like the best choice for a roster without any major stars. Led team in batting avg, rbi, OBP, OPS/OPS+ etc, while playing great D at a premium position. Again, if you were going to vote for an A - and most teams with that many wins DO get a representative pretty high in the MVP voting - you didn't really need WAR to see that Donaldson should be the guy.
   98. Ithaca2323 Posted: September 27, 2017 at 12:55 PM (#5540143)
Eh, 6th is probably about right for Votto that year no matter how you slice it, although 6th place isn't worth getting worked up about one way or the other.. The guys below him didn't hit as well in the traditional sense (Bruce, for instance had 30 HR and 109 RBI, but only hit .262). Maybe Jason Werth? .318/25/82, but he only played 129 games.


Votto: .305/24/73 for a non-playoff team: 164 points
Gonzalez .293/22/100 for a playoff team: 4 points
Holliday .300/22/94 for a playoff team: 2 points
   99. TDF, FCL Posted: September 27, 2017 at 01:56 PM (#5540232)
Votto: .305/24/73 for a non-playoff team: 164 points
Gonzalez .293/22/100 for a playoff team: 4 points
Holliday .300/22/94 for a playoff team: 2 points
Gonzalez played 1B for the Dodgers. Ahead of him in voting from his own team:

The runaway CYA winner.
The SS who hit .345 with 20 HR in less playing time.
The rookie sensation who hit .319 with 19 HR also in less playing time.

Holliday played LF for the Cards. Ahead of him from his own team were:

The most overrated C in MLB history who hit .319
The guy who lead MLB in hits, runs, and 2b.
Allen Craig, for some reason.
The CYA runner-up who lead the NL in wins and MLB in CG and IP.

Votto at least had the reputation as the best player on his own team, and is someone that's always been widely praised as one of the best pure hitters in the game. Meanwhile, Allen Craig.
   100. Cooper Nielson Posted: September 27, 2017 at 11:40 PM (#5540715)
I never said OBP is the ONLY criteria that matters, just that I think it holds more weight than WAR does.

We can agree to disagree here. (But it's only a small disagreement -- I think you're entirely correct that OBP is more noticed than it used to be, I just think it's not as influential today as WAR is.)

I've read a number of articles in the past 2-3 years from actual voters who explicitly mention WAR, and I think many of them, maybe even the majority, at least look at WAR as a "filter" to assemble a short list of guys they want to consider. Sure, most of the guys on this list will be self-evident without WAR, but WAR can serve to illuminate a few of them (Donaldson 2013, Lorenzo Cain 2015) and perhaps lower/eliminate others (David Ortiz 2016, Nolan Arenado 2015-16).

Of course you can argue that voters have always known that DHs aren't as valuable as position players, or that numbers in Denver need to be discounted, so it's not necessarily WAR that's making the difference. But I do feel that bat-first sluggers with big numbers are doing worse in the MVP voting than they used to, and defensive standouts and well-rounded players are doing better.

Look at Cecil Fielder's second-place finish in 1991 or Ryan Howard's string of top-10 finishes from 2007-2011 vs. last year's MVP voting results for Ortiz (led the league in RBI and OPS for a division winner, had a huge "narrative," yet finished just 6th) and Edwin Encarnacion (tied for league lead in RBI for a playoff team, finished 14th). Or compare Juan Gonzalez's MVP performance to, say, Nelson Cruz's.

There's been talk about Andrelton Simmons as an MVP candidate this year (not winner, but shortlist type) despite numbers that would never have been noticed before WAR for what is currently a sub-.500 team. If Simmons finishes in the top 10 in the MVP voting, I think that's a strong indication that WAR is making a difference. (Ozzie Smith only finished in the top 10 once.)

Anyway, guys with good OBPs usually have good WARs, so it's hard to separate one from the other.
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